*Up to 450 bird species expected
*Wonderful scenery, wide variety of birds, mammals and other wildlife
*Habitats include the Rift Valley lakes, typical east African savanna and dry country thornbush
*Many endemic and near-endemic birds and mammals
*Many colourful turacos, bee-eaters, sunbirds, starlings and weavers
*Fairly tame and approachable birds
*Large mammals providing good photo opportunities
Following an overnight flight, we arrive at Addis Ababa in the morning of Day 2 and transfer to our hotel. The hotel gardens can be productive with Thick-Billed Raven, Brown Parisoma, Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher, Tacazze Sunbird and White-collared Pigeon. After lunch we leave for nearby Geffersa Reservoir to see African Black and Yellow-billed Duck, Abyssinian Longclaw, Augur Buzzard and Red-breasted Wheatear.
We drive north through the Sululta Plains, with a chance of Wattled Ibis, Erlanger’s Lark, Blue-winged Goose and Black-headed Siskin. Later, we reach Jemmu Gorge, where we’ll scan for Erckel’s Francolin, White-winged Cliff Chat, White-billed Starling, Lammergeier, Rueppell’s Vulture and Verreaux’s Eagle, plus Gelada Baboons. The forest surrounding Debre Libanos monastery is a good place to see Black-winged Lovebird, Banded Barbet, White-cheeked Turaco and Abyssinian Oriole.
We head down the Ethiopian Rift Valley, checking out Chelekleka Lake for Hottentot Teal, African Pygmy Goose, Southern Pochard and White-backed Duck. Koka Dam is a reliable place to see Black Crowned Cranes and Lake Ziway holds huge numbers of waterbirds with Black Heron and African Fish Eagle. We continue to Lake Langano to our lakeshore hotel.
The following day we’ll search the hotel grounds for Red-fronted and Red-billed Barbets, Little Rock Thrush, Abyssinian Black Wheatear, Fan-tailed Raven and Ethiopian Rock Hyrax. The dry acacia woodland might also yield Black-billed Woodhoopoe, Von der Decken’s Hornbill, White-rumped Babbler and Grey-headed Batis. In the afternoon, we’ll visit Bishangari Forest for Western Banded Snake-Eagle, Narina Trogon,Bare-faced Go-away-bird and Guereza Colobus.
Today we set off to the fabulous Bale Mountains and, on the way, we’ll expect to see Lammergeier, Cape Eagle-Owl, Red-billed Chough, Rouget’s Rail, Chestnut-naped Francolin, Moorland Chat and Black-headed Siskin. We’ll stop at Dinsho to search for Mountain Nyala and Menelik’s Bushbuck, as well as Montane Nightjar and Abyssinian Owl, arriving at Goba in the late afternoon.
We spend a full day in Bale Mountains National Park, and as we leave Goba we’ll search for Abyssinian Catbird and White-backed Black Tit. Sanetti Plateau at 4100m is covered with alpine vegetation and we should see Wattled Crane, Spot-breasted Plover, Blue-winged Goose and Malachite Sunbird. The enigmatic Ethiopian Wolf survives here, along with Giant Root-rat and Starck’s Hare.
We transfer to Negele today and enroute we stop at Harenna Forest for Grey Cuckooshrike, Abyssinian Crimsonwing and Green-backed Twinspot. Later on, amongst drier savannah, roadside birds include Red-and-yellow Barbet, Lilac-breasted Roller and Shelley’s and Golden-breasted Starling. We’ll reach Genale River, home to Ethiopia’s most sought-after endemic, Ruspoli’s Turaco, before arriving at Negele where we spend two nights.
Whilst here, we’ll have a day on the Liben Plains which are home to Liben Lark, whilst the surrounding woodland supports White-bellied and Hartlaub’s Bustard, Spotted Palm-Thrush, Somali Courser, Red-naped Bush-shrike, Taita Fiscal, Three-streaked Tchagra and White-crowned and Magpie Starlings.
We leave Negele and stop at the Dawa River for African White-winged Dove, Black-bellied Sunbird and Juba Weaver. Before Yabello we’ll start looking for Stresemann’s Bush-Crow and White-tailed Swallow, and in the late afternoon we’ll reach our hotel at Yabello.
We’ll spend a day in Yabello Wildlife Sanctuary, home to Pygmy Falcon, Vulturine Guineafowl, Red-bellied Parrot, d’Arnaud’s Barbet, Pringle’s Puffback, African Bare-eyed Thrush, White Helmetshrike, Rosy-patched Bush-shrike, Purple Grenadier and Somali Bunting.
We drive to Lake Awassa and, after checking into our lakeshore hotel, we search for Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Red-breasted Wryneck and Spotted Creeper. Along the lakeshore, Lesser Jacana, Giant Kingfisher, Blue-headed Coucal and Abyssinian Waxbill can also be found.
The next day we’ll visit Wondo Genet, where we hope to find Yellow-fronted Parrot, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Half-collared Kingfisher, Abyssinian Ground-thrush, African Hill Babbler and Double-toothed Barbet. In the afternoon we visit Abiyata-Shalla National Park, which is home to thousands of flamingos and Caspian Plover, Kori Bustard, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill are among other species that can be seen here.
We visit the fish market of Awassa, where freshly caught fish attracts Marabous, pelicans, herons and egrets, before heading north. We’ll stop at Lake Beseka for Sombre Rock Chat, Bristle-crowned Starling and Striolated Bunting and in the afternoon, we reach our lodge inside Awash National Park.
The following day we’ll spend the morning in Awash looking for African Swallow-tailed Kite, Buff-crested and Hartlaub’s Bustards, Three-banded Courser, Spotted Thick-knee, Carmine Bee-eater, Liechtenstein’s Sandgrouse, Shining Sunbird, White-headed Buffalo Weaver and Cut-throat Finch, plus Beisa Oryx and Soemmering’s Gazelle. In the afternoon we visit the Ali Dege Plains for Somali Ostrich, Arabian Bustard, Yellow-breasted Barbet and Nile Valley Sunbird.
We return to Addis, with time during the afternoon for souvenir shopping or sightseeing. We shall have a farewell dinner before we depart for the airport for our late flight