Ethiopia has been very forward-looking in its provision of national park areas and there are at present nine national parks and three sanctuaries within the country that have been designated as protected areas for wildlife. These 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.
Awash National Park
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 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.
BIRDING IN AWASH NATIONAL PARK The birds in Awash are so numerous; over 350 species are recorded for the park. 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.
Bale Mountains National Park
Bale Mountains National Park located southeast Ethiopia, covers about 2,200 square kilometers of the Bale Mountains to the west and southwest of Goba in the Bale Zone.it is gate way for thrilling wildlife and stunning scenery.
The Bale Mountains, with their vast moorlands – the lower reaches covered with St. John’s wort- and their extensive heath land, 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-kilometer Bale Mountains National Parke was to the survival of the mountain nyala, Menelik’s bush buck and the endangered Ethiopian wolf. This wolf 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.
Abiyata-Shalla Lakes National Park
Abiyata -Shalla Lakes National Parks is located 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.
There are over 400 bird species recorded here, almost half the number recorded for the whole country. Although the islands in Lake Shalla are a real bird’s paradise, the birds fly to Lake Abijatta to feed. Abijatta itself is very alkaline but shallow, so flamingos 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 flamingos gather here, together with great white pelicans and a wide variety of other water birds.
Besides of the rich Bird life, some mammals can be spotted at the Lake Abijatta-Shalla National Park, especially Grant’s gazelle, Oribi warthog and the Golden Jackal.
Hot springs: The headquarters houses a small museum, which gives an excellent idea of the wealth of bird life in the park. 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 primeval 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.
Mago National Park
MAGO National Park located in the South Ethiopia some 782 kilometers south west 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 Ari,Banna, Bongosso, Hammer, Kwegu, Mursi Peoples.
Mago National Park is one of Ethiopia’s top safari destinations for wildlife’s ; The Mursi tribes and other tribes also offer cultural tours which will enhance your experience in Mago National Park boast the highest variety of your Safari with diversity.
Nechi Sar National Park
Nechi Sar National Park Situated 510km south of Addis near the town of Arba Minch, in between Lakes Abaya and Chamo.
A wide variety of plains game roams freely amongst 514m2 of savannah, dry bush and groundwater 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 it very accessible. In the far eastern part of the park hot springs bubble to the surface.
Omo National Park
Omo National Park Located in the south-west on the west bank of Omo River, 870km south-west of Addis Ababa, covering an area of approx 4,068 sq km
Wildlife found in this park include, buffalo, elephant, giraffe, cheetah, lion, leopard, zebra, kudu, hartebeest, oryx, Anubis baboon and many other animals. Over 306 species of birds can be seen.
This is also a wonderful area for visiting local peoples and experiencing their cultures.
The park is not easily accessible. The park HQ is 75km from Kibish settlement. However, a new airstrip is available close to the HQ and to a pleasant campsite on the Mui River.
Semen mountain national park
Semen mountain national park The Semien Mountains are a must for all those interested in wildlife, scenery and spectacular landscapes, the Park has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. One hundred 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 4,520 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
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, Ethiopia wolf 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 mountain retreat.
Maximum temperatures during the day are about 15o Centigrade (60o Fahrenheit). At night the temperature usually drops to 3 – 5 o C (35o -40o F).
Gambela National Park
Gambela natonal Park Located in Gambela Region, its 5061 square kilometers of territory is encroached upon by cotton plantations and refugee camps.
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. These are Ethiopia’s true tropical zone and here are found all the elements of the African safari, enhanced by a distinctly Ethiopian flavor.
The general topography of the Park is flat, with some areas of higher ground where deciduous woodland and savanna occur; these higher areas are often rocky with large termite mounds. About 66% of the area is considered shrubland, 15% is forest, while 17% has been modified by man. Gambela National Park also supports extensive areas of wet grassland and swamps where the native grasses grow over 3 meters in height.
The Gambela Park protects two species of endangered wetland antelopes: the White-eared Kob and the Nile Lechwe. Other wildlife reported as living here include populations of elephant, African Buffalo, lion, roan antelope, tiang, Lelwe Hartebeest, olive baboon, and guereza monkey. Several birds only found in this area include the shoebill stork, the Long-tailed Paradise Whydah and the Red-throated and Green Bee-eaters.
Yangudi Rassa National Park
Yangudi Rassa National Park Located in the Afar Region, its 4730 square kilometers of territory include Mount Yangudi near the southern border and the surrounding Rassa Plains, 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 and the Issas, 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 in 1977 in specific to protect the African Wild Ass, but the steps needed to officially establish this park have not been completed as of 2002. The park headquarters are in Gewane. large animals endemic to the park include Beisa Oryx, Soemmering’s and Dorcas gazelle, gerenuk and Grevy’s zebra Bird species of interest include Phoenicopterus minor, Petronia brachydactyla and Ardeoti arabs The Awash- Asseb highway crosses the Yangudi Rassa National Park, as does the Awash River.