Birding Ethiopia

Africa/Birding Tour Ethiopia

The endemic wildlife of Ethiopia

Jemmu Gorge, Rift Valley lakes, Bale Mountains, Negele, Yabello, Awash, 17 days

Ethiopia has one of the most diverse culture, geography, nature and wildlife of the African continent. Our birding tour in this fantastic country brings us to 3 national parks and several wildlife reserves. We observe endemic and regional endemic birds, mammals and other wildlife as we explore the Rift Valley lakes, the Afro-Alpine Highlands, savannahs, lush forests and deserts.

We visit Geffersa Reservoir for the first set of endemics including Blue-winged Goose, Abyssinian Longclaw and Black-headed Siskin. We make a day trip to the Sululta Plains and Jemmu Gorge from Addis for many exciting birds among them Wattled Ibis, White-collared Pigeon, Banded Barbet, White-winged Cliff Chat, Rüppell’s Black Chat, White-billed Starling and Gelada Baboon.
On the way south we stop at the Debre Zeyt Lakes, Lake Koka and Lake Ziway in search of White-backed Duck, Black Crowned Crane, Lesser Jacana and Chestnut Sparrow among commoner species.

We explore Lake Langano and its surroundings for Clapperton’s Francolin, Hemprich’s Hornbill, Black-winged Lovebird, Boran Cisticola and Abyssinian Black Wheatear. We visit Abiyata-Shalla National Park to see thousands of Lesser and Greater Flamingos.
We spend a day in Wondo Genet National Forest to look for Yellow-fronted Parrot, Half-collared Kingfisher, Narina Trogon, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Sharpe’s Starling and African Hill Babbler.

We spend 2 days in the Bale Mountains National Park visiting the Sanetti Plateau in quest of Wattled Crane, Spot-breasted Plover, Rouget's Rail, Chestnut-naped Francolin, Lammergeier, Abyssinian Catbird, White-backed Black Tit, Mountain Nyala and Ethiopian Wolf. Harenna Forest is a good place to see Abyssinian Crimsonwing.

We head south crossing Genale River where Ruspoli’s Turaco is possible and spend a day on Liben Plain at Negele in search of Liben and Somali Short-toed Lark, Somali Courser, White-crowned Starling and Grey-capped Social Weaver.

We spend time in Yabello Wildlife Sanctuary to see Stresemann's Bush-Crow, White-tailed Swallow, Bare-eyed Thrush, Pringle’s Puffback and Red-naped Bush-shrike.
We then drive north exploring Lake Awassa for its fish market plus Spotted Creeper and Abyssinian Waxbill. Bilen Lodge and Awash National Park are home to many exciting species including Somali Ostrich, African Swallow-tailed Kite, Arabian and Hartlaub’s Bustard, Yellow-breasted Barbet, Gillett’s Lark and Somali Fiscal.

As an extension further areas of birding and cultural interest can be added. You can add a visit to Jemmu Valley, Ankober, Gibe Gorge, Nechisar NP or further north to the historic sites of Ethiopia.

Latest Reviews

"Attila, it was a tremendously successful trip – an excellent exploration of Southern Ethiopia and a wonderful collection of sightings of the birds and mammals of the area. Your commitment to ensuring that we saw almost all of the target species was outstanding. It was a pleasure to share the experience. "
Peter, UK

"Thank you for a wonderful adventure in Ethiopia. Ann and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact we’re thinking of returning to get more of the culture and history which suggests the north i.e. Axum etc. We’re still buzzing about the birding tour with you. "
Ann and Frank Turpin, UK

"I have wanted to visit Ethiopia since watching Jeffrey Boswall's Safari to Ethiopia on TV in a black & white as a small boy. I have previously been lucky enough to go birding in South Africa, Namibia & Kenya but Ethiopia was quite different. We had a great, trouble free trip, racking up nearly 500 species in 16 days including all of the possible endemics and all but one of the near endemics along with some great mammals including Ethiopian Wolf. This was down to the excellent ground arrangements and the hard work of both the Ecotours guide & the local Ethiopian guide. Ethiopia is not Kenya so do not expect high quality hotels, restaurants, good roads or lots of big game. Do however expect friendly people, stunning views and lots of fantastic close views of the birds which after all is why I went."
Mike Powell, UK




2 nights in Addis Ababa
2 nights at Lake Langano
2 nights in Goba at Bale Mountains NP
2 nights in Negele
2 nights in Yabello
2 nights at Lake Awassa
2 nights in Awash NP

Departure Dates

20 November -5 December 2020 with New Horizons


from 4,250 USD + 395 USD (single room supplement)
Ask for the actual price



We depart from London. First night is spent on the flight to Ethiopia.


We arrive to Addis Ababa in the morning. We drive to our hotel and have a short rest then we explore the extensive birding grounds of the hotel to see Wattled Ibis, Nyanza Swift, Tacazze Sunbird, Thick-billed Raven, Brown Parisoma and Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher. In the afternoon we head for Geffersa Reservoir, home to Blue-winged Goose, Black-headed Siskin, White-collared Pigeon and Abyssinian Longclaw. Next day we drive north and cross the Sululta Plain where we may spot Common Cranes, several species of vulture, Tawny Eagle, White-winged Cliff-chat, Erlanger’s Lark and Red-chested Swallow. At Debre Libanos we explore various habitats supporting many endemics. Here we should see Lammergeier, Rüppell’s Griffon, Verreaux's Eagle, Erckel’s Francolin, White-billed Starling, Black-winged Lovebird and Rüppell’s Black Chat.


On leaving Addis Ababa we head south for the main Ethiopian Rift. Our first stop is at Lake Cheleleka where White-backed and Maccoa Duck, pelicans, Hottentot and Red-billed Teal and a good variety of waders can be observed. We then head to Koka Dam, an important waterbird site where Black Crowned Crane can usually be found. Our next destination is Lake Ziway, where we expect to see Marabou, African Fish-Eagle, Black Crake and other tame birds attracted by fishery waste. We leave Ziway to reach Lake Langano in the evening. Our hotel is a good location for birds with Little Rock Thrush, Banded Barbet, Mocking Cliff Chat, White-winged Black Tit and Black-winged Lovebird. In the morning we bird on the shores of Lake Langano to see Clapperton’s Francolin, Hemprich’s and von der Decken’s Hornbill, LovebirdVerreaux’s Eagle Owl, Boran Cisticola and White-rumped Babbler. We later move to explore Bishangari forest for Narina Trogon, Lemon Dove, Yellow-fronted Parrot, White-cheeked Turaco and Guereza Colobus among other forest specials.


After breakfast we visit Abiyata-Shalla National Park. Lake Abiyata is home to thousands of Lesser and Greater Flamingos. We then set off for Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia’s prime location for Afro-alpine species. We stop at Dinsho to spend some time looking for Abyssinian and African Wood Owl, plus the endemic Mountain Nyala and Menelik's Bushbuck. We expect to see Spot-breasted Plover, Rouget's Rail, Thick-billed Raven, Blue-winged Goose, Abyssinian Longclaw, White-collared Pigeon and Cape Eagle-owl on the way. We reach Goba, our accommodation for the next 2 nights. The Juniper-Hagenia forests and the Sanetti plateau is our focus for the whole day, with the chance to observe Wattled Crane, Chestnut-naped and Moorland Francolin, Abyssinian Catbird, White-backed Black Tit, Brown Parisoma, Abyssinian Woodpecker and Lammergeier. We hope to see Simien Wolf, the rarest wolf in the world. Later we arrive to the Harenna Escarpment, affording an astonishing view over the giant forest 2000 m below.


We make an early start crossing the Sanetti plateau and spending some time in Harenna Forest to reach a dry wadi on the Genale River, home to Ethiopia’s most sought-after endemic, Ruspoli's Turaco. In the late afternoon we arrive in Negele where we spend two nights. Our next stop is Liben Plains east of Negele, unique habitat of the endemic Liben Lark. We search for this special bird and with luck we should also find Kori and Hartlaub’s Bustards, Temminck's and Somali Courser and Somali Short-toed Lark. The adjacent dry woodland and thorn savanna support Boran and Tiny Cisticolas, Mouse-coloured Penduline-tit, Red-and-yellow Barbet, Taita Fiscal, Golden-breasted, Shelley's and White-crowned Starlings and Northern Grosbeak-canary.


We leave Negele and crossing the dry country by afternoon we reach Yabello. We take a break on the way at the Dawa River to search for the range restricted African White-winged Dove, Black-bellied Sunbird and Juba Weaver. Reaching Yabello Wildlife Sanctuary we should already see Stresemann's Bush-Crow and White-tailed Swallow. We spend a day in Yabello Wildlife Sanctuary where target birds will include Red-naped and Rosy-patched Bush-shrike, Buff-crested and White-bellied Bustard, Taita Fiscal, Straw-tailed Wydah, Foxy Lark, Bare-eyed Thrush, Pringle's Puffback, Grey-capped and Black-capped Social Weavers and White-bellied Canary.


After some morning birding we head back north to Lake Awassa, where we hope to find Red-breasted Wryneck, Spotted Creeper, Allen's Gallinule, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill and Blue-headed Coucal in the hotel garden or ont he lake shore. Next day we explore Wondo Genet forest home to Yellow-fronted Parrot, Half-collared Kingfisher, Narina Trogon, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Abyssinian Ground Thrush, Sharpe’s Starling and African Hill Babbler.


We visit the fish market of Awassa in the morning before setting off to Awash National Park. On the way we stop at Lake Beseka to search for Sombre Rock Chat, Blackstart, Striolated Bunting and Bristle-crowned Starling on the lava flows. We arrive to Awash in the evening. Next morning we’ll try to find Somali Ostrich, Arabian Bustard, Liechtenstein’s Sandgrouse, Yellow-breasted Barbet, Black Scrub Robin and Shining Sunbird ont he Ali Dege Plains. We spend the afternoon in Awash National Park exploring for the specialities. Here we should see many ungulates, including Beisa Oryx and Soemmering’s Gazelle. The park’s bird list includes Pygmy Falcon, Kori, Hartlaub’s and Buff-crested Bustard, Two-banded Courser, Spotted Thick-knee, Singing Bushlark, Red-winged and Gillett's Lark, Ashy Cisticola and Somali Fiscal.


After a morning birding in Awash area we head back to Addis Ababa taking time off en route at suitable habitats to add a few extra birds. In Addis we have a farewell dinner in a local restaurant, and depart for the airport for our late night return flight. We arrive back home next morning.

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