Tour Ethiopia - Ethiopian wolf

Adventurous photo tour to Ethiopia - In search of the Ethiopian Wolf

An Ethiopian wolf on the Sanetti Plateau posing like a sentinel watching its territory

The star of this tour!

Visiting Ethiopia and photographing the Ethiopian wolf was a dream come true. A journey to the roof of Africa, in search of the rarest and most endangered canine in the world; the Ethiopian wolf. After my visit in 2016, I kept thinking of returning and showing this amazing species and National Park to other nature and photography enthusiasts.

In 2018 this journey began to take shape through collaboration with award-winning photographer Mike Muizebelt. Mike is passionate about Africa and regularly organizes tours to this vast continent. He has a lot of expertise in tutoring people during both his workshops and tours. Together we will help you create a beautiful portfolio of this trip.

In collaboration with the travel specialist for Ethiopia, Yared Tour & Travel, we have compiled the following unique trip for you. Yared is a daughter of responsible travel tour operator Fair2.Travel.

Expedition Ethiopia

It is early in the morning on the high Sanetti plateau in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia. A light ground frost has strengthened the already largely white vegetation that covers the spectacularly beautiful Afro-alpine heath. The landscape is interrupted by rocky peaks and the long, charismatic flowering Giant Lobelias.

Suddenly there is movement. A red-brown colored Ethiopian Wolf appears from behind an edge and climbs on one of the rocks. He turns and cries, and is shortly thereafter accompanied by three others. The wolves greet each other and then trot past us, going their separate ways. As they disappear into the rising sun, a noisy party of Blue-winged Geese flies up and a Steppe eagle, a winter visitor from Central Asia, glides towards us, looking for the omnipresent grass rats that are already warming themselves in the sun's rays after the long, cold night. We are at 4100 meters altitude, this is 'The Roof of Africa', a truly unique place for the nature photographer!

This adventurous journey coincides with the period that the Ethiopian wolves look after the young in their den and is held at the end of January - beginning of February 2021. Together with a small group of a maximum of 6 participants, we look for the rarest and endangered canine in the world: the endemic Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis). From half-deserts to cloud forests, from primitive camping to luxury lodges: in this journey of contrasts, we will gain a lot of impressions. Read on for the full program.

Did that branch move? A chameleon (Chamaeleo sp.) close to Dinsho Lodge

Highlights of this 11-day photo trip to Ethiopia

  • We visit one of the most diverse areas of Ethiopia: Bale Mountains National Park
  • We camp on the Sanetti Plateau: a plateau between 3000 and 4377 meters with the highest all-weather road in Africa. We visit Tullu Dimtu, the 4th highest mountain in Ethiopia. An unforgettable experience!
  • We stay in the exclusive Bale Mountain Lodge in the Harenna Forest, the largest cloud forest in Ethiopia
  • We will look for the many endemic species of Ethiopia, such as the Ethiopian wolf, mountain nyala, Bale Mountains vervet, giant mole rat, blue-winged goose, Ethiopian lapwing, yellow-faced parrot, catbird, giant lobelia
  • We visit Sekelle Swayne's Hartebeest Sanctuary
  • We use 4x4 cars with a guaranteed window location and private driver
  • By traveling with a small group of up to 6 participants and three supervisors (Bart, Mike, and an experienced local guide), there is the certainty of maximum attention. The supervisors rotate over the three 4x4 cars.
  • During the adventurous camping nights, we have access to our own cook & camp assistant
  • We stay for a long time in the various areas so that we have all the time to work on a varied portfolio, to discover many species and to enjoy the landscape.


Giant lobelia (Lobelia rhynchopetalum) during sunrise at the Sanetti Plateau

Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a unique and almost undiscovered destination. Ethiopia is home to a rich history, hospitable people, delicious unique cuisine, varied landscapes and species that are found nowhere else in the world. Ethiopia is located in East Africa and is approximately 27 times larger than the Netherlands and 36 times larger than Belgium. It borders Eritrea, Djibouti in the north, Somalia in the east, Kenya and South Sudan and Sudan in the west. The capital of Ethiopia is Addis Ababa. The language is Amharic and the currency is the birr. 55% of the population counts to Christianity and 43% to Islam. Many Christians belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Unique nature

Nature in Ethiopia is one of many contrasts. Via the Great Rift Valley, we travel to the highlands of Bale Mountains National Park. Bale Mountains National Park covers approximately 2150 square kilometers and is located approximately 400 km southeast of Addis Ababa. Here we search, among other things, for photogenic chameleons and the mountain nyalas present there. On the high plains around 4100 meters such as the Web Valley and Sanetti Plateau, we see a unique Afromontane ecosystem with herbs and lichen vegetation, red hot poker and up to six meters high giant lobelia, rodents such as the giant mole and the beautiful top-predator: the Ethiopian wolf. This canine is only found in Ethiopia and the largest population (± 450 individuals) can be found in the Bale Mountains.

Then we descend to the Harenna Forest, a cloud forest that, in addition to beautiful vegetation, also houses countless species of birds such as the white-cheeked turaco and silvery-cheeked hornbill and mammals such as the Bale Mountains vervet and the giant forest boar. There are even lions, leopards and hyenas and maybe still wild dogs. But mind you, an observation of one of the latter species would be very special!

The best way to experience this area well is by setting up mobile campsites. This makes this trip so unique because we stay as close as possible to the best photo spots and we minimize travel times. There is full support from a camp crew such as cook assistant and the like, but some flexibility is expected. For example, we sleep on mattresses in our sleeping bags and it can cool down considerably in the evening. After our overnight stay in the field, we fully recover with a two-night stay in the exclusive Bale Mountain lodge.

The tour

This unique photo and nature trip has been put together in such a way that we will experience this part of Ethiopia in a magnificent and very personal way. During this trip, we come across many rare and endemic species. That makes the trip interesting for both nature photographers and nature lovers. The working language is English, so international participants are also very welcome.

We camp in Bale Mountains in the park itself on adventurous sites. On all camping sites, but also at Bale Mountain Lodge, chances are that animals will visit the camp / lodge. When camping we enjoy the darkness of the Web Valley and the Sanetti Plateau with only a little light from the moon and the campfire. A wonderful way to enjoy (and photograph) the starry sky! Pure magic and an experience you will never forget!

You will be accompanied by Mike Muizebelt (nature photographer and Africa specialist) and Bart van Engeldorp Gastelaars (biologist and nature photographer). Together with a professional local guide, they will guide you, tell you more about nature and culture and help you take even better photos.

During the trip, all the photographic techniques that we use will be amply discussed. We are happy to share our many years of experience with photography with you. Part of this trip is of course also an optional meet & greet in Voorschoten (the Netherlands), where we will prepare you well for the trip through an extensive briefing.

Werede (our driver) and my travel buddy in the Webb Valley

Day to day travel description

This trip will start on January 29th, 2021 with a welcome at and transfer from Addis Abeba international airport.

  • January 29: Departure from Amsterdam (when flying from NL) and arrival in Addis Ababa
  • January 30: Departure to Bale Mountains NP via the Rift Valley
  • January 31: Webb Valley - BMNP
  • February 1: Webb Valley - BMNP
  • February 2: Sanetti Plateau - BMNP
  • February 3: Sanetti Plateau - BMNP
  • February 4: Harenna forest - BMNP
  • February 5: Harenna forest - BMNP
  • February 6: Sankele Sanctuary
  • February 7: Return trip and evening flight back home
  • February 8: Arrival in Amsterdam (when flying from NL)

Information

This adventurous nature and photo tour to Ethiopia focuses primarily on wildlife, the landscapes and is a combination of rugged camping and occasional relaxation in luxury lodges.

We use four 4x4 cars with a driver, with plenty of room for each participant at their own window location. Bart, Mike and the local guide rotate about the cars, so that we serve everyone equally. The structure of the trip makes it suitable for both nature lovers and photographers of all levels. The fourth car is used for the crew and a part of our luggage.

Due to the travel pace, some camping conditions and altitude, this trip is particularly suitable for travelers with a normal fitness level.

The price of this unique trip is € 4450 per person and a maximum of 6 people can join on this unforgettable trip. The trip will depart with 5 people! This indication price is based on single occupancy. Unlike many other tours, you don't have to share a tent or room! Are you traveling with your partner? Then we will, of course, ensure that you share your accommodation!



Includes
  • All accommodations
  • Transport in a 4x4 vehicle with a guaranteed seat in front of the window
  • All regular meals and beverages (during the camping sessions at altitude no alcohol is served due to possible altitude sickness)
  • Continuous photographic guidance and evaluation of the results on a regular basis
  • Explanation and insight into the ecosystem that we travel through. This is translated into an image report so that you can tell a complete story after this trip
  • Services from a locally registered and experienced (English-speaking) guide
  • All entrance fees and excursions as described in the route
  • Transport from and to Addis Abbeba airport
  • Optioneel reunion in Voorschoten (the Netherlands) to discuss the best 5 images of every participant


Excludes
  • International flights and any airport taxes (± € 500 from NL)
  • Visa costs (± € 50)
  • All meals that are not included in the detailed route description
  • Sleeping bag and pillow for camping
  • Tips
  • Items of a personal nature (telephone costs, souvenirs, medicines, etc.).
  • Travel and cancellation insurance


Comments
  • All items and services are subject to availability at the time of continuing this journey. In consultation, we can move to other accommodation.
  • We cannot guarantee that we will see and photograph the Ethiopian wolf. After all, they are wild animals and there is always a chance in the game. Bale Mountains, however, houses the largest population of wolves in Ethiopia and we go to the best places to see them. Last time I saw and photographed twenty 20 wolves in 4 days
  • Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in Africa. Tourism is often still in its infancy in this region. Our journey contributes to both the socio-economic development of the area and the protection of the park by hiring as many local people and services as possible. However, the quality of accommodation, catering, and services may differ from what you may be used to. We assume that you understand that.
  • The general terms and conditions of Yared Tour & Travel apply to this trip.

Options and bookings

Want more info? Please contact me at bart@picturingwildlife.com or +31 6 1380 4310.

You can take an option on this tour by e-mailing me with your name, email address and number of potential participants. When Mike and I have 6 interested participants we will invite you for a meet and greet in Voorschoten, the Netherlands. During this meeting we will tell you more about the trip and answer any questions you might have. Afterwards, all those who are definitively interested can book the trip via Yared.

Bookings are made through Yared Tours & Travel. A deposit is required to reserve a place on this unique nature and photo tour.

The henna coloured beard of this Bale Mountains ranger doesn't cease to amaze!