NATIONAL PARKS OF ETHIOPIA

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 cliffs dropping some 1,500 meters. The park is home to some endemic animals such as the Gelada baboon, Mountain Nyala, the Ethiopian Wolf 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 epicenter 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 meters in this area before it stopped. Subsequent erosion of this volcanic core has produced dramatic high and low lands. The region includes many summits above 1,000 meters(13,0001 feet), and culminates in the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dashen, which at 4,513 metres , 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 park is Debark, 748 kilometers north-west of Addis Ababa and 101 kilometers north of Gondar.
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 is 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 advice. The topography of this park will remain in the mind forever. Climbing up from Sankaber on mules, through extensive farmland, the visitor is unaware of the dramatic scenery about to unfold. The land forms various small plateaus, and the edges of these plateaus 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 campsite. From this point, visitors can walk to the edge of the abyss, where they may get their first brief look of the spectacular scenery. Much of the vegetation has been changed by humans over the years and few trees will be 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 are seen as small trees or bushes, and many smaller herbs form carpets of color.

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 group 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 stalae of the animal. The klipspringer may be seen on rocky areas, its hooves specially adapted to jumping 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 Ethiopian wolf, is now very rare here. 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 ridged horns sweeping back over the shoulders. The Walia live on the edges of the steep escarpment, their hooves clinging to the smallest layer.

The birds here often provide spectacular acrobatic displays off the sheer cliffs, using the air currents peculiar to the landscape. Lammergeiers and choughs are present, as well as endemics such as the Thick-Billed Raven, Black-Headed Siskin, White-Colored Pigeon, Wattled Ibis, White-Billed Starling, Spot-Breasted Plover, and White-Backed Black Kit.

From Sankaber, the track leads through meadows, forests, and some cultivated areas to Geech, a 3-4 hour trip by mule. Geech, at 3,660 meters, is worth a stay of at least two days: there are several good lookout spots where one may see Walia Ibex, Gelada, and Klipspringer, and breathtaking views from nearby peaks.
From Geech to the next stopping-off point, Ch’enek, the journey takes another 3-4 hours, and trekkers may have to descend and walk part of the way where the climb is steep. The Ch’enek campsite offers supper views, and there are many places to see Walia Ibex.

After Ch’enek, the traveller usually returns to Sankaber (three to four hours) and then Debark. But if arranged in advance, more extensive trips can be made to Buahit, at 4,437 metres , which is outside the national park; Ras Dashen, Ethiopia’s highest peak at 4,543 meters; 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 Chennek 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 410km 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 lakes there are commanding panoramic views all around, including both lakes with Nechisar on the eastern side and, to the west, the Guge mountains range. The outstanding beauty of the neck of land between the two lakes is called the “Bridge of Heaven”. The equally named Arba Minch – meaning ‘forty springs’ – takes its name from the bubbling streams which spring up amid the undergrowth of the amazing groundwater forest that covers the flats beneath the town.

A wide variety of plains game move 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 Hornbill, 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 Nechisar Park 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 lying in the sun.

To the north of Nechisar National Park, Lake Abaya’s surface is a surprising 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.

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 dogs.

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 – 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 moves north soon after leaving the park and gradually 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 advantages of the Awash National Park is that it is easily accessible from Addis Ababa, located on the main Addis-Djibouti highway, which cuts the park. The main road from the town of Metehara leads to the park headquarters and the campsites, both of which are situated near the dramatic Awash Falls where the river enters its big gorge.

The park is crossed 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 16-century habitation, seen as remains of walls and settlements of considerable part.

Another feature of the park is the hot springs in the extreme north. The water of these springs and rivers in the region is used by the local people to water cattle. The plains to the south of the main road are excellent for animal viewing and are bordered to the south by the Awash Gorge.

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 and are often seen with the oryx. A small population of the endemic subspecies Swayne’s hartebeest was moved here and occupies the grass plains. 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.. 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. Crocodiles and hippopotamus splash in the Awash River and in the cooler parts of the springs and rivers in the north. Lion, leopard, , caracal, and wildcat are all seen infrequently.

The birds are numerous, more than 300 species on record. The park is an excellent place to sight birds including Ostrich, Wattled Ibis, Carmine Bee-eater, Thick Billed Raven, Silvery –checked Hornbills. 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. Ostriches roam the plains and the- immense lammergeyer soars above Fantale searching for bones to smash.

Omo National Park

The Omo National Park is one of Ethiopia’s largest and richest nature sanctuaries 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. 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.
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 the 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 of internal roads, which lead to the different attractions sites of the park. All roads to and from the park are unpaved.

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, Bongdaso, Hamer, Karo, Kwegu, Male and Mursi peoples. The park’s perhaps best known attractions 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 kilometers in area, covering a wide range of habitats and ranging in altitude from 1,500 to 4,377 metres, 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 cut 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 are grass 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 , 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 wildlife of Bale includes many endemic species. The park was originally established to protect the Mountain Nyala and the Ethiopian Wolf, 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 Gasay area of the north where they spread out over the grass plains. Other wildlife in this area includes Menelik’s bushbuck. an endemic subspecies in which the males are a very dark colour, many Bohor Reedbuck, Grey Duiker, Warthog, Serval Cat, Colobus Monkey, and Anubis Baboon.

The high plateau is noted for the Ethiopian Wolf, whose chestnut-red coat is in strong contrast to the grey vegetation. It preys on the many species of rodent found here, the biggest being the Giant Mole-rat. This earth 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, Bush Pig, 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 16 endemic species, many of which are easily seen. These include Wattled Ibis, Black-Winged Lovebird, Blue-Winged Goose, Rouget’s Rail, and Thick-Billed Raven. Wattled Cranes are often seen breeding on the high plateau in the wet season.

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 addition, there are many 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 leopards are sighted, and sometimes a pair of the endemic Ethiopian Wolf. 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 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 to drive to the top of Tulhi Deemtu – Ethiopia’s second-highest mountain at 4,377 meters.

The road climbs up from Goba through beautiful juniper and Hagenia forest. 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 Chorchori 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-covered 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 Mount Batu – 4,203 metres 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 Ethiopian Wolf . The spectacular views can be even more 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 breathtaking bends. The initial heather scrub gives way after a few kilometres to Ungenia, heather, and St. John’s wort forest; later-merging into lush Podocarpus 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 covered in cloud and mist. Around their base is a 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 from Goba.
Dolo-Mena is 10 kilometres 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 escarpment 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.

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. 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 its 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 hectares, it is the largest protected area in the country. Its northern boundary is formed by the Baro River. To the south of the park is the 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 favor 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.

Maze National Park

Maze National Park is a recently established National Park in the Region. The park derives its name from the Maze River that traverses through its length. It was established in 2003. 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 kms from Addis Ababa and. Altitude ranges from 1000 to 1200 meter above sea level. The area has 38 species of mammals, major wildlife includes Swayne’s Hartebeest and Buffalo. Today, 138 bird species have been recorded for Maze.
Maze is one of the last remaining sites for the conservation of the Swayne‟s Hartebeest. It is arguably the second most important site for the Swayne‟s Hartebeest after Senkelle Hartebeest Sanctuary. Recent wildlife counts have revealed there could be up to 300 Hartebeests at Maze. Besides wildlife the site has unique land features. Mt Gughe, which rises to 4200 meter above sea level, is found on the boundary of the park. Bilbo hot springs, found in the Park’s southern parts, have boiling that spout steam into the air. The Wonja caves are an added attraction to the site.

Kafta-Shiraro Wildlife Park

Kafta-Sheraro 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 rivers that originate in the Simien Mountains and highlands of Welkait. Elevation ranges from 550 masl on the edge of Tackaze River 1800m 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 includes Ostrich, Aardvark, Elephant, Greater kudu, Roan Antelope, Red-fronted Gazelle, Caracal, Leopard and Lion.

The reserve is important for the conservation of Elephants. It is one of nine sites in Ethiopia that conserve Elephants. The Elephant population in Kafta migrates seasonally between Ethiopia and Eritrea. At present the site is known to hold an estimated 100-150 individual Elephants. Besides Elephants, it conserves 42 mammals, 167 birds and 9 reptile species. The site is extremely important and could well be the only site in the country for wintering Demoiselle Crane. A recent discovery shows that the northwestern border of the park holds more than 20,000 Demoiselle Cranes.

Abijatta-Shalla Lakes National Park

Situated in the Great Rift Valley, only 200 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, and in the Lake Langano recreational areas, the Abijatta Shalla lakes National Park attracts numerous visitors. It 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 interconnected. 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 consists of two lakes, the isthmus between them and a thin strip of land along the shorelines of each. Abijatta and Shalla are both terminal lakes but very different in nature. Lake Abijatta is a shallow pan, only 14 metres deep, and its level fluctuates periodically, caused in part by human activity but often by natural phenomena as yet not fully understood.

Lake Shalla, by contrast, is, at 260 metres, Ethiopia’s deepest Rift Valley lake, possibly the deepest lake in Africa north of the Equator. It is an exceptionally beautiful and still largely untouched 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. 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 Goose, various plover species, and herons. Although renowned for its bird life, Abijatta is now outclassed by Lake Hawassa 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.
It has one of the highest wetland bird diversity in Ethiopia. It is home to 144 water bird species, which is in effect 70.6% of the total wetland bird species for the country.I t is the most important breeding location for the Great White Pelican. It is known to be the best site in the country to find a high number of Lesser Flamingos .Acts as a staging ground for thousands of migrating waders and ducks during the palaearctic migration period. Shalla is one of the deepest lakes in Africa and is reputedly one of the widest calderas on the continent.

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 Afar tribe and the Issas tribe.

This national park was proposed to protect the African Wild Ass. Recently, the Wild Ass went extinct in Yangudi 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 amsl, 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 form micro-habitats. 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 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.
Yangudi Rassa is an extensive wilderness in this remote northeastern part of the country. More than 200 birds have been recorded here. Of these, no less than 23 Somali-Masai Biome species and two globally threatened species, namely, the Lesser Kestrel and Pallid Harrier are known to occur in the park. It is an important flyway for species like the Terek Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Woodchat Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Black Cap and Ortolan Bunting. This protected area also has 36 species of mammals including Wild Ass, Beisa Oryx, Dorcas Gazelle, Hamadryas Baboon, Bat-eared Fox, Black-backed Jackal, Striped Hyena and Aardwolf.