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Ethioipia National Parks Ethiopia has 9 national parks. The protective parks are complemented with about 100 other national protective areas with different protective status. The Simien-national park belongs to the world nature heir of UNESCO. Ethiopia National Parks Simien Mountains National Park Simien Mountains National Park – Massive erosion over the years on the Ethiopian […]

Ethioipia National Parks

Ethiopia has 9 national parks. The protective parks are complemented with about 100 other national protective areas with different protective status. The Simien-national park belongs to the world nature heir of UNESCO.

Ethiopia National Parks

Simien Mountains National Park

Simien Mountains National Park – Massive erosion over the years on the Ethiopian plateau has created one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 meters. The park is home to some extremely rare animals such as the Gelada baboon, the Simien fox and the Walia ibex, a goat found nowhere else in the world.

In some places rain has eroded the more recent rocks, exposing the original rocks. Nowhere is this more prominent – and stunning – than in Ethiopia’s northern Simien region. This was the epicentre of much volcanic activity about forty million years ago, and the resulting outpouring of a boiling mass of white-hot lava reached a thickness of some 3,000 metres (9,840 feet) in this area before it stopped. Subsequent erosion of this volcanic core has produced the dramatic highs and lows of the Simicns: deep precipices and gorges, tall pinnacles of jagged rock, and weird, withered landscapes.

The region includes many summits above 1,000 metres (13,0001 feet), and culminates in the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dashen, which at 4,5-13 metres (14,901 feet), is also Africa’s fourth highest mountain. It is not a difficult mountain to climb and can be reached by travelling through the Simien Mountains National Park.

The base from which to explore the small, 179-square-kilo-metre (111-square-mile) park is Debark, 748 kilometres (464 miles) north-west of Addis Ababa and 101 kilometres (63 miles) north of Gondar.

The first thing any visitor must do is rent pack and riding animals and hire guides for the six-hour trip into the park. Although it helps to inquire in Addis Ababa before you leave concerning dealers and current prices, the hiring of guides, mules, and muleteers is done through the national park head-quarters.

As the only ‘motorable’ dry weather road in the park – up to Sankaber Camp – is not always in good condition, transport of the four legged variety is by far the more reliable means of getting around.

Suitable clothing for extreme temperatures are needed as the diurnal swing is considerable. Waterproof clothing is also necessary, as are a hat and sunscreen lotion: at these altitudes the sun can burn fiercely. Water is available from the various streams but should be treated. It is wise to remember that the main luggage is loaded on mules for the day, so the day’s needs should be carried in a separate pack.

There are various campsites and tracks to follow and it is best to take the advice of the guides. The topography of this park will remain in the mind forever. Climbing up from Debark on mules, through extensive farmland, the visitor is unanawre of the dramatic scenery about to unfold. The land forms various small plateaux, and the edges of these plunge dramatically to the lowlands to the north and east. The gorge edges form a perfect habitat for the animal that the park was set up to protect – the Walia ibex.

Generally the first stop is Sankaber Camp, a trek that leads mainly through cultivated areas to the 3,230-metre (10,600-foot) campsite. From this point, visitors can walk to the edge of the abyss, where they may get their first glimpse of the spectacu¬lar scenery. Much of the vegetation has been altered by humans over the years and few trees will he seen in the area except the introduced eucalyptus. But in inaccessible areas, such as the escarpment, natural habitats are preserved and plants such as St. John’s wort and heather arc seen as small trees or bushes, and many smaller herbs form carpets of colour. Among these are many species of Alchemilla, the tall spikes of various ‘red-hot pokers’, and carpets of small blue lobelia flowers.

Probably the easiest animal to see in this area is the endemic gelada baboon, which grass eaters and will often be seen in family units, one male guarding his harem of females and young-ones. They are also known as the ‘bleeding heart baboons’ from the red areas on the chest that show the sexual stale of the animal. The klipspringer may be seen on rocky areas, its hooves specially adapted to leaping from rock to rock. The small grey duiker inhabits any area where there is enough cover to protect it from enemies.

Though named after this area, the Simien fox, also referred to as the Simictl jackal or Ethiopian wolf, is now very rare here,with only about thirty animals remaining. They are more common in Bale Mountains National Park in the south. Its high-pitched call may be heard at night, and its bright red coat is distinctive if seen during the day. It feeds on the many species of rodents found here.

The animal most visitors wish to see is the Walia ibex. Ibis member of the wild goat family has magnificent heavily ndged horns sweeping back over the shoulders. The Walia live On the crags of the steep escarpment, their hooves clinging to the smallest ledge.

The birds here often provide spectacular acrobatic displays off the sheer cliffs, using the air currents peculiar to the terrain. Lammergeyers and choughs are present, as well as endemics such as the thick-billed raven, black-headed siskin, white-col¬lared pigeon, wattled ibis, white-billed starling, spot-breasted plover, and white-backed black tit.

From Sankaber, the track leads through meadows, forests, and some cultivated areas to Geech, a three- to three-and-a-half-hour trip by mule. Geech, at 3,660 metres (11,800 feet), is worth a stay of at least two days: there are several good lookout spots where one may see Walia, gelada, and klipspringcr, and breath¬taking views from nearby peaks.

From Geech to the next stopping-off point, Ch’enek, the journey takes another two-and-a-half to four hours, and trekkers may have to dismount and walk part of the way where the climb is steep. The Ch’enek campsite offers superb views, and there are many places to see Walia ibex. There are also caves to evnlore. and this is the only place in the park where — if extremely lucky – one can see rock hyrax, the small mammal that looks like an overgrown guinea pig hut is distantly related to the elephant.

After Ch’enek, the traveller usually returns to Sankaber (three to four hours) and then Debark (five to six hours). But if arranged in advance, more extensive trips can be made to Buahit, at 4,437 metres (14,550 feel), which is outside the national park; Ras Dashen, Ethiopia’s highest peak at 4,543 metres (14,901 feet); and the lowlands. Three game scout camps exist in the lowlands at Dirni, Muchila, and Adermas; but a trip here is a real expedition and recommended only for the more hardy people able to walk under tough conditions and cope with rock climbing. A trip from Ch’enek along the foot of the escarpment to the Wolkayit Pass and Debark lasts about five to seven days

Nechisar National Park

Nechisar National Park is situated 510km south of Addis near the town of Arba Minch, in between Lakes Abaya and Chamo. From the town on the ridge of land that divides Abaya and Chamo there are commanding panoramic views all around, including both lakes with Nechisar on the eastern side and, to the west, the Guge range of mountains. The outstanding beauty of the neck of land between the two lakes has earned it the sobriquet of’Bridge of Heaven’. The equally poetic Arba Minch – meaning ‘forty springs’ – takes its name from the bubbling streams which spring up amid the undergrowth of the luxuriant groundwater forest that covers the flats beneath the town. This alluring area is considered one of Ethiopia’s last great surviving wildernesses.

A wide variety of plains game roam freely amongst 514 km2 of savannah, dry bush and ground water forest, which are also the habitat of 188 recorded species of birds. Animals to be seen are Bushbuck, Swayne’s Hartebeest, Burchell’s Zebra, Grant’s Gazelle, Guenther’s Dik-dik, Greater Kudu, Crocodile, Anubis Baboon, Grey Duiker. Birds seen include Red-billed Hornbill, Grey Hornbil,l Fish Eagle, Kori Bustard, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill. A backdrop of hills and mountains combine to make this one of the most attractive national parks in Ethiopia, and its location makes Nechisar Park very accessible. In the far eastern part of the Nechisar park is hot springs bubble to the surface.The shores and islands of Abaya and Chamo are populated by farming peoples such as the Ganjule and the Guji, both of whom also have ancient traditions of hippo hunting. The Guji ply the Lake Abaya waters in elegantly curved high-prowed ambatch boats similar to those depicted on the tombs of Egyptian phar-aohs. Made of extremely light wood, an ambatch is capable of transporting several cattle at one time and is sufficiently sturdy to withstand any attack by crocodiles, which are present in large numbers – and large sizes – on both lakes.

The vivid contrasts of the Nechisar National Park will linger long in your memory – a swathe of white grass against the backdrop of clearly defined, deeply cut hills and mountains. From the escarpment on which Arba Minch stands you look down on the clear blue waters of Lake Chamo and the sandy beaches of its northern shores, covered by crocodiles lounging in the sun.

To the north of Nechisar National Park, Lake Abaya’s surface is a startling contrast of dark red, caused by the suspended load of ferrous hydroxide in its waters. At the base of the escarpment is a large area of groundwater forest around the Kulfo River, as well as the ‘forty springs’ after which Arba Minch is named. The western edge of the Rift Valley forms an impressive backdrop to the west. Within the forest are shy, chestnut-red bushbuck, the comical bushpig, troops of Anubis baboons, and vervet monkeys.

The most commonly seen creatures of Nechisar’s bush and savannah are two extremes of antelope: the large greater kudu, with its spectacular spiral horns and white-striped flanks, and the minuscule Guenther’s dik-dik.

At first sight the Nechisar plains, which you encounter as you leave the peninsula between the two lakes, seem surprisingly empty. But dotting this apparently endless sweep of golden white grass are herds of Burchell’s zebra, which mingle with Grant’s gazelle and an occasional Swayne’s hartebeest, an endemic subspecies. Also seen are black-backed jackal and African hunting dog.

The many and varied bird species reflect the different habitats within the Nechisar park. As well as their crocodiles and bird life, lakes Abaya and Chamo are famous for their sport fishing potential, especially for Nile perch – often weighing more than 100 kilos (220 pounds) – and for the fighting ‘tiger fish’.

Awash National Park

Located at the southern tip of the Afar Region, this park is 225 kilometers east of Addis Ababa. The south boundary of the park is formed by the Awash river which swings north soon after leaving the park and eventually disappears into the Afar (Danakil) region. The Park covers an area of 827 square kilometers, most of it lies at an altitude of 900 meters. In the middle of the park is the dormant volcano of Fantale, reaching a height of 2007 meters at its top.

It is one of Ethiopia’s most popular and interesting national parks. One of the advantage of the Awash National Park is that it is easily reached from Addis Ababa, located on the main Addis-Assab highway, which bisects the park. The main road from the town of Melehara leads to the park headquarters and the campsites, both of which are situated near the dramatic Awash Falls where the river enters its gigantic gorge.

The park is traversed by a series of well-maintained tracks, which take in the most spectacular of the many scenic attractions. One of the main features is the Fantale volcano, on the southern flank of which can be seen the dark scar of the latest lava flow of 1820. The mountain slopes hold evidence of sixteenth-century habitation, seen as remains of walls and settlements of considerable proportion. The interior of the mountain-top crater — with its wispy white breath of steam vents — is still used by the local people, the Kereyu, for grazing livestock on a seasonal basis.

Another feature of the park arc the hot springs in the extreme north. The water of these springs and rivers is in the region of 36°C (97°F) and is used by the local people to water stock.

The plains to the south of the main road are excellent for animal viewing and are bordered to the south by the Awash Gorge, Plunging 250 metres (820 feet) to the river. The western end of the Gorge is marked by the Awash Falls, which can vary in intensity from a murky reasonable flow to a raging chocolate-coloured torrent, depending on the rainfall and the activity of the hydro-electric scheme above it.

Awash’s wildlife reflects its dry nature:. The Beisa oryx inhabits many of the more open areas, and greater and lesser kudu the bushed areas. Soemmerring’s gazelle have distinctive white rumps and are often seen with the oryx. A small population of the endemic sub-species Swaync’s hartebecst was translocated here and occupy the grass plains. The liny Salt’s dik-dik appears frequently under the dry acacia bushes and Defassa waterbuck arc seen in the bushy river area. There are two species of baboon — the Anubis and the hamadryas. Though each has very different social structures, they hybridize near the river. Other monkeys are colobus in the riverine forest, and grivet in drier areas. Fan tale crater provides a different habitat, supporting mountain reedbuck and klipspringer. Croco¬dile and hippopotamus splash in the Awash River and in the cooler parts of the springs and rivers in the north. Lion, leopard, serval, caracal, and wildcat are all seen infrequently.

The birds are numerous, more than 300 species on record. The campsites are an excellent place to sight birds. There, above the quiet murmur of the river, one can hear the exuberant chatter of greenwood-hoopoes, the rollicking duel of red-and-ycllowbarbets, or the soft lament of the emerald-spotted wood dove — to name only a few. Carmine bee-eaters manoeuvre over the water, homing in on their airborne prey.

There are several bustard species in the park and secretary birds in the grass plains. The raptors are represented by Fish eagles, tawny eagles, lanner and pygmy falcons, black-shouldered kites, and dark chanting goflfmwky. Ree-eaters and kingfishers provide splashca of colour, as do rollers. Ostriches roam the plains and the- immense lammergeyer soars above Fantale searching for bones to smash.

Bordering the park, a twenty-eight-kilometre (17-mile) stretch Of the Awash River offers a superb one- or two-day rafting trip — if the water level allows it — featuring lots of spirited rapids, wildlife, and impressive rugged cliffs and side canyons. The trip starts at the Awash Falls and ends at the beach below the town of Awash Station, with an optional overnight at a small hot springs sacred to the Kercyu people

OMO NATIONAL PARK

The Omo National Park – one of the Ethiopia’s largest and richest nature sanctuary and yet one of the least visited areas in East and Central Africa. Located on the west bank of the Omo River, the park covers approximately 4,068 square kilometers, about 870 kilometers southwest of Addis Ababa. The Mago National Park, is located on the eastern bank of the Omo river. Although an airstrip was recently built near the park headquarters on the Mui River, this park is not easily reachable

Both parks can offer incredible spectacles of big game. Both have the merit, also, of being far from the beaten track and virtually unexplored, and thus are places in which game can be seen in a truly natural state.

Most easily accessed from the town of Jinka, Mago National Park is mainly savannah, with some forested areas around the rivers It was set up to conserve the large numbers of plains animals in the area, particularly buffalo, giraffe, and elephant. Also seen here are topi and lelwel hartebeest, as well as lion, leopard, Burchell’s zebra, gerenuk, and greater and lesser kudu. The birds are also typical of the dry grassland habitat, featuring bustards, hornbills, weavers, and starlings. Kingfishers and her-ons feed in and around the Neri River, which provides an alternative habitat.

Although adjoining Mago, the large and beautiful Omo National Park has been hardly visited in the last two decades, as getting there has been so difficult. The only access to the park is via Omo Rate, by ferry to the west bank of the Omo River, and north to the border settlement of Kibish, where an unmaintained seventy-five-kilometre (46-mile) track leads to the Omo Park headquarters. However, the long-neglected route from Mui River up to Maji, tenuously linked to the town of Jimma, is being worked on. When this road is passable, a drive from Jimma – besides being extremely interesting in itself – will bestow the reward of visiting this truly wild and untamed area. There is virtually no tourist infrastructure within the park and little support for travellers.

The Omo and Mago parks are extensive wilderness areas and wildlife can be prolific: large herds of eland and buffalo, elephant, giraffe, cheetah, lion, leopard, and Burchell’s zebra. Lesser kudu, lelwel hartebeest, topi, and oryx are all resident species, as well as deBrazza’s and colobus monkeys and Anubis baboon. The 306 bird species recorded include many that will be familiar to East African visitors.

The lower reaches of the Omo river were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, after the discovery (in the Omo Kibish Formation) of the earliest known fossil fragments of Homo sapiens, which have been dated circa 195,000 years old

MAGO NATIONAL PARK

Located about 782 kilometers south of Addis Ababa and on east bank of Omo river, the 2,162 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. The park has about 200km internal roads, which lead to the different attractions sites of the park. All roads to and from the park are unpaved.

Most easily accessed from the town of Jinka, Mago National Park is mainly savannah, with some forested areas around the rivers. It was set up to conserve the large numbers of plains animals in the area, particularly buffalo, giraffe, and elephant. Also seen here are topi and lelwel hartebeest, as well as lion, leopard, Burchell’s zebra, gerenuk, and greater and lesser kudu. The birds are also typical ofthe dry grassland habitat, featuring bustards, hornbills, weavers, and starlings. Kingfishers and her-ons feed in and around the Neri River, which provides an alternative habitat.

The major environments in and around the Mago 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 park’s perhaps best known attraction are the Mursi, known for piercing their lips and inserting disks made of clay.

Bale Mountains National Park

Bale Mountains National Park is 2,400 square kilometres (1,488 square miles) in area, covering a wide range of habitats and ranging in altitude from 1,500 to 4,377 metres (4,920 to 14,357 feet), southern Ethiopia’s highest point. The spectacular Harenna escarpment running from east to west divides the area into two major parts. To the north is a high-altitude plateau area, formed of ancient volcanic rocks and dissected by many rivers and streams that have cut deep gorges into the edges. In some places this has resulted in scenic waterfalls.

The vegetation here varies according to altitude. Around Dinsho, in the north, there arc grass riverine plains, bordered by bands of bushes, particularly sagebrush and St. John’s wort. Wild flowers, such as lobelia, geraniums, ‘red-hot pokers’, and Alchemitta, form carpets of colour. Higher up the mountains heather appears either as small bushes or as mature trees. The high Sanetti Plateau, at 4,000 metres (13,120 feet), is characterized by Afro-alpine plants, some coping with the extreme temperatures by becoming small and others by becoming large. The best example of the latter is the giant lobelia, whose stems stand high against the skyline.

Wild flowers are many and various, the dominant plant being the Helichrysum, or ‘everlasting’ flowers. The everlastings can be seen in many forms, but the grey bushes of H. splendidum are most striking, especially when covered with their yellow flowers. The vegetation on the plateau has to contend with tile ludtiy species of rodents found here.

The southern part of the park is heavily forested after the land falls away from the: high plateau in a dense heather belt. The heather forest is particularly mature here, draped with many lichens.

The wildlife of Bale includes many endemic species. The park was originally established to protect the mountain nyala and the Simien fox (or jackal), which, despite its name, is more frequently seen in Bale than in the Simien Mountains National Park. The mountain nyala are best seen in the Gavsav area of the north where they spread out over the grass plains. Other wildlife in this area includes Menelik’s bushbuck. an endemic sub¬species in which the males are a very dark colour, numerous Bohor reedbuck, grey duiker, warthog, serval cat, colobus monkey, and Anubis baboon.

The high plateau is noted for the Simien fox, whose chestnut-red coat is in strong contrast to the grey vegetation. It preys on the numerous species of rodent found here, the biggest being the giant mole-rat. This subterranean animal, endemic to the Bale Mountains, can weigh as much as one kilo.

The forest of the south is so thick that animals are difficult to see, but there are three species of pig here – warthog, bushpig, and giant forest hog. There are also lion, leopard, spotted hyena, and, rarely, African hunting dog, which is normally found in a much more open habitat.

Bale’s birds include sixteen endemic species, many of which are easily seen. These include wattled ibis, black-winged love¬bird, blue-winged goose, Rouget’s rail, and thick-billed raven. Wattled cranes are often seen breeding on the high plateau in the wet season.

There are three ways to explore the Bale Mountains National Park: by four-wheel drive vehicle, on foot, or on horseback – although the park is best suited for walking, being a mountainous and fragile environment.If you choose to drive, there are nevertheless a few roads and tracks that can he negotiated with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

A good area to explore first is Gaysay, which provides a good morning’s or afternoon’s wildlife watching and should not be missed by any visitor. Gaysay guarantees every visitor a chance to see the endemic mountain nyala in considerable numbers – as many as 400 have been seen here in a single afternoon. In addition, there are numerous grey duiker, warthog, and Menelik’s bushbuck, with beautiful jet-black males. Colobus, serval cat, and baboon are sometimes seen as well. On very rare occasions leopard are sighted, and sometimes a pair of the endemic Simien fox. Birds abound, especially in the forest, and are usually heard if not seen.

Another spectacular drive is from Goba south to Dolo-Mena, across the eastern section of the national park and the Sanetti Plateau. This is the highest all-weather road in Africa and crosses the 4,000-nietre (13,120-foot) contour through some of the loveliest mountain scenery on the continent that can be viewed from the comfort of a vehicle. It is even possible (but fust check with rangers as to road conditions) to drive to the top of Tulhi Deemtu – Ethiopia’s second-highest mountain at 4,377 metres (14,357 feet).

The road climbs up from Goba through beautiful juniper and Hagenia forest and is lined with the orange-blossomed Leonotis. The forest gives way to giant St. John’s wort woods — a narrow zone soon succeeded by heather moorlands. Then you are out of the forest and into the open, the mountains proper. Vistas reach out to the strange pinnacles of Chorchora Peak on the left – one of the park boundary markers — and across the sheer-sided Tegona River Gorge on the right.

Another steep zigzag climb across heather- and scrub-cov¬ered slopes leads to the plateau through portals of weird five-metre (16-foot) tall columns of giant lobelia. The plateau is studded with numerous shallow alpine lakes, with views to the steep-sided volcanic plug of Konteh Tullu to the south and the long, craggy ridges of Mount Batu – 4,203 metres (13,786 feet) – to the west.

The road continues climbing, gently now, past Crane lakes at the base on Konteh. This is the centre of the best area for seeing Simien fox and, on rare occasions, mountain nyala. The spec¬tacular views can be even more awe-inspiring if you take the steep climb to the top of Konteh or the longer climb to the domed Tullu Deemtu summit to the west of the road soon after.

The main road continues south to the edge of the Harenna escarpment before descending through a scries of breathtaking hairpin bends. The initial heather scrub gives way after a few kilometres to Ungenia, heather, and St. John’s wort forest; later-merging into lush Poaocarpus forest: enormous trees covered with mosses, ferns, and ‘old man’s beard’ lichens. This continues down the small Rira escarpment, where, looking back, one can see the tall Gjiurule rock towers, their tops often shrouded in cloud and mist. Around their base is glorious mixed forest with bamboo and many clear, sparkling streams that are the source of the Shawe River, which the road later crosses before it suddenly ends, almost 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Goba.

The Bale Mountains park boundary lies shortly before you cross the Shisha – a small tributary of the Yadot River. The forest gives way abruptly to dry, lowland wooded grasslands at about 1,600 metres (5,250 feet). About ten kilometres (six miles) later the little village of Dolo-Mena is reached. Here, on a market day, one will be treated to the surprising sight of camels – so soon after leaving the alpine conditions of more than 4,000 metres (13,120 feet).

Dolo-Mena is is 10 kilometres (68 miles) from Goba, but a reasonable undertaking for a day’s drive is from Goba to the plateau’s southern edge, with perhaps a descent of the escarp¬ment into the forest below, followed by a return to Goba. Agood campsite exists at Katcha, after Rira on the left of the road, along a track to a quarry. This is a good base for walking in the bamboo forest and for exploring the Gujurule volcanic plugs.

A third track leads south from the park headquarters, crosses the interesting natural bridge over the Danka River, and runs beneath cliffs to the edge of the Web River Gorge. It ends in a broad, flat valley, from where it is an easy walk to the beautiful Finch’Abera waterfall.

Other ‘supreme attraction’s in Bale include the thirteen mountain streams and many ice-cold tarns that teem with fat and beautiful brown and rainbow trout. Stocked with fry from Kenya in the 1960s, these fish have flourished in the mountain waters and offer a challenge few fly-fishers could resist. Notable among the many options are the pools below the Upper Web falls and the long, placid stretches where the river flows, green and cryclear, across the moorlands. The self-help lodge at Dinsho is the Bale Trout Fishing Club headquarters.

Maze National Park

Maze National Park is a recently established National Park in the Region. The park derives it name after Maze River that traverses through its length. It was established in 2003 after several surveys and studies were carried out. Prior to 2003, Maze served as a hunting area for Swayne‟s Hartebeest and Buffalo. It is a small park with an area of 2,020 ha and located 473 and 248 kms from Addis Ababa and Awassa respectively. Altitude ranges from 1000 to 1200 meter above sea level. The rainy season extends from March to September and rain is estimated to be between 800 to 1600 mm per annum. While the area has 38 species of mammals, major wildlife includes Swayne‟s Hartebeest and Buffalo. To date, 138 bird species have been recorded for Maze.

Abijatta-Shalla Lakes National Park

Situated in the Great Rift Valley, only 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Addis Ababa, and in the Lake Langano recreational areas, the Abijatta Shalla lakes National Park attracts numerous visitors. Using Lake Langano as your base, it is an easy trip to visit the National Park, which is 887 square kilometers in size, 482 of these being water.

The altitude of the park ranges from 1540 to 2075 meters, the highest peak being mount Fike, situated between the two lakes. The network of tracks in this park is always developing. At present you can enter at four different points, three of which are inter connected. Approaching from Addis you first reach the Horakello entrance, where the small Horakello stream flows between lakes Langano and Abijatta.

It was created primarily for its aquatic bird life, particularly those that feed and breed on lakes Abijatta 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.

Abijatta and Shalla are both terminal lakes but very different in nature. The surrounding area is mainly acacia woodland, some of which is very degraded by man. Lake Abijatta is a shallow pan, only fourteen metres (46 feet) deep, and its level fluctuates periodically, caused in part by human activity but often by natural phenomena as yet not fully understood. The beaches are unstable and saline, and vehicles must not venture too close as there is a very real danger of sinking.

Lake Shalla, by contrast, is, at 260 metres (853 feet), Ethiopia’s deepest Rift Valley lake, possibly the deepest lake in Africa north of the Equator. It is an exceptionally beautiful and still largely un¬touched stretch of water, with several hot springs that bubble up by the shore and flow into the lake.

The sides are steep and rocky — often right down to the shore. Although swimming is considered safe, it may feel strange: the water’s colour is like cold tea and there is a high concentration of salts, making it feel soapy. Few fish are found in this lake.

The park was created for the many aquatic bird species that use the lakes, particularly great white pelicans and greater and lesser flamingo. Shalla’s islands are used as breeding sites by many birds, and is home to the continent’s most important breeding colony of great white pelicans. Because of the lake’s lack of fish, the birds fly to Lake Abijatta — which has no islands — to feed. Other birds include white-necked cormorant, African fish eagle, Egyptian geese, various plover species, and herons. Although renowned for its bird life, Abijatta is now outclassed by Lake Awasa farther to the south.

Local mammals are not numerous but include Grant’s gazelle — the northern limit for this species — greater kudu, oribi, warthog, and golden jackal

Gambella National Park

Gambella National park is located 850 km west of Addis Ababa. It was established as a protected area in 1973 to conserve a diverse assemblage of wildlife and unique habitats. Although not technically in the Rift Valley, Gambella National Park lies along another of the country’s important rivers: the Baro. Near the town of Gambella, Gambella National Park, is one of Ethiopia’s least developed parks and has no facilities. Nevertheless, the large conservation area contains many species not found elsewhere in the country, such as the Nile lechwe and the white-eared kob. Roan antelope, topi, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, and the unusual whale-headed stork are also to be found here.

Originally the park was created for protection of extensive swamp habitat and ts wildlife. Located on the Akobo river system, it hosts several wildlife not found elsewhere in Ethiopia. The banks of the baro are rich in birdlife and thus give visitors an extra advantage. With its total area of approximately 50,600 hectars, it is the largest protected area in the country. Its northern boundary is formed by the Baro River. To the south of the park isthe Gilo River flows from Gog to Tor in a northwesterly direction.

The landscape of Gambella is low and flat with altitude ranging from 400 to 768 masl. The average altitude is around 500 meters above sea level.

The people of this area are the Anuak and the Nuer. Mainly fisherfolk – but also cattle herders – the Anuak and Nuer are extremely handsome, with dark, satiny complexions. Both men and women favour a style of decorative scarification on the chest, stomach, and face; and often boast heavy bone bangles, bright bead necklaces, and spikes of ivory or brass thrust through a hole pierced in the lower lip and protruding down over the chin.

Unaffected by the ways of the modern world, these interesting people remain as remote, unchanged, and beautiful as the land in which they live.

 Kafta-Shiraro Wildlife Park

Kafta-Shiraro is located in western Tigray, With its 500,000 ha area, it is one of the largest conservation areas in Ethiopia. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Shiraro in the east, Wolkaite in the south and Humera in the west. Within Tigray it is positioned in the woredas of Kafta-Humera and Tahtay-Adiabo. While the main river is the Tackazee, it is fed by a number of riverst that orginate in the Simen Mountains and highlands of Wolkait. Elevation ranges from 550 masl on the edge of Tackaze River 1800 masl on the highlands of Kafta. The agro-climatic zone is identified as Qolla with an inclination to semi-arid. Vegetation communities within the reserve include Acacia-Commiphora,combretum-Terminalia, dry evergreen montane woodlands and riparian types. The site has a mono-modal pattern of rain with high peaks in May and early September. Preliminary records show that the site conserves 42 mammalian and 95 avian species. Major wildlife conserved include Ostrich, Aardvark, Elephant, Greater kudu, Roan Antelope, Red-fronted Gazelle, Caracal, Leopard and Lion.

Yangudi Rassa National Park

Yangudi Rassa National Park is located in the Afar Region, its 4730 square kilometers of territory include Mount Yangudi near the southern border, with altitudes from 400 to 1459 meters above sea level. Sandy semi-desert and wooded grassland cover the majority of the park’s area. This Park lies between the territory of the Afars tribe and the Issas tribe, and while violence has been frequent between them, most of the park happens to be in an area where they avoid each other. As a result, most of the active protection of the Park is focused on managing their conflict.

This national park was proposed to protect the African Wild Ass. Recently, the Wild Ass went extinct in Yagundi Rassa. However, there is a small population in the adjacent Mile-Serdo Wild Ass Reserve (8,766 km²). The park headquarters are in the town of Gewane. Large animals native to the park include Beisa Oryx, Soemmering’s gazelle, gerenuk and Grevy’s zebra.  Bird species of interest include Phoenicopterus minor, Petronia brachydactyla and Ardeotis arabs.

A large part of the park is composed of extensive grasslands and thickets. With an average altitude of 500 masl, the climate of the park is hot and dry for a larger part of the year. It has an estimated area of 5,400 sq km and is covered with grasslands, bush and thorn thickets. Besides these major habitats, dry river beds, rocky hills and sandy semi-deserts formmicro-habitats. Thickets are largely composed of Acacia mellifera and A. nubica. The Awash River forms its western boundary where better vegetation growth can be observed. Temperature can rise to 42 – 43 ºC in the shade. Rains are bi-modal with the main rainy season extending from October-December. An erratic pattern of rainfall is expected from August to September. The park is in a major flyway for migrant birds coming from the northern hemisphere from September to January. In this respect, the Awash River plays a critical role sustaining the lives of millions of southbound sojourning birds.

Alatish National Park

Alatish is a newly established national park that is located in Quara woreda of Northern Gondar Zone. It was established in 2006 and derives its name from the Alatish River that has its source in the park and flows in a westerly direction to the Sudan. The park shares its boundaries in the south with Benishangul – Gumuz Regional State, in the west with the Sudan, in the east with Bembaho Kebele, in the northeast with Gelego Kebele and in the north with Mahdid Kebele.

It covers an area of 266,570 ha composed of lowland woodlands. Landscape at Alatish is flat with elevation ranging from 520 to 920 meter above sea level. There are a few hills in the eastern and north-eastern parts of the area. The twin mountains of Amdog are a special feature in the southwestern corner of the park. The soils of Alatish are composed of sandand gravel. Some sections of the area have bedrocks that impede the infiltration of water into the aquifer. These areas provide suitable habitat for seasonal wetlands, which in turn are productive habitats for birds, fish and other wildlife.

Agro-ecologically, the park is classified as dry kola with annual rainfall ranging between 500-1500 mm. The boundaries of the park were defined in 1998 but were redefined with the participation of local communities in 2004. The vegetation of the park is classified asCombretum-Terminalia broad-leaved deciduous woodland. Dominant grass species include Cymbopogon spp., Hyperhenia filipendula, Echinochloa sp, Pennisetum spp. There are 26 larger mammals (excluding rodents) and 143 recorded bird species. The ornithology of the area requires more investigation but estimates based on habitat diversity show that there could by anything between 250-400 species of birds representing various status. Alatish is found in an arid and semi-arid ecological zone. It forms an ecotone between the high mountains of the Simen and the Sahel zone in the Sudan. As a result, the biological attributes of the park are believed to be diverse and rich. Alatish also has a number ofhistorical and cultural assets. Of these, a large Baobab tree at Omedla and the ethnic composition of the area made up of Felata and Gumuz communities are important tourist attractions.

Geraille National Park

Gerale National Park (also called Gerale National Park) is a new park and it lies in Liben Zone in the Southwest part of the Somali National Regional State. In Liben Zone, it is located in the eastern part of Moyale Woreda. It is about 900 km southeast of Addis Ababa and 120 km northeast of Moyale. The park cover around 38,580 ha of the total 104,230 ha of area of the Dawa ecosystem. The area encompasses what used to be previously known as the Borana Controlled Hunting Area in Southern Ethiopia. The Park was proposed to conserve various savannah wildlife including rare animals like, Giraffe, African Elephant and even the Black Rhinoceros. Although local people claim to have seen the latter visits to the area have proved otherwise.

Gerale has low human population density but is relatively rich in wildlife resources. Altitude ranges from 800 meter above sea level on the banks if the Dawa River to 1380 masl on top of the escarpments. The Dawa River forms important surface water feature for this arid site. The Dawa forms its boundary on the eastern and northeastern side while the Day escarpment is found on the west. The villages of Karaya, Sororo, Gelgelu are located to the south and south east of the park. The whole area is found within a semi-arizd zone and is characterized by prolonged dry season lasting up to seven months. A bimodal rain pattern is apparent with peaks from September to November and from April To June. The mean annual rainfall for Moyale is 503 mm. The area is typically Somali-Masai and the dominant vegetation type is Acacia-Commiphora. Major woody plants include Acacia mellifera, A. brevispica, A. oerfata and various Commiphora spp. Habitats include grasslands, wodded grasslands, open shrubland, thickets, riparian woodlands and exposed sand/soils. At least 36 species of larger mammals have been identified including bats. Major wildlife conserved includes Beisa Oryx, Grant’s Gazelle, Gerenuk, Lesser Kudu, and Guenther’s Dikdik, Avifauna is rich as well and a provisional list for the area has 164 recorded species.

Vegetation – Mostly the vegetation composition is made up of small trees and shrubs, which are 3-4 m in height. The dominant species include Acacia mellifera, Acacia oerfata, Acacia brevispica and several species of Comifora species. The area is also characterized by grassland, open shrub land, dense shrub land, dense bush land, wooded grassland and riparian woodland/bush land. The dominant grass species include Ischamum species and Chrysopogon species. The area is generally rich in floral diversity as in the case of other parts of the Somali-Massai biome-East African evergreen vegetation type. 

Chebera Chorchora National Park

Chebera Chorchora National Park is a newly established National Park located in Konta Woreda, Dawro Zone. It is 480 km south of Addis on the Addis–Jimma-Chida-Ameya road. It has a total area of 11,900 ha and elevations range from 500-2000 masl. This park used to be part of the Kulo KontaControlled Hunting Area specifically set to hunt Elephants. The decline of Elephants in Africa and the need to conserve a representative area where this species could be protected in Ethiopia is a leading objective for its establishment. It was upgraded to the status of a national park in 2005 after deliberations and discussions with the local community. Rainfall ranges from 1200 mm to 2300 mm per annum and temperature ranges from 10 to 29 0C. Wet seasons are from March to September and the dry season extends from December to February. Four major vegetation zones, grasslands, woodlands, mountain forests and riverine forests, have beendescribed for the area. Dominant woody vegetation includes Ficus spp., Combretum spp., Ehertia spp and Albizia spp. The natural forests have non-timber forest products of economical value including Coffee, Coriander and Piper sp. Chebera Chorchora provides refuge to 37 species of larger mammals. Besides Elephants, the park has populations of Buffalo,Greater Kudu, Defassa Waterbuck, Lion, Leopard, Serval Cats, Hippopotamus and Warthog. It also has 140 species of birds of which 5 are endemic to the country.

Unique features – So far, 37 larger mammals and 237 species of birds have been recorded in the different habitats (Highland & Rverine forest and savanna and bush lands) of the park. White-cliff chat, banded-barbet, wattled ibis, black-headed forest Oriole and thick billed Raven are endemic birds for the country. Common mammals include the African elephant, hippopotamus, Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard. The Zigna River, several lakes, waterfalls including a hot spring form hydrological features in the park. The Zigna River is an important tributary of the Omo River. The presence of natural caves is an added attraction.

Scenic value – This park is one of the relatively untouched, recently discovered and rich wilderness areas but the list visited and known park in the country. The park comprises unique and attractive mountain closed forest, closed tall-grassed savannah habitat, thick woodland forest. The landscape very fascinating highly rugged, undulating to rolling plains there a number of hilly & mountainous land which the whole year covered by vegetations. A number of cold & hot springs, historical caves, the Meka Forest (which is always with African Elephants). The park is the best site to see the African Elephants, and Buffalo.

 

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