National Parks

Awash park, Abiyata shalla national park, Bale national park, semien national mountain park, Omo national park, Nech Sar national park, Gambella national park, Mago national park,

Ethiopia is also a land of natural contrasts, from the tops of the rugged Simien mountains to the depths of the Danakil Depression, at 120 meters below sea level one of the lowest dry land points on earth. The cornucopia of natural beauty that blesses Ethiopia offers an astonishing variety of landscapes: Afro-Alpine highlands soaring to around 4,300 meters, deserts sprinkled with salt flats and yellow sulphur, lake lands with rare and beautiful birds, moors and mountains, the splendor of the Great Rift Valley, white-water rivers, savannah teeming with game, giant waterfalls, dense and lush jungle the list is endless.

There are nine national parks and three sanctuaries in ETHIOPIA. Most parks are designed to create at least one stronghold for endemic mammals. The semien and Bale parks are famous as trekking destination, though wild life could be seen easily without much hiking. Bale and awash national parks are considerable sites for birders.

Ethiopia's many national parks enable the visitor to enjoy the country's scenery and its wildlife, conserved in natural habitats, and offer opportunities for travel adventure unparalleled in Africa.

Abiyatta Shalla Lakes National Parks situated in the Great Rift Valley, only 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Addis Ababa, and in the Lake Langano recreational areas, the Abiyatta Shalla lakes national Park attracts numerous visitors. It was created primarily for its aquatic bird life, particularly those that feed and breed on lakes Abiyatta and Shalla in Large numbers. The park compresses the two lakes, the isthmus between them and a thin strip of land along the shorelines of each. Developments have been limited to a number of tracks on land, and the construction of seven outposts. While attention is focused on the water birds, the land area does contain a reasonable amount of other wildlife.

Two different lakes:
Two different lakes: The two lakes are very different in character. Abiyatta is shallow at about 14 metres (260 metres (853 feet) and is calculated to hold a grater volume of water than all of the Ethiopian Rift valley lakes put together. Abiyatta is surrounded by gentle, grasscovered slopes and swathed in acacia woodlands. Shalla exudes a sense of mystery and foreboding, surrounded as it is by steep, black cliffs and peaks that reflect in its deep waters, which are liable to be whipped up by sudden storms and flurries of wind. It contains nine small, is located islands, rarely visited since there are no boats on the lake. These islands provide an excellent breeding ground for many bird species.

Abijatta itself is very alkaline but shallow, so flamingoes can be seen scattered over most of its surface, and especially along the windward edge where their algal food source concentrates. You can approach quite closely, but beware of treacherous deep and mud if the lake is low. Large numbers of boat grater and lesser flamingoes gather here, together with great white pelicans and a host of other water birds.

From here you can see other parts of Lake Abiyatta and some mammal species, especially Grant’s gazelle, warthog and occasionally the Oribi.

Hot springs:
The headquarters houses a small museum, currently being upgraded, which gives an excellent idea of the wealth of birdlife in the park. There are over 400 species recorded here, almost half the number recorded for the whole country, A further track leads on from Dole to the shores of Lake Shalla where hot steam, mud and water bubble to the earth’s surface. Revered locally for their medicinal properties, the hot springs have a sense of primaeval mystery about hem, especially in the cooler early mornings.They are relics of the massive volcanic activity that has formed this amazing country and landscape.

There is no accommodation in the park but lake Langano, which lies just over the main road marking the boundary, has two reasonable hotels on its shores, the Wabe Shebelle and the Bekelle Mola, from which all parts of the park are easily reached. It is possible to camp at the hoe springs and further south of the track east of Shalla, leading to be the Dedaba River and outpost.

Other Attractions
In association with the Abiyatta Shalla Lakes National Park is Senkello Swayne’s hartebeest Sanctuary, some 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the town of Shashemene, and close to the Chike entrance of the park. The sanctuary was established for this endemic subspecies of the hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus swaynei) which once roamed the plans of Somalia and Ethiopia in thousands, but is now restricted to four small localities in Ethiopia. The sanctuary is small but well worth a visit. Set beneath a small rounded hill, over 2,000 of these rich, chocolate coloured hartebeest are packed into this area of wooded grassland, along with bohor reedbuck (Redunca Redunca), Oribi and many different species of birds.

Awash National Park is the oldest and most developed wildlife reserve in Ethiopia. Featuring the 1,800-metre Fantalle Volcano, extensive mineral hot-springs and extraordinary volcanic formations, this natural treasure is bordered to the south by the Awash River and lies 225 kilometers east of the capital, Addis Ababa. The wildlife consists mainly of East African plains animals, but there are now no giraffe or buffalo. Oryx, bat-eared fox, caracal, aardvark, colobus and green monkeys, Anubis and Hamadryas baboons, klipspringer, leopard, bushbuck, hippopotamus, Soemmering's gazelle, cheetah, lion, kudu and 450 species of bird all live within the park's 720 square kilometers.

At all places and all times it is possible to see game: Oryx, Soemmerring's gazelle and wild pig are common. Slightly less frequent are the furry waterbuck which tend to appear near the river in the late afternoon. The tiny dik-dik, not easy to spot in the speckled shade of the acacia thorn, zebra grazing the plains to the west of Fantale, cheetah, serval and leopard are also there but it is not easy to spot them; baboons, both anubis and hamadryas, kudus, lesser and greater, the giant tortoise, hippo, reedbuck, aardvark and caracal are also represented. Klipspringer inhabit the higher slopes of the mountain and curious hyrax peer at you curiously from behind their rocks. In the bottom of the gorge you can spot the black and white colobus monkey.

Over four hundred species are recorded for the park: (The check list is available at the museum at park Head quarters). They range from the great ostrich, frequently and easily observed, and the less common Secretary Bird and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, to the flashes of brilliant pink which are the Carmine Bee-eaters, and the Abyssinian Roller with turquoise and purple, wings. And between these two extremes, birds of the riverine forest, Coucal, Turaco, Go-away Birds; birds of prey; and birds of the savannah.

The park itself is traversed by a series of well-maintained tracks, which take in the most spectacular of the many scenic attractions. It is possible, and perhaps advisable, to hire a park guide.

To the north at Filwoha lies the hot springs oasis in its groves of palm trees. It is reached by either one of two scenic tracks which start opposite the main gate on the far side of the road and bearing right, progress either along the floor of the Awash Falls lower Valley or along the top of the ridge.

The Awash river gorge in the south of the park has some spectacular waterfalls near the park headquarters.

Less than three hours' drive from Addis Ababa, or one and a half from Nazaret is the Awash National park and Game Reserve. The main entrance is at the 190 km. mark and you have already passed the park boundary as you crossed the railway track just before Fantalle Crater, which rises 600 m. from the valley floor on the left. At this point there is a track to the left and it is possible to drive either up to the crater rim or right round the park to the hot springs although the road is such that the prospect will not tempt everyone. It is probably wiser to enter the main gate first and travel comfortably down towards the Awash River which constitutes the southern boundary of the park. Here is park Headquarters, sited near the dramatic Awash falls where the river enters its gigantic gorge.

A small bar and museum are conveniently near the camping site. The main lodge is several kilometres away across the IIala Sala plains: perched on the very rim of the gorge are several luxurious air-conditioned caravans and just on the edge, a restaurant and small swimming pool.

The Bale Mountains, with their vast moorlands - the lower reaches covered with St. John's wort- and their extensive heathland, virgin woodlands, pristine mountain streams and alpine climate remain an untouched and beautiful world. Rising to a height of more than 4,000 meters, the range borders Ethiopia's southern highlands, whose highest peak, Mount Tullu Deemtu, stands at 4,377 meters.

The establishment of the 2,400-square-kilometre Bale Mountains National Park was crucial to the survival of the mountain nyala, Menelik's bushbuck and the Simien red fox. This fox is one of the most colorful members of the dog family and more abundant here than anywhere else in Ethiopia. All three endemic animals thrive in this environment, the nyala in particular often being seen in large numbers. The Bale Mountains offer some fine high-altitude horse and foot trekking, and the streams of the park - which become important rivers further downstream - are well-stocked with rainbow and brown trout
The Bale Mountains rise from the extensive surrounding farmlands at 2,500 m above sea level to the west, north and east. The National Park area is divided into two major parts by the spectacular Harenna escarpment that runs from east to west.

North of this escarpment is a high altitude plateau area at 4,000 m altitude. The plateau is formed of ancient volcanic rocks (trachytes, basalts, agglomerates and tuffs) dissected by many Rivers and streams that have cut deep gorges into the edges over the centuries. In some places this has resulted in scenic waterfalls. From the plateau rise several mountain massifs of rounded and craggy peaks, including Tullu Deemtu the second-highest mountain in Ethiopia at 4,377 m above sea level. (Ras Dashen, near the Simien Mountains National Park in the north is the highest - 4,543 m). A major part of the central peaks area is covered by a capping of more recent lava flows, still mainly unvegetated, and forming spectacular rock ripples and pillars. Many shallow depressions on the plateau are filled with water in the wet season, forming small lakes that mirror the surrounding scenery. Larger lakes such as Garba Guracha ("black water"), Hora Bachay and Hala Weoz, contain water all year round. These many lakes provide habitat for water birds, especially migrating ducks from Europe during the northern winter.

Best time to visit
The climate of the Bale Mountains, as is to be expected in a high altitude mountainous region, is characterized by a high rainfall and periods of damp cloudy weather, interspersed with periods of sparkling sunny weather with brilliant blue skies.
The climatic year can be roughly divided into three seasons -the dry, early wet and wet seasons. The dry season is usually from November to February. Very little rain is experienced and temperatures on the clear sunny days may rise to as high as nearly 30° centigrade. Nights are star-filled, clear and cold, usually with heavy ground frosts. Temperatures may fall between minus 6° and minus 15° centigrade in the main peak area of the Park. This is the best period to visit the National Park, especially for walking and horse trekking in the high mountain area. The vegetation can get very dry in the dry season, and fires must then be very carefully tended.
The early wet season lasts from March to June, and about two-thirds as much rain falls in this period, as in the wet season from July to October. Throughout these eight months, days are generally cooler and nights warmer than in the dry season. Despite the wetter weather, the area can still be enjoyed with adequate warm and weatherproof clothing. Bright sunny periods may be experienced at any time. Snow has been recorded, but does not lie around for very long.
South of the Harenna escarpment, the land falls precipitously to a large area of dense Podocarpus forest, that slopes gradually down to an altitude of 1 500 m at the southern Park boundary. A few kilometres further on the land changes.abruptly to open wooded grasslands, with higher temperatures and the surprising sight of camels in the area of Dolo-Mena.
Grassland has formed at the forest altitude near Dinsho and at Gaysay. This is partly due to the action of man, but mainly at Gaysay through impeded drainage and marshy conditions. These grasslands include large areas of the scrubby aromatic "sagebrush " plant (Artemesia afra) -a staple foodplant of the Mountain Nyala, and the grey-green leaved "everlasting" flower (Helichrysum splendidum), which produces papery bright yellow flowers early in the wet season at this altitude. The heather zone is often burnt in an attempt by pastoralists to obtain more grassland. As a result the size of the heather (mainly Erica arborea) varies greatly -from thirty centimetre recent regrowth to five metre tall mature trees. Mature heather trunks and stems are usually lichen and moss covered and the frequent mists also support a lush dense growth beneath them of wildflowers and grasses.

Wildlife-The mountains are most famous as home and refuge of the endemic Mountain Nyala and Semien Fox. Both these mammals occur in reasonable numbers, and visits to the Gaysay area, and the Sanetti plateau will ensure you see both. The Mountain Nyala is a large antelope in the spiral-horned antelope family. Males are a dark brown colour with a pair of gently spiraled horns with white tips. They bear handsome white markings on the face, neck and legs, together with usually at least one stripe and some white spots on each side. The hornless females are a lighter brown colour, and typically have the same white markings as the males, though less often have stripes, but normally have spots on the sides. Males can weigh as much as 280 kilos, stand one and a half metres at the shoulder, and have a mane of long erectile hairs along the spine. Females weigh less and have no mane.

. Semien Fox-The Semien Fox -despite its name, is more common here in Bale than it is in Semyen. It is found nowhere in between these two isolated mountain areas, and nowhere else in the world. The animal is the size and colour of a European Red Fox, but with long legs, longer muzzle, and a striking black and white tail. The male and female are similar in appearance. Semien Fox feed on rodents, and as a result are mainly found at the higher altitudes where rodents abound. The Sanetti Plateau is an especially good area to see them, but they do occur in higher parts of the mountains, as well as down at Gaysay on rare occasions. They are usually seen hunting alone, but can be seen in pairs, and after the breeding season as many as eight adults and cubs have been seen together. The Semien Fox hunts their prey by standing still over the rodent holes, patiently listening, turning their head and ears from side to side, and suddenly pouncing when a rat emerges.
Rats, mice, etc, are not usually considered "wildlife" by most visitors! However, in the Bale Mountains they are an extremely important part of the ecosystem.
Monkeys-Only three primate species have been found in the Bale Mountains National Park so far. The Guereza, or black and white Colobus Monkey, is common wherever there is suitable forest habitat. Several troops are on the flanks of Gaysay Mountain and the Adelay ridge, and they are very common in the Harenna forest area.

Birdlife-The Bale Mountains possess many habitats rich in birds, particularly the Harenna Forest which has been little studied. More than one hundred and sixty species of birds are known from the Park area.
Amongst the endemics, the more commonly seen only are mentioned here. The Blue-winged Goose and Rouget's Rail are found near any water be it stream or high mountain lake, at all altitudes. The noisy Wattled Ibis occurs in most muddy places busily probing for food with its long curved bill. Large numbers roost on high, cliffs in the mountains every night. The beautiful Spot-breasted Plover is found in large numbers in the wet season on the Sanetti Plateau, and large flocks of the White-collared Pigeon feed on the ground here at the same period. The weird-Iooking Thick-billed Raven is a denizen of most villages, and usually finds your camp at any altitude. The colourful little green and red Black-winged Love-birds are seen in large numbers in the forest areas, while the larger Yellow-fronted Parrot is less often seen in the same habitat. The strident ringing calls of the shy Abyssinian Catbird betray its presence in forest. Close observation in the Gaysay grasslands and beside the main road will reveal the Abyssinian Long claw -a drab little bird, but with a smart yellow bib. The high plateau is characterized by large flocks of the little black and yellow Black-headed Siskin.

The Bale Mountains, rich in streams and little Alpine lakes, provide food and security for unusual water birds such as the Ruddy Shelduck and the tall elegant Wattled Crane. Many European ducks and waders pass the dry season in the mountains, before returning to Europe, as do several birds of prey such as the Steppe Eagle and Kestrel. Probably the most common and friendly bird at all altitudes is the little drab but cheery Mountain Chat - puffed up like a round feathered ball in the icy dawn, hopping from tussock to tussock as he investigates you. One of the largest and most spectacular birds is the Lammergeier also called the Bearded Vulture or Bone-breaker. This enormous bird with its over-two-metre wingspan is often seen soaring alone over suitably high cliffs and rock outcrops, while splintered bone fragments, even on the top of Tullu Deemtu and Mt. Batu tell of its presence. Wherever you go in Bale there are birds to watch, and generally unusual ones to add considerably to your experience of this wonderful area.

Bale Mountains National Park is essentially a walking area. Horse treks of several days duration into the main peak area with pack and riding horses and accompanied by a guide, can be arranged through the Park authorities in Dinsho. In addition, shorter walks can be accomplished in the Dinsho area, or from anywhere along the roads and tracks mentioned above.

Horse trekking
Short riding trips can be arranged in the Dinsho area, but it is far more worthwhile to set aside at least four full days to enjoy a horse trip to the full. Arrangements are best made beforehand by letter or phone, but horses can be organized for a morning departure if requested the afternoon before. Various routes can be followed, and it is best to take the advice of your local guide from Dinsho.

Other Attractions
Sof Omar Caves
The fantastic limestone caves of Sof Omar make a day's outing from Dinsho, Robe or Goba. The road leaves Robe town, crossing the farming areas to the east, before descending into the lowlands. Here the vegetation is very different being dry lowland with wooded grasslands. The caves lie at 1,300 m above sea level. This is in marked contrast to what you will experience in the Bale Mountains at up to 4,000 m. Very different animals occur along the way as well, most noticeably the Greater and Lesser Kudu - both relatives of the Mountain Nyala, and the tiny dik dik antelope. The caves themselves carry the whole flow of the Web River that rises in the Bale Mountains, underground through wonderfully carved caverns for a distance of one and a half kilometres. There are over fifteen kilometres of associated passages, which require skill, time and special equipment for a full exploration. However, a friendly local guide will show you enough to take your breath away and make the trip worthwhile, for an hour or for as long as you care to spend. A cool dip in the clear River afterwards refreshes you for the return drive. Full details of the caves are provided in the booklet, "The Caves of Sof Omar" obtainable from the Ethiopian Tourism Commission.

Dinsho -the Park Headquarters, Robe and Goba can all be reached in a long day's drive from Addis Ababa. There are two routes -either along the Rift Valley south to Shashamenne, or through Asella. The route via Shashamenne has more tarmac, and provides the added attractions of the Rift Valley Lakes National Park - Abiatta and Shala lakes, and the Senkelle Swayne's Hartebeest Sanctuary, as well as the opportunity for an overnight stop at Lake Langano Resort.

From Shashamenne you take the road east onto the wheat-growing plateau, before climbing up into the mountains from Adaba through the beautiful Zuten Melka Gorge.

The Asella route takes you south from Nazaret across the Awash River and along the eastern wall of the Rift Valley, below the Arsi Mountains, which are to the east. Once over the pass between Mts. Kakka and Nkolo, you descend to cross the Wabe Shebele River, before reaching Dodola and joining the route into the mountains from Shashamenne.

Warm clothing is a must at any time of the year, and waterproof clothing essential between March and November, and advisable at all times. Visitors who are intending to do some walking will need sturdy shoes or boots. It must be remembered that the sun at high altitudes burns the skin easily. Hats, dark glasses and sunscreen lotions are therefore strongly recommended. Those visitors spending nights on the trail need warm sleeping bags and light tents and camping equipment. These can be provided by NTO for those trips arranged through them. Useful companions on a trip to the Bale Mountains National Park are "Endemic Mammals of Ethiopia", "Ethiopia's Endemic Birds" and the "Caves of Sof Omar" which are all published by ETC and available from NTO and bookshops in Addis. Also very useful is "Some Wild Flowering Plants of Ethiopia" by Sue Edwards.

Accommodation is not yet available in the Park area. The new Ras Hotel at Goba provides good accommodation fifty kilometres from Park Headquarters at Dinsho, and is at the base of the road leading to the Sanetti plateau and the east and Southern parts of the Park. The Bekelle Mola Hotel at Robe, (15 km north of Goba) provides motel type accommodation, forty kilometres from Dinsho on the way to Goba. Under certain circumstances camping may be allowed at the Park Headquarters. Obviously camping is allowed in the main part of the Park when visitors are horse trekking.

The Baro River area, accessible by land or air through the western Ethiopian town of Gambela, remains a place of adventure and challenge. Traveling across the endless undulating plains of high Sudanese grass, visitors can enjoy a sense of achievement in just finding their way. This is Ethiopia's true tropical zone and here are found all the elements of the African safari, enhanced by a distinctly Ethiopian flavor.
Nile perch weighing 100 kilos can be caught in the waters of the Baro, snatched from the jaws of the huge crocodiles that thrive along the riverbank. The white-eared kob also haunts the Baro, along with other riverbank residents that include the Nile lechwe, buffalo, giraffe, tiang, waterbuck, roan antelope, zebra, bushbuck, Abyssinian reedbuck, warthog, hartebeest, lion, elephant and hippopotamus.

Located about 600 kilometres from Addis Ababa on the river Baro, Gambela has a strange history. From 1902 until it was captured by the Italians in the Second World War, it was administered by the British, the only part of Ethiopia to be so governed, The reason for this is that the British opened a port there on the wide and navigable Baro River, which during four months of the rainy season is navigable and provides direct access to the sea via the Nile through Khartoum. Ethiopian coffee was exported via this route, up to 1940. Now the port has fallen into disrepair, though remains of the warehouses and jetty can be seen. At its peak, up to 40 ships would be in dock at any one time. Gambela (sometimes spelt Gambella} gives access to the GambeIa National Park. The undulating plains of high Sudanese grass offer excellent opportunities for wilderness exploration. It is not particularly easy to access however. Beyond Gambela towards the Sudanese border, the Anuak cultivators give way to the nomadic Nuer. These pastoralists herd their long-horned cattle into huge camps when they stop for the night.

In the river are to be found huge Nile perch, up to 100 kilograms, crocodiles and hippos. Other wildlife includes buffalo, giraffe, waterbuck, Roan antelope, zebra, bushbuck, Abyssinian reedbuck, warthog, hartebeest, hyena, lion and elephant. Unfortunately, there are very few animals to be seen in the park, but the birds are many and varied, the olive baboon and the local race of the vervet, with its white whiskers, are the very common, as is the black and white colobus monkey.

Bus links to Addis Ababa via Bako. (Min 2 day journey) 4 weekly flights from Addis Ababa by Ethiopian Airlines (Mon, Thurs, Fri, Sat).

All accommodation is to be found in nearby Gambela town.

Mago National Park is one of the National Parks of Ethiopia. Located in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region about 782 kilometers south of Addis Ababa and north of a large 90° bend in the Omo River, the 2162 square kilometers of this park are divided by the Mago River, a tributary of the Omo, into two parts. To the west is the Tama Wildlife Reserve, with the Tama river defining the boundary between the two. To the south is the Murle Controlled Hunting Area, distinguished by Lake Dipa which stretches along the left side of the lower Omo. The park office is 115 kilometers north of Omorate and 26 kilometers southwest of Jinka. All roads to and from the park are unpaved.

The major environments in and around the Park are the rivers and riverine forest, the wetlands along the lower Mago and around Lake Dipa, the various grasslands on the more level areas, and scrub on the sides of the hills. Open grassland comprises about 9% of the park's area. The largest trees are found in the riverine forest beside the Omo, Mago and Neri. Areas along the lower Omo (within the park) are populated with a rich diversity of ethnic groups, including the Aari, Banna, Bongoso, Hamer, Karo, Kwegu, Male and Mursi peoples.

The Mago National Park was established in 1979, making it the newest of Ethiopia's several National Parks. Its highest point is Mount Mago (2528 meters). Indigenous bird life include the extremely uncommon Turdoides tenebrosus especially at Lake Dipa, Estrilda troglodytes in the rank grass along streams and swamp edges, Phoeniculus damarensis, Porphyrio alleni, Butorides striatus also at Lake Dipa, and in riverine contexts Pluvianus aegypticus, Scotopelia peli and Cossypha niveicapilla.[1] The park's perhaps best known attraction are the Mursi, known for piercing their lips and inserting disks made of clay.

Far to the south-west lies Omo National Park, the largest in the country, with an area of 4,068 square kilometers. It is a vast expanse of true wilderness, adjacent to the Omo River, which flows southwards into Lake Turkana and is one of the richest and least-visited wildlife sanctuaries in eastern Africa. Eland, oryx, Burchell's zebra, Lelwel hartebeest, buffalo, giraffe, elephant, waterbuck, kudu, lion, leopard and cheetah roam within the park's boundaries.

The Omo Valley is virtually free of human habitation but is rich in palaeo-anthro-pological remains. According to scientific research done in 1982 by the University of California at Berkeley, hominid remains from the Omo Valley probably date back more than four million years.

Much of Africa's volcanic activity is concentrated along the immense 5,000-kilometre crack in the earth's surface known as the Rift Valley. It is the result of two roughly parallel faults, between which, in distant geological time, the crust was weakened and the land subsided. The valley walls - daunting blue-grey ridges of volcanic basalt and granite - rise sheer on either side to towering heights of 4,000 meters. The valley floor, 50 kilometers or more across, encompasses some of the world's last true wildernesses.

Ethiopia is often referred to as the 'water tower' of eastern Africa because of the many rivers that pour off its high tableland, and a visit to this part of the Rift Valley, studded with lakes, volcanoes and savannah grassland, offers the visitor a true safari experience.

The Omo River tumbles its 350-kilometre way through a steep inaccessible valley before slowing its pace as it nears the lowlands and then meanders through flat, semi-desert bush, eventually running into Lake Turkana. Since 1973, the river has proved a major attraction for white-water rafters. The season for rafting is between September and October, when the river is still high from the June to September rains but the weather is drier.
The river passes varied scenery, including an open gallery forest of tamarinds and figs, alive with colobus monkeys. Under the canopy along the riverbanks may be seen many colorful birds. Goliath herons, blue-breasted kingfishers, white-cheeked turacos, emerald-spotted wood doves and red-fronted bee-eaters are all rewarding sights, while monitor lizards may be glimpsed scuttling into the undergrowth. Beyond the forest, hippos graze on the savannah slopes against the mountain walls, and waterbuck, bushbuck and Abyssinian ground hornbills are sometimes to be seen.

Abundant wildlife, spirited rapids, innumerable side creeks and waterfalls, sheer inner canyons and hot springs all combine to make the Omo one of the world's classic river adventures.

East of the Omo River and stretching south towards the Chew Bahir basin lies the Mago National Park, rich in wildlife and with few human inhabitants. The vegetation is mainly savannah grassland and bush, extending across an area of 2,160 square kilometers. Mammal species total 81, including hartebeest, giraffe, roan antelope, elephant, lion, leopard and perhaps even a rare black rhino.

The Simien Mountain massif is a broad plateau, cut off to the north and west by an enormous single crag over 60 kilometers long. To the south, the tableland slopes gently down to 2,200 meters, divided by gorges 1,000 meters deep which can take more than two days to cross. Insufficient geological time has elapsed to smooth the contours of the crags and buttresses of hardened basalt.

Within this spectacular splendor live the Walia (Abyssinian) ibex, Simien red fox and Gelada baboon - all endemic to Ethiopia - as well as the Hamadryas baboon, klipspringer and bushbuck. Birds such as the lammergeyer, augur buzzard, Verreaux's eagle, kestrel and falcon also soar above this Twenty kilometers north-east of Gondar, the Simien Mountains National Park covers 179 square kilometers of highland area at an average elevation of 3,300 meters. Ras Dashen, at 4,620 meters the highest peak in Ethiopia, stands adjacent to the park. The Simien escarpments, which are often compared to the Grand Canyon in the United States of America, have been adopted by Unesco as a World Heritage Site. simien mountain massif is one of the major highlands of Africa, rising to the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dejen (4620m), which is the fourth highest peak in the continent. Although in Africa and not too far from the equator, snow and ice appear on the highest points and night temperatures often fall below zero.

The national park has three general botanical regions. The lower slopes have been cultivated and grazed, while the alpine regions ( up to 3600m) were forested, although much has now disappeared. The higher lands are mountain grasslands with fescue grasses as well as heathers, splendid Red Hot Pokers and Giant Lobelia.

The park was created primarily to protect the Walia Ibex, a type of wild goat, and over 1000 are said to live in the park. Also in the park are families of the Gelada Baboon and the rare Simien fox. The Simien fox, although named after the mountains, is rarely seen by the visitor. Over 50 species of birds have been reported in the Simien mountains.

Access to the park is from Debark, 101 km from Gonder, where riding & pack animals may be hired. This should be arranged in advance through your local tour operator or the Office of the Wildlife Conservation Department.

Nech-Sar National Park (NNP)
NNP is found in SNNPRS between the two Great Rift Valley lakes (Chamo & Abaya) near Arba-Minch town & located about 500 & 270km south of Addis Ababa and Hawassa, respectively.

The Park is fortunate in possessing a number of rivers, streams & lakes (Abaya, Chamo and Haro Ropi Lakes) which are reason for the rich wildlife resources of the area. Kulufo River originates from the western highlands of the area and cross the western side of the park and feeds Lake Cahmo (the largest river feeding this Lake). Sarmele River rises from the eastern highlands of the Amaro Mountains cross the eastern part of the park and mixed with Segen River out side the park, which go down together to Lake Chelbi /Estefani/ in Debub Omo.

The NNP diverse habitats and vegetation types shelter for over some 104 small, medium, and larger species of mammals, 351 species of birds and 1000 species of vascular plants. The park is known for its beautiful natural scenery and varieties of mammals and avian species. Among mammals: Burchel’s zebra, Grant’s gazelle, greater kudu, waterbuck, Guenther’s dik-dik, bushbuck, jackal, spotted hyena, leopard, lion, cheetah serval-cat, honey badger, gureza-coloubs, vervet monkey, olive-baboon, wild dog and caracal are common & conspicuous.

Among the avian the endemic Nech-Sar Nightjar and the globally threatened lesser-kestrel, lesser-flamingo and phalied-harrier are very well known. The park is very well-known for its good populations of the giant Nile crocodile population. Lake Chamo is the only site in the world to see the unique giant Nile crocodile population with herds of hippopotamus and congregation of waterfowls. The very well known crocodile market, where hundredth of giant Nile crocodile seen on the shore of lake Chamo (bask the morning and the late afternoon sun), Nech-Sar plains, the bridge of heaven (God), the Arba-Minch ground water forest and the forty springs and the two grate Rift Valley Lakes (Lake Abaya & Chamo) are typical features of Nech-Sar national park attracting many national and foreign tourists

The Park is 500km and 250 km from to the south of Addis Ababa and Hawassa, respectively. The road from Arba-Minch town (Sikela) to the park covers a distance of 1.5km. the park hav about 180km internal roads which leads to the different attractions sites of the park.

Scenic Value
The landscape of NNP is surrounded by Lakes from north and south by the chained Amaro Mountains to the east and by the escarpments of Arba-Minch town to the west.. The landscape is breathtaking and important for sustainable eco-tourism development. The following attractions are commonly visited by many national & foreign tourists and famous. These includes the forty springs, crocodile market, Arba-Minch ground forest, Arba-Minch Hot springs, the Bridges of God are attractions found in the park.
Around the park: Crocodile ranch (one governmental & one private) , Guge mountains, Dorze landscape & cultural villages, Lake Chamo & Abaya and the cultural life and social & traditional practices of the surrounding people.

Image Gallery

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“More interesting to stay longer in Omorate
Omorate tribal village and at Turkana lake , which is less touristy. Guide: very positive, attentive, considerate and helpful. Very efficient, dependable. Good attention to detail. We were well taken care. We would highly recommend Host Ethiopia Tour....”

Tourist From Australia


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Address: Addis Ababa , Ethiopia