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Ethiopia's Wild Flowers & Archaeology

Tour Code: ETH07

A 17-day botanical holiday to Ethiopia in search of the country's endemic flora and archaeological sites.

17 days from £5495(inc flights) Land Only Price: £4995 SRS: £795


No tour summary is currently available. Please read the detailed description or download the tour itinerary.

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

A mixture of simple hotels and lodges, both government-run and private. All rooms have ensuite facilities.

Simean Mountain village (John Shipton)

Simean Mountain village (John Shipton)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Depart London.

Day 2 Arrive Addis Ababa.

Day 3/6 Simien Mountains.

Day 7 Gondar.

Day 8/9 Lalibela.

Day 10 Wondo Genet

Day 11/13 Bale Mountains.

Day 14/15 Lake Langano.

Day 16 Addis Ababa.

Day 17 Arrive London.

Shaped by the ongoing movements of the Nubian and Somali plates, Ethiopia is a land of great geological contrast that harbours some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Over a period of 30 million years, Ethiopia has borne witness to a tectonic sparring match that has given rise to the Red Sea, the Great East African Rift Valley and the basalt ‘traps’ of the Ethiopian Highlands. Averaging over 2,000 metres in altitude and surrounded by low-lying desert, these highlands have undergone a period of isolation that has led to the evolution of a unique flora, fauna and human culture. On this tour we will focus primarily on the former — the fascinating flora of both the Simien and Bale Mountains, two of the highest regions of the Ethiopian Highlands, whilst also taking in some of the wonders of the mysterious ancient civilisations of Ethiopia, including the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.

We begin with a flight to the capital, Addis Ababa. Here we will visit the National Museum, where the 3.5-million-year-old skeleton of the early hominid Lucy is on display, before flying north to the town of Gondar. A former capital of Ethiopia that was founded by King Fasilidas in 1635, Gondar served as the imperial capital for 250 years and is full of historical sites, most notably its group of 17th century castles and the fantastically decorated church of Debre Birhan Selassie.

Journeying north from Gondar, we reach the stunning Simien Mountains National Park for a 3-night stay. Left in geographic isolation for millions of years, the temperate and alpine conditions of the Simiens have produced many plants that are now completely unique to the range, with many familiar genera having taken extraordinary evolutionary paths such as the endemic Giant Lobelia, Lobelia rhyncopetalum, that towers several metres high from the hillsides. The genus Hypericum is represented by several surprising arboreal species such as the gorgeous Hypericum revolutum with its propeller-like flowers, while Ethiopian Erica species dwarf our heathers and create tall forests dominated by the giant Erica arborea. Gardeners will be inspired by fine stands of Kniphofia such as Kniphofia foliosa, or Aloe species such as Aloe steudneri, both Ethiopian endemics that are only now beginning to be introduced into Western gardens. There is also a wealth of herbaceous alpine flora to discover such as Ethiopian Lily, Crinum abyssinicum, and an Ethiopian gladiolus, Gladiolus abyssinicus. Orchid enthusiasts will delight in the several Habenaria species and the extraordinary endemic Disa pulchella with its densely flowered white spikes. While exploring the rich and special plant diversity of these mountains, we will also take time to enjoy some of their unique mammal and birdlife. Huge herds of Gelada Baboons play and feed amongst the Giant Lobelias, while Walia Ibex graze along the giant basalt escarpments overlooking the great plains below.

Our next highlight is Lalibela, to which we will fly after a night in Gondar. Lalibela sits high amongst the mountains of Lasta. Capital of the Zagwe dynasty, which ruled over Ethiopia from the 10th to mid-13th century, Lalibela is famed for its rock-hewn churches, each one intricately carved into the rock and of unique shape and size, one of the man-made wonders of the world.

Returning to Addis, we next travel south through the Ethiopian Rift Valley, spending a night at beautiful Lake Awassa before continuing up into the Bale Mountains for a 3-night stay. Here we find forests of the large juniper, Juniperus procera, and the African conifer, Afrocarpus falcatus; these dominate the lower altitudes while, in specific sites, the tree-like Giant Thistle, Echinops longisetus, with its huge ballshaped red flowers, grows up to 4 metres in height. At higher altitudes, broad-leaved genera such as Schefflera become more frequent; grown in many temperate zones as pot plants, here they grow into huge trees! In the sub-alpine zone above 3,200 metres, the forests consist mainly of St. John’s Wort and Giant Heath trees, their branches draped with lichens and mosspuffs, giving them an extraordinary mystical or fairytale quality. Higher still, on the plateau, we will see a dramatic change as the forest gives way to open areas of Afro-alpine moorland, punctuated by Giant Lobelias that may reach up to 12 metres in height. It is here that we have our best chance of encountering the world’s rarest canid, the Ethiopian Wolf, as it hunts for grassland rats and the bizarre, endemic Giant Mole-rat amongst the tussocks of Festuca abyssinica.

Finally, we must drive back to Addis, which will give us another chance to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Great Rift Valley and the incredible birdlife of its Acacia woodlands and vast lakes. At one of these, Lake Langano, we will spend two nights; here we will have a last opportunity to enjoy the rich flora and birdlife, and reflect on the extraordinary beauty and natural diversity of Ethiopia — a place where the botanist may enjoy a wealth of endemic plant species, as well as representatives from a wide range of families, some of which may be familiar, but which here display a much fuller range of species ... with some true giants amongst them!

We currently don’t have any images for this tour. If you have any suitable image you would like published then please email us.

P.T.
Devon
The Ethiopian experience was outstanding. The planned itinerary gave excellent opportunities to vividly experience a wide range of regional zones. There were so many different facets to appreciate and enjoy. Our local tour leader Gatachew Eshetu was well informed and enlightening on matters of local interest. Our Naturetrek guide, John Shipton, was able to mediate on our behalf if there were slight moderations or extensions we wished to make to the planned itinerary. I was most impressed by the tour itinerary coverage. It is the first time I have visited Ethiopia. I was attracted initially by the archaeological elements, but all the aspects including wild flowers, birds and animals, the culture and general history were enthralling.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Mon 22nd October 2018 - Wed 7th November 2018

YES

£5495

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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £4995 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Ethiopia

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Kerrie Porteous
Operations Manager

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01962 733051

Tour Focus

Wild flowersCultureBirdsMammals

Tour Leaders

Tour Reviews

The Ethiopian experience was outstanding. The planned itinerary gave excellent opportunities to vividly experience a wide range of regional zones. There were so many different facets to appreciate and enjoy. Our local tour leader Gatachew Eshetu was well informed and enlightening on matters of local interest. Our Naturetrek guide, John Shipton, was able to mediate on our behalf if there were slight moderations or extensions we wished to make to the planned itinerary. I was most impressed by the tour itinerary coverage. It is the first time I have visited Ethiopia. I was attracted initially by the archaeological elements, but all the aspects including wild flowers, birds and animals, the culture and general history were enthralling.
P.T., Devon