Activities

 
 

Awash National Park

It is one of the first two gazetted National Parks (with the Simien Mountains National Park) in Ethiopia and was established in 1966. It is one of the most important protected areas in the Horn of Africa with extraordinary biodiversity. Its proximity to the capital Addis Ababa and its wildlife diversity, fantastic scenery and rich cultural heritage makes it one of the most attractive conservation areas to visit and enjoy.

This park is located 215 km east of Addis Ababa in the transboundary of the Oromiya and Afar Regions. It is administered by the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority. The Park covers an area of 756 km2 with an altitudinal range between 750-2007 m a.s.l. It is situated in a region of semi-arid grassland and xerophilous scrub receiving a mean annual rainfall of 619 mm. It was originally gazetted as a national park because of its abundance of game and great natural beauty. It has some extraordinary natural attractions including the Awash Falls, the hot springs, the hyena caves, Mt. Fentale, a dormant volcano with pumis slopes and ancient lava flows that provides roosts for a large bat population, smaller carnivores and reptiles.

Recently, the Park has faced anthropogenic threats and there is a need to develop it to exploit the rapidly growing tourism in the area.

The Awash Falls Lodge

Since its establishment at the southern edge of the Park by the Awash Falls in May 2008, the Lodge has attracted a considerable number of both local and international visitors. There is the potential to attract an even greater number of visitors boosting the income not only of the Park but of the local communities surrounding the park and the nation. Several tour operators have also started joint ventures with the Lodge, providing a successful partnership model between the Park and private enterprise. The joint venture is designed to create a profitable ecotourism product that effectively promotes the conservation of the environment, while helping to improve the livelihoods of the nearby local communities.

Currently, the Lodge, in collaboration with the Park administration and local administration, has been seeking to maximize livelihoods by creating alternative income for the local communities by promoting their participation in ecotourism. Partnerships have already started in the form of cultural dance performances in the Lodge, community tour guide training and camel trekking. We believe that this type of ecotourism can promote a sustainable income for participating local communities. The ultimate goal is to promote conservation and the sustainability of the Park through community participation.

Treks around the Lodge

Treks around the Lodge - These range from easy to moderate in intensity.

The downstream trek: Departing from the Lodge, the 2.7 km (loop) hike follows the the Awash River downstream. Crocodiles and Monitor lizards are frequently spotted sunning themselves on the banks and on big rocks in the River. Numerous aquatic birds like Goliath herons, African fish eagles, plovers, and hammer kops can be observed during the hike. The roundtrip trail takes approximately 50 minutes and can be accomplished as a self-guided hike or with one of the Lodge's knowledgeable guides.

The upstream trek: The two km upstream trek is also along the River Awash. Colobus and Vervet monkeys, Crocodiles, Monitor lizards and Olive baboons are regularly seen in this pristine riverine environment dominated by grand Ficus trees and lianas clinging to the huge trees. The birdlife is astounding; walking to the songs of these beautiful birds is soothing and mentally refreshing. On these treks, you can also visit the Awash Falls, Park museum, and the campsite area under the fig trees.

Awash River 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 vanishes into the desert near Lake Abe on the Djibouti border in the north-east. The Falls at the lodge are high and wide at the head of the impressive Awash Gorge. Visitors have an excellent view from the lookout near the waterfall into the gorge. The falls have been described as a "scaled-down version of Victoria Falls". They are certainly one of the natural wonders of Ethiopia. Above the waterfalls, a narrow band of dense riverine forest, which is home to Black-and-White Colobus, Vervet Monkeys, Anubis Baboons, bee-eaters, Hammer kops, hoopoes and barbets, all attracted by the impressive evergreen Ficus and Tamarindus trees above the Falls.

Hiking Mt. Fentale

Situated at the northwestern edge of Awash NP, Mt. Fentale towers majestically over the surrounding lowlands being 2007 m in height a.s.l. The crater on top is approximately 3.5 km in diameter and offers a panoramic view. From here it is possible to see steam rising from the many geothermal vents on the sides of the mountain. The best time to see this phenomenon is during the cool time of the morning, which is also the best time to climb the mountain. The climb itself leads through Acacia dominated slopes and offers some breathtaking views. 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.

Avian diversity

When it comes to birds, Awash has the greatest diversity of any National Park in Ethiopia with more than 473 species. The variety in habitats, both aquatic (Metehara/Beseka Lake, Filoha hot springs and Awash River) and terrestrial, provide an excellent platform to watch and study a variety of migrant and resident birds. One can see species of herons, egrets, ibises, storks, ducks, vultures, francolins, plovers, doves, bee-eaters, hornbills, nightjars, barbets, woodpeckers, larks and pipits, rock chats and wheatears, sunbirds, starlings, weavers, seedeaters and six species of bustards (Black-bellied, White-bellied, Buff-crested, Kori, Hartlaub's and Arabian). The endemic Yellow-throated Serine and other 5 near-endemic birds are known from the park.

Crocodiles

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.

Important Facts

Location
Ethiopia is situated in the North-East part of Africa with an area of 1.1million sq km. It is neighbored by Djibouti and Somalia in the east, Sudan in the west, Eritrea in the north and Kenya in the south.
Capital city
Addis Ababa became the capital of Ethiopia in 1886 during the reign of Menilk II; it is the seat of many embassies and international and regional organization including the African Union and Economic Commission for Africa and more than 90 embassies.
Population
It is estimated 80 million people.
Language
There are more than 80 languages and 200 dialects. Amharic is the official language .English is widely spoken in Addis Ababa and major towns.
Cuisine
A wide variety of different dishes is available in Ethiopia. Injera, a large, pancake-shaped substance made from Tef , a tiny grain is a staple food for Ethiopians served with different sauces called Wot .
Climate
There are two visible seasons in Ethiopia .The dry season from October till the end of May. And the rainy season is from June till the mid September.
Economy
85% of the population is agrarian society
Time
Ethiopia is 3 hour ahead of GMT .Apart from a different calendar , Ethiopia reckons the day in two 12 hours cycles (as in much of East Africa ).Midday could be 6 o'clock
Calendar
Ethiopians are using Julian calendar which is 7 and 8 months behind from western Gregorian calendar.
Currency
Birr is the national currency of Ethiopia. Beside international currencies like USD, Euro, Sterling, big hotels and some shops accept credit cards in Addis but not often used out side Addis.
International telephone code - 251
Electricity
Electrical supply is 220 volts
Entry requirements
Possession of a valid passport for six month and a visa is requested for all foreign visitors.
Medical facilities
It is advised to all visitors to possess valid vaccination certificate against yellow fever, Hepatitis and cholera .Malaria precaution should be taken before visiting the lowlands.
Photography
While the scenic beauty of Ethiopia makes it photographer's paradise, photographs should not be taken of military or strategic buildings including palaces .Before photographing any person, religious festivals or rural homestead, it is courteous to ask permission .we also recommend the visitors to bring plenty of films and batteries though are available in most towns . Commercial photographers require a permit from Ministry of Information .Certain tourist's sites charges for video photography.
Wardrobes
It is advised to wear light cloths, hats and sunglasses while visiting the lowlands of Ethiopia as it is experiencing a hot climate. For highlands, medium–weight clothing, cap and gloves are suggested.