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Birding and Trekking - Ethiopia

Cranes are ambassador of the wetland ecosystem, conserve them!


Ethiopia-General Introduction

Welcome to CRANE TOURS - Birding and Trekking in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the most biodiversity-rich countries in Africa, with exceptionally high levels of endemism. This is by virtue of its extensive areas of land with high altitude, and variety of habitats, isolated from the rest of Africa by low altitude and arid areas, possesses a wide range of species of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic to the country. The wide ranges of altitudes have contributed to the diverse nature of the country’s ecological resources. The altitude ranges from 110m below sea level at Kobar Sink in the Afar depression to a peak of 4620m above sea level at Ras Dejen/Dashen. The highland regions, although having fewer species than many lowland parts of tropical Africa, have a large number of endemic animals.

Travel facts, Culture and Custom

Ethiopia has mainly two distinct seasons rainy season (June to September), and long dry season (October to May); however, there is intermittent rain about a month before and after the rainy season. In some parts of the southern part of Ethiopia, there is a substantial amount of rainfall due to extended rainy time.

Clothing and food

Ethiopians have different kinds of national dresses. Usually, ladies are not allowed to expose their bodies. The national dish of most Ethiopians is “Injera” flat, soft thin bread made from a special grain called “Teff”. It is always served with saucer, which can be made either from meat or vegetable. The local beverages are “Tella” traditional beer brewed from corn or barley, and “Tej” brewed from water and honey, malt yeast. Now a day “Teff” becomes the most known and wanted food staff in the world because of gluten-free food, the presence of fiber and 18 essential amino acids, minerals, etc.

The three worlds’ major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have had their followers from the time they were introduced, among these: Christianity and Islam are the two dominant religions.

Ethiopia has more than 80 languages; however, Amharic is the official language of the Federal Government and spoken widely throughout Ethiopia. English is also widely spoken. The medium of instruction in the education system of the country is English although it is restricted mainly in schools.

The usual style of greeting in Ethiopia is handshaking, while friends and family who have not seen each other for some time will kiss on each cheek or shoulder. Smile face is a common character in Ethiopia. You should not be disappointed when children are calling, following you “Ferenjj. It is a nickname to the Western peoples'.

Physical Features and Wildlife

Ethiopia has unique geographical features and fascinating fauna and flora, consisting of some of the rarest wildlife in the world. It has also been described as the water tower of Africa because of its ever-flowing rivers. Its majestic mountains have been labeled as the roof of Africa. The Simien chain of Mountains, the Bale and Arsi Mountains are the main ones.

Travel to and in Ethiopia

Ethiopian Airlines generally provides excellent service and has excellent safety records. Travelers coming to Ethiopia should know one reason for flying Ethiopian Airlines. On the domestic circuit, priority is given to those who use Ethiopian Airlines for their international flight.

Visa requirement

Thirty-three countries nationalities are allowed to get an entry visa upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Otherwise, the visa can be obtained from the Ethiopian Embassy or Consulate in the visitor’s country of residence or from the nearest country where there is an Ethiopian Embassy. Please note that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months. For more information

Banks, communication and Airport tax

Banks are available throughout the country in major cities and towns. It is closed on Saturday afternoon and Sundays. Telephone, Fax, Internet, e-mail and postal facilities are available in the country. The international dialing code for Ethiopia is +251. There is a USD (20) departure tax for international flights and a 10 Birr embarkation fee at each airport for the domestic flight sector.

Travel facts

Important Preparation notes

This document will help you to prepare you for the journey ahead. There are a number of important issues which

you should be familiar with before travelling, and therefore we encourage you to read this document thoroughly.

Please do not hesitate to ask us with any questions that arise About us.  Crane Tours-Ethiopia is a specialist tour operator to the region can strive to unravel this complex continent and to make your journey as flawless as possible.

Up on request we have prepared a reading document you will be better prepared for the specialist nature of the journey ahead. The trip notes include: up on arrival, international flight situation, departure taxes, passports and visas, arrival and departure, internal flights, baggage restrictions, accommodation, medical and travel insurance, health, hydration, clothing and what to bring, check list, indemnity form, photography, laundry and washing, currency and exports, electricity, check-in and check-out times, climate, safety and security, transportation, activities, guides, language, communications, livelihood of ethiopia, food and water, tipping

Recommended reading


-‘Africa – A biography of the Continent’

-‘Scramble for Africa’ Thomas Pakenham

- ‘The Blue Nile’ Alan Moorehead

- ‘The White Nile’ Alan Moorehead

- ‘A history of Modern Ethiopia’ Bahru Zewde

- ‘Ethiopian Civilization’ Belay Giday

- ‘Layers of Time’ - A History of Ethiopia Paul B. Henze

- ‘Cutting for Stone’ Abraham Verghese

- Field guide ‘Birds of Lake Tana Area, Ethiopia’ Shimelis Aynalem Zelelew

- ‘Birds of East Africa’ Zimmerman

- ‘Birds of Ethiopia and Northern Tanzania’ Zimmerman and Turner

- ‘Field Guide to the African Mammals’ Jonathon Kingdon

- ‘The Safari Companion’ Richard D Estes


- ‘Portraits of the Wild’ Cynthia Moss

- ‘Ethiopia’ The Bradt Travel Guide

- ‘African Ark’ Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher

- ‘The Sign and the Seal’ Graham Hancock


As with life, you will get out of your safari what you put into it. Now that we have done the planning it is now up to you to ensure that this will be a holiday to remember. And with even the best laid plans things do sometimes go wrong. If they do, Crane Tours will do everything within our powers to put the situation right as soon as possible. We all have room for improvement so we welcome your comments to make it an even better safari experience the next time around.

Crane Tours

This Crane Tours company is established in Ethiopia devoted especially to fill the gap in the field of Bird Watching and Nature Trekking. Ethiopia is endowed with a high level of endemism and rich in biodiversity resources. Although the old literature says Ethiopia has 860 bird species, actually the total number of birds’ species reaches about 910.  To use this resource in the form of tourism, as bird watching, apart from the ecological importance, birds provide direct and indirect economic value on a potentially large scale. Many African Countries have created programs to attract bird watchers and though they have fewer birds than Ethiopia, their people have benefited by the creation of jobs. The main aim of this tour company is to carry out professional based avi-tourism and trekking in Ethiopia; and to promote and support conservation at the local level. 

The absence of a professional tour guide especially on birds is a fundamental problem in Ethiopia. However, this tour company is organized and led by professionals at large. The manager of this tour company, Dr Shimelis Aynalem Zelelew is a known, Ornithologist. He had the first-ever bird watch training in BirdLife South Africa, Southern Cross School, Hoedspruit Certificate: Avi-career Basic Guide Training Course Level 2, and Level 1 Emergency Care in South Africa in 2008.  Since then, Dr. Shimelis has been leading and organizing different bird watch activities and research as well. He has published several articles, and book chapters on birds. He has published a book known as  “ Birds of the Lake Tana Area, Ethiopia” in 2013; and recently, a book which was published in Springer  “ Social and Ecological System Dynamics: characteristics ….” During his carrier, he has conducted bird guiding and research in the country as well as in South Africa, Germany, Belgium, and Senegal at various times. He did his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in birds. Dr. Shimelis is a member of the African Birds Club, IUCN-Crane Specialist group member, ICF-Research Associate, Biological Society of Ethiopia and other local Conservation associations.

The Crane Tours Ethiopia will provide a special magnificent Bird watching and Nature Trekking tour based on the BirdLife South Africa Birding Code of Ethics, and taking the culture and the law of Ethiopia into consideration.  In addition to bird identification, our company provides the overall description of birds based on social, cultural and ecological interaction at local level in a professional manner.

The Crane Tour Company office is located in the heart of the Nile River, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, but it works and organizes all over Ethiopia. The local guides at each birding route and trekking places are encouraged.