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Ethiopia’s Big 5 Endemic Mammals: Simien Mountains and Bale Mountains Tour — 11 Days

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  • Trip Type Wildlife Photography Trip
  • Tour Code GHET-N07
  • Private Journey
  • 11 Days
  • Join us on a unique wildlife holiday in Ethiopia designed by our nature experts and lead by our passionate wildlife professional tour guides. Ethiopia's amazingly varied ecosystem makes it endemic hotspot. Our Endemic BIG 5 of Ethiopia’s wildlife  tour focuses on the endemic wildlife and breathtaking landscapes of Ethiopia which you can not find anywhere else.

Join us on a unique wildlife holiday in Ethiopia designed by our experts and led by our passionate wildlife professional tour guides. 

Looking for an experience a little different from the typical African wildlife safari? Then Ethiopia is a great choice! Ethiopia has an amazingly varied landscape and ecosystem from hot deserts to high, rugged mountains. This makes it home to an astonishingly varied number of flora and fauna species, among which many mammals, birds, and plants are endemic to Ethiopia.

Our Endemic "Big 5" of Ethiopia’s Wildlife Tour focuses on the endemic wildlife and breathtaking landscapes of Ethiopia. You will discover the endemic mammals and birds of Ethiopia, which you cannot find anywhere else. 

Ethiopia's Wildlife

Ethiopia is home to an amazing mix of  mammals and birdlife. There are over 80 species of larger mammals, of which more than 7 are endemic to Ethiopia. And there are over 800 birds in Ethiopia, of which more than 20 are endemic. Plenty of variety and unique species to view!

You will likely see at least 5 endemic wildlife species, many other large mammals, and over 15 endemic species of birds on this tour.

Tour Highlights

  • Discover Ethiopia’s "Big 5" endemic wildlife: The Ethiopian Wolf, Walia Ibex, Mountain Nyala, Gelada Baboon, and Menilik's Bushbuck
  • Trek in the endemic hotspot, the magnificent Bale Mountains.
  • Trek on the roof of Africa, the Simien Mountains.
  • See plenty of birdlife species, many of which many are endemic.
  • Explore the fairytale castles in the ancient city of Gondar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Itinerary

Day 1: Addis Ababa  

Arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Welcome to Ethiopia! Upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, you will be welcomed and assisted by your tour guide and driven to Radisson Blu Hotel (4 star). 
    
Addis Ababa, founded in 1886 by Menelik II, is situated at 2,500 meters (8000 ft.) above sea level. It is the 5th highest capital city in the world. The city enjoys an excellent climate year-round, with an average temperature of 25C (77F). With a multiethnic population of over 5 million, Addis Ababa is a pleasant city with wide avenues of jacarandas, interesting museums, and one of the largest open-air markets in Africa, known as the "Mercato".
    
Overnight: Radisson Blu, Addis Ababa
    
Day 2: Addis Ababa, Gondar, Sankaber

Early in the morning, transfer to Addis Ababa airport for the 50-minute flight to Gondar. Upon arrival at Gondar airport, we will meet our driver for the drive to the Simien Mountains National Park. We drive from Gondar up to Simien Mountains National Park and nothing can prepare you for the spectacular scenery that awaits at the top of the massif: The rolling grassy plateau comes to an abrupt stop, and sheer cliffs plunge almost vertically for 1,000m (3280 ft.) to the plains below. The massif itself has been sculpted by 30 million years of upthrust and erosion into a wonderland of jagged ridges, pinnacles and strangely cropped conical mountains, so that looking out over the heart-stopping precipice. You feel you might just be at the edge of the world.

After checking into the Simien Lodge and having lunch there, we will relax a bit and get ready for the afternoon photo shoot with the endemic Gelada "bleeding heart" Baboon, around Sankaber.

Overnight: Simien Lodge, Buyit Ras (3200 m)
    
Day 3: Sankaber, Gelada Baboon Territory

In the morning, we will drive/walk around Sanakber. This is the territory of Gelada Baboon where we can find them in great numbers as they come out to graze on the plains of Sankaber.

The endemic Gelada Baboon is the last surviving species of ancient grazing primates that were once numerous. Geladas spend most of their day sitting down, plucking and munching on grasses. They have fatty rear ends, much like human buttocks, which seem well adapted to this activity. Theropithecus Gelada live in small family units of one male and three to six females. Though males are larger and more colorful, females dominate Gelada societies. When an aging male begins to decline, the females in his family decide when he will be replaced by a younger rival— though the male will do all he can do to drive off such competition. Gelada family units often combine to form large foraging bands of 30 to 350 animals.
    
We will spend the morning photographing the Gelada Baboon around the plains and further down the hills. In the afternoon, we will walk around the lodge for more photography opportunities of the Gelada Baboon with the late afternoon light in different locations.

Overnight: Simien Lodge, Buyit Ras (3200 m)

Day 4: Cheneck, Walia Ibex Territory

Today, we will rise early in the morning with the sun and drive to Cheneck through Sankaber and other beautiful parts of the park. This will give you a unique opportunity to photograph the Gelada Baboon and other endemic wildlife as they graze and hunt around the plains.
    
Around Cheneck, you will also have a chance to photograph the endemic Mountain Nyala with the beautiful morning sun around some of the most spectacular parts of the park. After spending the morning exploring around Checnk, we will drive back to the lodge.
    
Late in the afternoon, we will go out around Cheneck and surrounding area to spend more time among the Geladas with the golden light of late afternoon.

Overnight: Simien Lodge, Buyit Ras (3200 m)

Day 5: Buit Ras, Gondar

Today we drive from Buit Ras to Gondar with stops in some picturesque places. After checking into Goha Hotel and having lunch there, we will take a city tour of Gondar. Founded by Emperor Fasiledas around 1635, Gondar is famous for its many medieval castles and the design and decoration of its churches — in particular, the Debre Berhan Selassie represents a masterpiece of the unique Ethiopian school of traditional art.
    
You will visit the Royal Enclosure, a walled compound having six different castles built from 17th century by different kings who ruled in different times; the pool of King Fasilidas, which still serves as a baptismal pool during Ethiopian Epiphany; and the famous Debre Berhan Selassie adorned with brilliant interior frescoes.

Overnight: Goha Hotel, Gondar

Day 6: Gondar, Ethiopian Great Valley Lakes, Lake Langano (B, L, D)

In the morning, transfer to Gondar airport for the flight to Addis Ababa. Upon arrival, we will meet our driver for the drive to Lake Langano. While driving from Addis Ababa to Lake Langano, we will pass by different small towns and stop for a visit at one of the most beautiful Rift Valley Lakes, Lake Ziway.
    
For the rest of the day, relax around the beautiful Sabana Lodge perched on top of the hill overlooking the beautiful lake.
    
Overnight: Sabana Lodge, Lake Langano
    
Day 7: Lake Langano, Bale Mountains National Park (B, L, D)

In the morning, we drive to Bale Mountains National Park, one of the biggest Afro-Alpine habitats on the entire African continent.

In the afternoon, we will have a game drive around the park to visit some of the endemic mammals including the Bale Mountain Nyala (endemic to Bale Mountains National Park), Menilik's Bushbuck, Warthogs, and many more.
    
Overnight: Wabi Shebele Hotel, Goba

Day 8:  Goba, Senetie Plateau (B, L, D)

In the morning, drive high in Senetie Plateau, one of the most beautiful parts of the park. This is the territory of the endemic Abyssinian Wolf. This very endangered canine is the only wolf family member found in Africa. It can be spotted commonly here in the vast Afro-Alpine vegetation hunting on Giant Mole Rat on which it commonly feeds.

In this well-conserved Afro-Alpine ecosystem, you will definitely see some endemic birds like the Blue-Winged Goose as well as the Giant Mole Rat pretty much everywhere.

Later in the afternoon, we will take a relaxing trek around Gesse Valley where we can see many more wildlife species and enjoy the scenic view walking around the valley.

Overnight: Bale Mountains Lodge, Harena Forest
    
Day 9: Harenna Forest (B, L, D)

Today we will explore the dense and well-conserved Afro-Alpine forest in the Bale Mountains. Here we can expect to see the recently discovered endemic Bale Monkey and the illusive Black Leopard. If we are lucky, we will also see the rare Abyssinian Black-Maned Lion

Overnight: Bale Mountains Lodge, Harena Forest

Day 10: Harena Forest, Lake Awassa

In the morning, we will drive back to the Ethiopian Great Rift Valley Lakes region. In this region, you will find chains of beautiful Rift Valley lakes, which are home to many species of birdlife and wildlife.

After checking into the beautiful Haile Resort, owned and run by the great Ethiopian athlete and Olympic gold medalist, we will walk around the Lake Awassa to see different aquatic birds. We may also take a boat trip for more bird watching and hippo spotting. The rest of the day, you can relax in the swimming pool or around the resort.

Overnight: Haile Resort

Day 11: Awassa, Addis Ababa

Early in the morning, we will visit the Awassa fish market, where local fishermen sell freshly caught fish for the local people. The interaction of the fishermen with the local people, birds and surrounding environment is interesting to watch.

After breakfast at the hotel, we will drive back to Addis Ababa enroute visiting at least two Rift Valley lakes, namely Lake Ziway, the biggest Rift Valley lake and Lake Langano. Both are very famous for their abundant birdlife.

After our visit to the lakes, we drive back to Addis Ababa on the new expressway, which starts at Mojo, and will arrive in Addis Ababa late in the afternoon. End of tour.
    


B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner  

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