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IamFisheye

The Endemic Wildlife and Culture of Ethiopia (Simien to Bale Mountains) - October 2015

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IamFisheye

Here’s a late teaser for my overdue trip report from last October. I had hoped to get on top of this in December but couldn’t find the time.

 

Ethiopia had been on our list for a long long time. Predominantly to see the rock hewn churches but we also had more than a passing interest in the Gelada Baboons and the plight of the Ethiopian Wolf. So we put together a killer of an itinerary that would take us as far north as the Simiens and south as the Bale Mountains. We had planned to travel in March but a last minute booking to get me on a Photo safari to Laikipia meant we had to push the trip back to later in the year. October seemed like a good time to go.

 

In summary the trip went like this;

 

Friday 2nd October flight from London Heathrow to Addis Ababa arrive in Addis the following morning. Saturday was spent recovering from the flight and not doing much at all.

Sunday, 4th Oct, we took a morning drive out to the Born Free centre in Ensessakotteh

 

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and spent the afternoon taking a few sights in Addis.

 

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Monday 5th early flight to Lalibela and spent the next 2 days exploring the rock-hewn churches and monasteries

Early morning at Bet Giyorgis (St Georges)
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Afternoon outside a monastery
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Wednesday 7th flight to Gondar and drove to the Simien Mountain Lodge for a three night stay where we hoped to, and did, encounter Large groups of Gelada baboons.
What a view
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Also on our list was the Walia Ibex

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Saturday 9th we drove back down to Gonder and spent the afternoon exploring the cultural sights

Fasilides Castle
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and a couple of churches
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Saturday 10th long drive from Gondar to Bahir Dar for couple of days R&R by the side of Lake Tana at Kuriftu Resort. We spent a morning on the lake visiting a couple of the monasteries and the late afternoon visiting the local Donkey Sanctuary headquarters and driving out to a neighbouring village to see their good work 1st hand.
Sunrise on lake Tana
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Tuesday 13th flight from Bahir Dar to Addis and then long road journey to the Bale mountains via an overnight stay on Lake Awassa.

Sacred Ibis, Lake Ziway
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Wednesday 14th after a walk along the lakeside and a trip to the local fish market we carried on with our long drive to the Bale Mountains and got to see a few more endemics, including our first Ethiopian wolf. We had 4 nights at the Bale Mountain lodge and got see the following;
Mountain Nyla
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View from our room
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Bale Monkey
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Wolf
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We had 3 days of wolf sightings out of four.
Sunday 17th was another day’s long drive to Lake Langano where we stayed at the Bishangari Lodge for 2 nights and visited the Abiata-shala NP
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Tuesday 20th our final long drive back to Addis, where we had a few hours to rest and prepare for the night flight back to the UK

I will try and update with detailed daily encounters over the next month before we head to kenya for this year’s Wild Dog fix.


If you can’t wait I do update my flickr album from time to time.

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Tom Kellie

~ @@IamFisheye

 

Thank you for the many fine Ethiopia images.

Going through them, they're quite a visual feast.

I really enjoyed your ‘teaser’.

Tom K.

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Safaridude

@@IamFisheye

 

Wow, what a teaser! Looking forward to this one.

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Atravelynn

Your images are rich and evocative. You're not too late. I'm shooting for a one year anniversary date to complete a report.

 

You must provide more on this comment: "We had 3 days of wolf sightings out of four." You managed at least one outstanding picture from those days.

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Alexander33

Really looking forward to more of this. I am fascinated by Ethiopia, and I have struggled to find a way to put together a trip that combines Lalibela and Gondar with a wildlife element and does them both justice. Perhaps you will provide a blueprint right here!

 

Thanks for sharing.

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PT123

@IamFisheye

 

You have my attention and I can't wait for more! I had the chance to go to Ethiopia in with a buddy and didn't do it - I regret it to this day so look forward to living vicariously through your report.

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madaboutcheetah

Hmmmm - I missed a chance. Was in Ethiopia for work in 2012 - Gulp! finished that up and went to the Mara to spend a week.

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pault

Great teaser but I can wait - after all if your images are up you only need a few words! :D

 

You saw a lot.

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Zim Girl

Looking forward to this - loving the pictures so far

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Marks

What a teaser! Some extremely beautiful scenery.

The mountain nyala is also very nice.

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SafariChick

Ooh very excited to see the rest, been waiting for this one as my husband and I have at last finalized our itinerary for 2017 which includes 4 nights at Bale Mountain Lodge but we reluctantly cut out visiting the Geladas as we're also doing two other countries.

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JohnR

Thanks for including my cheetahs at Born Free in your teaser :) :) . Looking forward to the full report.

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Kitsafari

@@IamFisheye sumptuous pictures on your flicker account. ethiopian wolf, gelada monkeys are high on my list but I"m not sure if i can take high altitude air. did you have problem adjusting to the high mountain air at Bale?

 

I also noticed in one of your gelada pictures, two humans in the background behind the group of the monkeys. are they farmers? the geladas seem comfortable with them.

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IamFisheye

@@Kitsafari No problems with the air at Bale, it was cold, wet and very windy up on the Plateau. It was tougher in the Simiens, I think because we were doing more walking and it was on narrow, rocky paths. Our itinerary was arranged to go to Lalibela 1st to acclimatise to the altitude which I think helped.

 

Troups of Geladas are pleasant, you can sit amongst them and they will simply graze around you. Wonderful experience. The people in the background were a film crew, I have no idea from where. I have other shots with tourists that need processing.

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elefromoz

@@IamFisheye, the "views" above are just beautiful, and the Wolf, what to say. Looking forward to travelling with you to a place I know nothing about.

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xelas

Wow, another TR from those places less visited! Excellet photography, BTW.

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TonyQ

@@IamFisheye

A great teaser with some wonderful photos.

We have thought of Ethiopia - doing cultural and wildlife as you have, so !I very much look forward to your full report

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Atravelynn

Looking forward to more and why you picked October to travel.

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SafariChick

@@IamFisheye Can you say a little about how you spent the days at Bale Mountain Lodge? Did you go to the Sanetti Plateau on all the days or do anything else? My husband and I will be there for four nights next February so I am already thinking about that!

 

Also, I'm a little worried about how long the drive from Addis will take. On the BML website, they say it should take about 8 hours but I don't know if that accounts for stopping for lunch, bathroom breaks, etc. We'll be taking an international flight arriving Addis at 7:30 a.m. and our driver will meet us at the airport and drive us down. I hope it will work to get to the lodge before dark!

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IamFisheye

@@SafariChick sorry my trip report is taking sometime to get going down to the lack of spare time I have right now. I'm sure it would answer your questions. In the meantime;

 

We spent 3 out of 4 days on the Sanetti Plateau. You don't have to get up there for 1st light, as the wolves are still asleep. We had lunch up there and came back early afternoon. The main reason why we skipped a day was because my wife, Angela, picked up a stomach bug from the previous lodge and was laid up for an afternoon and one night. I arranged with our guide to do a walk in the forest the following morning, if Angela had been fitter I'm sure we would have spent 4 days up there.

 

While we were there BML had a huge party of representatives from one of their main sponsors over, African Wildlife Foundation, for a couple of days and we didn't get a guide from the lodge to come and help us look for the wolves until our last day. Wolves were pretty easy to spot so no big deal (our driver was far better than our private guide at spotting them anyway). The wolves don't seem to be bothered by people but they aren't curious like wild dogs are. They just seem to get on with their business of hunting rats.

 

It's a long trip from Addis, we spent a night at Lake Awassa and took a leisurely two day drive down. Allowing us to stop at the Gaysay wetlands and take an hour walk with a local guide to see the Mountain Nyala in the forest which is highly recommended so make sure you fit it in somewhere on your way in or your way out. It's a long way from BML for a day trip.

 

You have to cross the Sanetti Plateau to get to BML. We reached the plateau at last light (and saw our 1st wolf) by the time we made our descent. It was getting dark and there was a heavy mist descending. The road is narrow, full of hairpin bends and quite treacherous especially with heavy lorries racing past you. It took us ages to reach the lodge (usually about an hour from the top of the plateau). So I would recommend getting there during daylight.

 

I'd say the estimated 8 hours would allow for some short stops and a quick lunch but no major sight seeing which you should do. The landscape is incredible and the people wonderful. You also need to get out of Addis, depending on what time you get through immigration, etc at the airport. Traffic can be really bad.

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SafariChick

@@IamFisheye thanks very much, that is very helpful information. Do you recall if your driver was named Demiss? That is the name of the driver we will have, according to Guy. He is one that he uses regularly. Hopefully we won't have delays on the road due to people with their donkeys, ponies and goats as @@douglaswise did - sounded like he had a different driver than Guy usually uses and that driver ignored Guy's advice to take the road with tolls which is the road I'm presuming you took?

We will probably try doing the Gaysay wetlands stop on the way back to the airport after our last night - luckily our flight out from Addis that night isn't until 10:45 pm or so.

Sorry to hear Angela was unwell but glad it was only for one afternoon and night. Was the walk in the forest near BML worthwhile? Sorry as you may be getting to this in your report!

Edited by SafariChick

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IamFisheye

@@SafariChick we had our own driver and guide that was set up via our Uk agent and Kibran tours in Addis. I'm pretty bad at writing down or remembering people's names. It wasn't Demiss I can tell from his picture that I've found on his site http://www.ethiopiandriver.com/ and yes we took the new highway (toll road) for as far as we could. It makes a big difference.

 

The forest was just outside our door and across the meadow (see my view from our room picture) and a lot of the rooms are actually in the forest. We waked up to see the hydro electric dam that powers the lodge. It was a nice walk, we saw some monkeys up in the trees and a lot of lovely flowers and birds. It made a change from being in the back of a car. You should try and fit something in while you are there, maybe if you get back from the plateau in the early afternoon.

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SafariChick

@@IamFisheye thanks for the reply. I am impressed that you found Demiss' website! Definitely will try to visit the forest. Your report is making me very excited for our trip! Look forward to more when you have time.

Edited by SafariChick

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Atravelynn

Was there any word on canine distemper when you were there? Great images. I am especially drawn to the wolf.

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IamFisheye

@@Atravelynn distemper is a real threat, the Ethiopian Wolf Project are actively inoculating the wolves of Bale. Domestic dogs are not allowed in the park but this is ignored by the people that live there.

 

I've just started to get back to this trip reports after a 12 month hiatus. I will resume in teh next post.

Edited by IamFisheye

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