Join us on an incredible and extensive birding tour exploring the enchanting ‘Land of Origins.’ Ethiopia stands as a unique destination, graced with unparalleled beauty, vibrant cultures, rich history, incredible wildlife, and exceptional birdlife.
Experience a world-class birding tour that spans just under a month, guiding you through Ethiopia’s finest birding locations. Encounter the country’s most magnificent bird species, alongside its distinctive mammals and diverse flora and fauna. This unforgettable birding experience promises to leave your heart in the ‘Land of Origins’.
On arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, a Sustainable Birding representative will meet you at arrivals and do a quick meet and greet, before transferring you to your hotel in Addis Ababa, so you can relax and get some sleep ready for a great adventure ahead.
Where you will be staying: Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa
On the first day of this remarkable birding tour, we’ll journey to the Sululta Plains just north of Addis Ababa. These high-altitude plateau grasslands offer fantastic birding opportunities, where we’ll likely spot species such as the endangered White-backed Vulture, African Hobby, African Citril, Mountain Thrush, Tacazze Sunbird, Greater Blue-eared Starling, Secretarybird, Erckel’s Francolin, Red-chested Swallow, Cape Crow, Pectoral-patch Cisticola, and African Quailfinch, among others.
Later in the afternoon, we’ll explore the birding sites near Debre Libanos, an ancient monastery perched on a breathtaking mountain escarpment. Here, we’ll have the chance to observe the Fan-tailed Raven, Stout Cisticola, Ethiopia Boubou, Variable Sunbird, Ruppell’s Robin-chat, Yellow-bellied Waxbill, and three endemic species: White-winged Cliff-chat, Ruppell’s Black Chat, and White-billed Starling. This area also offers sightings of Lammergeiers soaring overhead and, if we’re fortunate, a large troop of Gelada Baboons.
Where you will be staying: Ethio German Park Hotel
On our third day, our birding adventure will unfold around the magnificent Jemma River Valley. Positioned along the rocky valley rim, our primary aim will be to spot the elusive and highly sought-after endemic Ankober Serin, found exclusively along the stunning Ankober escarpment.
The following day, our journey takes us to Melka Jebdu, where we’ll search for a variety of species. Among our targets are the Erckel’s Francolin, Crested Francolin, Speckled Pigeon, White-collared Pigeon, Dusky Turtle Dove, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Eastern Plantain-eater, Abyssinian Nightjar, African Grey Hornbill, Yellow-breasted Barbet, and the Shining Sunbird, among others!
Where you will be staying: Ethio German Park Hotel
Over the next three days, our birding tour takes us to Awash National Park. Awash stands as a gem among Ethiopia’s wildlife reserves, renowned for its diverse landscapes and abundant wildlife. Nestled in the heart of the Rift Valley, this park offers a mesmerizing panorama ranging from savannah plains to acacia woodlands and volcanic landscapes. Its reputation as a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts stems from its rich biodiversity, housing iconic mammals like the besia oryx, hippo, aardvark, black-and-white colobus monkey, green Monkey, Hamadryas baboon, bat-eared fox, caracal, black-backed jackal, leopard, cheetah, and lion.
More than 450 bird species call this park home. Among them are the majestic Arabian Bustard, the vibrant Yellow-breasted Barbet, the lesser-known and restricted Gillett’s Lark, and the Nile Valley Sunbird. From the striking Somali Ostrich to the diminutive Mouse-coloured Penduline Tit, the park offers sightings of varied and unique bird species.
Where you will be staying: Awash Falls Lodge
Our next destination takes us to Lake Langano. Nestled within Ethiopia’s Rift Valley, it stands as a tranquil oasis, offering a serene respite amidst stunning landscapes. Its shores provide a haven for a diverse array of birdlife.
Our focus will be on sighting highlight species like the Verreaux’s Eagle-owl, White-rumped Babbler, Hemprich’s Hornbill, White-bellied Go-away-bird, and Northern White-faced Owl, among others, within this rich ecosystem. Additionally, we anticipate encountering numerous wetland species, adding to the diversity of birdlife in this remarkable location.
Where you will be staying: Hara Langano Lodge
In the heart of Ethiopia lies the awe-inspiring Bale Mountains National Park, a testament to natural wonder. This picturesque landscape boasts captivating scenery and diverse ecosystems, fostering a wealth of wildlife. The Ethiopian Wolf will certainly be a highlight of this destination.
This mountain range hosts nearly 300 bird species, including six endemics – Blue-winged Goose, Spot-breasted Lapwing, Yellow-fronted Parrot, Abyssinian Longclaw, Abyssinian Catbird, Ethiopian Siskin. Bale Mountains National Park promises an enthralling experience for wildlife enthusiasts and passionate birdwatchers alike and is a favourite among our clients.
Where you will be staying: Bale Mountain Lodge
South of the Bale Mountains, near the southern Ethiopian town of Negele, lies an exceptional opportunity to spot one of Ethiopia’s most stunning endemic bird species—the Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco. In this region, we’ll also seek out other remarkable species such as the Bare-eyed Thrush, Boran Cisticola, Tiny Cisticola, Salvadori’s Seedeater, Banded Parisoma, the exceptionally rare Liben Lark, Pygmy Batis, Somali Short-toed Lark, White-crowned Starling, Shelley’s Sparrow, Scaly Chatterer, Acacia Tit, Pringle’s Puffback, and Bristle-crowned Starling, among others. This area is a must-visit for any avid birder visiting Ethiopia.
Where you will be staying: Wabe Shebelle Hotel
Over the next three days, you’ll immerse yourself in some of the finest birding in Ethiopia’s southern region. This captivating region of Ethiopia shares a broad avifauna resemblance with northern Kenya. However, it boasts two exceptional species exclusive to Sidamo province, making it a truly unique destination. The discovery of the extraordinary Stresemann’s Bush-crow in 1938 marked a momentous ornithological event, characterized by these peculiar birds that evoke both starlings and corvids in appearance. Another star attraction is the captivating White-tailed Swallow.
In addition to these prized endemics, the area boasts a wide range of other fascinating birds. We will be on the lookout for the White-headed Vulture, Coqui Francolin, Somali Courser, African Orange-bellied Parrot, D’Arnaud’s Barbet, Foxy Lark, Tiny Cisticola, Banded Parisoma, Bare-eyed Thrush, Black-headed Oriole, the stunning Golden-breasted Starling, Grey-capped and Black-capped Social Weavers, Black-cheeked Waxbill, and White-bellied Canary.
This region promises an unforgettable birding experience, highlighting both the beauty of the landscapes and the rich diversity of birdlife.
Where you will be staying: Borena Lodge
In the upcoming days, you’ll explore the beautiful Jika region and the sweeping grasslands of Mago National Park, nestled in the Omo Valley. This park is often recognized as a stopover en route to the renowned Mursi tribe. The distinctive visual of bare-breasted women adorned with giant lip plates and ritually scarred men has made the Mursi tribe an iconic fixture of the Lower Omo Valley, drawing inquisitive anthropologists from across the globe.
While the region’s big mammal populations show signs of recovery following past poaching, the real spectacle lies in its diverse birdlife, boasting nearly 180 species. Among these are the Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Black-bellied Bustard, White-cheeked Turaco, White-bellied Go-away-bird, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, Donaldson-Smith’s Nightjar, Woolly-necked Stork, African Harrier-Hawk, Lappet-faced Vulture, Bateleur, Martial Eagle, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Woodland Kingfisher, Striped Kingfisher, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Little Bee-eater, White-throated Bee-eater, Madagascar Bee-eater, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, African Black-headed Oriole, White Helmetshrike, D’Arnaud’s Barbet, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Black-billed Barbet, and Double-toothed Barbet.
This impressive array of bird species promises an enthralling experience amidst the natural beauty of the Omo Valley.
Where you will be staying: Eco-Omo Lodge
Further south lies Turmi, nestled in the Lower Omo Valley, where we’ll spend the upcoming days. This expansive and picturesque valley is renowned for its extraordinary cultural diversity. Hosting over a dozen distinct ethnic groups, many of whom live in relative isolation from modern society, this area remains untouched by modernization, thanks to its historical remoteness and prior inaccessibility. The Lower Omo Valley is not just a testament to cultural richness but also holds significance in anthropological discoveries. It has yielded hominid remains dating back millions of years, including early skeletons of our own species, tracing human history nearly 200,000 years ago.
Beyond its cultural and historical significance, the Lower Omo Valley offers a splendid haven for birdwatchers. The region boasts avian treasures such as the Orange-bellied Parrot, Bruce’s Green Pigeons, Abyssinian Roller, Lilac-breasted Roller, Greater Blue-eared Starling, Superb Starling, Rüppell’s Long-tailed Starling, Magpie Starling, Shelley’s Starling, Red-billed Oxpecker, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Streaky Seedeater, Purple Grenadiers, Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu, Green-winged Pytilias, Red-billed Firefinch, and many more. These remarkable bird species further enhance the allure of this culturally and historically rich valley, promising an unforgettable experience for both cultural enthusiasts and avid birders.
Where you will be staying: Turmi Lodge
On the following day, we’ll explore two of Ethiopia’s largest and most stunning lakes: Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo. These lakes have a rich abundance of birdlife, along with impressive populations of hippos and the massive Nile crocodiles—some recorded as big as 18 ft. Among the anticipated bird species are the Yellow-billed Stork, Saddle-billed Stork, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Grey Crowned Crane, Goliath Heron, White-fronted Black Chat, African Cuckoo-hawk, Bat Hawk, and Scissor-tailed Kite, among others.
Then, on Day 22, we’ll venture to Nechisar National Park, known for its exquisite beauty within the isthmus between the two lakes, earning the poetic moniker ‘Bridge of Heaven’. Arba Minch, meaning ‘forty springs’, derives its name from the bubbling streams that emerge amidst the lush groundwater forest beneath the town. This captivating area stands as one of Ethiopia’s few remaining pristine wildernesses. The park hosts a diverse array of birdlife, including the Red-billed Hornbill, Grey Hornbill, African Fish Eagle, Kori Bustard, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Thick-billed Raven, Wattled Ibis, Nechisar Nightjar, African Nightjar, Lesser Flamingo, Pallid Harrier, African Darter, Pink-backed Pelican, Great White Pelican, Hammerkop, Osprey, European Honey-buzzard, Lappet-faced Vulture, White-headed Vulture, Brown Snake-Eagle, Bat Hawk, Blue-naped Mousebird, Narina Trogon, Half-collared Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Broad-billed Roller, Rufous-crowned Roller, Red-fronted Tinker Bird, Red-and-yellow Barbet, among others. This pristine wilderness promises an immersive experience in some sublime settings.
Where you will be staying: Paradise Lodge
Your next destination takes you westward from the Bale Mountains to the captivating Lake Awasa. This scenic destination welcomes you with picturesque traditional fishing boats, thriving hippo colonies, and impressive gatherings of Great White Pelicans. Other highlight species worth noting are the African Pygmy Kingfisher, African Jacana, Marabou Stork, Malachite Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, White-browed Robin-chat, Western-banded Snake-eagle, Hottentot Teal, Black Crake, African Fish-eagle, Hadada Ibis, Purple Heron, Common Sandpiper, White-backed Duck, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Slender-billed Starling, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Hooded Vulture, and more!
We’ll also be visiting the stunning Gibe Gorge, offering excellent opportunities to spot a variety of bird species. Here, sightings may include the Egyptian Goose, Helmeted Guineafowl, Speckled Pigeon, Red-eyed Dove, Vinaceous Dove, Laughing Dove, Dideric Cuckoo, Egyptian Plover, Spur-winged Lapwing, Bateleur, African Grey Hornbill, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, Black-billed Barbet, Western Black-headed Batis, Ethiopian Boubou, Fan-tailed Raven, Green-backed Camaroptera, Red-headed Weaver, and more.
On our final day, we’ll leisurely travel back to Addis Ababa, making several birding stopovers along the way, and getting our final glimpses of Ethiopia’s impressive birdlife. You’ll have an overnight stay in Addis Ababa.
The next morning, we’ll transfer you to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport ready for your international flight back home.
Easy/Medium – the majority of birding will be done on foot and at high altitudes, but nothing too over-enduring.
Best time of year to visit:
The best time for birding in Ethiopia is from November to March, coinciding with the presence of Palearctic migrant birds during the dry season—making it an excellent period. Additionally, from April to September, birding remains favourable. During this period, resident birds transition into breeding plumage, becoming more vocal, easier to spot, and visually beautiful. However, heavy rainfall in July and August might affect sightings.
Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley boasts stunning national parks, serene rift valley lakes, and breath-taking highlands, making it a premier destination for birding enthusiasts.
The Sustainable Birding Company is a subsidiary of Far and Wild Travel, a tailor-made tour company based in Cumbria, UK. Far and Wild Travel offer sustainable, luxury, tailor-made tour itineraries throughout Africa and around the world.