Ethiopia – Ancient Land of Wonders

Discover unique bird- and wildlife

Ethiopia is a land of diversity, rich in history and culture. From the rugged mountains to the lush green valleys, the country offers a breathtaking landscape that is sure to leave you in awe.

The people of Ethiopia are warm and welcoming, always ready to share their traditions and hospitality with visitors. With a population of over 100 million, Ethiopia is one of the most populous countries in Africa, and its economy is one of the fastest-growing on the continent.

The country is known for its coffee, which is considered some of the best in the world, and its unique cuisine, which features a variety of spices and flavors.

Ethiopia is also home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the ancient city of Aksum and the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or simply taking in the natural beauty of the country, Ethiopia has something for everyone.

One day before tour commences: (Wed 18 Oct 2023) Fly from South Africa to Addis Ababa. Transfer to the Babogaya Lake Viewpoint Lodge.

Arrival in Addis Ababa. 1 hour drive to Babogaya Lake.

Day 1

Birding in Debre Zeit

Birding around the lake, fields, marshes and colourful gardens of the Viewpoint Lodge (Geochelone Pardalis tortoises). Birds may include Blue-breasted Bee- eater, Rüppell’s Weaver, African Citril, Beautiful Sunbird, Tacazze Sunbird, Black- billed Barbet, Black-winged Lovebird, our first endemic, Erlanger’s Lark, Banded Barbet, Wattled Ibis and Ethiopian Boubou are 4 other endemics. Even Ruppell’s Black Chat is rarely seen here. Spotted Creeper and Red-throated Wryneck are also our targets. Stay at Viewpoint Lodge (en-suite rooms).

Day 2

Birding in Debre Zeit

Birding in the area around Debre Zeit as above. Overnight at Babogaya Lake Viewpoint Lodge (en-suite cottages) Meals B, L, D

Day 3

Viewpoint Lodge to Ziway Lake, Rift Valley

We will drive a couple of hours further south. As the landscape becomes drier, the presence of volcanic lakes attracts great numbers of northern hemisphere migrants plus local species alike. Several stops will show us dozens of different birds and some owls. We travel through authentic villages with loam huts, animals in the unpaved streets, and cheeky kids yelling “You-you!” Birds along the way you may see are Ruppell’s Vulture, Eastern Chanting Goshawk, Black- crowned Crane, Little Rock Thrush, Northern Ground Hornbill, Slate-coloured Boubou, Red-bellied Parrot, etc. We are staying the night Bethlehem Hotel (en- suite rooms). Meals B, L, D.

Day 4

Ziway to Bale Mountains National Park

In the morning we start heading the roughly 225-km drive to the famous Bale Mountains National Park. Before long, we will climb back into the highlands, where we will find Blue-winged Goose, Wattled Ibis, Rouqet’s Rail and Spot- breasted Lapwing in wet places. Careful searching in forests along the way might also yield us a roosting Cape (Mackinder’s) Eagle-Owl.

The road will begin to wind along steep mountainsides as we enter the park, and before long, we will arrive at the park headquarters in Dinsho. We will spend our afternoon birding along the trails here. Our primary targets here are Chestnut- naped Francolin and, with some luck, roosting African Wood Owl and African Long-eared (Abyssinian) Owl. We will also keep our eyes out for endemics such as Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher, Thick-billed Raven, and Ethiopian Siskin. Dinsho is also one of the best places to find the rare Mountain Nyala, which is found only in a handful of high-elevation areas of Ethiopia east of the Great Rift Valley, and Menelik’s Bushbuck, an endemic, dark-coloured, longhaired subspecies of the widespread bushbuck. Overnight in Goba Government Hotel (en-suite rooms). Meals B, L, D

Day 5

Bale Mountains National Park Sanetti Plateau

The entire day is spent in the rugged, stark scenery of the Balé Mountains. We will spend most of the day today birding the Sanetti Plateau, which in addition of offering excellent birding is the best place to find the beautiful, rare and endemic Ethiopian Wolf. On our way there, we will pass through forests dominated by juniper and Hagenia, which offer us an excellent opportunity to find Abyssinian Woodpecker, White-backed Black Tit, Abyssinian Catbird, Abyssinian Ground-Thrush and a variety of other bird species.

The Sanetti Plateau is covered by Afro-alpine moorland, a moist habitat characterized by low shrubs and grasses and by Ethiopia’s strange-looking endemic species of Giant Lobelia. This habitat supports large rodent populations (including that of the Big-headed African Mole-Rat, or Giant Mole-Rat, found only here), which support the aforementioned Ethiopian Wolf and also attract a myriad of raptors. It also is the best place to see the endemic Blue-winged Goose, Rouqet’s Rail (which is especially confiding here), and Spot-breasted Lapwing; although we likely will have seen those species already, we can expect to get our best look at them here. Other specialities we will search for include Chestnut-naped Francolin, Moorland Francolin, Wattled Crane, and Moorland Chat. Interestingly, the Plateau supports breeding populations of three species not usually associated with tropical Africa: Ruddy Shelduck, Red-billed Chough and Golden Eagle. Overnight in Goba Government Hotel (en-suite rooms). Meals B, L, D

Day 6

Goba to Lake Awassa

We will bird in the Bale National Park in the morning. Around 2 pm, we drive back in the direction of the Rift Valley and to Lake Awassa. We’ll visit various habitats around the lakeshore, including grasslands, swamps and scrub. There is also a chance of hippos here! The various habitats on offer around Lake Awassa warrant a full day’s exploring. Monitor Lizards, hippos, Black Heron, Senegal Thick-knee, Pygmy Goose, Lesser Jacana, African Jacana, Squacco Heron, Goliath Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Grosbeak Weaver. Overnight Africa United Hotel, (en-suite-room) . Meals B, L, D.

Day 7

Lake Awassa to Yabelo

We bird in the morning around Lake Awassa and look for Blue-headed Coucal, Ethiopian Boubou, Double-tooth Barbet.

Thereafter we leave for Yabelo and look for Streseman’s Bush Crow (endemic and you can’t miss), White tailed Swallow (endemic and more difficult), Scaly Chatterer, Rosy Patched Bush Shrike, Sulpher-breasted Bush Shrike, Golden-breasted Starling, White Crowned Starling, Magpie Starling, Boran Cisticola and Foxy Lark. Overnight at Kaku Taye or Yabelo Pension (en suite-rooms). Meals B, L, D.

Day 8

Birding in the Yabelo Sanctuary and area

We bird the day in the Yabelo Sanctuary and except the above birds, you may see Bateleur, Eastern Chanting Goshawk, Somali Courser, Three-banded

Courser, Black-faced Sandgrouse, Orange-bellied Parrot, D’Arnaud’s Barbet, Pringle’s Puffback, Pale Prinia, African Bare-eyed Thrush, Spotted Palm Thrush, Kenya Violet-backed Sunbird, Hunter’s Sunbird, Yellow-spotted Petronia, Chestnut Weaver, Purple Grenadier, Black-capped Social Weaver, Grey-capped Social Weaver, White-bellied Canary and Generuk. Overnight at Kaku Taye or Yabelo Pension (en suite-rooms) . Meals B, L, D.

Day 9

Yabelo Area to Wondo Genet

We bird more in the Yabelo area and then drive to Wondo Genet where we overnight near the primary forest of Wondo Genet. This old residence of Emperior Hailé Sélassie has an outside hot water swimming pool, luxury surrounded by trees. Overnight Wabe Shebelle Hotel, Wondo Genet on the edge of the forest (en-suite rooms). Meals B, L, D.

Day 10

Wondo Genet to Awash Nat Park

We have a light snack before our early departure into the primary forest, which we’ll explore gently on foot. The tranquillity of the deciduous forest attracts birds like White-cheeked Turaco, Narina Trogon, Yellow-fronted Parrot and Olive Pigeon. Return for breakfast out on the deck while watching Silvery-cheeked Hornbill.

We then leave for a 300 km to one of the top 5 birding parks in Africa: Awash National Park, with the 6 Bustards. On the way, we stop between the fresh caldera of Fentale Crater to find the endemic Sombre Rock Chat and the Rock Hyrax. Birds in park includes Albyssinian Roller, White-throated Bee-eater, Northern Carmine Bee-eater,

Overnight in Genet Hotel, Awash town (en-suite rooms) Meals B, L, D.

Day 11

Awash National Park & Aleghedi Sanctuary

Our primary targets today will be the park’s six species of bustard (Kori, Arabian, Buff-crested, White-bellied, Black-bellied and Hartlaub’s), the gorgeous Northern Carmine Bee-eater and the near-endemic Gillett’s Lark. We will, of course, find many other species as well, and the day’s highlights might include Somali Ostrich, Egyptian Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture, Scissor-tailed Kite, Yellow- necked Spurfowl, Bruce’s Green-pigeon, Abyssinian Roller, Yellow-breasted Barbet, Somali Fiscal, Chestnut-headed Sparrow-Lark, Rosy-patched Bushshrike, Shining Sunbird, Nile Valley Sunbird, Striolated Bunting and Blackstart. Awash National Park is also one of a handful of locations in central Ethiopia from which

birders have reported seeing an as-yet undescribed species of cliff swallow, and we will examine any flocks of swallows we find in hope of glimpsing that mysterious bird.

In the afternoon, we drive to Aleghedi Sanctuary to find the Arabian Bustard. Grevy Zebra’s may be around as well as Secretarybird. Overnight in Genet Hotel, in Awash Town.(en-suite rooms, meals: B, L, D).

Day 12

Awash to Debre Zeit

We bird around Awash and towards Lake Basaka before we return to Debre Zeit for a shower and dinner. Looks for Sombre Rock Thrush, Pink- backed Pelican and some waders. There after the people returning to SA will departs while people that want to go to Lalibela will stay over for their flight the next morning.

Dinner and shower at the Viewpoint Lodge. Transfer to the Airport.


  • 19 – 30 October 2023

Tour Price

  • US$ 2 990 / person sharing
  • Single supplement is US$ 310

Travel insurance essential.


  • Transport
  • English speaking drivers
  • Fuel
  • Hotels based on twin rooms
  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
  • Bottled water
  • Ornithological guide
  • Scope and checklist
  • Park entrance fees
  • Extra local guides
  • Airport transfers
  • All tips except for birding guide and drivers
  • Taxes & VAT


  • International flights to and from Addis Ababa
  • Visa (US$50 – now available online)
  • Additional drinks
  • Tip for drivers and guide (about US$10 per day)
  • Travel insurance
Please mention the tour you are enquiring about, if contacting us about a scheduled tour.

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