If you want to focus on Ethiopia’s extraordinary natural beauty this itinerary might suit you. This tour will take you to 5 different National Parks and a Game Sanctuary. You have a good chance to see many of Ethiopia’s endemic wildlife and birds.
We will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel for check-in. The first day we spent in the fascinating capital of the country: Addis Ababa. Depending on your time of arrival we take you on a half day or full day city tour visiting some sites of your choice like the Ethnographic Museum, National Museum, Trinity Cathedral, Mercato (the largest market of Africa) or the Entoto Hills just outside Addis Ababa.
An early morning flight takes us to Gondar where our vehicle is waiting to continue our journey by car to the Simien Mountains. On the way from Gondar we encounter already spectacular scenery as a good preparation for this afternoon. After a late lunch we start exploring the natural beauty of the Simien Mountains. We enjoy the sunset at our destination the Simien Lodge.
(budget/ tourist class accommodation is available in Debark, a 45 minutes drive outside the park. It is possible to add any number of days for additional hiking in the Simien Mountains)
This is a full day visit to enjoy the natural beauty of the Simien Mountains. There are several opportunities to explore the park, on foot or by car. Depending on your interest and fitness we choose where to go. It is almost guaranteed you see the gelada baboon. The walia ibex and Ethiopian wolf are much more difficult to find.
It takes about half a day to drive back to Gondar from where our plane is leaving the next morning. We can spent an additional morning in the Simien Mountains or we leave in the morning and visit the highlights of Gondar: the Royal Enclosure, Fasilidas Bath and Debre Birhan Selassie, the church with the angel faces painted on the ceiling.
Somewhere in the morning we fly back to Addis Ababa where another vehicle is waiting for the half day journey to Awash National Park.
This is a day to explore Awash National Park. Game drives and walks are available to encounter the wildlife and enjoy the scenery. You are likely to see beisa oryx, kudu, defassa waterbuck, Soemmering's gazelle, warthog and baboon. The park is also a great place for birdwatchers.
With a last gamedrive we leave the park behind for our next destination. En route we stop at Lake Ziway for some birdwatching. If you want we have the afternoon at leisure. However we would like to take you to Shala-Abiata National Park. These twin lakes offer great scenery and abundant birdlife. Overgrazing by cattle seriously damaged the area and few larger mammals are found nowadays, but it is still worth to visit.
We leave our resort at the lake not to late to have some time available to visit Senkele Game Sanctuary en route. Here we have a good chance to see the endemic Swayne's hartebeest and other savanna animals.
Our day in Arba Minch is dedicated exploring Nech Sar National Park. In the morning we go on gamedrive and walk in search for the endemic Swayne's hartebeest and other savanna animals like Burchell's zebra, Grant's gazelle and warthog. Unfortunately it is not prime game viewing like in East Africa, the scenery is great though. After a relaxing lunch we depart for a boat trip on Lake Chamo and have a good chance to come up close with most probably the biggest crocodiles you have ever seen. Many (water) birds and hippopotamus are also easily found.
Today we leave the lakes behind and enter the green and fertile hills where a lot of the famous Ethiopian coffee is grown. We stay at the Aregash Lodge in Yirgalem situated at a coffee plantation. The lodge is a fine example of an eco-lodge. The huts are build in the same style as the surrounding Sidamo people. Delicious organic, home grown, food is served in the restaurant. It is a great place for a relaxing afternoon although short walks are available.
On our way to the Bale Mountains we pass Hawassa where we visit the fishmarket. The headquarters of the Park are situated in Dinsho and after finalizing the formalities there we enjoy a beautiful walk in the surrounding area. Here we have a very good chance to see the endemic mountain nyala and Menelik's bushbuck. After the walk we proceed to Goba.
The whole day is spent to explore the Bale Mountains. This is going to be a day of extraordinary scenery and of course we continue our search for endemic species of which many are found in this area. Among them the Ethiopian wolf and many birds.
(it is possible to add additional days in the Bale Mountains, for example to visit the Sof Omar Caves and the area offers great hiking)
We are leaving the mountainous area behind and travel down to the bottom of the Rift Valley again by a different, very scenic road, via Asela. The last day of your unforgettable visit to Ethiopia brings us back to Addis Ababa. A hotel room for day-use is available in Addis. We say goodbye to dear friends with a visit to a cultural restaurant, enjoying the great Ethiopian food together with traditional music and dance from all over this fascinating country. After diner we take you to the airport for your flight back home.
(About 115 km (2,5 hr) before Addis Ababa we pass the hot spring resort of Sodore which could make a nice relaxing overnight break if you have another day to spent)