Visiting African countries to see wildlife is nothing new, but all too many tourists focus on spotting the "big five" (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalos). While these animals are certainly impressive, there's so much more of the animal kingdom to marvel at — especially in Ethiopia. If you love seeing all the creatures nature has to offer, here are three unique wildlife hotspots you should visit in Ethiopia.
See Hyenas in Harar
If there's one animal Ethiopia is known for, it's hyenas — specifically, the hyenas in the ancient city of Harar. Most people know hyenas as Africa's biggest predators besides lions and vicious pack animals that attack any humans who get in their way. However, in Harar, hyenas and humans live alongside each other peacefully. The locals began feeding the hyenas long ago as part of a religious practice. Since then, it's become a way to prevent livestock attacks for the locals and a major tourist activity for travellers. Each night, the "hyena men" charge a small fee to let tourists watch them feed the hyenas outside the city walls. If you're daring enough, you can even try feeding one yourself.
See Gelada Monkeys in the Simien Mountains
A trek to northern Ethiopia's mystical Simien Mountains will bring you up close and personal with the gelada monkeys, an unusual primate species. Set against the alpine meadows, you'll see these playful baboon-sized monkeys grazing on low-lying grasses. Unlike most monkeys, the geladas — the most terrestrial of all primate species — prefer ground-dwelling to tree-swinging. Another unique characteristic of the expressive geladas is the sounds they make. Their 'speech' is varied, ranging from shrieking cries to sounds that almost mimic humans talking. These monkeys can only be found in the Simiens, so you can't miss seeing them when you're in Ethiopia.
See Birds in the Bale Mountains National Park
With over 800 species of birds in the country, it's no surprise that Ethiopia is fast becoming one of Africa's most popular bird-watching destinations. One of the best places to see them is the Bale Mountains National Park, situated in the southern highlands. This beautiful park is a great birding destination because of its multiple ecosystems, each one playing home to a different variety of species. On the plateau's high road, you can get a great view of birds of prey like golden eagles and augur buzzards. From the grasslands, you can see a variety of owls, including the Cape eagle owl and Abyssinian owl. Last but not least, Harenna Forest on the outskirts of the park is home to striking species like the Abyssinian Crimsonwing and the white-cheeked turaco.
To learn more about Ethiopian tourism, you can contact a company in your area like Travel Africa Tours.