​Expert Reviews – Senkele Sanctuary

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Ariadne van Zandbergen   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Multiple times

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

A safe haven for the endemic Swayne’s hartebeest
Overall rating

This sanctuary was set up to help protect the Swayne’s hartebeest, an endangered antelope endemic to a handful of locations in southern Ethiopia. Today, there is thought to be a healthy population of about 500 hartebeest in the park’s relatively small area and you’ll see lots of them from the short road circuit. The open grassland is also a preferred habitat for the oribi, a smallish antelope usually found in pairs. Other wildlife is less easily seen but includes waterbuck, greater kudu and jackal. If you’re keen to walk, your guide will take you cross-country to try and get close to some of the herds, which tend to keep their distance. As is the case everywhere in the country, there are lots of birds around, including some colorful endemics. There is no accommodation or even a campsite in Senkele – day visits tend to be most rewarding in the late afternoon through to sunset.

Philip Briggs   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Multiple visits

Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.

A one-trick pony
Overall rating

This small hilly reserve was created in 1976 to protect what was then the largest population of Swayne’s hartebeest, an endangered antelope endemic to Ethiopia. There are now around 500 hartebeest in the reserve and sightings are all but certain. You can also be reasonably sure of encountering the oribi, a smaller antelope that often reveals its presence with a snorting alarm call, and might also see greater kudu, waterbuck, warthog and Eurasian jackal. The checklist of 190 bird species is dominated by acacia- and grassland-associated species. Less than essential, but a worthwhile diversion, especially if you want to see Swayne’s hartebeest.

Average Expert Rating

  • 2.5/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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