At a Glance
Dates: March 26th - April 6th, 2022
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £4,395 pp sharing (with a £200 single supplement), excluding international flights.
In a sentence: Ethiopia offers and extraordinary level of diversity, in terms of landscape, culture and wildlife. An incredible mix of endemic megafauna and valuable populations of Africa's most charismatic predators make this a must-do tour.
Ethiopia has long been a must-visit for any serious wildlife-watcher. It seems that every region of this diverse country offers different and exciting opportunities for safari-goers. The arid north holds populations of African Wild Ass and Walia Ibex, and the east is dominated by scrubland where rarities including dibatag can be located. The far west, bordering South Sudan, hosts one of the largest seasonal migrations of mammals in the world, as White-Eared Kob and Nile Lechwe stream across from the Sudd. But, perhaps most impressively, the centre and south of the country still holds a delightful array of classic African fauna, as well as a rich tapestry of endemic mammals to boot. Famously, Ethiopian Wolves are a huge draw for many visitors, but we should also value sightings of the beautiful Mountain Nyala and Menelik's Bushbuck. Grevy's Zebra, Gelada Baboon and Soemmering's Gazelle are also stars, and mention should be made of the fragmented populations still found here of Africa's rarest predators. The central plains of Ethiopia still host black-maned Lions. Leopard and Cheetah are still seen frequently in Awash and Aledeghi. Serval and Caracal are found here more easily than in most better-known safari destinations. And, incredibly, packs of African Wild Dog still roam the Harenna Forest, an area that is also home to melanistic Leopards and the endemic Bale Monkey.
Addis Ababa/Debre Libanos
On arrival into Addis Ababa, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative and transferred to a local hotel to freshen up ahead of our onward travel. By mid-morning we'll commence a three-hour drive northwards to Debre Libanos gorge. This is area is famous for its striking thirteenth century monastery, with its rich and fascinating history. It's hard to miss our first mammals of the trip here, as large troops of the beautifully-marked (and endemic) Gelada Baboon roam freely here. Photographic opportunities should abound as we get our first 'tick' of the trip, as well as the chance to learn about a piece of Ethiopia's extraordinary history.
After spending the late afternoon at Debre Libanos, we will head to a local guesthouse for our first night in Ethiopia.
This morning we will return south to Addis Ababa before turning east after lunch to the small reserve of Dera. Whilst not a large ecosystem, Dera is the first glimpse we will have of Ethiopia's central savannas and, with a bit of luck, we are likely to tick off our first Soemmering's Gazelle, Klipspringer, Common Duiker and both Greater and Lesser Kudu.
We will not stay long in Dera before continuing on to Awash NP, arriving in the late afternoon. Awash is one of Ethiopia's flagship savanna reserves, and is a stronghold in the country for Greater and Lesser Kudu, Soemmering's Gazelle, and a broad range of smaller mammals. It should be noted that by the standards of more established safari destinations, Ethiopia's parks are poorly managed and Awash is no exception. During the day, the park is over-run by cattle and other livestock, and wildlife viewing can be challenging. However, we will arrive in the late afternoon and, as the light begins to fade, we will strike out into the reserve with spotlights and thermal monoculars in an attempt to locate some of Awash's rarest residents. Awash is home to a number of large predators - beautiful black-maned Lions, Cheetah and Leopard have all been seen here - but sightings require a great deal of perseverance and hard work. The low density of such predators has, however, left a niche behind for a smaller predators, and it is here that Awash comes into its own. Aardwolf, Serval and Caracal are all found here in good numbers and a good night here can be truly special - other rarities include Aardvark and, very occasionally, Grevy's Zebra.
We have a full day today to explore Awash in search of its rare mammals. We will head out at first light to get in several hours of game-viewing before herdsmen make their way in from neighbouring villages - our focus can be tailored to the group's interests today, and we may choose to seek out Awash's black-maned Lion, or instead focus on the area's smaller cats. We'll return to our camp during the heat of the day, but will again enjoy an extended evening and night drive into Awash's wilderness.
After a final morning game drive in Awash, we will drive north-east to a lesser known wilderness area - Aledeghi. These vast open plains offer some of the most exciting wildlife viewing in the region, with Ethiopia's last significant populations of Grevy's Zebra and Beisa Oryx found here. Arriving by mid-afternoon, we will set up camp and head out on an evening game drive in search of these species, as well as Gerenuk and Salt's Dik-Dik. The plains are the best bet in Ethiopia for Cheetah sightings, although this is far from guaranteed. Please note that night drives are usually not possible here due to low-level conflict amongst local people in the area - although there is no threat to us provided we do not traverse the area at night.
A full day in Aledeghi today will be used to head deep into this ecosystem in search of predators - Serval, Caracal, Aardwolf are rarely encountered, but reliably seen are African Golden Wolf, Black-Backed Jackal and Bat-Eared Fox. We will once again overnight in our private campsite, equipped with basic facilities including chemical toilets and bucket showers.
Today will be primarily a driving day, taking us from the plains of Aledeghi to the other-worldly landscapes of the world-famous Bale Mountains NP. Our base will be camp in the Web Valley, ideally located near the Sanetti Plateau and the little-known Gaysay grasslands. We should arrive at camp by late afternoon and, depending on how the group is feeling, we may head out to spotlight around the Web Valley - there is little telling what we might locate here, but previous groups have been rewarded with excellent sightings of Serval and Caracal.
Bale Mountains NP
This morning we will make a beeline to the Sanetti Plateau, a real highlight of any visit to Ethiopia. Above the treeline, this rocky, exposed plateau is home to the largest remaining population of the gorgeous Ethiopian Wolf. Combing the plateau, we hope to locate these vanishingly rare canids as they are active, perhaps hunting mole-rats or playing with their pups. Any time spent with such an elusive mammals should be treasured, and we aim to spend several hours in their presence today.
After returning to camp for lunch, we will then head out once more, this time to the Gaysay grasslands. Whilst the Sanetti Plateau attracts visitors from across the world, Gaysay is hardly ever visited, but can be the site of fantastic sightings. Caracal and Serval are seen here on an almost daily basis and, with concerted effort, we are very hopeful of memorable sightings here. As night draws in, we are likely to spotlight the area before returning to camp for dinner.
Bale Mountains NP
This morning we will head to Gaysay once more at first light to track down any small cats we may have missed so far. By mid-morning, a further trip to the Sanetti Plateau will be the plan, although our movements are flexible.
After lunch, we will relocate to the Harenna Forest, another under-appreciated area of the national park. Densely forested and traversed by just a few trails and roads, this area is well-worth a visit for the scenery alone. We may not have time to explore the area tonight, although a spotlighting session can be arranged, in an effort to locate some of the unusual species that call this forest home. Recent sightings include Lion, melanistic Leopard and even packs of African Wild Dog. Our accommodation tonight will be a very basic camp in the area.
Days Nine to Ten
We have two full days to explore this spectacular forest, alternating between hikes and drives to cover as much ground as possible. The endemic Bale Monkey is a key target here, as are the charismatic Giant Forest Hogs that forage in the undergrowth. Predators use the roads through the forest as arterial routes and these drives are our best chance of encountering Lion, Leopard and Wild Dog in particular.
If lucky, we may be able to arrange visits to salt licks within the forest, which are likely to attract a wide diversity of wildlife, making for great photographic opportunities.
After a final morning walk in Harenna, we will head west to Lake Awassa, one of the northernmost Great Rift Valley lakes. After many nights under canvass, we are sure our night at a resort on the lake shore will be most welcome. This afternoon, you can relax at the hotel, or we can arrange a boat trip onto the lake itself to view the local pod of Hippo.
This morning we head to the Senkelle Wildlife Sanctuary to view the rare Swayne's Hartebeest - the reserve itself is dominated by livestock, but the chance to see this peculiar-looking antelope should not be passed up. We will then return to Addis Ababa for your flights home, with many wonderful memories of Ethiopia in tow,
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may
occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in March and April 2022, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources, and when large predators are at their most mobile. The tour will run from March 26th to April 6th 2022.
The cost of this trip is £4,395 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Drinks are not included. We regret that we must levy a single supplement of £200 pp for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,200 plus any single supplement must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Addis Ababa at the beginning or end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Addis after 17.00 on your return, if leaving on the same day that we return to Addis to avoid disruption to your plans.
British nationals do require a visa to enter Ethiopia. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Ethiopia will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of a Ethiopia entry e-visa for UK citizens is $52 - these may be obtained online or on arrival into Ethiopia.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Ethiopia in April is mild and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 13 degrees Celsius.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.
Safety and Security
The security situation is areas visited by this tour is generally good, although we are in constant communication with our partners in Ethiopia to understand whether the insecurity in border regions may impact this itinerary. There is low-level local conflict in Aledeghi which means that night drives will not be undertaken - diurnal activities are perfectly safe.