High and Wild In Ethiopia

Simien and Bale Mountains, Gondar, Awash National Park, Sof Omar Caves & Sanetti Plateau
Overview

overview

On this multi-themed safari, emphasizing natural history with strong measures of geology, archaeology and culture, you will observe much of the wildlife unique to the Rift Valley and northern Africa. The great natural and ecological diversity of Ethiopia from regions below sea level to the highest alpine plateaus in Africa rivals that of African nations better known for wildlife tourism.

Many of the birds and animals you will see are only found here and not farther south in East Africa. Your expert local safari guide will offer knowledgeable interpretation and insight to make this one of your best wildlife safaris in Africa. Visit Awash National Park and the Simien and Bale Mountains to explore three of the premier parks in Ethiopia for endemic species.

This safari is designed for full days covering extensive sites thoroughly and at a reasonable pace, but expect early morning starts and sunset finishes to maximize photographic opportunities and wildlife viewing. 

The core itinerary is ideal for trips September through May. 

Time your trip to coincide with one of the many festivals in the area and you can join the celebratory spirit and culture of a nation known for their colorful and dramatic religious and secular gatherings.  Festivals to consider include: 

The Timkat Festival - Ethiopia's celebration of the Ephiphany - occurs in January and affords the traveler the opportunity to witness this uplifting event in Lalibela, Axum, Gondar and Addis Ababa.  (Jan 18 - 20)

Meskel Demera - The Finding of the True Cross - is celebrated with much revelery into the late evening around giant bonfires, followed with evening visits to the houses of friends and family. (Sep 26/27)

Erecha Festival - a celebration of Oromo people on the first Sunday after Meskel

Ethiopian Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day - Celebrated in different locations, this festival brings together peoples representing all ethnicities the share their culture, dress and experiences with one another. (Dec 8/9)

St. Gabriel's Day (Kulbi Gabrel in Harar) - This is one of the most important religious holiday's in Ethiopia, celebrating one of their most important patron saints, St. Gabriel (Dec 28/29).

Dire Sheick Hussien - twice a year (beginning of August & In February or March)

 

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Addis Ababa

    Upon your arrival in Addis Ababa, you wil be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel.

     

    Addis Ababa means “new flower” in Amharic, is Ethiopia’s largest city and often referred to as the "political capital of Africa" for its historical, diplomatic, and political significance on the continent.  Sitting at an elevation of about 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level, it enjoys an excellent climate all year, with an average temperature of 75˚F.

    Those arriving early might want to visit the sights of Addis.  The Ethnological and National Museums, and the Red Terror Martyrs Memorial Museum together offer a broad view of Ethiopia's cultural, historical and political history.  The Ethnological Museum houses  exhibits representing the best arts and crafts of the country and in-depth views of the various peoples of Ethiopia.   The National Museum - displaying cultural and archaeological relics, including a plaster cast of "Lucy," the 3.2 million-year-old hominid found in Ethiopia's Danakil Depression - is considered by many to be the best museum in Africa.   The Red Terror Martyrs Museum offers an unparalleled and moving presentation of period of Ethiopia's Communist occupation, with victims of this period serving as docents.

     

    Meals
    Dinner
    Lodging
    Intercontinental Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Addis Ababa / Gondar
    Explore Gondar Castle

    This morning you fly to Gondar to visit some of Ethiopia's most beautiful and well-preserved structures.  The first stop is Fasil Ghebbi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has earned this city the moniker "The Camelot of Africa".   This walled Royal enclosure, with its medieval castles and surrounding structures, is a fortress-city that once served as the residence of Ethiopian Emperor Fasilides and his successors.   The remainder of the day will be spent touring other fascinating sights for which Gondar is famous, including King Fasil’s Bathe and the marvelously detailed Debre Birhan Sellassie church (a.k.a. Trinity of the Mount of Light), renown for its ceiling paintings of winged angel faces.  The ceiling and wall paintings of this church depict the life, wit and humanity of Ethiopia and its inhabitants.  Many of the drawings depict stories reported only to be found in the Book of Mary.

     

     

     

     

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Taye Hotel or Goha Hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Gondar / Debark / Buit Ras
    Watch the habits and activities of entertaining Gelada baboons

    This morning head for Debark (106) km, gateway to the Simien Mountains, to pick up armed park rangers, before continuing on to Buit Ras.  Explore the cliff tops on the edge of the Rift Valley while looking for the endemic Gelada Baboons, a.k.a the Bleeding Heart Baboon, and the famous and fabled Lammergeyer, or Bearded Vulture.  Many other species of bird and mammal can be found in these mountains.  The rest of the day is spent observing the area from near the lodge.  

    Sunsets from the hilltop lodge are serene.  

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Simien Lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Chenek / Gondar

    After breakfast, drive to Chenek to look for the endemic Walia Ibex.  The Simien Mountains are the only place on earth where this mountain goat-type animal is found.  Hike around the escarpments to the extent your agility and comfort with steep trails allows.  The scenery here is spectacular, and a lovely place to enjoy your picnic lunch.

    Late in the afternoon return to Gondar for the night.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Taye Hotel or Goha Hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Gondar / Addis Ababa / Kuriftu Resort

    Today is an early morning flight back to Addis Ababa and then onward drive to Kuriftu Debre Zeit Resort, to enjoy the local wildlife and culture at a more leisurely pace.  There are many birds found in this area of crater Rift Valley lakes.

     

     

     

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Kuriftu Resort Hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Awash National Park
    Two residents of Awash National Park.

    Head out early for Awash National Park.  There are over 350 species of birds found in this savannah grassland, including the Abyssinian Roller, Abyssinian Ground Horn Bill, Endemic White Tailed Swallow, Buff Created Bustard, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Pygmy Falcon, Honey Guide, Woodland Kingfisher, and many, many more!

     

    Enjoy the vibrant and varied wildlife while exploring this gorgeous national treasure.  Even inexperienced birders will be impressed by the beauty, variety and abundance of spectacular species in this inviting habitat.  Be on the lookout for the Beisa Oryx and Swayne's hartebeest, among the 46 species of mammals recorded in the park.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Awash Falls Lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Palm Spring / Awash National Park
    Palm springs is a lush and beautiful spot.

    Today is a full day safari, looking for birds and game amidst the spectacular scenery of the Awash River Valley.

     

    Animals such as the East African oryx, Soemmerring's gazelle, Dik-dik, the lesser and greater kudus, warthogs, Anubis baboons, Hamadryas baboons, and perhaps African wild dogs can be seen. Along the way, stop at Palm Springs to swim in the natural hot springs.  After a long day of seeing magnificent animals and breathing crisp African air, turn in at the lodge for the night.

     

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Awash Falls Lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Langano

    Today head to Langano, where you will spot throngs of flamingos on the shores of Lake Zway and Lake Abijata.  In addition to the flamingos, appreciate the hundreds of other birds that congregate around the lakes.  This is a prime bird-watching experience for the avid bird lover.  As the end of the day draws near, head to your lodge for the night.

     

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Sabana Beach Resort
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Bale Mountains / Goba

    After breakfast, drive to Bale Mountains National Park, location of the richest afro-alpine vegetation in Africa. Drive through the Asela fertile land, cultivated by the Oromo people, on your way to the Dinsho, park headquarters.

     

    Within the park are found many endemic mammals, including Menelik's Bushbuck and the Mountain Nyala.  Notable bird species include the Blue-winged Goose, Spot-breasted Lapwing,  Abyssinian Longclaw, Wattled Ibis, Black-headed Siskin and Rouget's Rail. 

     

    Continue to Goba for your overnight.  

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Goba Wabishebele Hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: Sof Omar Caves
    Spend most of your day exploring this unique Muslim pilgrimage site.

    Today is a visit to Sof Omar caves, a vast series of underground limestone caves carved out by the River Web.   The cave is almost nine miles long and is often touted as the longest cave in Africa.  Entering through one of the portals, visitors follow a walking trail that criss-crosses the river multiple times as it passes through a series of chambers.  The most impressive of these cavaties is the Chamber of Columns, named after the numerous tall pillars found in it. 

     

    Named after Sheikh Sof Omar, a 12th-century Muslim leader who used them as a refuge, the caves remain an important site of pilgrimage for Ethiopian Muslims as well as to the local Oromo People.

    Explore this site at your leisure.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Goba Wabishebele
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Sanetti Plateau / Goba

    Early in the morning, drive to the Afro-alpine Sanetti Plateau, home of the endemic Simien Fox and the beautiful and rare Spot-breasted Plover.   This area is also home to the rare and endangered Ethiopian Wolf.

     

    After a full day in the area, head back for your last evening at the lodge.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Goba Wabishebele
    Show on a map
  • Day 12: Goba / Addis Ababa

    Early in the morning you start the drive back to Addis via the Assela plains. 

     

    Tonight you enjoy a folkloric dinner in one of the best cultural restaurants, where you can enjoy traditional Ethiopian dishes, music and dances from different regions of the country.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Intercontinental Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 13: Addis Ababa

    Your last morning is free to explore Addis on your own, doing some last minute shopping or visiting before being transferred to the airport for your homebound flight.

     

    A dayroom at the hotel can be booked at additional expense.

     

     

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Sep 29-Oct 11, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$4,850
Single Traveler Price: Ask 2 - 3 travelers: $5,550 4 - 12 travelers: $4,600
Single Supplement:
$825
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
13 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
1
Group Size:
4-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
4
JOURNEYS grading system from I to IV will help you choose an experience with physical demands which match your motivation. 1. Active Active exploration with optional day hikes, easy walking, leisurely bicycling or light canoeing. Comfortable travel by vehicle. 2. Vigorous Experience may include regular hiking or physical exercise in varied environments. Travel by vehicle may be long or over rough terrain. 3. Challenging Parts of trip will involve physical challenge. Daily hiking in rough terrain, high altitude, rough road travel and remoteness from modern medical care may be unavoidable circumstances. 4. Demanding Extended foot travel in very remote areas. Previous wilderness travel experience advisable. Doctor's certification may be requested.

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

×