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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 12:22   #126
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Lol I wasn't suggesting that Andy!
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 12:34   #127
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From earlier posts my understanding is with the current itinerary the targets we'd miss are:

"Juba Weaver
Heuglin's Bustard
Collared Lark
White-headed Babbled
Somali Wheatear

are all remote species, which would add massively to the distances for their sake."
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 12:49   #128
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Juba Weaver's on, no problem.
The Babbler and the Wheatear are off.
The other two aren't endems.

I'm still working on the itinerary - but I think the 15 days will be fine - you'll be pleasantly surprised. I'll post later today.
As I say - you're welcome to add either side - it seems everyone else is keen to extend.

To be frank, my wife hates me being away, and 2 weeks each time is her limit, not mine - I'd happily do three months!!

Btw : where are you off to, Andy?
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 12:59   #129
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Originally Posted by Carol Rushton View Post
Thanks Richard- looks like I will be exiting the airport at the same time as Jo,then,too.

From what Mike Hunter and other trip reports say ( I have already read the one you recommended, straight after your posting) , we will all need to exchange money and get our visa at the airport before exiting, which may take time

i am assuming we will need to pay for accommodation from the money exchanged at the airport

Will we be paying in advance for the driver/ vehicle / ground agent costs ?
Sorry, Carol, I missed your post.

Yes, I read that the same way: you have to try and guess how much you'll need! (I've already got some from a friend who's been)

When I choose a ground agent I'll ask about that - would be good if we could pay in advance by bank transfer, say, rather than in local currency on the day.
I think the hotels will be paid at each stop, on check out.
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 14:11   #130
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OK: here we go:

Addis to Debra Libranos (2hrs + stops)
Night Debra Libranos (Ethio-German Hotel)
Debra Libranos to Jemma Valley:
Dawn to escarpment - 1hour +
Night Alem Ketema, Jemma
Jemma to Debra Birhan (100kms)
Night Debra Birhan (Eva Hotel)
Debra Birhan to Ankober, Melka Ghebdu (60kms)
On to Awash South (?2 - 3 hrs)
Night in Awash, Genet Hotel
Awash & onto Bilen Lodge area (50kms)(Aledeghi area)
Night Bilen Lodge area.
To Wondo Genet (5-6 hrs + stops)
Night Wondo Genet
Wondo Genet to Bale, birding Bale up to
Dinsho (Bale) 2 - 3 hrs plus stops
Night Dinsho area
Bale/Gaysay to Goba
Night Goba
Sanetti/Harenna
Night Goba or south.
To Negele via Sof Omar (5hrs + stops)
Night Negele
Liben, Melka Ghuba, onto Yabello (4 or 5 hrs)
Night Yabello*
Mega - Soda area
Night Yabello*
Yabello to Awassa (5hrs)
Night Awassa
Awassa to Langano/Ziway
Night Langano.
Langano to Addis

*From Negele to Yabello there appears to be no accommodation - so two nights in Yabello is probably necessitated in order to back-track to Mega - Soda.
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 14:21   #131
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Juba Weaver's on, no problem.
The Babbler and the Wheatear are off.
The other two aren't endems.

I'm still working on the itinerary - but I think the 15 days will be fine - you'll be pleasantly surprised. I'll post later today.
As I say - you're welcome to add either side - it seems everyone else is keen to extend.

To be frank, my wife hates me being away, and 2 weeks each time is her limit, not mine - I'd happily do three months!!

Btw : where are you off to, Andy?
Three days in Uganda, mainly for Shoebill and then nine days in Rwanda.
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 14:24   #132
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[quote=halftwo;3881058]Juba Weaver's on, no problem.
The Babbler and the Wheatear are off.
The other two aren't endems.

/QUOTE]

Isn't endemic either but you need to visit war zones to see it, Eritrea or Somalia so in reality, it's the only viable place to see it.
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Old Sunday 11th August 2019, 10:42   #133
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Although it was published some time ago, I would thoroughly recommend getting a copy of "Where to watch bird in Ethiopia" https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ethiopia-Ga.../dp/1408130750. This is possibly the best birding site guide I have ever used.

Along the lines suggested by cheshirebirder, you might look into hiring a vehicle either with a guide as driver, or at least a driver who knows the birding sites. Ethiopian Quadrants should be able to organise this.
Thank you for the book recommendation, DMW. I can not find a more current version of it, than the one that you have provided the link to, so have just ordered it.

It will take a few weeks to arrive.

I am looking forward to reading it.

Best regards, Carol
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Old Sunday 11th August 2019, 10:47   #134
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Sorry, Carol, I missed your post.

Yes, I read that the same way: you have to try and guess how much you'll need! (I've already got some from a friend who's been)

When I choose a ground agent I'll ask about that - would be good if we could pay in advance by bank transfer, say, rather than in local currency on the day.
I think the hotels will be paid at each stop, on check out.
Thank you for the update / clarification Richard.

In my posting I was also making the point that both mine and Jo's exit from the airport could be delayed by both the currency exchange and obtaining the visa. What time does your flight arrive at Richard?

It seems like we will have a fair amount of Birr money to carry around with us.

Best regards, Carol
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Old Monday 12th August 2019, 04:16   #135
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I did roughly this trip in October 2018. Happy to answer any queries if I can. You haven't mentioned one re-discovered endemic, the Black fronted Francolin. Locals say it can be seen in the pass just south of Mega, we were there at the wrong time, you will need to be there at dawn.
Cheers
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Old Monday 12th August 2019, 13:56   #136
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Hi everyone,

Steve Curtis and I will be travelling up from Clevedon, Somerset and attending The Bird Fair, on Friday 16th August, if anyone wishes to say hi, there? We are staying in The Premier Inn in Boston, that night, then planning on doing some birding at Frampton Marsh, the next day, which is not a reserve that either of us have visited before . So there could be an option to meet up in Lincolnshire too, that day...

Let me know if anyone would like to ?

Best regards, Carol
Doesn't looklike I can get there this year. Probably for the best (stops me being tempted!) Have fun those of you who are going!
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Old Monday 12th August 2019, 18:01   #137
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I did roughly this trip in October 2018. Happy to answer any queries if I can. You haven't mentioned one re-discovered endemic, the Black fronted Francolin. Locals say it can be seen in the pass just south of Mega, we were there at the wrong time, you will need to be there at dawn.
Cheers
Mark

Cheers, Mark,

That one has got under my radar! Thanks for the mention.

Did you have any trouble in the south - roadblocks/checkpoints/permit requirements?

Did you use a ground agent?

Do you think my timetable is feasible? Or am I being over-ambitious?

Thanks,

Richard



All : I've had a quote back from a well-known tour agent. Their quote is $3400 each - inc virtually everything. This includes a guide as well as a driver.
They did quote for top end hotels at most places, but you can see the difference going for this high-end outfit makes. Far too rich for me.

I've had quotes from agents willing to provide drivers - from which my estimate already given is based.
I'm very happy with this, as long as their drivers have the knowledge of the sites we are visiting, and are willing to do what we require.
I'll make further enquiries to this end.

R
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Old Tuesday 13th August 2019, 05:08   #138
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Oh yes.
The road between Yabello and Hawassa was closed by protesting displaced persons. We only found out an hour after leaving Yabello. No one, including local police knew what was going on up the road. After an hour of waiting we made the call to go back to Yabello and go a different route. All up a 6 hour detour. It didn't reopen till much later that day.
Out of towns, phone signals are weak, data weaker, roads can be terrible, and roads can close or be re routed. For example, the Yellow throated Seedeater site was almost obliterated by a new road.
You should be aware that the route between Negele and Yabello traverses the Somali province. Current travel advisories warn against travel there. I think this is a higher alert than when travelled, though I didn't know beforehand we would go there. The army checkpoint before the Somali Province was at the Dawa River crossing. Our guide negotiated for 15 minutes to be allowed to enter the province, then another 15 minutes to be allowed to walk around and up the river, the Juba Weaver site. There is major tribal tension and suspicion on both sides, though we just experienced friendly people. As our guide explained, they have no problem with "white" people passing through. Between Bale and Yabello, you are travelling on very remote roads, with very few vehicles. I would not do it without a guide familiar with the people and situation, as well as the birds and sites leaving the driver to drive - it is very tiring. Very little English, if any is spoken outside major centres
Here is my plug: http://www.solomonberhetours.com/birding.asp
Would't have missed it for quids
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Old Tuesday 13th August 2019, 06:40   #139
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Thanks again, Mark. Very useful info there. It seems we need up to the minute info for the Negele - Yabello stage.
I know there was some protests going on around your time there - fingers crossed it has subsided now.

Thanks for the link. I'll give them an email. We obviously need drivers with knowledge of the area. On my proposed itinerary there was a little slack at the end built in because I envisaged delays/detours in the south, and thought it wise.

Cheers. Will be interesting to hear from others who go between now & our trip.

Richard
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Old Tuesday 13th August 2019, 17:10   #140
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Cheers, Mark,

That one has got under my radar! Thanks for the mention.

Did you have any trouble in the south - roadblocks/checkpoints/permit requirements?

Did you use a ground agent?

Do you think my timetable is feasible? Or am I being over-ambitious?

Thanks,

Richard



All : I've had a quote back from a well-known tour agent. Their quote is $3400 each - inc virtually everything. This includes a guide as well as a driver.
They did quote for top end hotels at most places, but you can see the difference going for this high-end outfit makes. Far too rich for me.

I've had quotes from agents willing to provide drivers - from which my estimate already given is based.
I'm very happy with this, as long as their drivers have the knowledge of the sites we are visiting, and are willing to do what we require.
I'll make further enquiries to this end.

R
Hi Richard,

I notice, with regard to the Black Fronted Francolin, that Mark mentions, that the long ( 87 page ), trip report that Jo mentions and provides a link to in post #82 of this thread, has information about this Bird. This report seems to provide a lot of useful and helpful information, so well worth reading in my opinion.
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Old Tuesday 13th August 2019, 17:25   #141
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OK: here we go:

Addis to Debra Libranos (2hrs + stops)
Night Debra Libranos (Ethio-German Hotel)
Debra Libranos to Jemma Valley:
Dawn to escarpment - 1hour +
Night Alem Ketema, Jemma
Jemma to Debra Birhan (100kms)
Night Debra Birhan (Eva Hotel)
Debra Birhan to Ankober, Melka Ghebdu (60kms)
On to Awash South (?2 - 3 hrs)
Night in Awash, Genet Hotel
Awash & onto Bilen Lodge area (50kms)(Aledeghi area)
Night Bilen Lodge area.
To Wondo Genet (5-6 hrs + stops)
Night Wondo Genet
Wondo Genet to Bale, birding Bale up to
Dinsho (Bale) 2 - 3 hrs plus stops
Night Dinsho area
Bale/Gaysay to Goba
Night Goba
Sanetti/Harenna
Night Goba or south.
To Negele via Sof Omar (5hrs + stops)
Night Negele
Liben, Melka Ghuba, onto Yabello (4 or 5 hrs)
Night Yabello*
Mega - Soda area
Night Yabello*
Yabello to Awassa (5hrs)
Night Awassa
Awassa to Langano/Ziway
Night Langano.
Langano to Addis

*From Negele to Yabello there appears to be no accommodation - so two nights in Yabello is probably necessitated in order to back-track to Mega - Soda.
Hi Richard,
Thank you.
When you come to add more specifics to the itinerary, please could you let me know which of The Lakes you are planning to visit ? I always enjoy a good water -bird spectacle and it can make for some slightly more relaxed birding
Best regards, Carol
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Old Tuesday 13th August 2019, 18:08   #142
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Hi, Carol,

Beseka, Awassa, Langano & Ziway.

Richard
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Old Tuesday 13th August 2019, 21:40   #143
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Hi All

I understand that we have been focused on the birds, mainly due to Andy's input. However, both myself and Carol are also dead keen on all the mammals and there is a wealth of goodies to see in this respect. I have put together a list with maps where I have found them. There were some particularly good mammal reports from groups who went with the purpose of both birding and mammaling on mammalwatching.com. I don't see why we can't have the same success, as most of the sites are the same as we are planning!

Here is the list:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...it?usp=sharing

I have colour coded the mammals. The red ones are those that are endemic or near endemic that I particularly hope we will get good views of. The purple ones are mammals that I either haven't seen and would like to see or ones where I would like to see them better, but these mostly aren't endems or near endems. The rest are possibilities that are either so common we should see them, or ones that are chance sightings, or small rodenty things that I'm not proposing we go out of our way to look for because I'm not confident enough to identify them myself!

To increase our chances I have also indicated those sites that I think it would be particularly beneficial to organise sunset/night drives though I understand that spotlighting may be difficult/impossible at certain places. Still the trip reports I have used to compile this show what is possible even with those restrictions!

As regards the itinerary, please can we agree to keep the two nights at Goba and one night Dinsho? I would really hate to be pressured to move on after only one night, as there is so much potential for Sanetti and Harenna forest area. Especially since we seem to have some contingency to cover Yabello in any case.

Around Dinsho, as well as Gaysay, I'd like to try to cover the area around Sodota Campsite and the Web Valley. This area seems to deliver some really good sightings. I'm not sure how much of this area can be covered by vehicle- I know that there is a dirt road to the campsite. Richard could you look into this please?

If possible, I would like to include a bit of time in Senkelle for the endems there, it should be feasible to cover this in a couple of hours on the day we go to Awassa.

As a suggestion, could we perhaps compress some of the time at Jemma area to allow for an extra night in the Awash/Alideghe area, as that looks to be a really interesting area for both birds and mammals that could warrant some extra time? Or perhaps if we decide in advance that it's just too risky to cover Yabello we could reassign the time for this area?

I agree with Richard that we should keep a close eye on how the situation around Yabello develops. Is it feasible to go as far as Negelle and then cut across to Awassa?

cheers

Jo
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Old Wednesday 14th August 2019, 09:01   #144
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Hi All

I understand that we have been focused on the birds, mainly due to Andy's input. However, both myself and Carol are also dead keen on all the mammals and there is a wealth of goodies to see in this respect. I have put together a list with maps where I have found them. There were some particularly good mammal reports from groups who went with the purpose of both birding and mammaling on mammalwatching.com. I don't see why we can't have the same success, as most of the sites are the same as we are planning!

Here is the list:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...it?usp=sharing

I have colour coded the mammals. The red ones are those that are endemic or near endemic that I particularly hope we will get good views of. The purple ones are mammals that I either haven't seen and would like to see or ones where I would like to see them better, but these mostly aren't endems or near endems. The rest are possibilities that are either so common we should see them, or ones that are chance sightings, or small rodenty things that I'm not proposing we go out of our way to look for because I'm not confident enough to identify them myself!

To increase our chances I have also indicated those sites that I think it would be particularly beneficial to organise sunset/night drives though I understand that spotlighting may be difficult/impossible at certain places. Still the trip reports I have used to compile this show what is possible even with those restrictions!

As regards the itinerary, please can we agree to keep the two nights at Goba and one night Dinsho? I would really hate to be pressured to move on after only one night, as there is so much potential for Sanetti and Harenna forest area. Especially since we seem to have some contingency to cover Yabello in any case.

Around Dinsho, as well as Gaysay, I'd like to try to cover the area around Sodota Campsite and the Web Valley. This area seems to deliver some really good sightings. I'm not sure how much of this area can be covered by vehicle- I know that there is a dirt road to the campsite. Richard could you look into this please?

If possible, I would like to include a bit of time in Senkelle for the endems there, it should be feasible to cover this in a couple of hours on the day we go to Awassa.

As a suggestion, could we perhaps compress some of the time at Jemma area to allow for an extra night in the Awash/Alideghe area, as that looks to be a really interesting area for both birds and mammals that could warrant some extra time? Or perhaps if we decide in advance that it's just too risky to cover Yabello we could reassign the time for this area?

I agree with Richard that we should keep a close eye on how the situation around Yabello develops. Is it feasible to go as far as Negelle and then cut across to Awassa?

cheers

Jo
I can already see how this is going to go, there are different priorities and even now, the leveraging has started.

I don't think the emphasis on birds was just down to me Jo, you didn't even declare that mammals were you main interest until post 41 in this thread that I can see!

I thought it would be a bird trip with some good mammals but with at least two people holding mammals as their primary interest, I feel that a compromise is going to be needed somewhere and someone will lose out.

There has to bo absolute agreement from all parties, prior to the trip or this is shaping up to go wrong IMHO.

Depending on numbers, I feel that two vehicles with separate itineraries may have to be the way forward?
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Old Wednesday 14th August 2019, 10:47   #145
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So I don't think this trip was ever meant to be just about ticking all the endemic birds...

Quote:
Originally Posted by halftwo View Post
Hi Andy,

Basically I'm time-constrained, so want to concentrate on a few sites: Awash, Bale, etc, without adding 3 or 4 times the distance for, say, twice the birds.
I've not gone into detail yet as I'm just putting feelers out. But there's a huge number of birds to see even on a shortened trip.

Cheers,

H
So Andy this is what attracted me to Richard's trip. I have said from the start, post 10, that if Bale was to feature I would be very interested. I had initially hoped less sites, more time at each as was initially the idea:


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Originally Posted by kittykat23uk View Post
I may be interested as well. I had planned to do Ethiopia a few years ago but plans fell through. If bale mountains features then call me interested! I certainly don't need all the endemics and I am also rather short on time after brazil...
Also Richard also comments:


Quote:
Originally Posted by halftwo View Post
Sure: it all helps.

Lots of mammals to see: noticed Lion is on the Awash list - which surprised me.
Andy even you said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by andyadcock View Post
It would be nice to prioritise both birds and mammals with an itinerary that aims to do just that, after all, most will only ever visit the country once.

I am a little concerned that mixing people with different priorities could cause some problems on the trip?

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see Gelada but wouldn't be keen on a diversion (at cost to the bird list) for e.g a Rat!

I believe the current itinerary strikes a good balance for birds and mammals, there are no sites I am propsing to add for just rats, even though there are sites that have been added that do add miles just for a few extra birds that I wouldn't have chosen to include in a 2 week trip. I am okay with that to keep the birders amongst us happy.

My only red line is to keep those 3 nights in Bale. Everything else is open. I don't feel that is much to ask in all honesty.

If we do have 2 cars then of course that does add to our flexibility :). My belief is that some of my suggestions e.g. adding in senkelle (endemic mammals, big ones) are easy to accommodate but even that point is not die in the ditch for me. I can live without seeing a swayne's Hartebeest.

If we do need all that time at Yabello and Jemma that's fine, I was only asking as Awash and alideghe have a lot of potential for seeing something really special!

Chere's

Jo
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Old Wednesday 14th August 2019, 11:01   #146
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You quote me there Jo as saying,

'It would be nice to prioritise both birds and mammals with an itinerary that aims to do just that, after all, most will only ever visit the country once.'

Surely it's implicit that this is the ideal with no compromise to either mammals or birds and would need a longer trip. On a shorter trip, with different priorities among participants, something will be left out for something else, is three nights at Bale typical of any non, mammal focused tours?

I'd have no problem seeing every endemic Rat, Vole or Shrew if time allowed but it doesn't,

As well as the idea of two cars / two itineraries, some could stay on longer to pursue their own targets? Those who want longer at e'g Bale, could go out earlier and the rest could meet them there say a week later? Not everyone is time constrained. I could easily do 3-4 weeks but I know and respect that others can't.
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Old Wednesday 14th August 2019, 12:17   #147
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Can I just be clear that I have never stated that mammals are my primary interest.

I am a very keen bird watcher. I have previously said that I will do all that I can to pre-prepare for the trip and am very much looking forward to it. I have never tried to exercise any leverage. I have said that, in the field, my identification skills may fall short, but I will do the best that I can.

I am considerate of other people and respectful of other people's interests. I do not try and push forward my views, that is not in my nature. The only thing that I have said is that , for me personally, more than three people in a vehicle, plus the driver, would be too much, if that means a person having to travel in the middle of the back seat in a vehicle with two rows of seats. That is because I am aware that we will be traveling very long distances, sometimes, in heat, where perhaps the air-con may not work in the vehicle and some of the roads may be difficult to pass.

I believe that in a group everyone has valuable things to bring to a group trip.

I am very much hoping that you will be able to feel able to join the trip Andy. I feel that your keen interest and wealth of experience would be great for the group/ trip.

I also enjoy watching mammals, seeing butterflies, looking at wild flowers etc. I have a broad interest in natural history .

Best regards, Carol
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Old Wednesday 14th August 2019, 18:49   #148
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Hi All,

OK, I've had a long day, & haven't got time today to read all the extra stuff.

However: a few points:

The itinerary as is at the moment has a (little) flexibility. One of the problems could be that some accommodation that we really should/must stay at, might require a firm booking - meaning certain constraints on timings. Again, I'll enquire with the land agents regarding this, along with the Yabello/southern loop.

As already said, two nights at least are planned for the Bale area, with a possible third.

We might get lucky early for mammals, particularly the wolves.

We have 2 vehicles. Two of you make the case for flexibility there - so that's a possibility.

We don't know for sure yet about the far south and the feasibility of doing the southern loop. We could opt to go the other way - anti-clockwise & finish up at Bale, having already done Langano/Ziway. That way one vehicle could extend if necessary while the other returns.

A further extension for any other reason is a possibility - as long as I can get back to Addis!

Jo: I see Sentelle is very close to Awassa - another reason you might want to extend. But, we could go on forever trying to fit more & more in.

I've tried to make the itinerary as balanced as I can, but there are many unknowns and possibilities to dip on any given "must see".

I'll get back to this further in a day or two, once I've had time to read all the other stuff.

Kelvin & Yvonne: what are your thoughts?

Richard
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Old Wednesday 14th August 2019, 20:37   #149
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Thanks, yep as mentioned Richard, I am not at all fussed if we can't fit Senkelle in, I only mentioned it because of the proximity of the park to Awassa and that most tours cover it on the same day.

If there is any way we can finish at Bale, that would definitely assist with possibilities for extending as far as I'm concerned. Even if the car needs to go back, ending there could allow me to join a trek for a few days, subject to cost. The pick up point for treks is either Bale/goba airport or Addis.

Would be good to know if anyone else wants to extend and what they have planned.

Thanks also for trying to keep everyone happy Richard, I appreciate it and have been though the pain of this process once already which didn't result in a viable trip, so I'm really keen for this to work out this time.

All the best

Jo

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Old Friday 16th August 2019, 07:11   #150
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C'mon guys, you have enough time and a good itinerary to give most if not all of the birds and mammals a shot.
It's a very comprehensive itinerary, and while there is still a lot of driving, Ethiopia is not the country to stick in one site for days and days, almost all birding is roadside and mammals are best found by driving around as well, either along roads or inside the parks on dirt tracks.

I did this almost exactly 10 years ago (October 2009). We had to do without any cell phone cover, internet and hardly any trip reports. The best report we had was from 1996 (and actually, it's still valid!). We had to rely on visuals ("this looks a good area for Prince Ruspoli's Turaco - hey, what's that green bird flying across the road!?" or: "this river looks big enough, maybe there should be Juba Weavers here"). I only got some of my GPS right because I recognized the areas on google maps, back at home. Some areas I only got right when google had higher resolution maps, that weren't available back in the days for some parts of the country!

We didn't book any hotel as we didn't know where we would end for the evening, and even if we would have known, we wouldn't have any means to contact them beforehand! We camped 1/3 of the time and I remember those nights as the most comfortable / best in terms of sleeping, temperature, noise and the occasional bed bug: hotels were often in noisy places, too hot rooms, dirty sanitary,... The Wabe Shabele hotels are upmarket and more fancy, but we didn't take those as we felt really out of place in those hotels with Western prices for food and drinks, but it turned out you could get e.g. the same coffee or fruit juice across the street for a 10th of the price! Those places were always full of western tourists with 10-20 big 4x4s all parked in the inner square. We only took that hotel once (at Awassa) because it was supposed to be in the best place for birding and some birds should be in the hotel grounds. Nights at Dinsho were very cold and damp. I was happy to leave that place for somewhere warmer!

The political situation has changed quite a bit. It seems 2009 was better than 2018, for example. And 2009 was better than 2005. Things change but with the site guides, all the reports on cloud birders and the rise of e.g. Ebird, it seems very, very hard to go wrong with good preparation, sharp eyes, a good ground agent (we had one that was totally inexperienced with birders, and he still did an excellent job!) and above all: flexibility in the itinerary, and flexibility in the minds of the participants. Good luck and if any question, I can still talk about my trip for hours :-) !
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