Awash National Park – Ethiopia Safaris : Car Rental Ethiopia
This protected area is the first national park of Ethiopia and one of the two gazetted protected areas in the country. It is located about 205 km east of Addis Ababa. The Park covers an area of 756 km2 with altitudinal range between 750 -2007 m. It is situated in a region of semi-arid grassland and xerophilous scrubs. The area was originally designated as a National Park because of the abundance of game and from physio-geographical and geological point of view. It has extraordinarily attracting areas: the point where the Afar triangle joins with the Rift Valley, the Awash water fall and the hot springs, and Mount Fantalle, a dormant volcano with slopes that are thrown with the rubble of ancient lava flows, which still provides roosts for a large bat population. The ANP has received more tourists than any other protected areas of the country.
This park is located between Oromia and Afar regions, 215 km from the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. To the south, meanders the Awash River, which originates in the Ethiopian highlands. This is punctuated by spectacular waterfalls, visible in the park. Like all of Ethiopia, the region is subject to a bimodal rainfall pattern: a rainy season, followed by a dominant dry season, which can last up to 10 months. Within the park, the variations in altitude, from 700 to 2000 m, offer an exceptional variety of landscapes; from the plains of Ilala Sala, to the hot springs of Filhoua, passing by the falls and canyon of Awash or the Fantale volcano (2007 m). These different environments, promoting high biodiversity, make this park a mythical destination for ornithologists, primatologists and archaeologists (remember that East Africa is the cradle of humanity) in search of escape.
This is because the Park’s location, availability of accommodation with reasonable campsites. A total of 76 mammal species have so far been recorded in the park. The Park was once said to be a major habitat for one of the largest population of Beisa Oryx in Africa. The area is quite rich in avian diversity. Of the total 483 species recorded, the endemic Abyssinian woodpecker and other 5 near-endemic birds are known from the park. Thirty-nine species of reptiles and some invertebrates are also recorded from the area. Some areas adjacent to the Awash National Park are well known for their paleontological importance. Sites like Hadar are places where one of the oldest Hominid remains was discovered. The resource uses in the area are grouped into three categories: agriculture, animal husbandry and tourism.
ACTIVITIES IN AWASH NATIONAL PARK IN ETHIOPIA
Hiking Mt. Fentale
The Fentale volcano last erupted in 1820 and when you visit the area you will notice the dark shadows that were left by the flowing lava. It can be spotted as you enter into the park, there are several routes that you can use as you climb up the Mountain and all these will be used with the help of a tour guide. A visit and hike to the Fentale Volcano should be done during the dry season as the hike trails during this period will not be as slippery as they get during the rainy season.
Once you have reached the top and if luck is on your side, it is possible to see pairs of Egyptian vultures, Lammergeyers and other raptors flying beneath you. Currently, it is not possible to drive to the top of the mountain as the road needs maintenance, but parking is available at the base of the mountain in the north, where local guides are willing to guide you up the mountain. The walk to the top of the mountain is relatively easy and the hike to the peak should take between 2:30-3:00 hrs.
Wildlife viewing in Awash National Park
Awash NP is home to more than 80 species of mammals, 45% of these are Ethiopia’s distinctive Semi-arid species. The Park was once, and probably still is, a major habitat for one of the largest populations of the Beisa Oryx in Africa.
The Awash National Park has a variety of wild life that habitats in the park and it is a top destination for all tourists who love game viewing. The different animals that can be viewed include the wild cats, monkeys, the lesser Kudus, the Anubis monkeys, the gazelles, the Ethiopian’s Swayne Hartebeest, leopards, golden jackals, the caracals, lions, black backed jackal, the Dik-dik, the Beisa Oryx, the servals, the greater Kudus and the Defarsa waterbuck. There are several ways in which you can view the animals and that is by either driving through the park or by walking in order to get a closer look at the animals. You can come with your camera to capture these great moments.
Birds in Awash NP
Birding is one of the activities that can be carried out in the Awash Park due to the several bird species that habitates in the area. The Park has a recorded number of bird species that amounts to 400 and some of these are endemic to the Park. There are different bird habitants that you can use when you visit Awash National Park and all these have different bird species.
This includes the sought-after sombre rock chat, which stays around the lava fields below Mt Fentale. Many birds of prey breed in Awash gorge and on the volcano’s slopes. Colorful dry-country specials, such as golden-breasted starling and red-and-yellow barbet, brighten up the scene. Palearctic migrants are present from November to March.
Crocodiles – Of the 40 plus species of reptiles in the Park, the ones most likely to be encountered are Nile crocodiles, Monitor lizards and Leopard tortoises. These are commonly seen basking and foraging in the vicinity of the Lodge. The crocodiles here are unique in that they climb on boulders and rocks for basking. One can also see smaller crocodiles at the Fil wuha hot springs, a bit further from the swimming pool in less warm natural water ponds, a possible adaptation to warm water. It is an inspirational experience to see basking crocodiles and monitor lizards in and around the Awash River and at the hot springs.
There are various sites which are pleasant for camping overnight in Awash NP: Four sites are under the riverine forest of Awash River (near the Head Office of the Park) and others are on top of Mt. Fentale, at the hot springs by the Palm groves, and in the Awash Falls Lodge compound. Camping visitors should be self-contained except inside the Lodge.
Visit the Filwoha hot springs
The Filwoha hot springs create a good diversion for all the tourists that visit the park because then they get to rest at the hot springs and get to know how they formed. The beautiful scenery created by the hot springs and smoke coming from them is quite enough to guarantee that you will have fun when you visit and there will be a tour guide who will tell you more about the hot springs.
A visit to the Aga Edu cave
The Ada Edu cave is located in the Awash Park and it is a home to numerous hyenas that live within and around the cave. The hyenas that you will spot when you visit the caves live in herds and they amount to twenty recorded species. Hyenas live in dens and you will get to see the dens around the cave as you hike through the park but you need to be careful in order not to get too close to the hyena dens and the caves are best visited very early in the morning.
Among others, the KEREYU Oromo and AFAR ethnic groups dwell nearby the Park. They have very interesting and attractive lifestyles with their own culture, languages and historical backgrounds. We recommend tourists to visit the mysterious dwellings of these colorful communities in the surrounding villages. One can see the sharp contrast between the two societies as you stroll through their unique pastoral villages. The Lodge in collaboration with the Park and the Fentale District Culture and Tourism Office commenced organizing cultural songs and dancing of the Kereyu community in the Lodge’s compound.
The Awash Falls Lodge has two boats with the capacity of three and five persons, which guests can use cool themselves under the falls anytime of the day and also above the waterfalls. Boating is possible for about two km. It is a bit uncomfortable to raft during the rains (July to October) it is recommended to use a professional rafter.
Explore the Awash Falls
The southern border of the Park is the Awash River, the lifeline for the many parts of Oromia and Afar Regions. The River is about 1,200 km long and joins Lake Abe on the Djibouti border in the north-east. The Awash Falls are located within the National park and attract many people. They provide a good back drop and the cascading water is also one of the few things that can calm you down after a long day trekking through the Park. The Falls are partially hidden behind a canyon and they provide a good resting place, water for those who want to refresh and a visit to the Awash Falls will be worth your time.
Visit the Gallery forest
The gallery forest is located along the Awash River and it is one of the tourist attractions in the Park. There are different exhibitions that you can see when you visit the Gallery forest and you also get to see the various animals and enjoy a wonderful boat ride along the Awash River where the gallery is located.
Amazing volcanic crack
Tourists can observe the recent volcanic fissure formed in the 19th Century. It starts from Lake Beseka and stretches up to the base of Mt. Fentale with a distance of about 6-7 km. The crack is as deep as 40 meters and in and close to this enormous crack visitors can see Rock hyrax, thousands of bats, Sparrow larks, Mocking cliff-chat, Sombre rock-chat, Owls, Red and yellow barbet. The Hyena’s dens are connected with the crack. Surprisingly, tourists can observe herbivorous animals like warthogs coming out in the late evening from the same caves with the hyenas.
The flora in the area
Ethiopia as a country is known to be one of the few countries that has a variety of flora and Awash National park is not any different. The Park is mostly filled with grasslands and woodlands as these over up its largest part. These have different tree species that are worth studying especially for those who love botany and a tour guide will also try to explain as much as possible the different tree species and those that are used for medicinal purposes.
When to visit the Awash National Park
Although the park can be visited throughout the year, the climate greatly determines when you can visit the Park and the activities that you can carry out throughout the year.
- The Awash National park experiences the dry season in the months of December and January.
- The rainy season is experienced in the months of July and August and this is the best time for one to go for birding in the park.
- The warm months in Awash National park are February, August, September, June and May.
The best months of when to visit the park are highly determined by what you actually want to do that is if you are a fun of hiking and game viewing the best time to visit is during the dry season and if you are interested in birding, then the best time to visit is during the rainy season.
How to get to Awash National Park
Awash National Park is not far away from the capital city of Ethiopia Addis Ababa which is only 220 kilometers. The drive takes only three hours and you can either hire a private car, use a tour bus or contact us on our website to get the best travel deals to the Park.
Accommodation facilities in Awash National Park
Awash Falls Lodge is the only accommodation facility in the park. Genet Hotel is found in the town of Awash which is 14 km away from the park.