The Simien Mountain is one of the major highlands of Africa, rising to the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dashen (also spelt Ras Dejen) (4,533m or 14,872feet), which is the fourth highest peak in the continent. Although Simien is 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 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, and over 1000 are said to live in the park. Also in the park are families of the unique Gelada Baboon with its scarlet ‘bleeding heart on its chest,’ and the rare Simien fox. The Simien fox, although named after the mountain 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, 101km from Gonder, where riding and pack animals may be hired.
The Bale Mountains, which lie over 2,400 Square kilometers, is a home for various flora and fauna species. The park which comprises reverie plains, woodlands and bush land, is a home for several endemic species like Mountain Nyala and Semien
Fox, where the park is believed
to be established to protect
these two animals.
The park is home
to high mountains with a peak of
4,377 meter above sea level,
which is the second largest in
the country. The forest is also a home for different pig species, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, African hunting dogs and many others. More over the Bale Mountains are home for 16 endemic bird species.
The park is among the most suitable walking areas in the country with a chance to see several endemic and common species at a closer distance
Lying in the lowlands at the east of Addis Ababa and striding the Awash River, 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 of Ethiopia and eventually flows into the wilderness of the Danakil Depression.
Awash Falls, as the river
tumbles into its gorge, is the
sight not to be missed in the
national park. Awash national
park, surrounding the dormant
volcano of Fantale, is a reserve of arid and semi-arid woodland and savannah, with riverain forests along the Awash River. Forty six species of animals have been identified here, including Beisa Oryx and Swayne’s heartbeest. The bird life is prolific especially along the river and in the nearby Lake Basaka and there are fine endemic amongst the 392 species recorded.
Covering an area of 2162 km on the banks of the Omo River, the Mago National Park is relatively undeveloped for tourists. The broad grasslands teem with herds of buffalo, giraffe, elephants and kudu, while sometimes it is possible to find lions, leopards and Burchell’s zebra. The abundant bird life here is typical of dry grasslands and river banks.
One of the most beautiful national parks in Ethiopia, its 4068 km of wilderness bordered by the Omo River, 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 not uncommon. The park is not easily accessible, as the current means of access is via Omorate and the ferry to the north bank of the river.
Located about 600 kilometers from Addis Ababa on the river Baro, Gambela has a strange history. From 1902 until it was captured by the Italians in the Second World War, it was administered by the British, the only part of Ethiopia to be so governed, The reason for this is that the British opened a port there on the wide and navigable Baro River, which during four months of the rainy season is navigable and provides direct access to the sea via the Nile through Khartoum. Ethiopian coffee was exported via this route, up to 1940. Now the port has fallen into disrepair, though remains of the warehouses and jetty can be seen. At its peak, up to 40 ships would be in dock at any one time. Gambela (sometimes spelt Gambella} gives access to the GambeIa National Park. The undulating plains of high Sudanese grass offer excellent opportunities for wilderness exploration. It is not particularly easy to access however.
Beyond Gambela towards the Sudanese border, the Anuak cultivators give way to the nomadic Nuer. These pastoralists herd their long-horned cattle into huge camps when they stop for the night.