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Awash National Park

Wildlife    Bird life    Other Attractions    Getting There    Accommodation

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Awash National Park is Located in the lowlands 225 km east of Addis Ababa, the south boundary of the park is formed by the Awash river which swings North soon after leaving the park and eventually disappears into the Afar (Danakil) region. The Park covers an area of 827 square kilometers, most of it lies at an altitude of 900 meters. In the middle of the park is the dormant volcano of Fantale, reaching a height of 2007 meters at its top. Temperatures in the park are hot and can reach as high as 42 degrees Celsius. Nights are cooler with temperatures between 10 and 22 degrees Celsius. Rain falls between February and August with an average of 619 mm. The terrain is mainly acacia woodland and grassland.

 

Getting there
Less than three hours drive from Addis Ababa, or one and a half from Nazareth along the main Addis-Harar highway, a good tarmac road, is the Awash National park and Game Reserve. The main entrance is at the 190 km. mark and you have already passed the park boundary as you crossed the railway track just before Fantale Crater, which rises 600 m. from the valley floor on the left. At this point there is a track to the left and it is possible to drive either up to the crater rim or right round the park to the hot springs although the road is such that the prospect will not tempt everyone. It is probably wiser to enter the main gate first and travel comfortably down towards the Awash River which constitutes the southern boundary of the park. Here is park Headquarters, sited near the dramatic Awash falls where the river enters its gigantic gorge.

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Wildlife
The wildlife of Awash reflects its dry nature, at all places and all times it is possible to see its population of mammals such as the Beisa Oryx, Soemmerrings Gazelle and Wild Pigs are common. Slightly less frequent are the furry waterbuck which tend to appear near the river in the late afternoon. The tiny Salts Dik-Dik, not easy to spot in the speckled shade of the acacia thorn, Zebra grazing the plains to the west of Fantale, Cheetah, Serval and Leopard are also there but it is not easy to spot them; Baboons, both Anubis and Hamadryas, Kudus, lesser and greater, the Giant Tortoise, Reedbuck, Aardvark and Caracal are also represented. Klipspringer inhabit the higher slopes of the mountain and curious Hyrax peer at you curiously from behind their rocks. In the bottom of the gorge you can spot the black and white Colobus Monkey. Crocodile and Hippopotamus are seen both in the Awash river and in the cooler parts of the hot springs and rivers in the north.

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Bird life
The birds of Awash are numerous, over 350 species are recorded for the park: (The check list is available at the museum at park Head quarters). They range from the great ostrich, frequently and easily observed, and the less common Secretary Bird and Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, to the flashes of brilliant pink which are the Carmine Bee-eaters, and the Abyssinian Roller with turquoise and purple, wings. And between these two extremes, birds of the riverine forest, Coucal, Turaco, Go-away Birds; birds of prey; and birds of the savannah. (for more information about Bird-watching see our Bird-watching Page)

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Other Attractions
The park itself is traversed by a series of well-maintained tracks, which take in the most spectacular of the many scenic attractions. It is possible, and perhaps advisable, to hire a park guide.
To the north at Filwoha lies the hot springs oasis in its groves of palm trees. It is reached by either one of two scenic tracks which start opposite the main gate on the far side of the road and bearing right, progress either along the floor of the Awash Falls lower Valley or along the top of the ridge.
The Awash river gorge in the south of the park has some spectacular waterfalls near the park headquarters.
Rafting is also a possibility, one or two days rafting trips can be organized on the Awash river, with its spirited rapids, wildlife, and impressive rugged cliffs and side canyons

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Accommodation
In Awash National Park Camping is far out the best alternative, camping sites are located on the edge of the river above the falls, Large spreading trees provide not only shade but also they shelter a wonderful collection of birds. A museum is near the camping site. 

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Last modified: July 26, 2012,
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