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Ethiopia Wildlife Holiday

Enjoy the unique wildlife of Ethiopia in the incredible habitats of the Simien Mountains, Bale Mountains and Rift Valley Lakes.

Tailor-made Adventure 15 days

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Flights are typically an additional $685 per person economy class from London

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Tourdust is rated 4.9 out of 5 stars


…We were really happy with the service we got from Tourdust which can be best described as friendly, efficient and expert.....

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Itinerary

Overview

Ethiopia boasts a staggering diversity of wildlife, much of which is endemic and found in stunning natural landscapes. In the Simien Mountains, large troops of Gelada Baboon forage for roots, Wallia Ibex stroll elegantly across a jaw-dropping backdrop of an endless mountain range almost 1,000m below. If you are lucky, you might also get a glimpse of the the rare Ethiopian Wolf. Further South in the Bale Mountains, forays by 4wd bring you up close to Ethiopian Wolf on the remote Sanetti Plateau and amidst the tropical Harenna Forest; warthogs, colobus monkeys, giant forest hogs and if you are lucky, spotted hyena, leopards and lions can be spotted.

The focus on this itinerary is on Ethiopia’s superb wildlife, with a nice balance of wildlife viewing, multi-day treks and key cultural sites. A multi-day trek in the Simien Mountains is a highlight for any visitor with stunning scenery and wonderful walking, but wildlife lovers will be rewarded by fantastic bird-life, large populations of Gelada Baboon and occasional sightings of Wallia Ibex and Ethiopian Wolf. Whilst in the North, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the castles of Gondar and the incredible rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. In the South, the Bale Mountains offer a unique high altitude habitat and the best opportunity to spot the elusive Ethiopian wolf. On the way back we include a leisurely stay on the shores of the Rift Valley Lake Langano, where Bishangari eco lodge is a gorgeous base from which to explore the staggering array of birdlife in its private reserve.

Day-by-day

DAY 1: ARRIVAL AND HALF DAY ADDIS ABABA GUIDED TOUR
You’ll be met at the airport and transferred to your central hotel. After a rest and refresh at the hotel, your guide will take you around the highlights of Addis. Depending on time and how you feel after your flight, you can choose to sample some of the best coffee in the world in the Piazza (old town), explore the National Museum and Archaeological Museum (home to the 3.5 million year old remains of Lucy) or explore the largest open air market in Africa.
Meals Included: None included
Accommodation: Addis Regency
Transport (where relevant): Airport transfer

DAY 2: GONDAR CASTLES AND CHURCHES
You’ll be picked up early from your hotel and transferred to the airport for the internal flight to Gonder. After pick up in Gonder and transfer to your hotel your guide will show you the highlights of Gonder, a small but relaxed town. You’ll visit the medieval Royal Enclosure set in its beautiful gardens, the nearby Fasilides Bath and the fascinating Debre Berhan Selassie Church.
Meals Included: Breakfast included
Accommodation: Fasil Lodge
Transport (where relevant): Fly Addis - Gondar

DAY 3: GONDAR – SIMIEN MOUNTAINS (SANKABER CAMP 3,200M)
You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Gonder around 7.30am for the drive to Debark. At Debark you will sign in at the park headquarters, pick up your guide and scout and head up into the mountains. The road continues all the way to the first camp at Sankaber, but you’ll be dropped off on the way for a leisurely three hour acclimatisation hike. The stunning views hit you as soon as you get out of the vehicle as you walk along the ridge. There will be time to stop for a picnic lunch and after a short but demanding climb (at this altitude) to Sankaber you’ll be met as every day on this trek with a tray of fresh coffee, tea and snacks. 7km 2/3 hours walking
Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Accommodation: Camping
Transport (where relevant): Drive Gondar - Simien Mountains (2-3 hrs)

DAY 4: SANKABER (3,200M) – GEECH CAMP (3,600M)
After a hearty breakfast, you’ll set off trekking along the ridge with stunning views over the foothills 800m below. For the first two hours the trail passes through low bush of Giant Heather, soda apple, Abyssinian rose, St John’s Wort and Globe thistle. The highlight of the trek from Sankaber to Geech is Genbar Falls, an incredible 500m sheer drop. From the viewpoint opposite, you can watch the falcons, augur buzzard and lammergeyer bearded vulture soar on the thermals below. From the Genbar falls, the trail passes arable fields, broken by lunch at a somewhat less intimidating and more peaceful waterfall. Klipspringer and bush buck may be seen in the steep rocky and wooded slopes, whilst troops of Gelada Baboons roam the fields for roots. Just before you reach Geech camp site, there is a wonderful opportunity to visit one of the traditional village houses for home roasted coffee and injurra (ask your guide). Geech Camp itself is set on a grassy plateau with stunning sunset views. Walking 7-8hrs / 15km
Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Accommodation: Camping
Transport (where relevant): N/A

DAY 5: GEECH (3,600M) – IMET GOGO (3,926M) – SIHA GORGE – KEDAR DIT – GEECH (3,600M)
After breakfast you’ll trek for 2 hours along the grass plateau past countless bizarre outsized Giant Lobelia plants. The destination is Imet Gogo, an incredible rocky promontory that grants 360 degree views over the Simien Range. At an altitude of 3,926m you can see West back along the ridge towards Sankaber and Geech and South East across a deep gully towards the tomorrow’s ridge walk to Inatye and Chennek Camp. The views here are arguably the best in the Simien Mountains and the drop is terrifying. From Imet Gogo, you’ll return to camp via the Siha Gorge for lunch. Afternoon at leisure before heading out for a short optional sunset trek to KedaDit (3760m). Overnight at Geech Camp again. Walking 5-6 hrs / 13km
Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Accommodation: Camping
Transport (where relevant): N/A

DAY 6: GEECH (3600M) – INNATYE (4070M) - CHENNEK (3,600M)
Today is the longest and arguably most spectacular passing close to the ridge most of its length. After breakfast you will head back on the path towards Imet Gogo before detouring SE towards Inatye. The path drops into a forest of Giant Hazel before following the ridge on open grassland. The climb to Inatye (4,070m) rewards with stunning views. Inatye roughly translates as “mamma mia” and the terrifying vertical drop here justly warrants the name! After a picnic lunch the path follows mostly downhill through open grassland and giant lobelia towards Chenek with a number of stunning viewpoints along the way. Chenek camp is superb for wildlife with both Gelada Baboons and Wallia Ibex common here. Walking 7 hours / 15km
Meals Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Accommodation: Camping
Transport (where relevant): N/A

DAY 7: CHENNEK (3600M) – MOUNT BUAHIT (4430M) – CHENNEK (3600M)
After breakfast, you will begin the journey back to Gonder getting back in the early afternoon. Those feeling brave can opt to tackle Buahit before leaving camp. You'll need to be up early for the 3-4 hour round trip to this spectacular summit at 4430m.
Meals Included: Breakfast, and lunch included
Accommodation: Fasil Lodge
Transport (where relevant): Drive Simien Mountains - Gondar (4 hrs)

DAY 8: ROCK HEWN CHURCHES OF LALIBELA
Early morning transfer to Gonder airport. You’ll be picked up at the other end and transferred to your central hotel. Lalibela is world famous for its monolithic rock hewn churches. Carved by hand out of solid rock in the 12th and 13th Centuries and awash with the chanting of monks, this is a deeply spiritual place and quite rightly a UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll get to visit most of the Central churches that Lalibela is so famous for including the Northern Group (containing the Lalibela Cross), The Western Group (Bete Giyorgis) and the Eastern Group.
Meals Included: Breakfast only included
Accommodation: Mountain View
Transport (where relevant): Fly Gondar - Lalibella

DAY 9: FLY LALIBELA TO ADDIS AND DRIVE ONTO LAKE LANGANO
Return from Lalibela to Addis on the morning flight. You'll be picked up from the airport and drive the fours down to the Rift Valley Lake Langano. Evening at leisure at the lodge.
Meals Included: Breakfast only included
Accommodation: Sabana Lodge
Transport (where relevant): Fly Lalibela - Addis. Drive Addis - Lake Langano (3 hrs)

DAY 10: BALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Depart early morning to drive from Sabana Lodge to Dinsho, Park Headquarters. Visit Gaysay Valley in the evening where there are herds of Bohor reedbuck and smaller groups of Mountain Nyala. Also found here are warthog, grey duiker and the serval cat can often be found hunting here at dusk as you are leaving the valley. Evening meal will be cooked at the lodge.
Meals Included: Breakfast only included
Accommodation: Camping at Dinsho Lodge
Transport (where relevant): Drive Lake Langano - Bale Mountains

DAY 11: BALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Early start for a wildlife walk around the Dinsho Park Headquarters to spot the resident wildlife with your guide before heading out for the day for birding in the surrounding park grasslands.
Meals Included: Breakfast only included
Accommodation: Camping at Dinsho Lodge
Transport (where relevant): N/A

DAY 12: BALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
Another early start. Breakfast will be not far down the road in Robe. We will bring a pack lunch ordered from the Robe restaurant, as it will be a full day exploring Sanetti Plateau and Harena forest. Sanetti Plateau is where you will most likely spot the rare endemic Ethiopian wolf. Return to Goba where you will spend the night in Wabe Shabele Hotel.
Meals Included: Breakfast only included
Accommodation: Wabe Shebale Hotel
Transport (where relevant): N/A

DAY 13: RETURN TO LAKE LANGANO
After breakfast, drive to Langano arriving early afternoon for a relaxed afternoon at Bishangari Lodge, a lovely eco lodge with superb birdlife
Meals Included: Breakfast only included
Accommodation: Bishangari Lodge
Transport (where relevant): N/A

DAY 14: LAKE LANGANO
Day at leisure at Bishangari. Although there are several national parks in the area, we recommend enjoying the peace and wildlife found at the lodge on the shores of the lake. We recommend a half day wildlife walk in the morning to view the large array of endemic birdlife.
Meals Included: Breakfast only included
Accommodation: Bishangari Lodge
Transport (where relevant): N/A

DAY 15: RETURN TO ADDIS
After a morning at leisure, drive back to Addis in time for your departing flight
Meals Included: Breakfast only included
Accommodation: N/A
Transport (where relevant): Drive Lake Langano - Addis (4 hrs)

Accommodation


Guide price is based on recommended accommodations. Alternative accommodations and upgrades are available. Please get in touch or click on 'alternatives' below for alternatives and upgrade options.

Addis Regency

Addis Ababa

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Lovely rooms
- Solid mid-range option
- Good value

Our rating

6/10

Price guide

Price rating 2

- Friendly service
- Nice bar and terrace
- Clean rooms
- Great value

Our rating

7/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Incredible views
- Fantastic terrace & dining room
- Good service
- Average rooms

Bishangari Lodge

Rift Valley Lakes

Our rating

9/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Eco lodge
- Lake views
- Superb birdlife
- Fantastic Service

Details

Getting there

Ethiopia’s national airline, Ethiopian Airlines is arguably one of the best in Africa. International services are reliable with good seat pitch, whilst domestic flights are serviced by a brand new fleet of twin props. Ethiopian flies direct from London, Frankfurt, Paris and Rome in Europe. The flight takes around 8 hours. Return flights from London are usually around £500 per person.
Direct outbound flights from London to Addis Ababa: Every Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun
Direct return flights from Addis Ababa to London: Every Wed, Fri, Sat and Sun
Return flights from Addis Ababa to London via Rome: Every Mon and Thu

Price includes

All guides and transfers and accommodation as detailed in the itinerary
Entrance fees to museums and national parks and attractions
Meals where stated (e.g. on trek)

International flights, visas, tips and incidental expenses are not included

When is best?

Although this tour is available year round, The Bale Mountains can be very wet from March to June (the peak rainy season) and also in the second rainy season from July - October. The park is best visited from October - March.

Is it for me?

This itinerary is designed for wildlife enthusiasts. Whilst the focus is on wildlife spotting, a nice balance is struck with the opportunity to explore the rock hewn churches of Lalibela, the stunning scenery of the Simien Mountains and an indulgent treat a the end of the itinerary at the Bishangari Eco Lodge.

Facilities camping in the Simien Mountains and Bale Mountains are basic. The weather in the Bale Mountains can be harsh with large rainfall and cold overnight temperatures at altitude.

If you are considering Ethiopia in the first place, you are probably aware that the standard of hotels, road and general comfort is not going to match what you might expect at home. Travelling in Ethiopia is always an adventure and it is incredibly important you come with the right mind-set. The challenges are the lack of luxuries (a reliable hot shower in Ethiopia is a rare thing, even in upmarket hotels), the unique cuisine and occasionally hassle from hawkers (no worst than most tourist destinations). Having said that it also happens to host one of the most unique cultures in the world with a rich cultural heritage and some of the best trekking in the world. You can’t have everything

What customers are saying after travelling with Tourdust

Average Rating

based on 605 reviews

(4.93/5)

  • Our trip was excellent. Thank you! We were particularly impressed with the way it all worked seamlessly: someone was at each arrival point to meet us (or Alex was on the end of the phone to tell us what to do) or there was a phone message at Reception for when to expect someone.

    The Jerusalem Hotel in Lalibela is not the same standard as Tukul Villages but it was OK for one night & we had plenty of warning. Lalibela at Christmas is pretty manic: full to bursting!

    I must say that Alex looked after us well. He came to see us in Gondar to make sure everything was in place for the Simiens Trek & that we knew what to expect. When we got back after it, there he was again! Small but highly-valued pieces of customer care, evident again when he spoke to drivers while we were travelling.

    All the staff who worked with us were of high quality, especially drivers and guides. Two who stood out were Younus, our driver both times we were in Addis Ababa, who we felt went beyond the call of duty & made our time there enjoyable - our last evening when waiting for a 2 a.m. flight could have been a drag, was in fact absolutely fine because of his suggestions (the Via Via cafe for dinner & then Mama's Kitchen for some music) and company.

    The Simiens Trek was outstanding. Spectacular scenery, challenging at times, full of interest. Key to making it so was Dereje Gedamu who is a wonderful guide: we felt privileged to have him. he was ably assisted by the other staff & when our first, excellent chef had to leave at short notice to visit his mother in hospital, a replacement was found immediately (at Chenek!) who fed us to the same high standard. It was all a great experience that we will be talking about for a long time.

    We were all pleased to have selected the 8 day option (& were not at all jealous of the peak-baggers heading for Ras Dashen). The second half of the trek was a good contrast to the high altitude section in the National Park's heartland as we descended through more intensively cultivated and populated areas, down steeply to the river and then back up past wonderful rock formations towards Mulit and out to the road at Adi Arkaye. It was full of interest and we were pleased to be pretty much on our own, rather than with the crowds at Geech & Chenek.

    By comparison, the TESFA trek was rather tame, although an interesting comparison to see a more pastoral landscape and less remote villages. We had another good guide & enjoyed the lunch & evening stops, and the "loos with a view".

    Pleased as we were that we had opted to drive from Bahir Dar to Lalibela, we had mixed feelings about driving the rough Gashena-Lalibela road three times - the starting and finishing points for the TESFA trek were just beyond Gashena. In 3 years when the road is complete this point may become academic, but meanwhile - if anyone else wants to do the same thing - it would be better for them to drive from Bahir Dar to Gashena, meet the TESFA crew there, do the trek & then continue to Lalibela. I am sure that TESFA could look after any extra baggage that people did not want on the trek.

    One other point about the TESFA trek: we were not aware that there are several grades offered. I think we did the easiest and might well have preferred something more challenging so perhaps you could clarify the options available.

    Only one other critical comment: we were underwhelmed by the Mayleko Lodge near Gondar airport. It was indeed welcome to have somewhere peaceful to return to after the trek, the rooms are nice & a couple of us enjoyed a "refreshing" swim, but on the other hand the restaurant was pretty mediocre and slow: we might have preferred to be out in the town.

    Apart from that it was all good! A glimpse of Addis and another of Gondar; trekking with some R&R in Bahir Dar with its different scenery and history, ending with the religious fervour at Lalibela. A great holiday.

    MissingGordon Parker reviewing Simien Mountains Trek & Northern Highlights on 09 February 2016

  • We had an excellent, stretching , fascinating mix of history (sites) , tough trekking , and wonderful views .. From the many treks that I have done to places including Nepal , Italy , Croatia , Crete , Myanmar , Japan I would judge that it would be very difficult to beat the 7 days that we had in the Simien Mountains .. Tigrai was spectacular for those willing to climb to all the churches. ( there’s a challenge for you to suggest the next adventure !).

    Our guide Abebe was really excellent ( fit, engaging, knowledgeable and with a good sense of fun/humour ) and I would not hesitate in recommending him, the quality of the tents was excellent except that there were only 3 two man tents which were much roomier than the singles. We saw very few other people which was perhaps just as well in view of the loo situation at the camp sites. The food was reasonable .. in fact too much pasta and not enough rice. We certainly needed the heavier sleeping bags as it was very cold the first two nights out.

    On the negative side .. the long drop loos at Geech were frankly a disgrace .. you could not stand in there for all the crap around and the smell ( even in the freezing evening ) .. surely they should be cleaned every morning / evening. The result is people are crapping in other places round the site .. not nice ! There was no water for washing at Geech ! At the Chennek camp the long drops were only marginally better but there were two dribbly very cold showers at least ! If the tourist board want to encourage tourism clean loos is the absolute must.

    The trekking times were generally accurate which was a change as in most other treks that I have been on they are 25% overestimated. Our final 11 hour day was tough but perfectly achievable for fit walkers. I am glad we did not break it into two tranches … we had time to stop for a swim/wash in the river/pools and it was fantastic to spend two days at Geralti Lodge before our return. Addis is a bit of a disappointment but it was certainly worth spending a couple of hours walking the Mercato ( although you have to be very careful not to lose the guide !). I thought Axum was disappointing by comparison with Gonder and Lalibela and not really worth going to.

    That’s about it .. I would certainly recommend Tourdust !! Thank you , James

    MissingJames Lawson reviewing Classic Northern Circuit & Simien Mountains Trek on 10 February 2015

  • We had the most fantastic time and loved the country and its people. The tour worked really well and including the internal flights meant that we could maximise our 2 weeks (if we had of had more time sure the drives would be lovely!) - the pace of it was busy but just right. You really put together a trip which showed us the beauty and culture of the North. I loved all the walking and timket was amazing. The advice just take yourselves and leave everything else at home for timket was perfect as we were free to just enjoy the experience - I have never experienced anything like it. The thing that surprised me about the trip was the variety and how each day was so different. The people were so warm and friendly and children were absolutely enchanting - the contrast of the privilege of children I know here and those living in poverty in Ethiopia is very humbling.

    Having a driver guide worked extremely well - lema was excellent, he really added to our holiday through enabling us to have interaction with local people - he clearly had a way which gained acceptance and thus acceptance of us - for example with a family making injera and farmers threshing. He is a real ambassador for his country and was such a caring guide but also great fun. We always felt safe and he was an excellent driver - even when conditions were not easy.

    As we had local guides everywhere, I think having a driver and a guide plus local guides would have been a bit too much. The local guides were all very good or excellent. They clearly had good relationships with lema and again I think this meant we in turn had a good experience.

    The accommodation was generally very good/ excellent. We actually preferred the guest house we stayed in on the final night in addis to the regency hotel ( cannot remember the name but Stephen took us there - it had more character) I particularly liked fasil lodge as had great atmosphere, and gheralta was fantastic. I also liked lalibela lodge. I thought Kuriftu lodge was good but slightly impersonal.

    My only criticism about whole trip really is about simien lodge - As you know the cost of food and drink at the lodge is inflated - I completely understand that the location would attract a premium but compared to everywhere else it is so over-inflated. I have seen their response on trip advisor to anyone who raises this - basically you a penny pinching tourist who expects a "cheap" trip and do not want to contribute to the country ( I do not think we fall into this category!) the main thing I objected to was only having the "choice" of a $18 buffet of food that was not of great quality as well very inflated prices for drinks

    However, You did warn us and i know I wanted to stay in the park so this is not a complaint about tour dust or itinerary at all - I realise that they have a monopoly so unlikely to change but wonder if agents have any more sway in feedback than individuals. It is a shame as the lodge is in great location and the rooms, solar heating etc are all good.

    I would contrast the simien lodge with the gheralta lodge which likewise has a captive audience but provides food of much higher quality and drinks at reasonable hotel prices - I know Kate would have preferred local food but I was very happy to have good Italian food in such a lovely place. It was the perfect place to spend our last couple of days.

    Thanks for organising such a great holiday - I would highly recommend tour dust to anyone travelling to the countries you cover and I am promoting ethiopia as holiday destination at every opportunity!

    Missingruth moesby reviewing Classic Northern Historical Circuit on 05 February 2015

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Alternative Itineraries

Our itineraries are carefully designed by our experienced travel designers based on years of experience and customer feedback. For a custom itinerary tailored to you, please enquire giving as much detail as possible on your brief.

Perfect for those short on time, combines the classic 5 day Simiens trek with the cultural highlights of Gondar & Lalibella

Tailor-made Adventure 10 days

Adults from $2,052 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Flights are typically an additional $688 per person economy class from London

Experience the incredible cultures of the Konso, Mursi and Turmi people on this responsible private 12 Day Lower Omo Valley tour

Tailor-made 9 - 21 days

Adults from $3,062 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Flights are typically an additional $688 per person economy class from London

Combines a 5 day Simien Mountain trek with a full tour of the Northern Circuit, including the remote Gheralta Cluster churches.

Tailor-made 15 days

Adults from $3,246 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Flights are typically an additional $688 per person economy class from London

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