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Abijatta-Shalla Lakes National Parks

Lake Abijatta      Lake Shalla         Bird life    Wildlife     Hot springs:     Access      Accommodation   

  Other Attractions 

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Situated in the Great Rift Valley, only 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Addis Ababa, and in the Lake Langano recreational areas, the AbijattaClick for full size map Shalla lakes national Park attracts numerous visitors. Using Lake Langano as your base, it is an easy trip to visit the national park, which 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 inter connected. Approaching from Addis you first reach the Horakello entrance, where the small Horakello stream flows between lakes Langano and Abijatta.

The temperatures can be high, reaching 45 degrees Celsius at maximum and 5 degrees Celsius at minimum. Rain falls between March and September, averaging 500 mm,   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 compresses the two lakes, the isthmus between them and a thin strip of land along the shorelines of each. Developments have been limited to a number of tracks on land, and the construction of seven outposts. While attention is focused on the water birds, the land area does contain a reasonable amount of other wildlife.

Lake Abijatta
Two different lakes in one park, the two lakes are both terminal lakes and their beaches are unstable and saline, but they are very different in character.  Abijatta is shallow at about 14 meters with a mysterious fluctuating water level. Fresh water flows into it trough the  small Horakello stream. The steam mouth is a source of relatively fresh water, much frequented by water birds for drinking and bathing. The Lake is surrounded by gentle, grass covered slopes and acacia woodlands.

Lake Shalla  by contrast , surrounded as it is by steep, black cliffs and peaks that reflect in its waters, is the deepest lake of the Rift Valley (260 meters (853 feet). , It is exceptionally beautiful, with shores that give a scent of mystery with their hot sulphurous springs that bubble up and flow into the lake.

 

Bird life
There are over 400 bird species recorded here, almost half the number recorded for the whole country. (see our
Bird watching page for more information about the species). Although the islands in Lake Shalla are a real birds paradise, the birds fly to Lake Abijatta to feed. Abijatta itself is very alkaline but shallow, so flamingoes can be seen scattered over most of its surface, and especially along the windward edge where their algal food source concentrates. You can approach quite closely, but beware of treacherous deep and mud if the lake is low. Large numbers of flamingos gather here, together with great white pelicans and a wide variety of other water birds.

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Wildlife 

Besides of the rich Bird life, some mammals can be spotted at the Lake Abijatta-Shalla National Park, especially Grant’s gazelle, Oribi warthog and the Golden Jackal.

Hot springs:
The headquarters houses a small museum, which gives an excellent idea of the wealth of bird life in the park.  A further track leads on from Dole to the shores of Lake Shalla where hot steam, mud and water bubble to the earth’s surface. Revered locally for their medicinal properties, the hot springs have a sense of primeval mystery about hem, especially in the cooler early mornings. They are relics of the massive volcanic activity that has formed this amazing country and landscape.

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Access

Abijatta can best be reached by taking the turnoff directly across the Lake Langano.
A further entrance to this park exists in the south, where a rough track leads to another small hot spring area at Chitu. Here you can staying a wooden self help guest house, perched high on a cliff above the lake, with a vies across this lands. There are plans to install a boat at the lake which will ferry small groups of people to the islands to observe the breeding colonies of thousands of great while pelicans and grater flamingoes. The grate white pelican colony is estimated to be visited by up to 13000 pairs annually, and is the most important breeding site for the species in the world.

Accommodation
There is no Hotel accommodation in the park but lake Langano, which lies just over the main road marking the boundary, has two reasonable hotels on its shores, the Wabe Shebelle and the Bekelle Mola, from which all parts of the park are easily reached. It is possible to camp inside the Abijatta-Shalla National Park at the hot springs and further south of the track east of Shalla, leading to be the Dedaba River and outpost. Camping in the Langano park is more advisable due to the better Camping accommodations.

 

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Other Attractions
In association with the Abijatta Shalla Lakes National Park is Senkello Swayne’s hartebeest Sanctuary, some 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the town of Shashemene, and close to the Chitu entrance of the park. The sanctuary was established for this endemic subspecies of the hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus swaynei) which once roamed the plans of Somalia and Ethiopia in thousands, but is now restricted to four small localities in Ethiopia. The sanctuary is small but well worth a visit. Set beneath a small rounded hill, over 2,000 of these rich, chocolate colored hartebeest are packed into this area of wooded grassland, along with bohor reedbuck (Redunca Redunca), Oribi Warthog and many different species of birds.

Also worth a visit is Wendo Genet, especially the Wendo Genet Resort Hotel. The old but interesting hotel is set in gardens of citrus, palm and pine with a magnificent view from the terrace over the Rift Valley. This is a place to enjoy comfortable modern accommodation and excellent food, but it is really known for providing an opportunity to bathe in the natural hot springs and small hot pool here, which lie only a few meters from a cold, clear rushing mountain stream. Walks up the surrounding forests give a spectacular view and a change to observe the abundant bird life, as well as black and white Colobus monkeys.

 

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