Start this wildlife tour with a quick flight to Gondar, site of the famed Fasalidas Castles in its Imperial Compound. This is the access airport to the vast Simien Mountains, where you stay for two nights in the comfortable Simien Lodge. During your time here, you will be taken deep into the park to seek its iconic resident mammals, the highly endangered Walia ibex (only some 500 remain with none held anywhere in captivity) and the very distinctive Gelada monkey, which you should see in large numbers, even around the lodge. Scenery here is some of Africa's most breathtaking and the site is rewarding for birders too, particularly raptor enthusiasts.
Fly back to Addis Ababa from Gondar, and set off in a comfortable, air-conditioned 4WD vehicle southwards along a good road to the Rift Valley Lakes region with a stay at Lake Langano. You may see families of warthog, small antelopes including Dik-diks, baboons, and Colobus monkeys as well as pods of hippos and Nile crocodiles at the lakes. It provides the ideal overnight stop to break the road journey to Bale Mountains National Park, the other main area focussed on during this individual tour.
In Bale Mountains National Park, you'll explore widely varying habitats from lush evergreen forest to the bleak moorlands of the Sanetti Plateau or 'roof of Africa'. Seek out the endangered Mountain Nyala and the almost blackish Meneliks bushbuck around Dinsho and on the Sanetti Plateau, you'll be able to look for the gravely endangered Ethiopian wolf, now numbering less than 400 individuals, again with none held in captivity anywhere.
In Harenna Forest, where the lovely Bale Mountains Lodge is located, you can look for very unusual, forest-dwelling lions, giant forest hog and the recently discovered Bale monkey, which feeds predominantly on bamboo. Birders will be in their element here - Bale is rated as one of the continent's top 5 birding localities and many of the country's endemics are present in fair numbers here.
Note: Bale Lodge and Limalimo Lodge in the Simien Mountains are closed annually because of the rainy season (July/August) so this tour should be done from September to June.
Day 1 Overnight Ethiopian Airlines flight from UK to Addis Ababa.
Day 2 On arrival in Addis Ababa your guide and driver will assist you and transfer you to the Momona hotel to stay overnight with breakfast included. Relax for the balance of the morning. In the afternoon, visit some of the capital city highlights, notably Mt Entoto Park overlooking the city.
Day 3 Early transfer to the airport to check in for the 1 hour flight to Gondar. On arrival, you will be met and transferred 2 hours to Simien Mountains National Park, where you stay for two nights in Africa's highest-lying lodge, the Simien Lodge with all meals included. An introductory walk around the area should reveal the likes of the iconic Gelada monkey, the only primate in the world that grazes. Large numbers can be seen around the lodge.
Day 4 Your guide and driver will take you to high-lying Chennek, deep in the national park. This is one of the best sites in which to seek the highly endangered Walia ibex, which frequents rock faces here. It cannot be seen anywhere else, as it is not represented in any captive breeding programmes. Aside from some of Africa's most spectacular scenery, you'll also be able to see various raptors, such as Verreaux's and Golden eagles, and with them in the thermals, endemic Thick-billed raven among other birds.
Day 5 After seeing beautiful Sankaber in the sub-Afroalpine zone, travel 2 hours back to Gondar where you stay overnight in Mayleko Lodge with all meals included.
Day 6 Transfer to Gondar airport to check in for the quick early morning flight back to Addis Ababa. On arrival, travel in your comfortable air-conditioned 4WD vehicle about 4 hours south along good roads, to the Rift Valley Lakes region to stay overnight at the relaxed lakeside Sabana Lodge, all meals included. Sunsets here are pure African magic, as the birdsong chorus cross-fades into the sound of hundreds of thousands of frogs.
Day 7 After breakfast, drive to Dinsho in the Bale Mountains National Park, to collect your park permits. Take an exploratory walk in the surrounding Juniper and Hagenia woods just outside the park HQ as this should easily reveal two endemic antelopes: the Mountain Nyala (population approxinately 2,500) was one of the last large antelopes to be discovered in Africa and is endemic to this part of Ethiopia. The less gregarious, almost blackish Menelik’s bushbuck is also easy to see. Woodland birding here is superb. Ascend to Sanetti Plateau, which you cross on Africa's highest-lying road and then descend to the luxuriant Harenna Forest, where your accommodation for three nights is the splendid Bale Mountains Lodge, all meals included.
Day 8 Take an excursion on Africa’s highest-lying road to the bleak Afro-alpine moorlands of the Sanetti Plateau. This area holds the largest concentration of the remaining 400-odd Ethiopian wolves, now critically endangered with none held anywhere in captivity. Because the wolves are habituated and diurnal, they often allow for good photo opportunities. Sleek and animated, these wolves are the world's rarest Canids. Just as interesting, is its main prey item, the endemic Giant mole rat, which somewhat resembles a large marmot or gopher. Birdlife includes several endemic moorland-dwelling species such as Africa’s only true goose, the Blue-winged goose. Raptors abound.
Day 9 A dramatic escarpment separates the various sectors of Bale Mountains National Park, which, as its proprietor Yvonne Levene aptly points out, is an 'experience' rather than just a visit. (That's why one needs at least three days here). The beautiful tropical Harenna Forest, in which Bale Mountains Lodge is located, is a treasure trove for naturalists. Harenna is as yet poorly inventoried, but does hold some rare wildlife such as the recently described, highly localised Bale monkey. (Lucky visitors also see Lion). Evergreen forest birdlife is exceptionally diverse here, as is other wildlife.
Day 10 Drive back upcountry to the Rift Valley Lakes region where you stay overnight at Sabana Beach Resort, Lake Langano. All meals included.
Day 11 Spend the morning sightseeing with your guide in the Rift Valley Lakes area. Drive back to Addis Ababa after lunch. You have the use of a day room at Momona Hotel. Evening transfer after dinner at a local restaurant, to Bole Airport for the Ethiopian Airlines check in. (Most flights depart in the early hours of the following morning. (If yours is a later departure, overnight in Momona Hotel with breakfast included).
Day 12 Take the early morning Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to London Heathrow.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
** If you see this next to a price, a specific price in your currency has not been provided, this is an estimated-only price based on a currency conversion, the price you pay may be different to that shown
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