128 posts in this topic

Dear @atravellyn, i am happy that you have befriended michael and andreas. You are the perfect team and so your joint TRs are highly enjoyable, you complement each other. I have a very adventurous, well-travelled friend who finds YOUR reports very helpful. At the moment she is in Kamtchatka and i am happy in my big garden.

 

I loved you sitting happily among the geladas.

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I really appreciate this TR!!! This is great that you visited Guassa, this clearly helped this small, low funded, conservation project.

 

What a fantastic couple of sightings in Awash!!! 

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12 hours ago, screentraveller said:

Dear @atravellyn, i am happy that you have befriended michael and andreas. You are the perfect team and so your joint TRs are highly enjoyable, you complement each other. I have a very adventurous, well-travelled friend who finds YOUR reports very helpful. Thank you so much. At the moment she is in Kamtchatka and i am happy in my big garden.  We all find our own paradise, don't we?

 

I loved you sitting happily among the geladas.

 

2 hours ago, jeremie said:

I really appreciate this TR!!! This is great that you visited Guassa, this clearly helped this small, low funded, conservation project.  Guassa had such a special feel to it.  Despite the cold and basic accommodations, it had tremendous appeal.  We loved it.

 

What a fantastic couple of sightings in Awash!!!   Fortunately there were some more.

Thanks Jeremie!

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Posted (edited)

Our first morning in Awash was an early game drive.  When Michael and Andreas were not at the meeting point, I immediately told Abiy, “Something’s wrong.”

 

 

I am always on time or a little early, but they are always way early.  What was wrong was that Michael was very sick. The injera the previous night obviously did not agree with him. In fact, when I first laid eyes on him that morning I instinctively blurted out, “You look awful.”  And later apologized.  I think he felt even worse than he looked.  Hoping the worst was behind him,  he decided to give the drive a try, taking a spot by the door.

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From the vehicle on morning drive in Awash

 

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Ali Deghe Mountains, viewed from Awash, early morning game drive

 

About 15 minutes in, it was time for a stop.  Now!  A quick roadside deposit and Michael felt much improved.  I’ve experienced that post-disgorgement wave of relief myself, only to be fooled a few minutes later.  And it was just a few minutes later when, after another quick stop, it became obvious there would be no morning game drive for Michael that day.  But what did impress me as we returned and neared the lodge, was that Michael gazed skyward, and though hampered by his weakened state, he feebly called out, “Monkey.”  It was a Grivit, a first of the trip and a new species for the three of us.  Now that’s dedication in the face of adversity.  Nice spot!

 

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From the vehicle on morning drive in Awash.  Well done, Michael!

 

Anyone who does a good deal of traveling to remote locations, knows they will take their turn at some point, puking in the jungle lodge.  We can only hope that the down time is short lived and not too uncomfortable.  On our previous trip together, it was I who nearly vomited in a temple in Kaziranga, which I initially mistook for a restroom.  Redirected, I completed the task behind an outhouse.  Fortunately, both of us recovered in under 24 hours from our respective ailments.

 

During Michael’s downtime, Andreas and I explored the falls area around the lodge with Abiy and Bege, then did a bird walk.

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Crocs near the lodge, where we walked with our guide, well out of their way.  The remained undisturbed.

 

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Grivit Monkey and Abyssinian roller, seen bird walk from the Lodge

 

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Falls from Awash Lodge

Edited by Atravelynn
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Posted (edited)

An interesting activity that can be done from Awash is visiting the Hyena Cave near Metahara, which is about 25 km/40 minutes away.  About 50 hyenas live in the cave and they trickle out in the early evening until night.  Visitors can watch from the hills above the cave.  A fee is paid for this privilege, meaning the town has a vested interest in not harming the hyenas.

 

Andreas and I did the hyena caves while Michael continued to recover.

 

Here is how the Hyena Cave worked:

 

4:00 pm  Left Awash Lodge for game drive in the park before heading to the hyena cave

5:30 pm – 6 pm  Drive off-road looking for the cave area

6:00 pm – 6:20 pm walk to the hill where we wait to observe the hyenas

6:45 pm first hyena is out (Sometimes warthogs will emerge with the hyenas because they share the cave without incident. We saw no

                                          warthogs.)

6:45 pm – 7:10 pm 6 more hyena come out for a total of 7 seen

7:15 pm – Time to leave, don’t want to be there when it is dark

7:15 pm – 7:45 pm  Walk back to vehicle.  Torch is needed.

7:45 pm – 8:20 pm  Drive back to Awash Lodge.

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Salt's dik dik, Game drive in Awash before heading to the Hyena Cave

 

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Khori bustard, Game drive in Awash before heading to the Hyena Cave

 

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Abyssinian bustard, Game drive in Awash before heading to the Hyena Cave

 

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Rock Hyrax seen while walking to Hyena Den

 

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Photos taken from the hillside overlooking the hyena den

 

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Sunset while waiting for the hyenas to emerge from their den

Edited by Atravelynn
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Just so you know, I am saving this one. However, in addition to the cuisine, this caught my attention immediately.

 

10 pm Night walk for Defassa Waterbuck

 

I am not sure how long I can save this one now.

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, pault said:

Just so you know, I am saving this one. However, in addition to the cuisine, this caught my attention immediately.

 

10 pm Night walk for Defassa Waterbuck  It was an optional walk, of course.

 

I am not sure how long I can save this one now.

Your comment is perfect timing, because the Waterbuck Walk from Doho Lodge in Ali Deghe is up next!

 

Other than the illness incident, Awash Lodge was lovely with outstanding views of the falls from many little alcove areas in the lounge/restaurant where your party could have privacy while dining or relaxing.  And we can’t really blame the illness all on Awash because it happened again later in the trip to poor Michael after some more injera.  In fact, all of us (even Abiy and Begahaw) were queasy or similar at some point in the trip.  Pepto-bismal tablets came in handy!

 

Ali Deghe Reserve is Ethiopia’s most prolific savanna-like terrain, in the classic, traditional safari sense.  Our time in Ali Deghe was not optimal for a couple of reasons.  First, our original lodge for viewing Ali Deghe, Bilen, was changed.  While Doho was beautiful, I think it was not as conveniently located as Bilen.  Bilen was not available, I believe due to a change in ownership, but I don’t recall exactly.  Second, we were originally going to leave Awash Lodge to drive to Ali Deghi super early (like 5 am) to arrive by about 7:15 am.  But then we thought it would be best to check on Michael’s health in the morning and see how breakfast settled in his stomach before taking off.

 

So, we departed Awash Lodge at 6:45 am for Ali Deghe.  Only 2 minutes later, we stopped for a Black chested snake eagle posing nicely in the early rays.  Then a couple of minutes after that, we enthusiastically executed our “stop the vehicle, get out and view on foot” routine for an Abyssinian Hare.

 

large.5959c48a0acbc_IMG_6400blackcrested    large.5959c46d36269_IMG_6397blackcrested

Black-chested snake eagle in Awash, morning departure from lodge.  Not sure if we were in or out of the vehicle.

 

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Abyssinian Hare, with its black tail evident.  Seen on Awash morning departure game drive where we exited the vehicle after sighting the hare.

 

Driving along the highway to Ali Deghe, we viewed some Hamadryas baboons, which are endemic to the Horn of Africa.  I would have preferred to see the Hamadryas in a more natural setting than along the highway. The International Union for Conservation for Nature lists the Hamadryas baboon as “least concern,” which is positive.

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Hamadryas baboons, roadside between Awash and Ali Deghe, viewed from the car.

 

We reached Ali Deghe about 9:00 am when much of the wildlife had ceased its activity in the heat.  After about an hour of driving around without much luck, we decided to halt the drive and head to Doho Lodge.

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Skittish Soemmering's Gazelle through midday day heat haze in Ali Deghe.

 

To reach Doho Lodge, we drove through a dry, sparsely vegetated area with lots of heavy equipment digging and reshaping the dusty landscape—new roads or something.   Very barren and unattractive. What kind of place is this Doho Lodge we wondered?  But we arrived at a lush oasis of “untouched palm forest, typha grass, hot spring lake, and wetlands." (from brochure) The brochure was entirely accurate.

 

Lunch was combined with some great bird watching without ever leaving our chairs.

medium.5959c6096d90b_IMG_6584DohoAliDegh        medium.5959c6004934b_IMG_6567DohoLodgein

Pied kingfisher and Ruppell's long-tailed starling (I believe) while eating lunch at Doho Lodge

 

Then, instead of relaxing at the lodge in the afternoon, perhaps taking a dip in the hot springs*, we headed out again at 3:30 pm, arriving at Ali Deghe at 4:40 pm.  The afternoon proved more productive than later morning.  We did not get back to Doho Lodge until about 7:15 pm. 

 

* I believe only @AndMic made it into the hot springs, the next morning.

 

That’s a long day and a lot of driving.  We appreciated that Guide Abiy and Driver Bege were so flexible and willing to do more driving than the itinerary stated to meet our needs.  Just one more reason these guys are Top Notch!

 

But the day did not end at 7:15 pm.  Oh no, we had the Waterbuck Walk around the lodge.  Defassa Waterbuck to be exact.  Michael was back to fighting form by then, so we hunted waterbuck (which are quite rare in Ethiopia) on foot for about half an hour  from 10:00 pm  – 10:30 pm. 

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Beisa Oryx in Ali Deghe, late afternoon.  Viewed after exiting the vehicle.

 

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Beisa Oryx and Soemmerring's Gazelle in Ali Deghe, late afternoon.  Viewed after exiting the vehicle.

 

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Soemmerring's Gazelle in Ali Deghe, late afternoon.  Viewed after exiting the vehicle.

 

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Soemmerring's Gazelle in Ali Deghe, late afternoon.  Viewed after exiting the vehicle.

 

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Proof we did the Waterbuck Walk

 

Our original itinerary also had a coffee or tea (I forget which) ceremony scheduled for after dinner at Doho Lodge.  The 3 of us unanimously agreed to nix the ceremony to accommodate our revised schedule.  But it’s nice this cultural activity was planned for us.  With a lodge closer to Ali Deghe and an earlier start, the coffee/tea ceremony would have fit in.

 

***This day of the trip, March 16, should probably be re-worked from what we did, if our itinerary is being used as a model.***

 

 

Edited by Atravelynn
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I am not looking yet. I really want to, but I will use willpower.

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Sorry your party became ill.  

 

Love your photos!

 

Ethiopia is now on my list.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Tulips said:

Sorry your party became ill.  

 

Love your photos!

 

Ethiopia is now on my list.

Bring some altitude pills and Peptos and you'll be all set!

 

A fine time for a bird walk at Doho Lodge is 6:30-7:30 am.

large.5959c6aaa1247_IMG_6758BrucesGreenP   medium.5968f47552c95_IMG_6767DohoOrangeB

                                          Bruce's green pigeon, Doho Lodge on morning  bird walk                  Orange bellied parrot, Doho Lodge on morning  bird walk   

 

medium.5959c75ed836b_IMG_6805ostrichchic  medium.5959c6fd69eb4_IMG_6789ostrichandm  medium.5959c6e613a1f_IMG_6781babyostrich

No walking needed to find this week-old ostrich chick, that had been found abandoned in the park.

 

Doho’s farewell sighting to us was an Abyssinian Roller kill!

medium.5968f46c9b54e_IMG_6640AliDegheAby       medium.5959c85574eb6_IMG_6966roufuscrown

                                              Abyssinian Roller with a kill, seen from vehicle leaving Doho Lodge                     Rufous crowned roller, along highway, we were out of car

 

medium.5959c7e3f134a_IMG_6812truckerdriv     large.596d700f8b18b_roadsidebaboons.jpg.

Truck drivers throw out millet to feed the baboons.  Entertainment during traffic jams.  Hamadryas (left) and Olive (right) baboons are at home beside or on the road. 

 

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                                                   Roll up that window, quick.  This guy is aggressive.                                               The baby learns at an early age to hang out on the road.

 

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Olive baboon

 

Driving back past Awash we had a trip highlight along the highway.  Bege pulled over, stopped the vehicle and let us out to watch a pair of Abyssinian Ground Hornbill! Abiy had said he could practically guarantee this bird during our trip, and we did see them again with one other chance for a photo op.

medium.5959c7ecc59c8_IMG_6840AbyssinianG

 

large.5959c7fa6c79e_IMG_6849AbyssinianGr

Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, spotted along the highway near Awash, photographed on foot, after exiting the vehicle.

I kind of like the metal structure in the background because a lot of our bird watching was typical of this environment--along the highway

where wildlife mingled with infrastructure or at least survived nearby.

 

medium.5959c819e7a66_IMG_6874VillageWeav  medium.5959c822ba768_IMG_6896VillageWeav  medium.5959c80d862e0_IMG_6871villageweav

Village Weavers at the Bethlehem Restaurant, where we had lunch outdoors, near the city of Ziway

 

 medium.5959c848ab324_IMG_6921TreeHyraxZi   large.5959c82d1ea24_IMG_6917TREEHYRAXZiw   large.5959c83f1c7d9_IMG_6918treehyraxZiw

There was a conference center in Ziway, near where we stopped for lunch, that had tree hyraxes.  We conferenced with the hyrax.

 

Abijatta-Shalla National Park is south of the city of Ziway and a nice stop on the way to Lake Langano. The park contains Abijatta Lake and Shalla Lake.  It used to be 887 square km, with half the park comprised of water.  Grazing has decimated most of the park and now a small fenced area remains where we saw Soemmerring’s gazelle, reedbuck, Somali ostrich, owls, and some other interesting birds.  Oh, and we also saw a rusted out car.  We walked around the park with a local ranger for 90 minutes.

medium.5968f479bb0df_IMG_6971Abijatta-Sh

 

medium.596d7962f1137_Abijatta-Shallanati

 

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                                                                 Von Decken's Hornbill and Bearded Woodpecker, seen walking in Abijatta-Shalla National Park

 

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Fork-tailed drongo and Greyish eagle owl seen walking in Abijatta-Shalla National Park.  The owl had a big chick in a box that served as its nest.

 

The gentlemen may have gotten some nice photos of a few other species seen in Awash and Ali Deghe, like gerenuk, Somali ostrich, lesser kudu.  Plus lots more birds. And they may have some shots that do the lodges (Awash and Doho) justice.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Posted (edited)

21 hours ago, pault said:

I am not looking yet. I really want to, but I will use willpower.

Your willpower is inspiring, almost as much as your BIFs.

 

THE QUOTE OF THE TRIP

medium.596e108224343_IMG_6864happysatisf

 This is the quote of the trip Can you read it?

 

I asked for the translation of the Amharic phrase on the back of this Coca Cola truck, figuring it would be something clever and catchy.

 

Translation:  Happy Satisfaction, which became our quote of the trip !  Thanks to Abiy, Begashaw and Ethiopian Quadrants, it was also the theme of our trip!

 

The Adapter

medium.IMG_3627.JPG.9925450dace19a0e2887

Holding the C-type adapter.  This wall outlet allows for a few different configurations of plugs, but the C-type was always accommodated.

 

medium.IMG_3628.JPG.ffdf70874928192745d0

Plugging the C-type adapter into the wall outlet, successfully.  No sparks, fires, or electrocution ensued.  More importantly, electricity flowed.

I'm glad my fingernails were clean for this photo shoot.

 

medium.IMG_9000.JPG.5d433c0a324b490cd0f0

Notice the C-type configuration of the plug on a coffee pot provided by the hotel in Ethiopia.  It's what they use.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Posted (edited)

You keep on quoting me which makes it harder. Your fingernails are spotless. C-type looks like what we use here in Thailand nowadays, which is handy.

 

 But I won't look at any more, even if happy satisfaction is a great theme.

Edited by pault

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@atravelynn it's very nice to follow you through Ethiopia. Thanks very much for your detailed report. What does your Guides say about Somali Wild Ass in Ali Deghe?

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Posted (edited)

gallery_19319_1660_11216840.jpg

 

Given that I was out of action for most of our stay at Awash I might not be the most objective person to sing this park´s praises. To be honest I have a very good recollection of the toiled bowl in my room which I studied for extended periods in great detail due to my condition and everything else is a bit hazy. :)

 

Worth pointing out, though, that Awash is a good place to see Lesser Kudu. Like everywhere, they are shy, and I was lucky to get a shot on the way in to our lodge. Lynn and Andreas told me they saw more on their walk. Such a magnificent animal!

 

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But it has to be said that Awash is in a very sad state indeed. This is one of the parks where you can´t help but wish you had the power to turn back the clock, see this area as it once might have been, full of animals, huge herds of Gazelles grazing in the open, mingling with Oryx in good numbers, with lions never far stalking for their next prey. Times long gone by. Lynn already mentioned all the problems the park is facing, and it is very clear Ethiopia is not very serious about protecting this park. With the drought getting worse and worse, pastoralists desperate to find grass for their ever increasing number of cattle, and the road intersecting the park being a major connection to the coast it will only be a matter of time that all major game will be gone completely. We saw only two Gazelles as I remember, and one herd of Oryx. A few Warthogs, a Dikdik now and then. Ridiculous low numbers for a park like this. And they will become even lower if nothing changes, that´s quite obvious.

 

gallery_19319_1660_8332408.jpg

 

The Salt´s Dikdidk is pretty much one of the endemics of the Horn of Africa, only a few in very Northern Kenya and Eastern Sudan. More silvery, and with a shorter nose than the familiar Kirk´s Dikdik of East Africa.

 

gallery_19319_1660_4017751.jpg

 

The Grivet Monkey found here is also a Horn endemic. I confess I find it very difficult to tell it apart from a Vervet, and the two species also hybridise. It´s apparently a bit more olive than the greyer Vervet, and hands and feet are not as dark.

 

The entrance to the lodge:

 

gallery_19319_1660_10729872.jpg

 

Actually a very nice place. After the very basic structure of Guassa especially a working shower was very welcome indeed, and the sitting area was very comfortable. Of course we were the only guests.

 

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A really lovely view:

 

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There are some really huge  Crocs waiting down there. Funnily enough, one of my travel guide books about Ethiopia states that they would not attack humans and it would be safe to take a swim here. I can only assume that the person telling that to the author really, really did not like him. Abiy agreed.

 

gallery_19319_1660_6508091.jpg

 

gallery_19319_1660_3412783.jpg

 

"Me, eating people? Of course not, please do come in, let´s ... chat a bit. *srlllppp*"

 

Our bungalows:

 

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Nothing spectacular, but lots of space, clean with good beds, and airier than they look.

 

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On the one hand you can still have nice landscape views like this in Awash:

 

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But on the other side there´s that road. And just to give you an impression what kind of road this is:

 

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Not a puny gravel road with some cars going through now and then. No, this is a major heavy traffic connection line with a lot of trucks. What is even worse, the government plans to expand it to a multi-lane motorway. When (not if) this happens, Awash will be cut apart, and it will be pretty much impossible for animals to cross then. This could be the final deathknell for the park.

 

For now, the Hamadryas (and also Olive) Baboons have learnt to live with the road - even from the road! Truck drivers stuck in a jam entertain themselves with feeding them. The Hamadryas is another species only found in the Horn - and some parts of the Arabian peninsula. This was once a sacred animal to the ancient Egyptians hence it´s also called "Sacred" Baboon.

 

Stealing from Wiki here:

 

"Hamadryas baboons often appear in ancient Egyptian art, as they were considered sacred to Thoth,[20] a major and powerful deity with many roles that included being the scribe of the gods. Astennu, attendant to Thoth, is represented as a hamadryas in his roles as recorder of the result of the Weighing of the Heart and as one of the four hamadryas baboons guarding the lake of fire in Duat, the ancient Egyptian underworld. A pre-dynastic precursor to Astennu was Babi, or "Bull of the Baboons", a bloodthirsty god said to eat the entrails of the unrighteous dead. Babi was also said to give the righteous dead continued virility, and to use his penis as the mast of a boat to convey them to the Egyptian paradise. Sometimes Thoth himself appears in the form of a hamadryas (often shown carrying the moon on his head), as an alternative to his more common representation as an ibis-headed figure. Hapi, one of the Four Sons of Horus that guarded the organs of the deceased in ancient Egyptian religion, is also represented as hamadryas-headed: Hapi protected the lungs, hence the common sculpting of a stone or clay hamadryas head as the lid of the canopic jar that held the lungs and/or represented the protection of the lungs. Hamadryas baboons were revered because certain behaviors that they perform were seen as worshiping the sun."

 

gallery_19319_1660_9159587.jpg

 

What will they do once the motorway replaces the current road?

 

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So, Awash seems to be on its last legs unfortunately.

 

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But as long as you can see lovely stuff like this it´s not over yet - not completely.

 

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gallery_19319_1660_2026371.jpg

 

 

Edited by michael-ibk
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Posted (edited)

On 17.7.2017 at 6:00 PM, Atravelynn said:

First, our original lodge for viewing Ali Deghe, Bilen, was changed.  While Doho was beautiful, I think it was not as conveniently located as Bilen.  Bilen was not available, I believe due to a change in ownership, but I don’t recall exactly.

 

Bilen was no longer available because they stopped operating. That means, unfortunately, that no "proper" lodge is operating closer to Ali Deghe right now (Doho is about 50 km). We saw something called "Animalia Lodge" on the way to the reserve but Abiy dismissed it as an option. So the best way to properly do Ali Deghe would be camping - entirely doable, that´s what Abiy recommended, and no need to do it "high-end" style, I think one or two nights would be sufficient, and well, two days without a shower won´t kill anybody. Although I assume it would have been a pretty "intense" drive to the next lodge for the five of us crammed into our car. :)

 

The thing is, although we were not too lucky in Ali Deghe, I do think it´s much more interesting than Awash. I really dismiss our morning drive as a viable option to check out the place - we were simply much too late, it was already super-hot and of course everything living will go into hiding then. That was just bad luck, I really needed those extra hours to get back to strength after being (very) sick, otherwise our experience could have been much more rewarding. And we barely had two hours in the afternoon, so we did not even scratch the surface.

 

Additionally, the drougth ravaging all of East Africa was particularly bad here, the place was incredibly barren, Abiy said he has never seen it in such a desolate state. Many animals might have retreated close to the mountain.

 

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I also felt really, really sorry for the people living in this hostile place right now, they are facing incredible hardships. Dry, dusty, sandy - I did not find it appropriate to take pictures of their living conditions, but it looked really tough. I really hope for good rains for them this year to ease this hardship.

 

But still, personally, I would be keen to give Ali Deghe a second try and give it the time it deserves. Most reports I´ve read on the place (here and on mammalwatching) had very interesting sightings, especially at night. Stuff like Aardwolf, Aardvark, Leopard, Golden Wolf, Rueppel´s Fox. There are Cheetahs around, as our local guide confirmed, and some people have been lucky enough to see them according to their reports. And yes, @Botswanadreams, it it possible to see Wild Ass here - Abiy has in the past. Grevy Zebra is another special animal here, as are Lesser Kudus and Northern Gerenuk. So it´s an intriguing place full of possibilities. Also, cattle grazing is much less apparent here, and there´s no heavy traffic road nearby. No plans for a motorway either, so the future does not look that bleak. To make it clear, however, I´m quite sure that even on a very good day this will never compare to a classic East African safari park. All animals are very, very wary here, it´s extremely difficult to approach them due to the lack of cover - they are terrified of people, and sadly that will mean they have good reason to. But still, I do believe Ali Deghe is a fascinating place with unique wildlife, and for anybody craving seeing "different" species it should be on an Ethiopia itinerary.

 

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Sandgrouses (Chestnut-Bellied in this case) are very resilient, they did not mind the scorching heat.

 

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We had our only sighting of Unstriped Ground Squirrels here in Ali Deghe.

 

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The Black-Headed Lapwing was high on my list - a new one for me, and I think it looks very cool with its crest. My bird book states they are often "approachable and tame" in arid plains - this one was not.

 

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Egyptian Vulture - another first for me, I was excited to see this bird. Many of them were circling above us for some time, probably checking when we would fall down and finally die in the heat. :)

 

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The open plains of Ali Deghe

 

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A classic - and familiar - bird of drier areas - the Namaqua Dove.

 

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Well, this is my contribution to the "Find the hidden animal" thread (which we should have if we don´t yet). There´s a Northern Gerenuk in here - far away, and even after Abiy had pointed it out it took me minutes to locate it. This is a different, apparently a bit larger subspecies (sclateri) from the more familiar animal (walleri) found in Samburu for example.

 

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Open plains like this are perfect habitat for Secretary Birds - they are not easy to see in Ethiopia.

 

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I had missed Arabian Bustard in Awash so it was good to find it - another target for me.

 

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Even though Soemmering´s Gazelle ran like the wind whenever they saw us they are definitely doing much better here than in Awash - we saw several small herds. Also known as the Abyssinian Mohr, this animal is yet another Horn endemic. It´s listed as vulnerable - only a few patchily distributed populations left. Their herds used to number hundreds of animals - now there are rarely more than 15. Hunting may have played a significant part in their decline but overgrazing and habitat degradation by domestic stock is probably the main cause. Around 6,000 to 7,000 left according to the IUCN. Seeing Ethiopia´s endemics just like them was a major reason for me to travel to remote places like Ali Deghe, so I was happy to see them here in (relatively) good numbers.

 

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The most "classic" African savannah scenery we had on this trip was definitely here in Ali Deghe.

 

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Somali Ostrich - another Northern specialty. A more blue-grey neck and legs, no white ring at the base of the neck.

 

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And a distant Golden Jackal Wolf - it got its "promotion" only in 2015 when it was discovered this is not the same animal as the Eurasian Golden Jackal. But it´s still close enough to the Jackal to produce hybrid offspring.The genetic divergence is more than 6,7 %. Does not sound much but it´s more than between Wolf and Coyote for example. And just to avoid confusion - yes, there still is a Golden Jackal, just not in Africa. The animal found in India´s park for example, and also advancing more and more to the West in Europe, is  Jackal. Because the split happened so recently the population status of the Golden Wolf is unclear. This one is the subspecies "Egyptian Wolf" I assume. Sometimes this animal has been called "Cryptic Wolf" here on Safaritalk - the way I understand it, that´s not the official name, this term is just adressing the fact that a second wolf was always here in Africa, hiding in plain sight "disguised" as a Jackal - hence the term "Cryptic".

 

Oh, and well, going to Ali Deghe was totally worth it for me because it gave us our very best photo opportunity for Abyssinian Roller - a delightfully common bird in Ethiopia:

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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gallery_19319_1660_4692272.jpg

 

Doho Lodge was really, really nice, far more enjoyable than expected. On our way through the dry landscape I remember thinking what kind of idiot would build a lodge here, and worse, what kind of idiot would be stupid enough to spend one or god forbid even more nights here.

 

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Well, the kind of idiot who enjoys a lush, tranquil and peaceful oasis would and should come here. Doho was really wonderful, such an idyllic spot, a little breeze coming up from the water, a vibrant green soothing the eyes tormented from all those burnt shades of brownbrownbrown. Happy satisfaction indeed!

 

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It´s a well-run place, the manager really works hard to get the best out of his (local) staff, food was quite good (yes, I could eat again - of course no Injera!), and the rooms pleasant, airy and clean.

 

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It´s also a really good place for birding:

 

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Red-Billed Firefinch

 

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White-Headed Buffalo Weaver

 

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White-Browed Sparrow-Weaver

 

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Laughing Dove

 

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My good old friend, the Pied Kingfisher

 

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Klaas´ Cuckoo - unfortunately we did not see the male.

 

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African Red-Bellied (formerly Orange-Bellied) Parrot

 

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African Mourning Dove

 

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Superb Starling

 

Most people coming to Doho don´t do it for wildlife - they relax in the Hot Springs. Which are hot indeed - I was not tempted to go in, but Andreas quite enjoyed it.

 

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There are Hippos here we were told but we did not see them.

 

You might wonder why the hell we went for a walk in the middle of the night to see Defassa Waterbuck - not exactly a rare animal. Well, in Ethiopia they are very hard to see, and the people in the lodge were very proud that they could be found here. Their enthusiasm for these animals was quite endearing, and it would have been a bit impolite to decline their nightwalk offer saying "Please, buddy, I´ve seen thousands of Waterbuck, definitely not staying up for them, not even for one minute. Now, give me some Aardvark, and then we are talking." So we smiled and said, yes of course, we would love to try for Waterbuck! And the thing is, once you put your heart into stuff like this, "hunting" Waterbuck at night was actually quite exciting, and we really wanted to get them. I am very sure we are one of the very select few who have done something like this. Whenever anybody will ask me to tell them what´s the kind of thing I have done that nobody else has done I can always say to have searched for Waterbuck in Ethiopia at 22:00!

 

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Totally worth it! :)

 

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Posted (edited)

"Funnily enough, one of my travel guide books about Ethiopia states that they would not attack humans and it would be safe to take a swim here."  You couldn't pay me enough to jump in that water, regardless of what any book says!

 

"I really hope for good rains for them this year to ease this hardship."  So critical for the Horn of Africa and other parts of East Africa.  The pastoralists we saw in Ethiopia had a different look and expression than what I recall seeing in other parts of Africa.  There was an expression of hardened resolve, of toughness touched with weariness. They have a harsh existence.

 

Although we saw other Abyssinian Rollers, the one we caught with its dinner as we left Doho had us all cheering!

 

Two corrections from above:

medium.596fc0e13e0a7_Abijatta-Shallanati              medium.596fbc5bec635_IMG_6936TreehyraxZi

1)  the middle guy is a Grant Gazelle at Abijatta-Shalia National Park                                2)  The hyrax on the tree is not a tree hyrax, but a Yellow-Spotted Bush Hyrax per Abiy.

 

"Now, give me some Aardvark, and then we are talking."  If the aardvark had been out there, we would have had a shot at it while pursuing the aardvark!  I wonder how many other Doho guests say this pair.

Edited by Atravelynn
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@michael-ibk, @Atravelynn and @AndMic 

 

On 18/07/2017 at 4:41 PM, michael-ibk said:

Actually a very nice place. After the very basic structure of Guassa especially a working shower was very welcome indeed, and the sitting area was very comfortable. Of course we were the only guests.

 

I hope this most excellent trip report inspires further visitors. Enjoying your reportage very much.

 

Matt

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@michael-ibk you really captured the colours on that roller very nice. I was extremely lucky to spot some lions right by the park gate on the way into Awash on my visit, I'm guessing the news on lions today is really not good, did you learn from your guide if there were still any lions in Awash at all or if there are any in Ali Deghe? 

 

Not too long ago there would have been giraffes and buffaloes in Awash and although I would guess much further back, also elephants and black rhinos. It's such a shame that so much of the large wildlife has gone, because Ethiopia's history and culture combined with its wildlife make it a pretty unique tourist destination amongst African countries.

 

One can only hope that more tourists might encourage them to protect what wildlife they have left rather better.

 

 

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51 minutes ago, inyathi said:

@michael-ibk you really captured the colours on that roller very nice. I was extremely lucky to spot some lions right by the park gate on the way into Awash on my visit, I'm guessing the news on lions today is really not good, did you learn from your guide if there were still any lions in Awash at all or if there are any in Ali Deghe? 

 

Not too long ago there would have been giraffes and buffaloes in Awash and although I would guess much further back, also elephants and black rhinos. It's such a shame that so much of the large wildlife has gone, because Ethiopia's history and culture combined with its wildlife make it a pretty unique tourist destination amongst African countries.

 

One can only hope that more tourists might encourage them to protect what wildlife they have left rather better.

 

 

Lions were a real treat!  Maybe some day lions could be introduced again, if the herbivores are plentiful enough.

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@michael-ibk  a well-written piece on Awash - you conveyed the distressing state of affairs in Awash well as did Atravelynn. and it reminds me of that road they are building in Guassa - I do hope the latter doesn't become like Awash. 

 

what a capture of the kill by the roller!

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Posted (edited)

6 hours ago, inyathi said:

did you learn from your guide if there were still any lions in Awash at all or if there are any in Ali Deghe? 

 

Nothing conclusive, @inyathi. Abiy said he had not seen - or heard - lions for a very long time now. The people at the lodge (in Awash) claimed lions are still there. We did not talk about lions in Ali Deghe. None of the reports I read (esp. on mammalwatching where the guys usually find a lot of stuff) mentioned even tracks of lions. So if they are still there (which I doubt) they must be very secretive. There were confirmed sightings of Leopard and Cheetah, however.

Edited by michael-ibk
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Posted (edited)

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Our next stop was Lake Langano where we spent two nights. We mainly did this to break up the very long drive from Awash to Bale Mountain Lodge, it would have been pretty brutal to do this in one go.

 

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Langano was giving us major concern a few months before our departure. We had booked at Bishangari Lodge, a well-established place for wildlife lovers. So it was quite disconcerting (to put it mildly) to learn that it had been torched to the ground by the locals last October. Obviously this is not what you want to read when you have a trip planned, and of course it prompted us to question the security situation in Ethiopia altogether. Tony Hickey of EQ was very good, very informative and assured us that everything would be alright, also offered that we could circumvent the Rift Valley on very short notice if need be. And he explained quite convincingly that the destruction of Bishangari was a very specific indicent not really related to the general unrest. Well, that all sounded quite reassuring, but as a sceptic I thought this was what I would tell people in doubt as an operator especially if my business was going down. So basically, it was not enough for me. I reached out to a lot of knowledgeful people and recent Ethiopia visitors and asked for their assessment of the situation. And everything I heard was absolutely in sync with what Tony Hickey had told me, and more importantly I was told that he´s a pro who would not put his clients at risk. My special thanks here to @Paolo who really was very generous in using his contacts, and also to Inger Vandyke, a professional photographer who had just recently visited Ethiopia as I knew from her TripAdvisor posts. She had just been at Langano and was very patient with me and all my questions. Go check out her homepage btw, she´s awesome (http://ingervandyke.com/).

 

And like Lynn stated before everything was fine. We did not see more police or army than is normal in Africa anywhere, had no worrying incidents at all, and generally found the people to be friendly. Many of them might have major issues with the government (the rapid economic growth of the country certainly does not only know winners) but as we were told many times they do not see tourists as a party to this conflict. The travel advisories partly still in effect are unproportional IMO, and I really understand why the Ethiopian tourism industry is very angry about this.

 

We were rebooked to Haro Lodge which is maybe a km or even less away from where Bishangari was. I still felt a bit uneasy leaving the main road and driving there, through the village whose people were surely behind the destruction of Bishangari.

 

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But that unease was gone after we arrived, completely, and Lake Langano was wonderful in every sense, my surprise hit of this trip, and I easily could have spent more time there. I loved the wonderful huge old trees all over the premises, food was really good, and staff (all locals) were very friendly and forthcoming.

 

The dining area:

 

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Our very nice chalet:

 

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Lots of space, a big bathroom, and a very nice veranda with a view to the lake - really good stuff.

 

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Lake Langano is not a national park, and therefore not the place to see big game, though some nice critters can be found, but it´s a real paradise for birds.

 

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Double-Toothed Barbet

 

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Edited by michael-ibk
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White-Bellied Go-Away-Bird

 

So what did we do there? Just walk around and watch and have a good and relaxed time. Langano is the most incredibly place for birds I´ve ever been to, in our very short time there I amped up my species count for more than a 100. And not with Larks, Pipits or similiar Little Brown Jobs, Langano does its birds big, splashy and colourful.

 

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Greater Blue-Eared Starling

 

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Red-Cheeked Cordon Bleu

 

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Here´s the red cheek.

 

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White-Cheeked Turaco

 

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Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill, they are huge.

 

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Kittlitz´s Plover

 

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Violet-Backed Starling

 

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Eastern Grey Woodpecker

 

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African Paradise Flycatcher

 

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Senegal Thick-Knee

 

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Spur-Winged Goose

 

No matter where we went, the lake shore, the forest, the few open areas - birds were everywhere around, and it was often very difficult to decide where to look and what to photograph.

 

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Three-Banded Plover

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And we did see some interesting mammals as well, some on our walks at night where we had a very good sighting of a Civet for example (too far away for pics), others much more relaxed just around the lodge.

 

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A pod of Hippos lives close by. They mostly were invisible during the day but gave some nice views early in the morning.

 

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Gambian Sun Squirrels live in the trees around the lodge.

 

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We spotted Golden Wolf twice, this one in the late morning, one other at night. They are very shy - with good reason, we saw them hunting goat, and of course the locals do hate them therefore.

 

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Abyssinian Hare

 

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White-Tailed Mongoose

 

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A Common Duiker seen early morning.

 

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Langano is also a very good place for Colobus, they are always around, and sometimes we could even watch them sitting on our veranda. This is the Abyssinian Black-and-White Colobus, and for once this is not a Horn endemic but the same animal found in Kenya or Tanzania.

 

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Colobus do quite well in degraded areas, often they are even more common in logged areas than unlogged ones.

 

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They are quite used to their human fans and therefore totally relaxed.

 

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Though they do not appreciate being disturbed when taking a beauty sleep. :)

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