Discover the wildlife of Ethiopia’s Bale Mountain National Park, the city of Addis Ababa, the culturally rich Mursi tribe and visit the Guassa Community Conservation Area in search of Ethiopian Gelada monkeys.
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On this 13-day Ethiopia safari you will explore the towering Bale Mountain National Park in the Ethiopian highlands following the tracks of Bale Monkeys and you will visit the Senkelle Wildlife Sanctuary.You will embark on a forest walking safari in search of the rare Ethiopian wolf and exotic birdlife, including the yellow fronted parrot and black winged lovebird, and the bustling Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Our Ethiopia safari includes a Hamer tribes cultural experience in the Omo Valley, a boat trip over Lake Chamo, the lakes of Langano, trekking through Arba Minch and a visit to the Guassa Community Conservation Area to watch Ethiopian Gelada monkeys playing and scavenging for food on the grassland plains.
After arrival into Addis Ababa Bole International Airport you will be met by a Ker & Downey® Africa representative for your transfer to your luxury hotel for the night, the Sheraton Addis Hotel. The Sheraton boasts 10 bars and restaurants, each offering a different cuisine, a kid’s club, swimming pool and central location close to downtown Addis Ababa, museums, and shopping areas. You will spend your first day in Ethiopia exploring its hot and busy capital, the diplomatic capital of Africa, as the headquarters of the African Union, and a city of impressive statues and varied architecture. Addis Ababa was founded by Emperor Menelik II in 1887 as the centre of his country because of the strategic location of the area 2,700 metres above sea level in the central highlands.
You can experience the unfamiliar smells and roaring sounds in one of Africa’s largest open-air markets, Merkato, windswept boulevards, or learn more about the Ethiopian culture in the National Museum of Ethiopia.
After a hearty breakfast at the Sheraton Addis Hotel you will be transferred by road to Langano, located in the Great Rift Valley at an elevation of 1,585 metres, just east of Lake Abijata. You will spend the night at Sabana Beach Resort, a lakeside resort located steps away from the sandy beaches of Lake Abijata, with spectacular views of the lake and rugged cliff peaks. You will have uninterrupted views of the sun rising and setting over the lake, birds diving for their food, and the clouds falling over the cliffs, and you can savour traditional Ethiopian food in the onsite restaurant hut. During the day you can hike around the 18-kilometre-long by 16-kilometre-wide lake, relax to the sound of crashing water beside the waterfall, or watch the wildlife drinking and catching fish.
After enjoying your breakfast at Sabana Beach Resort you will be greeted by our representative to take you on a scenic drive to the Bale Mountain National Park. On your Ethiopian safari you will stop at a number of spectacular photographic spots to put your camera skills to the test. You will see thick forests filled with towering green trees clinging to the side of deep valleys, peaks that pierce the clouds and undisturbed moorlands and rough rocky outcrops, each home to thousands of animals and insects endemic to this part of Africa. You will visit Dinsho, a village located in the heart of the Bale Mountains, standing at some 3,207 metres above sea level. You will walk through the bush in search of three endemic animals that call the area home, Menelik’s Bushbuck, Mountain Nyala and endangered Bale Mountains vervet-Bale monkeys.
You could spot a variety of birdlife in the skies above you, including blue-winged geese, spot-breasted lapwings, Abyssinian long claws, Wattled Ibis, Black-headed Siskins and Rouget’s rail. En-route to your accommodation you will stop off at the Senkelle Wildlife Sanctuary, located 48 kilometres west of Hawassa, where you will track rare wildlife lurking in the open acacia woodland. You could spot the Swayne’s hartebeest, of which there are only between 600 and 800 in the reserve, Bohor, reedbucks, Greater kudu, orbis antelope, spotted hyenas, warthogs, common jackals and countless other wild animals and birds. Your accommodation for the next three nights will be at Bale Mountain Lodge, a unique wilderness lodge located deep within the Bale Mountains National Park. The 11-room lodge offers you a pristine wilderness experience like no other, with a Katcha overlooking the canopy of the Harenna Forest, and several marked trails leading from the lodge deep into the forest.
After your breakfast you will spend a full day exploring the Bale Mountains National Park with an expert local guide. Uninhabited, remote and unspoilt, the national park peaks at 14,360 feet above sea level, making it the largest area of high moorland in Africa. On this Ethiopia safari you will witness nature at its finest, tracking Mountain Nyala that are found nowhere else in the world, climbing over rocky peaks and past terrifying sheer drops deep into dark caverns. You will see clouds shrouding Mount Batu, one of the highest mountains in Ethiopia, endemic Ethiopian wolves and Giant molerats guarding their territory, and countless colourful and unusual flowers that only grow in the park during specific seasons of the year. After an exhilarating day in the wilderness, with eagles and vultures flying overhead, you will descend into the remarkable Harenna Escarpment, one of the largest expanses of virgin forest in the country. You will spend the night in Bale Mountain Lodge where you will be treated to a tasty local dinner with unrivalled natural views of the mountains.
After breakfast you will embark on a walking safari deep into the lush forest, providing cover to countless animals and insects. A flowing stream passes through the forest, home to endemic frogs and recently-discovered species of crabs. Hiking into the forest is the best way to search for the illusive Bale Monkeys swinging from the trees and their calls echoing through the air. For birdwatchers, the forest is home to endemic Ethiopian Cisticola, Abyssinian Slaty Flycatchers, Abyssinian Catbirds, Black-headed Siskins and countless parrot and lovebird species just waiting to be discovered. After a strenuous two-hour vertical hike to the top of Mount Gujaralle, you will be rewarded with breath-taking views of the Harenna Forest canopy and the distant mountain peaks.
You can refresh in the pool of a secluded waterfall before trekking back to the Bale Mountain Lodge where the afternoon will be at leisure. Enjoy a tasty dinner before relaxing for the night with a sundowner as the sunsets over the forest canopy. Photo credit | Arthur Tiutenko
After breakfast at Bale Mountain Lodge you will take a charter flight to South Omo (Murule), often considered Ethiopia’s Garden of Eden for the next stage of your Ethiopia safari. A driver will meet you at the airport to drive you 15 kilometres to your accommodation for the night, Lale’s Camp. The rural camp is located along the edge of the river bank, with igloo-style tents offering comfortable beds and spectacular views, and the onsite chef preparing tasty local meals and packed lunches for treks into the forest. After settling in, you will drive through Konso, Weito and Key Afer to the southern market town of Jinka. You will spend the day in the homeland of the Karo tribe, of which there are only 1,000 left, learning about the unique ritual body scaring ceremonies, colourful body painting and impressive beadwork.
You will visit the village of Duss to visit the wooden log parliament of the Karo government before returning back to the camping lodge for a welcome bush meal and relaxing night sleep.
After a filling bush breakfast, a driver will take you to your boat transfer to the remote and undisturbed region of the Mursi tribe. The Mursi are known for their remarkable body scarification, intricate body painting and surprisingly-large clay plates that women insert into their lower lips. You will take a boat upstream, passing basking crocodiles and countless birdlife to a remote forest clearing, from where you will hike deep into the trees to the silence of the village. You will meet tribespeople who are the most famous of the Omotic speakers, joining them in their traditional mudbrick houses and walking through their traditional pasturelands. You will return to your base at Lale’s Camp for a hearty dinner and to relax for the night.
After a bush breakfast, you will be driven to the market town of Turmi, home of the Hamer tribes who are known for their impressive body decorations, Evangadi midnight dancing, and bull jumping ceremonies. On the three-hour safari drive you will spot eagles and vultures circling overhead, thick bushland, and countless eland and bushbucks running alongside the rough road. You might be lucky and arrive during the unforgettable bull jumping ceremony, a unique rite of passage from childhood to adulthood, where you will see boys jumping over a line of 10 to 30 bulls, completely nude, in an attempt to join the ranks of Maza. A group of Maza, other men that have completed the jump, stand cheering and singing traditional tribal songs. You will spend your final night at Lale’s Camp.
After having your final bush breakfast, you will drive to Arba Minch, Ethiopia’s lakeside city. You will stop off at the recently UNESCO-listed Konso region, known for the terraced hillsides, fine woven materials and carved totem poles that are used to decorate graves. You can visit the home of the Konso tribal king and the village of Machekie, an arid and sandy tract of land dominated by its traditional thatched huts and goats and chickens running freely throughout the village. You will see locals going about their everyday business, carrying buckets of water, milling wheat and cooking over an open fire. You will spend the afternoon on a boat trip on Lake Chamo, coming within touching distance of yawning hippos and ferocious crocodiles. As you make your way to your accommodation you can stop at the famous crocodile market, Azo-Gebeya, to see some of Africa’s largest crocodiles.
You will retreat to your accommodation for the night, Paradise Lodge, a number of wooden huts with private verandas. You will have an outdoor swimming pool to refresh in, lush gardens filled with tropical birds, and a restaurant serving both local and international dishes for your dinner.
You can spend the morning at leisure in Paradise Lodge, enjoying the pool and outdoor TV, a tasty breakfast and exploring the forested area around the lodge. You will take the afternoon flight to Addis Ababa, where our representative will greet you in arrivals to transfer you to your hotel for the night. You will spend the night at the Sheraton Addis Hotel.
After a luxurious breakfast at the hotel you will drive for seven hours to the Menz Guassa Community Conservation Area. From Addis you will take the Dessie Road north, passing through the Debre Birhan, the former capital of Ethiopia and the historical Shewa kingdom. You will drive through the small town of T’armaber, complete with traditional round thatched huts, before taking a rough dirt road 80 kilometres to the community lodge at Menz Guassa where you will meet your guide and check-in to the Community Lodge for the night. Your accommodation is nestled between the mountains and endless meadows and is built in traditional style using only local materials. The lodge contains bedrooms, with locally-carved wooden furniture, a sitting room, dining room, kitchen and separate toilet and shower block.
The highlight of your night here will be the spectacular natural views. After settling in, you will go on a short Ethiopia safari trek on foot or mule to a nearby mountain peak. You will be rewarded with unrivalled views over the Guassa plateau, and you may come across the incredibly rare Ethiopian wolf. Along the trail, your guide will tell you about the flora and fauna, history of the region, and local conservation efforts. Before retiring for the night in the community lodge you will be briefed about your morning trek.
After an early breakfast, you will embark on a 2-hour trek to Sefed Meda before driving back to Addis Ababa where you will have time to relax before your departure the following day. Spend the rest of the evening in the opulent surroundings of the Sheraton Addis Hotel and enjoy your last dinner in Ethiopia.
End your Ker & Downey® Africa experience with an effortless check out before you are transferred to the airport for your onward travel home.
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