Bird watching

Duration: 10 Days

Locations: South Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of Africa’s most prolific bird watching destinations. An astounding 862 recorded birds species can be found in Ethiopia. The most motivated ‘tickers’ come from all over the world to enhance their bird lists with Ethiopia’s many endemic species.

The bird populations swell between the months of November and February when some 200 species of Palaearctic migrants arrive from Europe and Asia to join the already abundant number of birds that can be found in Ethiopia.

VET’s main tour takes birders across stunning landscapes as they explore the Great Rift Valley lakes, each teeming with its own microcosm of bird life. Next, VET allows birders to explore the surrounding mountain forests, which support a wholly different selection of endemic birds. Ethiopia has the second highest number of endemic birds of any nation in the continent, but we won’t tell you who has more.

VAST birding tours are guided by members of Ethiopia’s Wildlife and Natural History Society, making the identification of 69 important birding sites spread throughout the country easy to find. It is important to note that most bird watching itineraries travel through the South of the country, while an itinerary in search of all the Ethiopia endemic birds would take a minimum of 3 weeks. To be sure, a tour of 10-15 days would guarantee that you see most of the endemic and several hundred more species of birds.

Admitted, Ethiopia has its share of problems with deforestation and environmental issue, but the country still offers a completely unique bird watching experience, thereby setting it apart from other bird-watching destinations.

The itinerary below will give birders an idea of a typical bird route passing through the Rift Valley lakes as well as the Bale Mountains National Park. All VET itineraries can be customized to fit your groups’ needs and availability.

Every year, Ethiopia attracts ‘tickers’ and wildlife lovers from around the world. Ethiopia’s feathered friends never fail to thrill bird lovers.

Day 1 Arrival in Addis Ababa.
Day 2 Drive north to Bahir Dar: en route visit Debre Libanos monastery and pass through the Blue Nile Gorge on the way.
Day 3 Full day in Bahir Dar: visit the Blue Nile Falls, afternoon boat trip on Lake Tana to various islands and 14th century monasteries.
Day 4 Drive to Gonder: visit the Fasilades Castle Compound (16th century) and Bathes of King Fasil.
Day 5 Full day in Gonder: visit the 16th century church of Debre Berhan Selassie, afternoon visit to the Felasha village outside of Gonder.
Day 6 Drive to Axum on the scenic byway passing through the Simien Mountains, the Tekezze river gorge and the spectacular cliffs of Tigray.
Day 7 Full day in Axum: visit the famous Axumite stelea, archeological sites, the bath and the palace of Queen of Sheba, the tomb of Kings and the church of St. Mary of Zion (Where it is said King Menelik I brought the true Ark of Covenant from Israel).
Day 8 Drive to Gheralta Valley: en route visit the ancient ruins of Yeha Temple (5th century B.C.), the churches Grat Beal Gebri, Debredamo and Abuna Aregawi rock churches.
Day 9 Drive to Mekele: en route visit the rock churches of Tigray, including Wekro Cherkos and the monumental church of Abreha & Atsbeha.
Day 10 Drive to Lalibela on the scenic byway through the town of Sekota.
Day 11 Full day Laliebla: visit Asheten Mariam monastery and the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.
Day 12 Full day Lalibela: visit second cluster of Lalibela rock-hewn churches, afternoon visit to Na’aktu Laab monastery.
Day 13 Drive to Kolmbolcha: en route visit Hayk Estefanos monastery and lake.
Day 14 Drive to Addis Ababa: en route visit a Oromo/Afar market.
Day 15 Full Day Addis Ababa: city tour including museums, churches and shopping at local markets. In the evening farewell dinner party. End of the tour.