Special photography tour focused on the most emblematic birds and mammals of Ethiopia.
Wild Ethiopia Photography -NEW-
Monday 30th October - Friday 10th November 2017
Ethiopia is a country offering excellent opportunities for true bird and wildlife photography. By true, we mean approaching them by walking and stalking and not using specially designed hides for wildlife photographers. We do have a lot of these at home (Bulgaria), and currently in Europe there are well over 1000 hides offering excellent opportunities. But more and more photographers are asking and turning an eye to the real hunt - find the animal get close by and shoot. Ethiopia is one of the right places for this type of photography for several reasons. First, there is a great variety of birds and mammals - 850 and 260 species respectively. And what birds and animals they are - some of the iconic wildlife species in the world. Moreover they are found in very good numbers and even more importantly they are reasonably approachable as are not persecuted or hunted by the local people. In my time spent birding I have not seen more approachable birds than those I saw during my first visit to Ethiopia last October. Therefore this tour was born.
Still, we have chosen the sites we will visit carefully so they give us maximum chances for good results - abundant wildlife and/or being in remote places. Despite its 90 million people, Ethiopia, being a vast country is not so densely populated and there are still places where you can watch enjoy and photograph the wildlife without being surrounded by a crowd of children as in almost any other country on the continent. The great variety of birds will definitely help us but we will concentrate on fewer species in the right locations. Beeeaters, rollers, hornbills, barbets, raptors, waterfowl, kingfishers, parrots, starlings will be our main targets, everything else that comes along will be welcomed.
However, along with the birds, we are aiming at two iconic mammals. The endemic Ethiopian wolf - the rarest canid in the world, with fewer than 500 animals left, is one of them. Mysterious, different, elegant, endangered and not as shy as the other wolves, it is very appealing challenge. His home range is also very impressive - the cold, wet and rough Sanetti plateau. We will spend two full days here in order to have the best chance for really good photographs of the wolves, by being at the right place at the right moment. On the plateau can also be found other species - Spot-breasted Plover, Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged Goose as well as some raptors - Lanner Falcon, Imperial and Spotted eagles.
The other mammal is also endemic and even more appealing - the unique Gelada Baboon. We will be visiting (within the extension) their famous home range - the impressive Simien Mountains, which every naturalist will have seen in documentaries. We will hopefully take not only portraits of the Geladas, but also capture their interacting behavior and social life. The Simien Mountain as well as Sanetti plateau offers good options for landscape photography. Beside the mountains we will be visiting gorges, forests, semi-deserts and wetlands looking for our subjects. There will be also opportunities to take pictures of the local people in their traditional and colourful clothes and when they are in their duties in the beautiful and natural landscapes, it will result in memorable pictures. All the accommodation within the tour is carefully chosen - the lodges at Awash National Park and Langano Lake, as well as the hotel at Awasa Lake are very good quality, while the lodges at Bale and Simien mountains are upmarket, probably the best in Ethiopia.
Day 1 Arrival in Addis Ababa and transfer to a hotel for the first night stay. Accommodation and dinner. Flight permitting we will drive straight to Awash Falls lodge, Awash NP. If not, overnight in Addis Ababa.
Days 2 and 3 Both days we will spent in Awash NP where a great number of birds can be found, also mammals such as Oryx. Here we can photograph Carmine and Little Beeeater, Arabian Bustard, Rosy-patched Shrike, Red and Yellow Barbet, Somali Golden-breasted Bunting, different species of wood doves, Yellow billed Hornbill, Little Rock Thrush and many more. Two/three nights at the local lodge.
Day 4 Today we will drive to Langano, one of the Rift Valley lakes, surrounded by arid acacia savanna. En route we will have a few a stops, the main one will be at Lake Ziway and its surrounding where again we will find many species of wetland birds in big numbers. Two nights at Bishangari Eco Lodge
Day 5 and 6 We will explore the forest around the lodge and the lake shores - here will find again good numbers of species. The endemic Yellow-fronted Parrot and the Blackwinged Lovebird are found around the lodge, also Broad-billed Roller, Narina Trogon, Redshouldered and Emerald Cuckoos, Lemon, Blue-spotted and Tambourine Doves, different woodpeckers, Sharpe's Starling, Doubletoothed Barbet, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Red breasted Wryneck, Masked Weavers, Beautiful Sunbird and many more. It is home to a few mammals including the Bushbuck, Vervet and Black Colobus Monkeys, Olive Baboon and Golden-backed Jackal. In the afternoon of day 6, we shall drive to Lake Awassa, where we will overnight at Haile Resort hotel which the gardens will provide easy photography early next morning.
Days 7 to 9 Morning session in the hotels garden and then a boat trip into the lake which will provide good options for many birds and there are a few hippos living here. At noon, when ready, we will drive to Bale Mountain where we will spend three days photographing its mammals and birds. The endemic Ethiopian Wolf and the Mountain Nyala will be our main targets here. Other species will be Menelik's Bushbuck, and the birds may be the elusive Wattled Crane and the endemic Spotbreasted Plover, Blue-winged Goose, Rougets Rail and many other species etc. Overnight in the luxury Bale Mountain Lodge.
Day 10 If needed, we will spend the good part of the day photographing at the plateau again, if not needed there is an option to visit Harenna forest - the largest intact forest in Ethiopia. Return to lake Awassa in the evening. One night at Haile Resort.
Day 11 After the morning session in the hotel gardens and if needed another boat trip, we will drive to Senkelle Wildlife Sanctuary, 90 km from Awassa, well known for endemic and endangered subspecies of Swayne's Hartebeest as well as antelopes, warthogs, olive baboons, vervet monkeys and bushbuck. Although the sanctuary was set aside to protect the largest population of Swayne's Hartebeest in Ethiopia, a mammal endemic to Ethiopia, the original herd of 3,000 animals has dwindled to a few hundred due to poaching. Overnight at a lodge near Langano Lake.
Day 12 Morning photography around the lake, followed by a transfer to Addis Adaba for the return flight. For those of us who will attend the extension, afternoon flight to Gondar.
Extension for Gelada Baboons
Days 13 and 14 Both days we will spend in Simien National Park - one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world and home to globally threatened species, including the iconic Gelada baboon, possibly the Walia Ibex, a wild mountain goat found nowhere else in the world, and again the Ethiopian wolf. We will concentrate on these 3 species here, and whatever else comes along. Overnight at Simien Lodge
Day 15 Morning photography and drive to Gondar for airport transfer to Addis Ababa. Fly home.