Natural and Safaris Tour

 

Wildlife surprises


Millions of year of isolation, and unusual conditions in the highlands of Ethiopia have lead to evolution of a unique species at all levels, especially those smaller species unable to travel or to be carried across in a hospitable habitat. Endemism is rife, particularly amongst large and small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish.

 



Semien Mountains National Park
Semien Mountains

The Semien Mountains massif is a large plateau, cut off to the north and west by an enormous single crag over 60 kilometers long. The tableland is divided by gorges 1,000 meters deep that can take more than two days to cross. This place is a home to the Walia (Abyssinian) Ibex, Simien Red wolf and Gelada baboon- all of them are endemic to Ethiopia – as well as the Hamadryes baboon, klipspringer and bushbuck. The lammergeyer , Augur National buzzared,Verreaux eagle,kestrel and falcon also soar above this mountain retreat.


The Simien Mountains National park, which is 150 kilometers north-east Gonder covers 179 square kilometers of highland area at an average elevation of 3,300 meters. The highest mountain in Ethiopia which is 4,620 meters is called Ras - Dashen, it stands adjacent to the Simien park, the scenery is spectacular. The vegetation is principally Afro-alphan, montane savannah and heather. Temperature drops below freezing point or 0 0C at night.

Ethiopia, in fact, has registered at least 242 land mammals, of which 28 are endemic. The Simien wolf is endemic and confined to mountain plateau with dense tree heather and thickets, intermixed with bogs and swamps with sedge grass and giant lobbies.

Awash National Park
Awash National Park

Awash National Park is the oldest and most developed wild life reserve in Ethiopia, lying in the lowlands east of Addis Ababa. The Awash National Park is one of the finest reserves in Ethiopia. The Awash River, one of the major rivers of the Horn of Africa, waters important agricultural lands in the north- eastern part of Ethiopia and eventually enters into the wilderness of Danakil Depression. The dramatic Awash Falls as the river tumbles into its gorge is the most spectacular site which shouldn’t missed in case someone is visiting the National Park.
Awash National Park, surrounding the dormant volcano of Fantale, which is a reserve of arid and semi-arid woodland and Savannah with reverie forests along the Awash River. Forty-six species of animals have been identified here, including Beisa Oryx and Swayne's Hartebeest. The bird life is prolific especially along the river and in amongst the 392 species recorded.


The park offers quite good wildlife and outstanding birdlife viewing. It also contains an interesting range of volcanic landscapes. The Beisa Oryx and Sommering Gazelles – in the open areas, Greater and Lesser Kudus - in the bushed areas, the endemic Swayne’s Hartbeest – in the grass plains, the tiny salt Dik-Dik – under the dry acacia bushes and Defarsa waterbuck – in the bushy river area and the two monkey species – the Anubis and Hamadryas - can be seen near the river. Among other monkeys, Colobus and Grivet monkeys are found in the riverside and drier areas respectively. Leopards, Lions, Black-Backed and Golden Jackals, Caracals, Servals and Wildcats are also seen in the park very rarely.


Until 2003, 462 bird species have been registered. Of these six are endemics namely: Banded Barbet, Golden-Backed Woodpecker, White-Winged Cliff Chat, White-Tailed Starling, Thick-Billed Raven and Wattled Ibis. There are several bustard species in the park and secretary birds in the grass plains. The camping grounds, near the bank of the Awash River, and the Filwoha Hot Spring areas are the best sites to spot many species of birds such as Emerald-Spotted Wood Dove, Green Wood-Hoopoes, Red and Yellow Barbets, Carmine Bea Eaters are to name only a few.


One of the main features of the park area is the Fentale Volcano, on the southern flank of which can be seen the dark scar of the last lava flow of 1820. The other feature is the turquoise-blue pools of the natural hot springs in the extreme north of the park where you can spot Waterbucks and Hamadryas baboons and sometimes hear Lions at night.

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Abyata-Shala lakes National Park
Shala Lake

215 kilometers from addis ababa, the park covers 887 square kilometers, of which more than half is water. Lake Shala is thought to be the deepest lake in North Africa of the equator. Lake Abijatta is circled by 60 kilometers of white shore line. Both lakes are saline and several hot springs bubble up by the shore and flow into Lake Shalla.


The Park was created for the many aquatic bird species that use the lakes, especially great white pelicans and greater and lesser flamingo. The birds use Lake Abijatta as a feeding center while using Lake Shalla's island as breeding site. White-necked cormorant, African fish eagle, Egyptian geese and others are in abundance in the park.
The lake provides the main source of food for the colonies of great while pelicans on the nearby of Lake Shala.


Lake Shala, by contrast, is at 260 meters (853 feet), and Ethiopia’s deepest rift valley lake; possibly the deepest lake in Africa north of the Equator. Shalla’s islands are used as breeding sites by many birds, and are home to the continent’s most important breeding colony of Great White Pelicans. The color of the water is like cold tea and there is a high concentration of salts making it feel soapy.
Apart from the above mentioned birds, some others include White-necked Cormorant, African Fish Eagle, Egyptian Goose, various Plover species, and Herons. Local mammals are not numerous but include Grant’s gazelle, Greater Kudu, Oribi, Warthog and Golden Jackal.

Mago National Park
Mago Park

East of the Omo River and stretching south towards the Chew Bahir basin, Mago National Park is rich in wild life with few human inhabitants. The vegetation is mainly savannah grassland and savannah bush extending across an area of 2,160 square kilometers. Mammal species total 81, including hartebeest, giraffe, roan antelope, elephant, lion, leopard and perhaps even a rare black rhino are among attractive features of the park. Temperatures swing between 14 oC and 41 oC and rainfall is low.

Omo National Park
Omo Park

This is the largest park in the country with 4,068 square kilometers of true wilderness suited in remote south – western Ethiopia. Adjacent to the Omo river, which flows in to lake Turakan, is one of the richest and least visited wildlife sanctuaries in eastern Africa. Eland, Oryx, Burchell’s Zebra, lelwel hartebeest, buffalo, and giraffe are in the boundary of the park. Features include belts of forest along Omo and Mui rivers and hot springs. Temperatures can be high and rainfall is low.

Omo national park is home to an amazing range of wildlife. 306 species of birds have been identified here, while large herds of Eland, some Buffalo, Elephants, Giraffe, Cheetah, Lion, Leopard, Burchell's Zebra, are quite common.

Bale Mountains National Parks
Bale Mountains

Bale Mountains National Park is 2,400 square kilometers (1,488 square miles) in area covering a wide range of habitats and ranging in altitude from 1,500 to 4,377 meters (4,920 to 14,357 feet). It is the highest point in southern Ethiopia.


The vegetation here varies according to altitude. The park can be divided into three main zones. Around Dinsho, in the north, there are grass riverside plains, bordered by bands of bushes, particularly sagebrush and St. John’s Wort. Wild flowers such as Giant Lobelia, Geraniums, ‘red-hot pokers’ and Alcheilla form carpets of color. Higher up the mountains heather appears either as small bushes or as mature trees.


The second zone, the Sanetti Plateau, is home to typical Afro-Alpine plants, some coping with the extreme temperatures by either remaining very small or becoming large. The best example of the latter is the curious looking Giant Lobelia, whose stems stand high against the skyline. Wild flowers are many and various, the dominant plant being the Helichrysum or ’everlasting’ flowers that can be seen in many forms. Keep an eye on the indigenous Abyssinia rose, with its lovely subtle scent.


The third habitat which is the southern part of the park is heavily forested – the moist, tropical Harenna Forest, is home to tree species such as Haenia, Celtis and Podocarpus.


The wildlife of Bale includes many endemic species. The park was originally established to protect the two endemic mammals: the Mountain Nyala and the Semien Fox or Jackal.

Nechisar National Park
Nechisar Park

The park was established as a sanctuary for the endemic and endangered Swayne‘s hartebeest. The 514 square kilometer park is in the rift valley, 2,000 meters above sea level between lakes Abaya and Chamo in south - central Ethiopia.

Although mainly open grass land, it also contains areas of savannah woodland the park’s 84 mammal species include hippo, Zebra, buffalo, greater kudu, reedbuck, Grant’s  gazelle, lion and leopard. Seventy - eight square kilometers of the park is water - parts of lakes Chamo and Abaya. The lakes Support many species of fish including Nile perch and tiger fish, as well as hordes of hippos and crocodiles.

Gambella National Park
Gambella Park

One of Ethiopia's least developed parks and receiving few visitors, Gambella National Park is located on the Akobo River system. It was originally created for the protection of the extensive swamp habitat and the wildlife there.


The park is 5,060 square Kilometers (1,954 square miles) in area, and its altitude ranges between 400 and 768 meters (1,312 and 2,519 feet). Rainfall is 1,500 mm (58.5 inches) a year, falling between April and October. Temperatures are high. The vegetation here is mainly grassland and Terminalia / Combretum wooded grassland, with extensive areas of swamp. Malaria is a problem and precautions must be taken.


The park contains forty one species, many representative of neighboring Sudan and not found elsewhere in Ethiopia, such as Nile lechwe and the white-eared Kob, the latter migrating in large numbers. Roan antelope, Topy elephant, buffalo, lelwel hartebeest, lion, and giraffe also reside in the park.
The most important of the 154 bird species present here is the whale headed stork, an unusual large billed, tall bird seen standing in the swamps.