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National Parks and Sanctuaries of Ethiopia2018-09-09T20:28:41+00:00

The Rift valley is a deep fault in the earth’s crust that runs for over 6,000km from the Middle East to Mozambique, and is host to a magnificent series of lakes, the lakes are teeming with fish and inhabited by a myriad species of birds.

The 887 km2 Abiatta Shalla Lakes National Park is bordered to the east by the main Moyale road. Although the two lakes are separated by a mere 3km wide stretch of hilly land, they could not be more different in character.

Shalla, the southern lake, lies in a sheer sided 266m deep crater and its surface is studded with a collection of small vocalically founded islands.

Abiatta by contrast, consists of a large, brackish pan, nowhere more than 14m deep, surrounded by tightly cropped grass flats exposed over the last couple of decades by a steady drop in its water level. In the park around lakes Abiatta and Shalla it is possible to see Flamingos, Pelicans, Cormorants, Ibis, Marabou stork and many other species of birds. Nearby,

Lake Langano is a vacation resort with pleasant beaches dotted with acacia trees; the water is colored volcanic pink and is safe for swimming.

Awash National Park is located 225 km east of Addis Ababa, the Park stretches 30km east to west and a little less from north to south. The terrain is mainly acacia woodland and grassland.

Wildlife:
At all places 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 inhabits 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.

Birdlife:
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 greater 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.

Attraction:
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.

Access:
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.

The Babille Elephant sanctuary, which is located south of the town of Babille. The sanctuary is 6,982 square kilometers (4,329 square miles), and it sits at an altitude of 1,000-1788 meters (3,280-5,865 feet).

The sanctuary consists of semi-arid, open woodland and contains an unknown number of mammals, including black-maned lion, kudu, and wild ass. It was created for the protection of the endemic sub-species of the elephant, Loxodonta africana orleansi, which are a rare sight due to the fact that, aside from being small in number, they are shy and rarely expose themselves in the open. Babille is also home to the hot thermal springs, used to supply much of eastern Ethiopia with bottled mineral water.

Bale Mountains National Park is an area of high altitude plateau that is broken by numerous spectacular volcanic plugs and peaks, beautiful alpine lakes and rushing mountain streams that descend into deep rocky gorges on their way to the lowlands below.

Bale Mountains National Park is an area of high altitude plateau that is broken by numerous spectacular volcanic plugs and peaks, beautiful alpine lakes and rushing mountain streams that descend into deep rocky gorges on their way to the lowlands below.

As you ascend into the mountains you will experience changes in the vegetation with altitude, from juniper forests to heather moorlands and alpine meadows, which at various times of year exhibit an abundance of colorful wildflowers.

Bale Mountains National Park is the largest area of Afro-Alpine habitat in the whole of the continent. It gives the visitor opportunities for unsurpassed mountain walking, horse trekking, scenic driving and the chances to view many of Ethiopia’s endemic mammals, in particular the Mountain Nyala and Ethiopian Wolf, and birds, such as the Thick-billed Raven, Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged Goose, and Rouget’s Rail.

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 1? and minus 5? 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.

The Mountains are most famous as home and refuge of the endemic Mountain Nyala and Ethiopian Wolf. 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.

Chebera-Churchura National park was established in 2005.

Location
Chebera-Churchura National park is found within the western side of the central Omo Gibe basin, in between Dawro zone and Konta Special Woreda of the Southern National Nationalities People Regions, Ethiopia. The park is located about 330 & 460 km southwest of Awassa (Hawassa) & Addis Ababa, respectively. It covers an area of 1215 km2 that ranges in altitude form 700 to 2450meter above sea level.

Drainage
The Park is fortunate in possessing numerous rivers and streams and four small creator lakes (Keriballa, Shasho, Koka) which are reason for the rich wildlife resources of the area. Zigina River is rises from the north east highlands of the area and cross the central part of the park(north to south) and feeds the Omo River ( there are also different perennial rivers feeding Omo River crossing the park). Shoshuma River is rises from the northwestern highlands of the Konta area highlands cross the northeastern part of the park and mixed with Zigina River inside the park, which go down together to Omo River.

Topography
The prominent topographic features is unique & highly attractive and characterized by unique and highly heterogeneous and hilly terrain, few flat lands and highly undulating to rolling plains with incised river and perennial streams, valley and gorges.

Access
Access to arrive Chebera-Churchura National park is not a problem. One can reach to the park following either the Addis-Jima-Ameya road or Addis-Shashemene-Sodo-Waka-Tocha. The internal park road is under study however there is some 80 km rough dry weather road crossing the western sides of the park and show the entire park view or it is also possible to trek inside the park following foot paths avilable in the park but with help of local Guide.

Wildlife
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. Currently, CCNP appears to be the least disturbed and reliable ecosystem for the African elephant and Buffalo in the country.

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.

The Park & surrounding area also has different natural and cultural attractions such as different hot and cold springs, lakes and caves.

Gambella National Park is a remote and swampy park established primary to protect population of two endangered wetland antelopes whose range is restricted to this part of Ethiopia and adjacent regions in southern Sudan. The park has never been fully protected, the area does support significant though shrinking populations of Elephant, Buffalo and Lion, as well as Roan antelope, Tiang, Lelwel hartebeest, Olive baboon and Guereza monkey. Several interesting birds inhabit the Gambella National Park, notably Ethiopia’s’ only population of the elusive and weird looking Shoebill Stork. Other interesting and unusual species found in the park include the country’s entire population of the localized Lelwel hartebeest, Paradise Whydah, the lovely Little green bee eaters, as well as Black-faced Fire Finch, Red-necked Buzzard, Egyptian Plover, and several localized but drab Cisticolas and other Warblers.

Mago National Park is in South Omo Zone, 35km south-west of Jinka, the administrative centre of the Zone.
The Mago River flows through the centre of the park and joins the Neri River at Mago swamp, before continuing southwards as the Usno to join the Omo River. The river, which is 760 km long, originates in the central, south-western highlands of Ethiopia, where it is known as the Gibe. Its final destination is Lake Turkana, close to the Kenyan border.

Proclaimed in the 1960, the 2,162 km2 Mago National park is bisected by the Mago Rivers which flow into the Omo in the park’s southern boundary. Although Mago National Park share some 5km of its southwestern boundary with Omo National Park, the protected areas effectively form one ecological unit.

The altitude at the edge of the park is 400 m. To the east are the Mursi Hills, rising to over 1,600 m. North of the Neri river are the Mago mountains with the highest point, Mt Mago, at 2,528 m. The south-eastern quarter of the park is crossed by many small streams and rivers. The headquarters for the park are by the Neri River, near the entrance from Jinka.

The main habitats of the park and surrounding area are the rivers and riverine forest, the wetlands of Mago swamp and Lake Dipa, the bush land, savanna grassland and open grassland on the more level areas, and bush land and scrub on the sides of the hills. Open grassland comprises just 9% of the area, the rest of the area being described as very dense. 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, Bongoso, Hamer, Karo, Kwegu, Male and Mursi peoples. A number of these groups live beside the river and make extensive use of its natural resources and its levees to grow crops.

Location
Maze National Park is one of the wildlife conservation areas known for its good population of the critically endangered endemic Swayne’s Hartebeests population and located 460km and 235 south west of Addis Ababa and Hawassa, respectively, in Gamo-Gofa Zone.

Drainage
The Park is fortunate in possessing a number of rivers and streams which ultimately drains to Omo River. The name of the park derived after the largest river that crosses the park called Maze River.

Wildlife
The Park is covered by savannah grassland with scattered deciduous broad leaved trees as well as Riverine association along the main watercourses. The Wild animal of the Maze National Park supports a wide range of savannah species. So far 39 larger and medium sized mammals and 196 birds’ species have been recorded. It is one of the three sites in the world where good population of the endemic Swayne’s Hartebeest’s population still survive. Besides, orbi, Bohor red buck, buffalo, warthog, bushbuck, waterbuck, greater kudu, lesser kudu, bush pig, Anubus baboon, vervet monkey, lion, leopard, wild cats, serval cat are among others .common species.

Access
The road from Sodo to the park is all-weather gravel road covering a distance of 83km. It is also possible to use the road from Jinka to Betomela form the other sides of the park.

Scenic value
The landscape of Maze National Park is surrounded by interesting high rugged mountain ranges, escarpment, and small hills. The landscape is breathtaking and important for sustainable eco-tourism development. The Maze National Park and the surrounding area have different natural, cultural and historical attractions such as Bilbo Hot Springs, Wenja Stone Cave, “Kaouwa Wella”(Yeniguse Warka),

Bilbo/Halo Hot Spring: is situated at the upper parts of Maze River in the park. It is a form of geyser, which shoot up hot water from deep inside the ground. The smoke released from this hot spring, cover wide area and seen from a distance. People from far areas and local people used it as traditional medicine.

Wenja Stone Cave: Natural rock cave that can hold up to 300 people. According to legends, in the past, the site was used to punish criminal/ unlawful member of the community.

Religious Site in Chosho Market: There are two oldest big trees in Chosho Market. These trees are believed as justice giving (court) by the locals’ residence for any disagreement that may arise among them. The site is locally called “Kaouwo welloa” meaning the king’s tree.

Nechi Sar National Park (Amharic for white grass) is located near Arba Minch town, named after the white grass that covers the undulating Nechi Sar plains, hosting the lakes Abaya and Chamo.

Nechi Sar National Park is in eastern Gamo Gofa Zone. The zonal capital, Arba Minch, is on the western border of the park. Arba Minch is 510 km south of the capital Addis Ababa and 279 km south-west of the regional capital Awassa. Nechi Sar is named after the white grass that covers the undulating Nechi Sar plains and contrasts with the black basalt rocks of the Amaro Mountains to the east, and the black soils of the plains.

This 750 km2 National Park was established in 1974, and it is among the most beautiful game reserves in Africa set in the Rift Valley at an altitude of 1,000-1650m, the Park protects not only the easterly Nech-Sar “white grass plains for which it is named, but also portions of lake Chamo and Abaya and the mountainous bridge of God” that lies between the two lakes. Nech-Sar National Park is the wide Varity of animals and 350 bird species have been recorded.

The most common large mammal here is Burchell’s Zebra, which is regularly seen in herds of two or more you should also see grant’s gazelle and, with a bit of luck, one of the 100 odd resident Swayne’s hartebeest. Lion, cheetah and even Africa world dog are present and Guenther’s dik-dik and greater Kudu, Crocodile, Hippo and Waterbuck are frequently seen from the view point over Lake Chamo. Acacia birds such as rollers, Sparrow weavers and Starlings are well represented, and Nech-Sar seems to be particularly good for Raptors

Around 15% of the park comprises portions of Lakes Abaya to the north and Chamo to the south. The water of Lake Abaya is always brown or red-brown, in contrast with Lake Chamo which has strikingly blue water and white sandy beaches. The park also covers the neck of land between the lakes which supports groundwater forest. At the foot of Mt Tabala in the south-east there are hot springs. The altitude ranges from 1,108m at the shore of Lake Chamo to 1,650m on Mt Kalia in the north-east.

The main habitats of Nechi Sar National Park are the lakes, their shorelines, the groundwater forest and connecting river, the dry grassy plains, thick bushland and the wooded valleys and foothills of the Amaro Mountains. Most of the park is covered in bush land, which is thick and impenetrable in places, the taller trees.

The forest between the two lakes and by the Kulfo River is dominated by Ficus sycamorus up to 30m tall. This same area supports a number of shrubs and scramblers, but few herbs on the forest floor. The freshwater swamps at the mouth of the Kulfo River and in Lake Chamo are dominated by Typha angustifolia, tall waterside grasses, e.g. Saccharum spontaneum, and the small leguminous trees, Sesbania sesban and the legume Aeschynomene elaphroxylon.

Omo National Park is on the west bank of the Omo River in the lower Omo valley. The park is 140 km long, stretching from the Neruze River in the south to the Sharum plain in the north, and up to 60 km wide where the Park Headquarters are situated. Major land features include the Omo River on the east, the Maji Mountains and the Sharum and Sai plains in the north and west, and the Lilibai plains and Dirga Hills to the south.

There are three hot springs, and the park is crossed by a number of rivers, all of which drain into the Omo. The important Mui River crosses the middle of the park. Much of the park is at 800m above sea level but the southern part by the Neruze river drops to 450m. The highest peak in the Maji Mountains is 1,541m. The edges of the Omo River, which borders the park along its length to the east, are covered by close stands of tall trees.

A well-developed shrub layer combined with woody and herbaceous climbers provides dense cover along the edge of the river which, however, is frequently broken by incoming streams and the activities of the local people and animals (particularly Hippo). Away from the river edge, dense stands of Euphorbia tirucalli abound, the canopies shading standing water long after the rains have abated. The park also embraces extensive open grasslands interspersed with stands of woodland species, and bush vegetation.

The park is home to the Surma, Mogudge and Dizi peoples, with the Bume (yanyatong) making much use of areas in the south and the Mursi crossing the Omo River from the east. These people are pastoralists and hunter-gatherers, but also cultivate a few crops on the river levees, and make extensive use of the river resources. They hunt wild animals for meat, skins and items to sell, in particular elephant tusks. The lower Omo valley as a whole, including Omo and Mago National Parks, is one of the least-developed in terms of modern-day investments.

The poor road network in the region is perhaps one reason why the area has stayed intact. This has assisted in delaying the destruction of the lifestyles of the people who live there as well as the balance of natural resources on which they depend. The track from Jinka in the east to the edge of the Omo River is only accessible in the dry season (August – February). Another track, from Maji to the Omo National Park on the west, is almost impassable and is mostly used only by Omo National Park vehicles and a few other adventurous visiting groups.

Omo National Park was established to conserve the areas rich wildlife and develop the area for tourism. However, the potential of the Omo River (between the two parks) for recreation and tourism activities has not been fully realized. Since the mid-1970s, the National Parks Omo to the west and Mago to the east of the river have not been able to attract many visitors, largely as a result of the communication barrier created by the Omo River and the very poor tourist facilities in the parks. This is now being remedied.

The current bird list for the park is 312 species. The riverine forest along the Omo River is important for several different bird groups, including herons and egrets, kingfishers, barbets, chats and thrushes, woodpeckers, pigeons, shrikes, warblers and flycatchers. Pale arctic species, especially waders, are fond of the hot springs at Illibai.

This sanctuary was created to save the most viable population of the Swayne’s Hartebeest- an endemic and endangered subspecies.

Location: the sanctuary is situated 300km south of Addis Ababa on the Arbaminch road. The coordinate is found between N7o10’and E38o20’, with the altitude ranges 1500-2,300m asl.

Rainfall: the area receives an average of 1,116mm rainfall annually.

Ecological zone: Rift valley

Vegetation type: Savanna grassland and bush land

Major wildlife species: include the endemic Swayne’s Hartebeest; Bohor Reedbuck, Oribi, Greater Kudu.

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 1500m. The park is home to some extremely rare animals such as the Gelada baboon, the Ethiopian Wolf and the Walia ibex, a goat found nowhere else in the world.

The Simien mountain massif is one of the major highlands of Africa, rising to the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dejen (4543m), 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 Ethiopian Wolf. The Ethiopian Wolf, 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.

It was primarily established to protect Ethiopian Bush crow, White-tailed Swallow; and other wildlife of greatest significance.

Location: it is located in Borena Zone, some 550km south-east of Addis Ababa on the way to Moyale. The altitude ranges between 1000-1,500m asl. The area is situated within the coordinates of N10o45’ and E40o45’.

Rainfall: the area receives an average of 760mm rainfall annually.
Ecological zone: South-east lowland
Vegetation type: Savanna grassland and bush land
Major wildlife species:
Endemic mammal:
 Swayne’s Hartebeest

Endemic birds: Ethiopian Bush crow, White-tailed Swallow, Degodi Lark, Sidamo longclawed Lark, Salvadori’s Serin and Yellow-throated Serin

This roughly 5000 km2 National Park consists of mount Yangudi and the surrounding Rassa plains, and it harbors the only existing population of the African wild ass, a critically endangered species ancestor to the domestic donkey. Other large Mammal species survive in Yangudi Rassa, notably Beisa oryx, Soemmering’s and Dorcas Gazelle, Gerenuk and possibly Grevy’s Zebra. A good selection of dry country birds is resident in the area. The Arabian Bustard is a special and Ostriches are frequently observed.