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Ethiopia is a magical land of myth andlegend. It was perhaps the earliesthome to man, and later to PresterJohn and a dynasty originating fromQueen Sheba and concluding with theEmperor Haile Selassie in 1974. It is a land of mixed race and mixed religion, of countless tribes and even morelanguages, mingled and matured by timeand history. It is filled with donkeys, cattle,and an elegant people ... plus the finest ofAfrica's mountain scenery. Ethiopia hasbeen a melting pot, since Christ, for ideasfrom the East, West and from Africa; todaynothing seems straightforward. Amharic,the national language, has an alphabet ofover 200 characters; the year, following theJulian calendar, has 13 months! Its wildlife-particularly its avifauna-isoutstanding. Over 830 birds have beenrecorded-29 of them endemic -and we will hope to see nearly half of them,whilst 80 species of larger mammalssurvive with mixed fortunes, seven ofwhich are also endemic.We begin in Bahar Dar, at the edge ofLake Tana, the country's largest lake. Herewe have two days to enjoy the excellentlakeside birding, as well as visits to thesource of the Blue Nile and thespectacular Blue Nile Falls. It may also bepossible to visit one of the wonderfulCoptic monasteries on one of the lake'sislands before we set off on the drive around the lake to Gondar. Founded byKing Fasilidas in 1635, this town served as the imperial capital for 250 years and is full of historical sites, notably its groupof 17th century castles and thefantastically decorated church of DebreBirhan Selassie.From Gondar we head up into thedramatic Simien Mountains National Park,one of Africa's most extensive and ruggedmountain ranges, reaching its highestpoint of 4,620 metres at Mount RasDashen. We will explore the region on a 3-day trek in search of its birdlife and,especially, its three special endemicmammals. The Gelada Baboon has itsstronghold in these mountains, where apopulation of around 20,000 individualslive in troops that can number up to 400-strong. In much smaller numbers, theendangered Walia Ibex may also be seenon the trek, whilst the elegant EthiopianWolf is now sadly declining in thesemountains and infrequently seen.Our walking route takes us first fromSankaber to Geech, from where weascend to the summit of Mietgogo to enjoythe spectacular views, before proceedingto Chenek, an area favoured by the WaliaIbex. On completion of our trek we returnto Gondar for a flight to Addis. From therewe head south to Awash National Park,where we will stay for two nights in acomfortable lodge. Awash, spanning 905square kilometres, became Ethiopia's firstsanctuary in 1966 and, with its rollinggrasslands, acacia scrub and the volcanoMount Fantalle, resembles a classical eastAfrican game reserve. Beisa Oryx, bothGreater and Lesser Kudu, Waterbuck,Soemmering's Gazelle, Warthog, Swayne'sHartebeest and Salt's Dik-dik graze theacacia-dotted grasslands alongsideOstriches, Kori and the rarer ArabianBustards. Lion, Leopard, Caracal andServal have all been seen on our tours butthey are both infrequent and hard to see. Amongst the larger acacias along theAwash River, hornbills, parrots, finchesand doves feed. We will explore the parkon foot and also drive into the nearby hills.Leaving Awash, we follow the Great RiftValley southwards to the lush, forestedhills of Wondo Guenet. Our lodge, with itsnearby hot springs, was once a favouritehome of Haile Selassie's daughter, itsgarden still ablaze with floweringbougainvilleas, jacarandas and amaryllis,its large figs and acacias the homes ofColobus Monkeys and Silvery-cheekedHornbills, plus a number of Ethiopia'sendemic birds. It is, indeed, a relaxingspot in which to stay.Finally, we transfer our focus to thebeautiful Rift Valley Lakes. These Iieamongst acacia woods and farmlandbetween the distant valley walls, each onewith a different depth, salinity andcharacter. Lake Awassa offers the greatestabundance of waterbirds, plus the colourand bustle of the local fishermen. At LakeShalla the views are tremendous and thebushland birds and mammals oftennoteworthy; whilst Lake Abiata, a vast andshallow soda lake, is Ethiopia's Nakuru -its margins thick with flamingoes, pelicans,cormorants, storks, herons and waders.Our last stop is Lake Langano, where wewill spend two nights in a pleasant lakesidelodge. Here we have plenty of time to enjoythe tranquil surroundings and, with a veryrealistic chance of sighting the elusiveAardvark by night, this lovely lodge makesa fitting finale to our holiday.The Best of EthiopiaA 17-day holiday, including an optional trek in the Simien Mountains, focusing on the varied andspectacular landscapes of Ethiopia, and the country's abundant birdlife, mammals and rich history.Friday 19th October - Sunday 4th November 2012 Cost: £3,395Friday 18th October - Sunday 3rd November 2013 Cost: £3,595Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationSUDANKENYASOMALIASOMALIADJIBOUTIRED SEAERITREAGONDARLALIBELASIMIENMOUNTAINSLAKETANABAHAR DARADDIS ABABAAWASHNATIONAL PARKLAKE LANGANOGOBABALE MOUNTAINSWONDO GUENETLAKE AWASSARIFT VALLEY LAKESETHIOPIAOutline itineraryDay 1Depart London, flying toAddis then Bahar Dar.Day 2/3Bahar Dar. Day 4Gondar. Day 5 Simien Mountains. Day 6/8 Trekking in the Simiens. Day 9Fly Addis Ababa. Day 10/11 Awash National Park. Day 12/13Wondo Guenet. Day 14 Lake Awassa. Day 15/16 Lake Langano. Day 17 Fly London.AccommodationGovernment and private hotels withen suite facilities, plus fully servicedcamping in the Simien Mountains.FoodAll included in the price.GradingModerate, occasionally strenuous, 3-day trek in the Simiens is optional.The rest of the tour is easy-paced.Generally grade A but trek is grade C. FocusBirds, mammals and history.LeaderAndy Smith, plus local guides.Single room supplement£295.ExtensionsAvailable on request in Ethiopia andto other parts of Africa. Web quick search: ETH05161Simien MountainsGelada BaboonWalia Ibex

Ethiopia is a magical land of myth andlegend. It was perhaps the earliesthome to man, and later to PresterJohn and a dynasty originating from QueenSheba and concluding with the EmperorHaile Selassie in 1974. It is a land of mixedrace and mixed religion, of countlesselegant tribes and even more languages,mingled and matured by time and history. Itcontains Africa's most magnificentmountain scenery and its wildlife isoutstanding. Over 830 birds have beenrecorded - 29 of them endemic - whilst80 species of larger mammals survive,albeit with mixed fortunes, seven of whichare also endemic. This tour will focus onboth the mammals and birds, with a specialemphasis on the very rare Ethiopian Wolf.Regarded as one of the most endangeredmammal species in Africa, this extremelyhandsome predator is under pressure in itsBale Mountains stronghold, from bothdisease and the loss of genetic integritythrough interbreeding with village dogs ashuman settlements encroach into themontane habitats. Various conservationbodies are urgently attempting tosafeguard the remaining population andthankfully it is still possible to observethese magnificent creatures hunting theirfavourite rodent prey on the mountainplateaux.We begin our holiday with a flight to AddisAbaba and, on arrival, will immediately setout on the 4-hour drive eastwards to AwashNational Park. Here we will stay for threenights in a comfortable tourist lodge,situated in an area holding an abundantbirdlife and plenty of interesting mammals.Awash National Park itself spans 905square kilometres, became Ethiopia's firstsanctuary in 1966 and, with its rollinggrasslands, acacia scrub and the volcanoMount Fantalle, resembles a classical eastAfrican game reserve. Beisa Oryx, bothGreater and Lesser Kudu, Waterbuck,Soemmering's Gazelle, Warthog, Swayne'sHartebeest and Salt's Dik-dik all occur insmall numbers, and graze the acacia-dotted grasslands alongside Ostriches andboth Kori and the rarer Arabian Bustards.Lion, Leopard, Caracal, Serval and othermammals have all been seen on our tours,but they are both infrequent and hard tofind. Amongst the larger acacias along theAwash River, hornbills, parrots, finches anddoves feed. During our stay in the area, wewill spend a day exploring by vehicle, andin some places on foot; on our second day,we will enjoy the wildlife in the vicinity of our lodge.Leaving Awash, we follow the Great RiftValley southwards to the lush, forested hillsof Wondo Guenet. Our lodge, with itsnearby hot springs, was once a favouritehome of Haile Selassie's daughter, itsgarden still ablaze with floweringbougainvilleas, jacarandas and amaryllis,its large figs and acacias the homes ofColobus Monkeys and Silvery-cheekedHornbills, plus a number of Ethiopia'sendemic birds. It is, indeed, a relaxing spotin which to stay and we will spend our timelooking for birds and mammals in thesurrounding forests.A patchwork landscape unfolds before usas we drive to the beautiful Bale MountainsNational Park, a huge and remote area ofgrassy uplands, towering outcrops,hanging forests, rocky peaks, and exposedmoorlands dotted with giant lobelias, red-hot pokers, and with peaty pools and lakes.This is the last refuge of the endemicMountain Nyala, and of three otherendemic mammals, Menelik's Bushbuck,the peculiar Giant Molerat, and themagnificent Ethiopian Wolf. It is the latterspecies that we are particularly hoping tofind and watch on this tour, for it is acritically endangered species that occursonly in a handful of isolated pockets of theEthiopian highlands. Threatened by theloss of its high altitude habitat, disease andpersecution, its numbers are now down toaround 500, making it one of the mostendangered of the world's larger mammals.During two full days in the field, we will lookfor it in its strongholds, the Bale Mountains'Web Valley and Sanetti Plateau. We willalso hope to see some of the commonermammal species of the area which includeKlippspringer, Grey Duiker, BohorReedbuck, Warthog, Rock Hyrax and OliveBaboon, as well as a rich flora and specialrange of birds which includes a staggering14 endemics! Finally, we transfer our focus to thebeautiful Rift Valley Lakes. These lieamongst acacia woods and farmlandbetween the distant valley walls, each onewith a different depth, salinity andcharacter. Lake Awassa offers the greatestabundance of waterbirds, plus the colourand bustle of the local fishermen. At LakeShalla the views are tremendous and thebushland birds and mammals oftennoteworthy; Lake Abiata, a vast andshallow soda lake, is Ethiopia's Nakuru -its margins thick with flamingoes, pelicans,cormorants, storks, herons and waders.Our last stop is Lake Langano, where wewill spend two nights in a lakeside lodge.Here we have plenty of time to enjoy thetranquil surroundings and, with a veryrealistic chance of sighting the elusiveAardvark by night, this lovely lodge makesa fitting finale to our holiday. Ethiopian WolvesA 13-day safari in Ethiopia visiting Awash National Park, the Rift Valley Lakes, Wondo GuenetForest, and the beautiful Bale Mountains in search of the endangered Ethiopian Wolf.Friday 16th November - Wednesday 28th November 2012 Cost: £2,495Friday 15th November - Wednesday 27th November 2013 Cost: £2,595Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Addis Ababa. Day 2/4Awash National Park. Day 5Wondo Guenet.Day 6/8Bale Mountains.Day 9Lake Awassa.Day 10/11Lake Langano.Day 12 Depart Addis Ababa.Day 13Arrive London.AccommodationSimple but comfortable lodges; allrooms with private facilities.FoodAll included in the price, except fordinners in Addis. Allow £15.GradingGrade A/B. A combination oftraditional African safari (withwildlife-viewing from our vehicle)and some walking. FocusMammals (especially EthiopianWolves) and birds.LeaderRoy Taylor, plus local guides.Single room supplement£275.Web quick search: ETH04162Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryKENYASOMALIAADDIS ABABASOMALIAAWASHNATIONAL PARKLAKE LANGANOGOBABALE MOUNTAINSWONDO GUENETLAKE AWASSARIFT VALLEY LAKESETHIOPIAEthiopian WolfBeisa OryxGuereza ColobusMonkeys