Ethiopia Wildlife Tours, at a glance
Ethiopia is not your typical wildlife destination. Unlike the safari drives and classic safari experiences that might come to mind when you think East Africa, Ethiopia's wildlife experiences are about rarity, endemism, and biodiversity.
Ethiopia has an incredible number of endemic species, and many of these animals have gone on to iconify the regions in which they live. The bleeding heart monkey in the Simien Mountains, for example, has become the symbol of the region - and the love and respect people have for these animals is an important motivator for their continued conservation efforts.
Beyond these endemics, you'll find hippos, crocs, flamingos, warthogs, hyenas, ostrich, monkeys, ibex, and even lions, leopards, buffalo, elephant and giraffe (if you're lucky).
Popular Wildlife Tours to Ethiopia
The tours below showcase just some of what is possible. Use these itineraries as starting points, or to draw inspiration. Then get in touch, and let our expert team help craft the perfect itinerary for you.
The Simien Mountains are one of Ethiopia’s most stunning destinations. With its diverse flora and fauna, immense views and extraordinary geography, it’s an exceptional place that can be enjoyed by hardy trekkers and afternoon strollers alike. A couple of nights…
- 5 Days
Hike across electric landscapes of thick forests, Afro-alpine moorland, peaks and plateaus, and jungle thickets. An extraordinary outdoor adventure, with high altitude hikes unlocking staggering viewpoints, beautiful clearings, and endemic wildlife. At night, the sky is ablaze with starlight in…
- 7 Days
Discover the extraordinary bird life in Ethiopia that includes dozens of endemic species. Explore the national parks, rift valley lakes, and highland peaks and valleys that make Ethiopia a world-class birding destination. Boutique and eco lodges place you in the…
- 19 Days
This trip packs in a myriad of history, culture and some of the best scenery in Africa. Explore the palaces of Gondar, the world-famous rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, and the sweeping plateaus of the Simien Mountains. Leave enough time either…
- 7 Days
Wildlife in Ethiopia
Wolves, Baboons & Ibex of Ethiopia’s Highlands
Found most commonly in the Simien Mountains, troops of curious Gelada monkeys are often seen foraging amongst the grasses, in search of nuts and fruit. If you're visiting the Simiens, you're all but guaranteed to see large troops of these friendly primates.
If you head to the east of the escarpment, you might find the Walia Ibex in the Chenek area of the park, an extremely rare mammal found only in the Simien highlands. A shy creature that prefers to stay well away from humans, sightings aren't guaranteed, but they are common.
Monster Crocs in Lake Chamo
Simmering just below the surface, the green-scaled primeval crocodiles have thrived in the lakes of the Rift Valley for centuries. Years of unrestricted, unmoderated growth allowed these prehistoric killing machines to flourish, with reports of many growing up to 19 feet long.
Of all the lakes in the valley, they are by far most active in Lake Chamo. The northern shores of the lake fall within Nechisar National Park, known for its large herds of zebra which attract huge groups of crocodiles. There's a reason this shore is known as the crocodile market.
Bird Watching in Ethiopia
Ethiopia sits along many of the migratory bird routes across Africa, which means at certain times of year, Ethiopia is one of the best bird watching destinations in the world.
From tracking down the endemic Harwood Francolin in the Jemma Valley to waiting for flocks of Ankober Seriens to fly up across the white cliffs overlooking the Danakil Depression, every inch of Ethiopia’s clear blue skies has the potential to surprise.
Some of the best places for birdwatching are the Bale Mountains, the Rift Valley, and Lake Tana - but there are countless others along any itinerary. The Bale Mountains are home to the shy, seldom-seen Abyssinian Long-eared Owl. When spotted, these dazzlingly beautiful birds are usually interweaving between the towering juniper trees.
Across Ethiopia's lakes, flamingos often settle in search of fresh feeding lands. Most commonly seen on Lake Abijatta, they often congregate in the thousands upon these waters, making it one of the few places in the world where they meet in such large numbers.
Hippos in the Rift Valley Lakes
The Rift Valley lakes are a chain of lakes in the East African Rift intersecting most of eastern Africa.
The lakes found here are some of the oldest and deepest in the world, and are integral to the local ecosystems making them great for wildlife viewing.
Home to countless species, none are more visible than the grey hippos often seen semi-submerged in water. Poking their Shrek-like ears just above the surface or basking in the ever-present sun, these gentle giants are known to be some of the most active creatures across the lakes.
Hyenas in Harar
In the ancient walled city of Harar in eastern Ethiopia, humans and hyenas have developed an unusual codependency.
Written records indicate that spotted hyenas have been present in the walled city for at least 500 years, where they sanitised the city by feeding on its organic refuse. Local legends speak of stories involving long, bloody feuds between humans and hyenas, during a harsh famine. Desperate to stop the hungry hyenas raiding the city, a group of elders began to feed the animals a thick, buttery porridge.
The anniversary of this pact is celebrated every year on the Day of Ashura when the hyenas are provided with porridge prepared with pure butter. A prophetical affair, the manner in which the Hyenas approach and eat the porridge dictates the fortunes of the following year. If the bowl is left full, locals often increase their offerings, in an attempt to avert famine or pestilence.
The practice of regularly feeding these animals did not begin until the 1960s, when the first Hyena man began leaving food out for the animals to stop them eating his chickens. Since then, a lineage of men has taken the mantel and often feed the Hyenas, communicating "hyena dialect", a mixture of English and Oromo.
Buffalo, Elephants & Giraffes of Gambella
Straddling the Ethiopian-Sudanese border, the Gambella National Park is home to one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Ethiopia.
The months between April and October tend to see the most rainfall, making November to March the best time to visit. Dividing the sparse swamps, savannah landscapes dominate the park, spreading as far as the eye can see. A range of animals can be found living amongst the thinning grasses, including the majority of the big 5 game animals: buffalo, elephants, giraffes, and lions.
There are no easy access routes to Gambella, and those that travel here have to fly in by charter flight, and stay overnight in exclusive frontier camps. You can learn more about this on our Luxury Adventures page.
How it works
We can put together an itinerary to fit any time frame or budget. Whether you've got some fixed plans and need help with the detail, or don't know where to start, here's how we can help:
We'll talk about your dream Ethiopia moments, how much time you have and your budget.
We'll discuss any places to go or things to do that you've already got in mind and send you a few suggestions of our own.
When you've decided what you want to see and do, we'll put together the perfect itinerary that covers all the destinations you're most excited about, and moves at just the right pace. We'll select the accommodations that are right for you, and we'll make any adjustments until you're confident its the perfect itinerary for you.
When you're happy with your trip and the cost, we'll get your adventure set up, make all the bookings and reservations, and provide all the pre-travel information you need.
Once your on the ground in Ethiopia, we'll be here to look after you every step of the way.
Ready to plan your Ethiopia adventure?
We'll spend some time listening to your aspirations, then discuss the kind of experience that might suit you.
Next we'll discuss the options, shortlist the best trips for you and present you our impartial recommendations.
We'll place a 24 hour hold on your preferred option - without obligation - whilst we talk through the details.