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Ethiopia Feb 2020 independent budget

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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 08:11   #101
Carol Rushton
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Originally Posted by halftwo View Post
Hi, All,

Thanks, Mike. I'll read that when I get a moment, in the meantime I've been researching like mad, reading reports, liaising with ground agents.

I now have sites, with GPS co-ordinates for all the endems, and many, many more; plus GPS for almost unmarked roads which will allow us short cuts here & there.
I've also just received my copy of 'Where to Watch Birds In Ethiopia', which has a vast amount of info on sites, accommodation, etc.

So, I'm happy to go along without guides, except where they are compulsory, and where, eg. roosts sites for owls and nightjars are known to local guides, payable on site.

I'll soon hone the itinerary & get some idea of cost, except that I still don't know how many we are!!

R
Good morning, Richard.

Thank you for your update and your considerable work on research of locations , gps co-ordinates and liaising with ground agents, which I really appreciate.

With regard to indentification, I will do a lot of pre- trip preparation. I am confident on some of the birds which we will find / encounter. There will be a lot of new birds for me. My African field experience is limited to c 8 weeks across South and West ( not East ) Africa. Like you I enjoy the challenge of finding birds. I also enjoy discussing identification with others, in the field.

I am often told that I Am a good spotter , with a good eye.

I remain very keen to do the trip.

I hope that everyone else on the trip is happy with the level of my identification skills ? If they fall short in the field, due to lack of experience I hope that everyone else will be happy with this, as it would then put more emphasis on other people's identification skills.

I am very happy with all of the dates that you have suggested, Richard.

Best wishes, Carol
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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 08:42   #102
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Hi, Carol,

Yes, all anyone can do when in a new place is prepare & prepare. When I was in Brazil one of our group had really done his homework beforehand, and was identifying birds quickly when I was still searching through the field guide!
Knowing what is likely in any given site, and knowing the identification pitfalls/confusion species is always a good idea.
As you know, Africa has a lot of colourful and conspicuous birds; then there are the skulkers! There will be challenges and weather could make for a challenge - mists in the hills particularly.

Also having a good knowledge of, and access to sound files of, songs/calls is a real boon.

I'm hoping someone might take on the creation of a song/call file for me - I'm not the best when it comes to technology!
There will be id discussions, you can be sure of that!
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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 08:53   #103
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in terms of flights, looks like the best ones for me would get me in at 7 am on day one and leaving around the same time as Richard on the Sunday, going via heathrow. Arriving any earlier would most likely require an overnight either at Heathrow or Addis. This is a direct flight with Ethiopian Air:


Ethiopian Air logo
20:15 — 07:00 +1
Ethiopian Air
direct
7h 45m
LHR ‐ ADD

Ethiopian Air logo
01:20 — 06:35
Ethiopian Air
direct
8h 15m
ADD ‐ LHR

currently £481 including checked luggage.

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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 09:29   #104
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Do your research on finding the right guide and learn from my experience: http://www.surfbirds.com/trip_report.php?id=2421

As a well travelled world birder I often do trips either by myself or independently with others. During recent trips, for example to Alaska and Taiwan, I saw all birds that were reasonably within scope, and much more. I'll gladly travel guide-free to keep costs down where I can but I just didn't think Ethiopia was one of those countries.

That said, birding in Ethiopia is certainly not difficult, mostly open birding, very little forest, and I'm in no doubt you will see more with a good local guide. Sites do change and some birds are nomadic. So whilst it is possible for very well organised birders do much of Ethiopia independently with a driver and 4x4, if it were me, on balance, I'd prefer to go with a decent guide.

Hope these musings help.

Mike

Thanks, Mike,

Makes interesting reading. I shall make sure that whoever is organising/driving will be willing to do some very early starts, and some evenings!
And have local knowledge.
Like a lot of places, you dont always get what you pay for.
Useful to know about the local currency and re-exchange - a bit of a juggling trick required!
Did you pay the agent in dollars?

Richard
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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 09:38   #105
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By the way, a great and extremely successful trip (sorry Mike!) is reported by

Hans Matheve, Wout Opdekamp, Robbert Schepers, et al.

Google search this - mouth-watering and so well organised.

Their agents were Red Jackal - I'll email them too.
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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 10:05   #106
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Have you got a link Richard?

Thanks

Jo

ETA never mind: https://users.ugent.be/~hmatheve/hm/ETHIOPIA15.html

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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 11:01   #107
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Hi everyone,

I have spoken with my contact for flights, Sacha Barbato.

Sacha is currently looking into options for me, but it sounds like a direct flight From Heathrow, is currently the most likely option, flying overnight from there to Addis. This will allow me to get from Clevedon, to Heathrow, via bus, then coach.
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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 11:53   #108
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2 definitely for the last two weeks of Feb. Myself and partner, Yvonne Hazlehurst.
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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 12:17   #109
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Hi,

As Carol says above - I have sent details to her regarding possible flights and fares.

For those that do not know me - I am a travel agent (and birder) who specialises in organising flights / hotels / holidays for birders / wildlife tours, as well as standard holidays. All with the added financial protection / backing of Travel Counsellors
If anyone else would like assistance / advice from regional airports then do send a DM and I can send details of my phone number and email address direct to you.
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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 13:29   #110
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Originally Posted by Welsh Peregrine View Post
2 definitely for the last two weeks of Feb. Myself and partner, Yvonne Hazlehurst.
Great to hear, Kelvin and Yvonne.

Richard, have you yet heard back from your other contact ?
At present, we seem to now be 5 ?

Andy Adcock have you definitely decided against the trip ?

I notice on the first page of the thread that there was one other person who expressed an interest for a February 2020 trip, from the Bournemouth area, if I recall ?

If we can confirm dates, I will book my flights.

Felling excited !!
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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 14:45   #111
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Great to hear, Kelvin and Yvonne.

Richard, have you yet heard back from your other contact ?
At present, we seem to now be 5 ?

Andy Adcock have you definitely decided against the trip ?

I notice on the first page of the thread that there was one other person who expressed an interest for a February 2020 trip, from the Bournemouth area, if I recall ?

If we can confirm dates, I will book my flights.

Felling excited !!
I'd like to see a more definite itinerary, as I said before, even three nights in one place on such a short trip, seems a bit at odds with seeing as much as possible in bird terms. I can't help thinking that even at three nights, this is some concession to one participant at cost to others, sorry Jo

I quote Jo directly.

‘Just to be clear, I was wanting 3 days minimum in the Bale area not because the wolf is difficult as such but because I wanted to be able to savour the time there. I'd rather do a few sites in depth than race round places toget a bigger list. :) ,’

Participants must agree, wholeheartedly on priorities, I'd love to see the Wolf but wouldn't want to spend three nights there. In fairness though, I haven't researched the site or other nearby locations at all as I'm only three weeks away from a Uganda / Rwanda trip but this is what Temmie wrote just a few messages later.

‘I feel 3 days at Bale is a lot of time: this is a high altitude area and because of the altitude, there are few birds and few other wildlife to savour. It can be a bit misty though.
So if you have a good morning, you can see about everything (birdwise and mammalwise) and move on. ‘


I did suggest up thread somewhere that Jo may want to consider being dropped there and picked up a few days later but it's been mentioned that it's a circular route so that is probably impractical. Maybe those wanting more time at Bale, could do an extension at the end, Jo does mention that she has more leave than she thought, and then went on to suggest five days at Bale , cheeky girl but I have no idea if that's practical either?

It doesn't seem beyond possiblity, that if we ended up with two vehicles, there could be separate itineraries agreed?

I'm not trying to be fractious but there do seem to be conflicting priorities and it would be a real shame if some people felt short changed at the end and any friction during the trip could really be unpleasant. The price looks really good.
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Old Friday 9th August 2019, 21:00   #112
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Hi Andy,

it's a bit of a moot point now that we cannot extend the main trip beyond 15 days but I wanted to be clear that there are not 3 full days in the current schedule for just the wolves. The schedule for that section begins around the rift valley lakes, according to google maps it is then a 3hr+ drive to Dinsho (171KM).

I would expect we will want to "stop to look for Red-chested Swallow as well as groups of migrant Lesser Kestrels or European Bee-eaters. The level agriculture gives way to more rugged highlands as we gain altitude. We start to see flocks of White-collared Pigeons and Wattled Ibis along the roadside and Dusky Turtle Doves become common. Freshly ploughed fields are a mecca for Erlanger’s Lark, which are frequently joined by larger Thekla Larks, while Red-breasted Wheatears and Groundscraper Thrushes can be numerous. We should make a stop to see a Cape Eagle Owl at a traditional roost site, to be followed by a walk through the rich juniper woodland surrounding the Bale Mountain National Park headquarters. Here we are looking in particular for the little-known Abyssinian Owl and perhaps some roosting African Wood Owls or Montane Nightjars, and we’ll also encounter the impressive endemic Mountain Nyala and Meneliks Bushbuck and explore the Gaysay grasslands where there is a good chance of serval and then probably head on up for our first night in Goba.

For the next two days I would suggest that those of us with an interest in the mammals should focus the early morning and late afternoon/evenings with the wolves and other endemics of the Sanetti plateau and from what I have read, the wolves are at their most social then, after which they disperse to go hunting on their own. Two Days is good insurance in the event of mist on the plateau as Temmie has mentioned.

Whist looking for the wolves and other mammals (Giant mole rat, other rodents and Starck's hare), there should be plenty to keep birders happy too: "Rouget’s Rails are remarkably tame up here and we’ll have seen dozens by the end of the day, and we’re bound to see Chestnut-naped Francolins and Moorland Francolins. Elsewhere we’ll encounter the classic highland endemics with Blue-winged Geese on the pools along with Spot-breasted Plovers, and flocks of Black-headed Siskins feeding by the roadside. Moorland Chats are everywhere and the many pools often have wintering Green Sandpipers and Red-throated Pipits in attendance. Wattled Cranes breed up here and we hope for a sighting of at least one of these stately birds. Augur Buzzards and Lanner Falcons perch on top of the giant lobelia flower spikes and a sighting of a Ruddy Shelduck or a flock of Red-billed Chough reminds us of this region’s strange Palearctic affinities. Overhead there should be a steady passage of raptors, with migrant Steppe Eagles common, and at any time a mighty Lammergeier can drift past."


Most reports I have seen indicate that people spend the majority of the later morning and early afternoon in the Harenna forest. Here we have chance for for White-cheeked Turaco, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Mountain Thrush, Abyssinian Catbird, Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher, skulking Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, Brown Woodland Warbler, White-backed Black Tit, Slender-billed Starlings, Brown-rumped Seedeaters, and Yellow-bellied Waxbill among many others. We may also find the local Bale race of Brown Parisoma, considered by some to be a full species. There is also the endemic bale monkey to look for.

We might also be able to make a return visit to the Gaysay area if we feel we need more time there. Alternatively, perhaps if we do have two cars, and one group feels that two days is still too much they could spend an extra night in the rift valley lakes and join us a day later on the plateau or depart a day early for an extra night in the Yabello/Negele region?

To do an extension to Bale at the end I don't think will meet everyone else's requirements because surely everyone does want to see this area?

But, if others are interested then it is conceivable to detour back up to Bale from the rift lakes (Carol has said she might be interested in an extension). From Langano it's about a 4hr drive according to google maps back up to Goba and then a 9 hr drive back to Addis.

The other place I am really interested in is further out of the way and that is the hyena men of Harar, Some of you may have seen this, I think it was on Planet Earth - in Harar packs of hyenas come into town were they are fed by the locals, I realise this is not for everyone, but it's about a 4 hr drive from Awash NP I believe (8+ hrs from Addis).

This is different to the Hyena cave (Cave Fantale) which we should visit on our evening in Awash.

I am happy to commit to the tour as it is currently planned.

All the best

Jo
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 06:38   #113
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From looking at the map Jo and considering the travelling distances, Harar would be too far to travel from my perspective .

Kind regards Carol
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 06:44   #114
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A Feb trip sounds very appealing, and I'd certainly be interested....
Hi Richard,

From looking back through the thread this is the posting of the person from Bournemouth who seems to have expressed an interest in the trip, that I mentioned in my posting,yesterday .

From looking at the posting this morning, I am now wondering if, in fact, they were interested for a different year ?

Kind regards, Carol
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 08:25   #115
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From looking at the map Jo and considering the travelling distances, Harar would be too far to travel from my perspective .

Kind regards Carol
Yes, something for another time that one unfortunately :(
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 08:51   #116
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Well, I go out for the evening and all this happens!

Carol: I've pmed two people who had previously expressed interest: Mark (MSA) & Robert Scanlon (who doesn't appear to be on BF much) but no response so far - but less than 2 days yet.

Sacha: thanks for the offer.

Kelvin & Yvonne : welcome.

OK: Itinerary/route, etc.

Addis - via Sululta - Debra Libranos & Portuguese Bridge
Jemma Valley
Ankober, Melkha Ghebdu
Awash/Bilen/Aleghedi
Awash - Lake Beseka
Wondo Genet
Dinsho area Bale
Sanetti area Bale
Harenna - Negele
Liben Plains, Melka Guba
Mega/Soda
Awassa
Lake Langano & Ziway

Now, that covers the main birding hotspots and almost all the endems.

If both Jo & Andy are happy with that we have some little leeway for tweaking.

Assuming we are now six (2× 4x4).

Unless 3 others say they want to join us...

As I've already mooted, this itinerary is essentially 14 nights (not including anyone staying overnight in Addis) and 15 full days' birding. So have a good look at flight times so that we can get both Saturdays as full days.

Also, looks like the last 2 weeks of Feb are the choice.

Let me know your thoughts and comments.

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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 09:21   #117
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Be good if we can get a day by day with drive times. But yeah if it's pretty much the same as before then it should be ok for me. As I said the best flights would get me in at 7 am. Hope that's OK?
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 09:32   #118
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Looks fine; will look into flights Monday.
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 09:45   #119
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Thank you, very much, Richard.
All fine, as was before .

Re flights- the direct flight from Heathrow gets in at 07:00am on Saturday 15th February to Addis. Would that be ok ?

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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 10:10   #120
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Be good if we can get a day by day with drive times. But yeah if it's pretty much the same as before then it should be ok for me. As I said the best flights would get me in at 7 am. Hope that's OK?
OK, can add drive times.

Each line above represents a day/night, except the last. If you count up you'll see it gives us an extra/spare.
Obviously, at the start of the trip, we are more constrained because of the knock-on. Even if we miss something we have to move on.
Once I've added drive times and suggested some overnight stops, it will be more apparent where the rest fits in.
But, eg., if there is some leeway with the long road south around the Yabello region, and there had been weather constraints in Bale, it could be possible to add the extra there.
But, as I say, I'll get some more detail in soon.

If you have read the trip report I mentioned earlier you get a good idea of what is possible and what can be whittled down. And it gives some drive times/journey descriptions.

I will liaise with the ground agent and make sure the vehicles are provisioned and ready for the first morning. Then we can get on the road as soon as Jo exits the airport.

As I've already said, there is a possibility for anyone to add at either end of the trip - if they want to. If I'd had more time available I'd go to Lalebela eg - not just for the birds. There's a lot of the country we won't touch.

OK. More later.

Richard
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 10:21   #121
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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 ?

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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 11:03   #122
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As I've already said, there is a possibility for anyone to add at either end of the trip - if they want to. If I'd had more time available I'd go to Lalebela eg - not just for the birds. There's a lot of the country we won't touch.

OK. More later.

Richard
Hi Richard,
can you say what endemics will be missed on this particular itinerary?

I apologise for not being able to be more involved but as I said, I am boning up for an imminent trip.

It's a real pity that some people don't have a bit more time, IMHO, to maximise what will be for most, their only trip to Ethiopia, this would be better as a three weeker. Some long journeys mean lost birding time and obviously an extra week would help offset that and Jo could have another night with her Wolves.
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 11:31   #123
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Yes I agree with Andy that it would be good if we could do three weeks for this and have more time at each place. If we were to plan this for November or December 2020 would that release you of your constraints Richard or is a longer trip just not feasible at any time for you? If no then I'm still okay to stick with this plan.

Cheers

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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 11:34   #124
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I could do three weeks at any time, at present
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Old Saturday 10th August 2019, 12:08   #125
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Yes I agree with Andy that it would be good if we could do three weeks for this and have more time at each place. If we were to plan this for November or December 2020 would that release you of your constraints Richard or is a longer trip just not feasible at any time for you? If no then I'm still okay to stick with this plan.

Cheers

Jo
Hang on a minute there JO, I'm having visions of you, sauntering around Bale in flip flops for a whole week now!

I wouldn't spread the extra week, completely over the existing plan, I'd hope to fit in one or two other sites to increase the number of species / endemics but as I said, I've done no ground work at all on this.

Richard is the driving force here, how would you use another week Richard?
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