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Found 23 results

  1. Mr. SafariChick and I have been back about a week from the three-country 20th anniversary trip that we'd been planning for over a year. Still not entirely caught up on sleep and haven't been through all the photos yet, but thought I'd best get started on a report before too much time passes. I have decided to write the report in three separate parts, since each part of the trip took place in a different country. (And also because this allows me to use different fun trip report titles. This title was provided by Mr. SafariChick). Here is our oldest daughter hugging me farewell after she drove us to the airport to drop us off (a first for this almost-18-year-old) This trip was an ambitious undertaking, visiting three countries in 12 days - and with each country, our destination for wildlife viewing required a drive of some significance to reach from the airport in which we landed.Nowhere was this more true than our first stop, Ethiopia. After a flight from SFO to Heathrow, a 6-hour layover (at least spent in a very comfortable United lounge with some decent food and beverages), and another flight from Heathrow to Addis, which were about 24 hours total of travel, we arrived at Addis at 6:30 a.m. local time. We obtained our visas without much trouble, changed some money, picked up our bags, and went outside to find our driver, Demiss. Demiss was waiting for us and had us packed up into the car quickly. He was a very nice fellow, with good English and great knowledge of Ethiopia and its history, geography as well as it’s endemic animals. We knew we were to be assigned a guide employed by Bale Mountain Lodge once we arrived there, but having Demiss along was almost like having a second guide, which was great. We asked if there was somewhere to grab a quick bite to eat, not a sit-down place but just something to serve as breakfast. Demiss was a bit unsure what we might want and we tried stopping at a Supermarket called Safeway which amused us since we have a chain of supermarkets in the U.S. called Safeway. We ended up getting a piece of banana bread to share and getting on the road. The drive to Bale Mountain Lodge had been described to me as everything from 6 hours to 7-8 hours to an “all day trip” so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Even though the road was paved most of the way, the trip actually took us closer to about ten hours including about an hour lunch stop and a couple of short bathroom stops. It was pretty brutal after the air travel we had done, I have to say. In retrospect, it really would have been better to break it up with an overnight half way or at least have had an overnight in Addis first. But we were concerned about not being away from home too long, both because we were leaving our teen girls for the first time for more than two days (with their former babysitter staying at the house) and being away 15 days was about as long as Mr. Safarichick felt comfortable being gone from work. We stopped for a sort of brunch late morning at a restaurant that was quite good. (I am trying to find out the name from Demiss and will post it when I do). I had scrambled eggs and toast, and I don’t recall what everyone else had except that Demiss ordered a macchiato. I was surprised this was something they made in Ethiopia as I think of it as Italian (and co-opted by Starbucks and the like). But the coffee in Ethiopia was delicious and nice and strong and Demiss told us about the history of Italians having attempted to colonize Ethiopia – twice. He and our guide Biruk and some of the park staff would say “Ciao Ciao” to each other to say “goodbye” and he said that came from the Italians who lived in Ethiopia. The drive was made longer and more difficult by the many villages we had to pass through, each of which was populated it seemed by large numbers of humans and their cattle, sheep and goats, as well as cart horses pulling little buggies with people in them. We had to slow to go around all these obstacles and I became somewhat queasy from this and probably from my all around fatigue. In addition to the animals being moved along by people, there were many animals just hanging around at the sides of the road on their own, usually trying to eat something it found on the ground like this goat eating some orange peels. We passed through the park headquarters at Dinsho I think at around 3:00 pm and purchased our park tickets for the next four days, and I was surprised when Demiss told me we still had about two and a half hours to go to get to the lodge! And we actually still had to go through some populated areas even though we had entered the park. There are villages and people living around the park so you will be in what seems total wilderness but then come to a village before getting back to wilderness. The first wildlife we saw was some aggressive baboons that came right up to the cars, seeking a snack, and some warthogs and Mountain Nyala. I didn’t get great photos but here are a few: You have to drive up to and over the Sanetti Plateau, which would be our viewing grounds for the wolves, in order to get to Bale Mountain Lodge. We were hopeful that we might possibly get a glimpse of wolves on this first trip across the plateau but were dismayed to find it started raining and then hailing as we drove through the plateau! This was unexpected as it was not even the rainy season and we hoped it would not continue during the rest of our stay. (Luckily it did not!) The plateau is quite other-worldly looking in any kind of weather, but the hail really made us feel we did not know where we were. We were very glad to finally arrive at Bale Mountain Lodge 10 hours after we left Addis! We were given a room called a Tree House that was a free-standing little house up a half-flight of stairs about a five-minute walk from the main lodge where meals were served. It was r private and in the trees, but there were a few problems with it that would cause us to move to another room halfway through our stay, but more about that later.
  2. Good news for those planning trips to Ethiopia - the country with ancient monuments has taken another step into the future. we are talking about Online Visas! https://www.evisa.gov.et/#/home Bale or Guassa, anyone? courtesy of @Sangeeta Editing to add - I rejoiced too early... sadly the online visa is not available for Singapore! Darn.
  3. 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 and spent the afternoon taking a few sights in Addis. 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) Afternoon outside a monastery 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 Also on our list was the Walia Ibex Saturday 9th we drove back down to Gonder and spent the afternoon exploring the cultural sights Fasilides Castle and a couple of churches 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 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 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 View from our room Bale Monkey Wolf 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 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. https://www.flickr.com/photos/16343559@N04/albums/72157660202134296
  4. http://www.nature.com/news/teeth-tell-tale-of-hippo-s-quick-spread-across-africa-1.22168 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02724634.2017.1297718?journalCode=ujvp20 ~ The June, 2017 summary article published in Nature and the June, 2017 research paper published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology present findings concerning the spread of ancient hippos across Africa. Analysis of hippo dental fossils from Ethiopia's Chorora site suggest that approximately 8 million years ago as grass species spread across Africa, hippos spread with them, resulting in wide dispersal.
  5. Sangeeta: You know how it goes – the very day after you learn a new word (like risible), you spot it immediately in the next thing you read. Or if you’ve just discovered that you’re allergic to peanuts, then all of a sudden you find yourself surrounded by people who are also allergic to peanuts? Guassa was something like that for us. The very day after Kit and I came back from our visit to this little-known home of the gelada monkeys in Ethiopia, National Geographic published a full-blown article on Menz-Guassa… http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/04/gelada-monkeys-grass-eating-guassa-ethiopia-bleeding-heart/ Where had they been when we were researching our trip? Kit & I had had been looking for a short add-on to our trip to Zakouma. Since we were both flying Ethiopian Airways, it was logical to look for something in Ethiopia. But since we only had 4 nights on the ground, we decided that Bale was too far (although we both wanted to see wolves) and getting to the Simiens was just too complicated (the flights and transfers would have eaten up a substantial chunk of our time). Guassa, as it turned out, was our Goldilocks destination. Not too far, not too complicated and with at least a theoretical chance at seeing both wolves and geladas. And so, Guassa it would be. A quick look back at ST shows that none other than @GameWarden talked about Guassa on ST as early as 2012: http://safaritalk.net/topic/9346-guassa-community-conservation-area-two-ethiopian-wolf-pups/ even though nobody seems to have visited at the time. @TomKellie then linked through to some interesting papers here http://safaritalk.net/topic/14587-ethiopian-wolf-and-gelada-interaction-to-increase-foraging-success/ which resulted in an animated discussion on ST as well as an attempt by @@SafariChick to visit Guassa on her recent trip to Ethiopia (though sadly, that did not work out due to time constraints). Then in May 2016, new member @@Alyson described her trip to Guassa here: http://safaritalk.net/topic/16340-hi-from-new-zealand/ I mention all these antecedents simply to reinforce what a wonderful learning tool this community can be because of the generosity of those who have shared their knowledge so freely on this forum. I also want to add that although we may get a certain secret thrill about being one of the ‘first’ to do something or go to a place that is relatively unknown, we’re all really walking in the footsteps of those who have gone there before us. The beauty of exploring new and remote places lies in the privilege we have of talking about our experiences with others who share the passion. Planning @@SafariChick’s aborted trip to Guassa helped me learn about the logistics involved. So I knew it would be a 5-6 hour road trip to Guassa, that we would stay at Frankfurt Zoological Society’s rustic self-catering lodge there, that it would be rather cold & breathlessness-inducing at an altitude of more than 3000m, and that with some luck, we would we would see both geladas and wolves there. Neither Kit nor I wanted to spend any time in the kitchen, so we took a chef with us. Turned out to be the best decision we could have made. Addis, our chef, whipped up a staggering variety of delicious meals for us day after day, and we got out of Guassa with no tales of upset tummies at all.
  6. I have written a blog about the state of wolves in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia. As far as I believe the information is accurate but I stand corrected if anything is false. I'm not a biologist or a scientist - I'm a lodge owner. But from what I have seen and heard, I believe this to be accurate and somewhat alarming. https://nickcran.wordpress.com/lone-wolf Secondly I have been talking to Adam Welz, a wildlife media expert from SA. I have not yet met Adam but will do at the Conservation Lab later this month. We have been wondering whether any Tora Hartebeest are still alive or whether this species is extinct? There have been no reports for over ten years in Ethiopia. Can anyone shed any light on what has happened to this beautiful species?
  7. A set of truly stunning pictures in this Sundays NYT by photographer Andrea Frazetta. "My birth as a photographer took place in Africa: The first assignment I ever took was in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the Danakil, a desert in Ethiopia, I felt this very real sense of nowhere, as if I were suspended in time. It is such a wild place, and feels like the heart of Africa. It’s the region where Lucy, the famous hominin, was found; it was the start of humanity, and it feels like it. But it is also such an extreme place to visit, one of the hottest in the world. You can really only go during three months of the year — between December and February — and even then it was so hot, I couldn’t do anything after the morning. I felt terrible at first, but then something happens — you get used to it. The area feels prehistoric. You have all this light: It’s white and dusty, and there becomes a kind of charm to a place without colors. But then you go a little farther from the salt plains, and the landscape becomes a psychedelic experience, all greens and reds and veins of minerals. And then there are these other moments that were very dark, almost black, because we had to arrive in the middle of the night to see the volcano. This was a visual journey, to go from white to color to dark. It’s the cycle of photography. The landscape really took me out of my comfort zone. It is an atmosphere like hell. The noise of the lava, the gurgling, is incredible. It’s one of the only countries in the world that lets people so close to the crater of the volcano. I could feel my feet burning, and at one point one of the legs of my tripod was melting from the heat of the ground. But there were moments so full of joy and so pure, like when my guide Ali ran into his friend in the middle of nowhere, this vast white desert, and they were so happy to see each other. They did the keke dance, a dance of joy. He told me that when you meet an old friend, you dance like this, with your hand in the air. It was so beautiful, because it was so unexpected." NYT Magazine 9/25.2016
  8. http://travel.iafrica.com/bulletinboard/986034.html This article from Agence France Presse describes the threats to Ethiopia's dwindling lion population. The Born Free Foundation assists injured lions. Wildlife conservation is a low priority as pastoralists move into poorly protected conservation areas.
  9. If you find a good Ethiopian restaurant in London or New York, then you can be sure that five others will open in the same street. Ethiopians are copy-cats. I guess that after 20 years of communism and donkey's years of feudalism, there is not much credit given for entrepreneurial thinking. So when we heard that there had been 14 applications to build in the national park then we were dismayed. Last year, following pressure from UNESCO, two hundred families were persuaded, with financial incentives, to move from the core area of the park to a local town. The Simiens were the second World Heritage Site to be named in the world. Yellowstone was the first back in 1976. Ethiopians are very proud of this and there are actually 9 heritage sites in the country, the most in Africa. Last month one of the promotors came to receive his land. Building land is given by government in Ethiopia - it is not owned outright. Immediately the people in the local town protested claiming that their families were being moved from the park to allow the developers in. The upshot is that plans have ceased and now nobody is set to destroy the core area of this amazing park. Simien Lodge, whilst having nothing to do with this movement, has worked hard with the local community since its inception. Currently we are building 8 classrooms outside the park to attract the people to live away from the core areas. We work with the local people and encourage them to protect wildlife through meetings and a fair exchange for their support. Maybe our conservation work has paid off in our favour? Certainly we are delighted that these building plans, which would have destroyed the prime area of the park, are not going ahead.
  10. Blue skies and good food for the Tribe (We are Africa) at Simien Lodge this week. Nice to see that the Tribe is discovering Ethiopia.
  11. Simien Lodge is the Highest Hotel in Africa. We are up in the Simien Mountains in Northern Ethiopia. In the past 20 years Ethiopia has become a stable democracy with one of the highest growth rates on the continent. Tourism has followed because of the uniqueness of the wildlife, the stability and the culture. My name is Nick Crane and for the past ten years I have been putting Ethiopian tourism on the world map. In particular I have been promoting the Simiens. I am now interested in developing exchanges with other operators and lodge owners since I note increasingly that tourists want to visit several countries when they come to Africa. I live in France and know many of the European operators well. From my base near to the Swiss border, I talk to a lot of people in Europe. The Simiens was the second world heritage site to be given the status by UNESCO. The first was Yellowstone National Park in the USA. There are now 1061 world heritage sites in the world. We built outside the park but during the construction stage, the boundaries were changed, so now we find ourselves in the unique position of being the only place to stay in this fabulous mountain range. Under UNESCO rules, further construction is not allowed. http://www.simiens.com I'm now invested in developing the Ethiopian market in different directions and I want to meet some safari operators in the southern part of the continent. So I'm planning a trip starting the 8th November starting in Joburg. It will be more of a vacation that a promotional tour (I need a break) but I'm always interested in exchanging when I travel. It makes life more interesting when tourism and african environment is your life. Contact me if your would like to meet me. crane.nick@gmail.com
  12. http://jmammal.oxfordjournals.org/content/96/1/129 Journal of Mammology ******************************************************** http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn27675-monkeys-cosy-alliance-with-wolves-looks-like-domestication.html?cmpid=RSS|NSNS|2012-GLOBAL|online-news#.VXZ90GC1-PO New Scientist ******************************************************** Possibly deliberate association with Ethiopian Wolves (Canis simensis) showing non-threatening behavior to Geladas (Theropithecus gelada).
  13. Quoted from the Range Wide Conservation Program for Cheetahs and African Wild Dogs Facebook page. I guess they will publish on the same page the advances of the project.
  14. Introduction Until a few years ago, I did not have a precise wish-list in terms of African safari destinations. The process of selecting a new trip was possibly more spontaneous; after all, even after many safaris the continent was still there to explore – vast swathes of territory, entire countries, were there, apparently waiting for me, and at the same time I was a loyal and repeat returning visits to certain favored locations. As time went by, the blanks in the map of Africa (or, better, that part of Africa which is a wildlife viewing destination) I had in my mind started to be colored by actual memories. Moreover, I started to acutely realize something: wilderness was becoming at a premium, caught between – objectively - increasing human pressure and – subjectively - the ongoing commercialization and standardization of the safari experience. And so, there came the list. Whose content, to be honest, often changed and was subject to periodical updates (and it still is). However, one of the first places in that list of coveted destinations (or dreams) was Kidepo Valley National Park, in the far north-eastern corner of Uganda. Part of its charm was due to its remoteness and (until recently) almost inaccessibility. The fact that plans to visit it from northern Kenya in 2009 fell apart due to logistical issues and associated costs (most notably, organizing customs and immigrations officers to come from Kampala for us), only helped to reinforce Kidepo’s status in my mind. Other safaris came and went, whilst I (more or less) patiently waited for my Kidepo lucky break. Then, in September 2011, when I was in Gorongosa, in Mozambique, I met Will Jones, founder and managing director of Journeys by Design, a small, boutique, very high end TA that has a reputation for immaculately delivering very special, off the beaten path, “frontier” safaris. Around the campfire I heard Will discussing Ethiopia, where he lived for 8 years, founding the first eco-lodge in the country (Bishangari on Lake Langano) and working for the National Parks there, and I was struck by his wealth of knowledge about a country I knew little about. Some friends of mine had visited Ethiopia, albeit the more established cultural circuit, and had been blown away. My father was pushing for going to “new places” and seeing “different things”. So I thought: why not combine my much longed for visit to Kidepo with a trip to Ethiopia? I contacted Will who, never shy of a challenge, put an inordinate amount of hours of work in following all my twists of mind, my doubts, my afterthoughts in devising an itinerary which – in spite of all the logistical complications – would suit my interests. And, as far as Ethiopia goes, it did seem that my interests were swaying a bit: Originally I was thinking of visiting the primitive tribes in the lower Omo Valley on a boat safari, then going up to the Bale Mountains for Mountain Nyala and Ethiopian Wolf, and finishing with some scenic helicopter flights (something which Will has pioneered in Ethiopia) over the Danakil and the Simien Mountains. In the end, only the Bale Mountains stood, and we decided that the trip would focus more on Ethiopian endemics and near-endemics. So, the final itinerary was as follows: 1 night Entebbe (Protea Hotel) 5 nights Kidepo Valley N.P. (Nga’moru private mobile camp) 1 night Addis Ababa (Sheraton Hotel) 1 night Senkelle Wildlife Sanctuary (mobile camping) 3 nights Bale Mountains N.P. (mobile camping) 3 nights Awash N.P./ Ali Dege (or Alledeghi) Wildlife Reserve (mobile camping) Ground operator for the Uganda portion was Safari Skies, whilst in Ethiopia Red Jackal. Part of the logistics on the Bale Mountains (horses, some of the equipment) were taken care of directly by the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme, thanks to arrangements between Will and Dr. Claudio Sillero- Zubiri of Oxford University, head of the Programme. Originally, Safaridude was supposed to join us in Ethiopia. Personal circumstances prevented him from travelling during our dates, and so he went on a similar trip a couple of weeks earlier. You can read his brilliant – as always – trip report here; http://safaritalk.net/topic/10388-uganda-and-ethiopia-feb-2013-murchison-falls-senkelle-bale-mountain-and-awash/ Squack Evans, our friend and private guide, was again travelling with us, and I and my father were finally re-united on safari with our friend Vijai, whom we had met for the first time in Katavi ten years ago. Vijai’s enthusiasm, love of fine wines and good laughter, excellent birding skills and knowledge (unlike mine) would prove great assets to our party. Just looking at the itinerary, it was pretty evident that we would have been subject to quite some different climatic conditions – from hot weather, to freezing conditions, back to blistering heat – in the short space of days. Jokingly, I had said that this could have been an “extreme” safari. I should have kept my mouth shut, since those extremes were indeed there, and in spades…..
  15. Reports www.dailymail.co.uk To read the full article click here.
  16. AWF kicked off their participation in Simien Mountains with an important workshop in Addis Ababa yesterday (24.2.15). It was attended by all major stakeholders. To quote Kathleen Fitzgerald, the team leader and Director of AWF, 'Simiens could be one of the most important parks in Africa'. There is certainly a lot of interest right now in this amazing destination that combines endemic species with some of the best views in the world. Mike McCarntney of Africacampfires.com was in the park recently too. He could not believe how close he could get to the wildlife. http://www.simiens.com
  17. Gelada vs Gorillas. Both a privileged experience. I was intrigued to see the gorillas. Although I had become accustomed to sitting close to Gelada in the Simien National Park of Ethiopia, I wondered if the experience would be as exciting. It certainly was. After one hour of being close to the largest primates in the world, I came out of the forest knowing that I had just seen something really special. Maybe I have come to be a bit balzé about Gelada. I guess that I see them so often around Simien Lodge that I tend not to notice them anymore. Every day they come and sit on the window ledges to see their reflection in the glass. Otherwise they nonchalantly eat the grass around the rooms that we call ‘tukels’. Gelada are neither a nuisance, like so many baboon species, nor do they warrant any special attention since they spend most of their time looking down and eating grass. They are just ever present so I am no longer in awe when I see the lodge compound invaded by a couple of hundred monkeys. So it was not until I went on a recent trip with two European ambassadors from Addis Ababa that I once again took notice of this incredible species. The Gelada are unique to northern Ethiopia. Many people will tell you that they are endemic to the Simien Mountain National park but that is not true. They are found in a few other places outside of the park. However the best place to see them is right in the core of the park area at about 3500 meters altitude. Clearly my clients were desperate to see them. It was harvest time and many of the bands, as they are called, had wandered off to the farmlands in search of grain. So on the first morning, to my great surprise, we did not see a single animal. However the afternoon game drive was a totally different story and it renewed my affection for these interesting creatures. We stumbled on a band that were grooming and feeding on the escarpment edge. The backdrop beyond the vertical escarpment was one of clear blue sky. Exceptionally there was no haze we could pick out the dots of the houses over one kilometre below. It was late in the afternoon, the sun was getting weaker and the Gelada were preparing to descend the cliff where they would spend the night away from the predators. We sat for nearly an hour watching about ten young gelada climb a rock and launch themselves, like intrepid base jumpers, sensing an awe inspired audience. It was in fact only a four meter drop to a grassy patch below but still perilously close to the edge. To miss their footing would have meant certain death and dinner for the ever watchful vultures. It became a game for them. They were totally ignored by the adult gelada about twenty meters away who just went on preening each other or tapping the ground to extract a juicy grass root. Equally they had total disregard for the two VIP’s who I had taken along for this trip. Like all disrespectful youngsters, they just carried on with their game even when my nervous guests approached them to within one or two meters. There was no need to be afraid. Gelada have never been known to bite a human. The similarity with the gorillas came back to me. Of all wild animals, primates are intelligent enough to know when there is a threat. Sure enough, the Gelada are smart. They know the difference between a tourist with a camera and a young shepherd boy with a stone. Tourists pose no threat and it is possible for them to get very close. On the other hand the sight of a young Ethiopian boy would have heralded a warning call from a watchful adult gelada and that would have been the end of the game. My one hour with the gorillas and it had cost me $750. Expensive but unique. The one hour with the Gelada had cost the ambassadors $4 each for a whole day. OK, let’s double that because we did not see them in the morning! Some cynics might say that I’m comparing chalk with cheese but I don’t think so. Both are amazing experiences that leave you with that privileged feeling that so many of us feel after a great safari. Forget the money, both experiences are fabulous. Nick Crane Simien Lodge www.simiens.com
  18. I’ve just come across the website for the new Bale Mountain Lodge and as I know a few folks are thinking about Ethiopia I thought I’d post the link Bale Mountain Lodge It would appear from the website that the lodge is still being built, though as they were intending to open the lodge around about now I would assume that it’s not too far off being finished. On the updates page for the Bradt Guide to Ethiopia the British investor behind the building of the lodge Guy Levene writes that construction started in November and On the lodge website at the moment they only have a couple of computer simulations of what the lodge may look like so it’s difficult to get a proper idea of what it will be like, however one thing I can be sure of it will be a lot better than the Wabi Shebelle Hotel in Goba. They don’t have a map on their website but according to what he says on the Bradt site the lodge is 5kms south of Rira, if you look up Rira on Google Earth you can get an idea of where the lodge is especially if you have the MAPA layer to show the park boundary. The Lodge is certainly a lot closer to the Sanetti Plateau and the wolves than Goba is and being in the Harenna Forest it’s an ideal location if you want to see the endemic Bale monkey alongside plenty of forest birds and other wildlife. They also suggest that you can go on a day trip from the lodge to look for Prince Ruspoli’s turaco something that wouldn’t really be possible from Goba. The opening of this lodge should be very good for the Bale Mts NP at least I hope so and It will be great to have some really good accommodation as Ethiopian hotels are definitely not the best in the world or they certainly weren’t when I visited which was admittedly a few years ago back in 99 but I wouldn't think they've changed too much. Their website is obviously very new and judging by the computer simulations rather than proper photos of the lodge hasn’t been updated since they launched it. Unfortunately I noticed when you click Sanetti Plateau on the B.M.N.P menu instead of a photo of the Plateau you get a photo of a woman pouring coffee and one of the Church of St George in Lalibela I presume these pictures should be on the Ethiopia page on The Lodge menu as this page is clearly missing some photos. The fact that they haven’t corrected this mistake and provided some updated photos of the lodge might suggest that they will not be opening that soon, though I may be wrong. Whatever the case if you are planning a trip to Ethiopia I’d certainly keep an eye on their website to find out when the lodge will actually open.
  19. I heard this on the radio this morning so looked it up when I got to work. I am sure a better article will be forthcoming although it seems a fairly straightforward story and it is not over-dramatised here. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jNbMVBd9SK8hFguvfp1M1LJonNPw?docId=CNG.a61a907155dd0afc240496fa6748f9c9.351 A 27-year-old Austrian tourist was killed in northern Ethiopia when his group was attacked during a boating trip on the Nile, Austria's foreign ministry said Monday. The attack occurred on Sunday near Bahir Dar, 550 kilometres (340 miles) northwest of the capital Addis Ababa, ministry spokesman Martin Weiss told AFP. The victim and three companions -- part of a larger group of 10 Austrians -- had spent the night camping on the banks of the Nile when they were apparently attacked by bandits.
  20. Just landed after an exhilarating (and exhausting) safari, and, I have to say, feeling quite overwhelmed by all the activity on Safaritalk during my absence. It was a great trip, even if at times quite rough and tough. Here are some pills: - Kidepo: out of the 55 or so wildlife areas I have visited in Africa so far, Kidepo (most notably, the Narus Valley) is possibly the most visually beautiful. It would be well worth travelling there for the landscape alone. Then you have some really enormous buffalo herds, which seemed to fill the valley below our camp like an army of ants - truly impressive. We have also had what will probably remain the rarest sighting in my life: a Karamoja Apalis, a small bird which not only lives in only two separate locations in Africa (one being Kidepo), but it is seldom seen even in such locations. According to the UWA ranger who accompanied us it was his third sighting in 10 years! - Senkelle: we were there to see the Swayne's Hartebeests, that were easy to spot, also from our camp. As expected, not much else. - Bale Mountains: it was cold and dusty, but being guided throughout our stay by Chris Gordon of the Ethipian Wolf Conservation Programme, enabled us to have access to a plethora of quality Ethiopian Wolf sightings (patrolling, hunting, socializing, pups in the den...). Horse riding in the Web Valley, with its vast horizons, is something whose memory I will treasure forever. - Awash: a disappointment. Badly encroached, scarce (even if fairly habituated in certain areas) game. It was very interesting meeting and interacting with the Afar people bringing their catlle and bathing themselves in some beautiful hot springs. - Ali Dege: a nice surprise. Wide open plains, dotted with very skittish but numerous wildlife. We saw hundreds of Beisa Oryx and Soemmering's Gazelles, a decent number of Grevy's Zebra (including a nice herd of 50 or so), lots of Somali Ostriches and Golden Jackals, and the number and variety of raptors was just unbelievable. We also had a weird incident - more on that in the trip report. Now I need some sleep....
  21. In three days I will be departing for safari #24, this time heading to the far northeastern corner of Uganda and a few location in central/southern Ethiopia. The itinerary is as follows: 1 night Entebbe 5 nights Kidepo Valley National Park 1 night Addis Ababa 1 night Senkelle Wildlife Sanctuary 3 nights Bale Mountains National Park 3 nights Awash National Park/Ali Dege Wildlife Reserve Except in the cities, all accomodation will be in private mobile camps - with large Meru tents and attached toilets in Kidepo, and more basic dome tents with detached facilities in Ethiopia. I hope to enjoy the sheer wilderness and remoteness of Kidepo (as well as its huge buffalo herds and attending lions), a plethora of endemics and semi-endemics in Ethiopia (Ethiopian Wolf, Swayne's Hartebeest, Mountain Nyala. Menelik's Bushbuck, Soemmering's Gazelle, Northern Gerenuk, Salt's Dik dik, Hamadryas....) and great scenery and birdlife throughout. What is certain is that we will be exposed to a big range of climatic conditions: from the intense heat in Kidepo and Awash/Ali Dege to freezing on the Bale Mountains (average night temperature on the Sanetti Plateau: - 10° C). Probably i will end up with one side sunburnt, and the other frozen! P.S.: Safaridude is visiting at the moment most of the above mentioned locations in Ethiopia. I have the luxury of receiving regular feedback from him, with a lot of very detailed advice, which is just great. So far his safari seems to have been a huge success.
  22. 10 nights (11 days) Ethiopia Salt Lakes and Volcanoes Tour If you want to camp on the edge of a volcano as you watch camel trains pass by, take part in game drives through a remote game reserve, observe salt miners in the desert lakes of Afrera, visit ancient churches carved out of salt and stay at the hottest inhabited place on earth then this is the holiday for you. Prices from £2,330 pp excl international flights but incl all transfers, meals and internal flights Price is based on a minimum of 4. Day 1 Arrival Addis Ababa Arrive in Addis Ababa at Bole International Airport, where you will be welcomed and assisted by a representative from Jacaranda Tours and driven to your hotel, where you will spend your first night in Ethiopia. The City’s name means “new flower” and it was founded in 1886 by Menelik II. Addis Ababa is a pleasant city with wide avenues of jacaranda trees, interesting museums and one of the largest open air markets in Africa, known as the “Mercato”. It also has a good number of restaurants. Time permitting; you will see Mercato, eastern Africa’s largest market or Mount Entoto which rises up to an altitude of 3,200 metres and offers a panoramic view of the metropolis. You will stay overnight at the Jupiter International hotel or a hotel of similar standard where dinner is included. Day 2 Addis Ababa – Awash Leave early in the morning on the drive from Addis Ababa to Awash National Park. On arrival you will game drive into the savannah of this relatively unknown park and stop at a viewpoint on the deep gorge of the Awash River and its powerful waterfalls. After enjoying your game drive you will head to the Genet Hotel for your overnight stay. Day 3 Awash – Logia Today, you continue to drive through the Rift Valley into the Afar triangle, slowly loosing elevation. The landscape changes from savannah to steppe and half-desert, interrupted by oases from the Awash river. Spend an exciting night camping out in this beautiful area. The Afar triangle is an area of frequent volcanic activity, due to tectonic plate movement in three directions, and you can witness lava flows amongst the active volcanoes. Day 4 Logia – Afdera (Danakil – Afrera Salt Lake) You leave camp and travel off the main road and continue on an unpaved 4×4 road northwards into the Danakil. The trip leads you through rugged moon-landscapes, characterized by volcanic rifts and faults, with young black lava flows creating a gravel desert. After about four hours driving, you reach the flat, salt-covered Danakil depression at the salty lake Afrera. You have time during the afternoon to visit the interesting salines, where pure salt is produced. Tonight you once again camp in this strange and fascinating landscape. Day 5 Afdera – Dodom village (base of Erta Ale) You have the option today, if you wish, to join a group of salt workers in the early morning and watch their interesting technique to gain salt from the lake. Afterwards you will be joined by Afar policemen and an Afar guide as you drive though the flat salt and lava desert to the Afar village of Dodom and set camp at the base of Erta Ale volcano. You will then start the relatively easy ascent (ca. 10 km, 500 m climbing, ca. 3 hrs) along the flat flank of Erta Ale’s shield volcano, while the camel caravan carries your luggage and the equipment. The gently climbing hike itself follows interesting lava formations (pahoehoe lava fields, lava tubes, hornitos, sand deposits and rare vegetation) until you stand on the rim of the caldera. An easy descent brings you to the floor of the caldera where you can stand on the active pit crater containing the boiling lava lake, overnight camp on Erta Ale. Day 6 Erta Ale – Ahmed Ela (Transfer to Lake Assale – salt caravans) Today the drive is hard going as you travel through the desert northwards to the large, mostly dry salt lake near Ahmed Ela your destination for today. In the afternoon and evening you can watch the endless camel caravans coming and going: arriving empty and then leaving packed full with salt blocks. After nightfall, you can assist with the process of assigning salt cutters (the focolo) to the camel owners (the Arho), for the next day’s salt mining at the lake. Camp out once again in this desert region. Day 7 Ahmed Ela – Dallol volcano- Ahmed Ela Today you spend the whole day exploring the fascinating volcano of Dallol- a volcano hidden under a kilometre thick deposit of salt. The volcano’s presence is evidenced by the doming of the salt upwards and hundreds of fumaroles and hot springs in all colours. You can visit the remains of a ghost town, almost entirely built in salt, at Dallol, where miners lived in the 1930s to extract potash from the Dallol area. The town is the hottest inhabited place on earth. Camp out once again. Day 8 Ahmed Ela – Mekele This morning, you watch the sometimes thousands of camels, leaving for the salt cutting area. You then drive to the lake and watch the salt cutters and salt shapers at work, following a century-old established order. By the time you leave in the late morning, the first camels are being loaded and the cycle is repeated. You will now leave the desert following a spectacular canyon into the highlands. At a small, clear waterfall, you stop for lunch, to bath and clean the cars from the salt. In the late afternoon, you should already be back on the highland plateau where you stay the night in a small lively town, and enjoy the first cold beer after more than a week! Overnight stay at Axum Hotel or similar. Day 9 Mekele – Adigrat Leave in the morning on a drive around the city to visit the museum of the emperial palace before continuing on your drive to Adigrat. On the way you will visit the rock-hewn churches of the Tigray region in the Gheralta Cluster namely Wokro cherkose, Abrah asbeha and Maryam Korkor. Overnight stay at Tigray region. Day 10 Adigrat – Mekele After an early start you continue exploring the Tigray region by visiting a couple of historic churches before you drive back to Mekele for the night at the same hotel as last night. Day 11 Departure Fly back to Addis Ababa You will depart in the morning on a flight to Addis Ababa. Then afterwards, the rest of the day will be free to do some last minute shopping. After an evening dinner at a cultural restaurant you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight to the UK. If you are interested in this tour then e-mail carl@alternativeafricanadventures.co.uk Visit our website for other Ethiopia tours
  23. Scientists have tested a population of lions in a zoo in Ethiopia and concluded they are genetically distinct from other lion populations. Could this be a new subspecies? http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/11/30/a-new-genetically-distinct-lion-population-is-found/

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