Blessed with a variety of landscapes as well as abundant bird and wildlife Ethiopia offers astonishing travel opportunities. The land features fall into three main categories, the mountainous, fertile highlands, the lowlands and the Great Rift Valley. While on the highland the climate is moderate, the lowlands are hot and dry. The Rift Valley region, with its occasional hot springs, offers everything from hot to moderate climate. From the peak of Mount Ras Dashen to the depths of the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia is a land of enormous natural beauty.
Bale Mountains National Park
400 km south-west of Addis lays the Bale Mountains National Park with its highest peak, Mount Tullu Deemto. The park is renowned for its distincticeflora and its superb fishing possibilities. With its afro-alpine vegetation, tropical forests and wide grasslands it offers great riding and trekking possibilities. The many diverse biotopes attract a variety of bird- and wildlife and the rivers are teeming with trout, perfect for fly-fishing.
Refer to Trekking in Bale Mountains
Simien Mountains National Park
One of the finest and best known National parks in the north of the country is the Simien Mountains National Park. With its rugged peaks and unique landscape as well as diverse flora and fauna the park offers plenty of interesting trekking possibilities. Its highest peak, Mount Ras Dashen, is the 4th highest peak in Africa and rises up to a height of 4543 m offering superb views over the surroundings. Although not too far from the equator, snow and ice appear on the highest points and night temperatures often fall below zero.
Herds of Gelada Baboons can be seen grazing on the mountain sides, as well as over 50 species of birds, Simien Wolfs, Klipspringer, Grimm's Duiker, Hyenas and more. The park was created primarily to protect the rare Walia Ibexes and has good tourist facilities. Riding and packing animals are available.
Refer to Trekking in Simien Mountains
Awash National Park
In the lowlands east of Addis Ababa, astride the Awash River, lies the Awash National Park. The arid and semi-arid woodland and savannah surrounding the dormant volcano Fantale, are home of 46 mammals and 392 bird species, some of them endemic. Beisa Oryx, Swayne's Hartebeest, Lions, Grivet Monkeys, Hamadryas Baboons, Kudus and more can be spottet here along with many birds like Green Wood Hoopoe, Emerald-spotted Dove, Chanting Goshawk, Lesser Flamingo and so on. The dramatic Awash Falls give not a hint that the river will later flow into the wilderness of the Danakil Depression, never reaching the sea. A special attraction are the clear pools of the Filwoha hot springs.
Nechisar National Park
Nechisar National Park is situated on a strikingly beautiful setting between two of the Rift Valley lakes, Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo on one side and high mountain ranges on the other side. The wide savannah grasslands are home of Burchell's Zebra, Grant's Gazelle, Greater Kudu, Klipspringer, Dikdik, Waterbuck and Warthog as well as the rare Swayne's Hartebeest.
A boat trip on Lake Chamo brings you close to hippos and spectacular congregations of Giant Crocodiles. The lakes attract a variety of water birds as well as many locals who fish in their traditional boats for Nile Perch and other fish species. Also other bird species like Nightjars, White-tailed Bush Lark, Kori Bustard, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Crowned Crane and many more can be seen.
Omo National Park
With its 4068 km2 of wilderness bordered by the Omo River, the Omo National Park is one of the most beautiful and unsurpassed parks in Ethiopia. The park is not easily accessible. Two days of trekking are required to reach the park from Maji or Kibish. Large herds of Eland, Buffalo and Elephant as well as 306 species of birds live along the river and the wide savannah grassland. If lucky you might see also Giraffe, Cheetah or Lions. Another highlight of the park is a visit of the Surma people, who still live in a very traditional way at the border of the national park. The semi-nomadic Surma tribe is known for cattle rearing and stick-fighting events, with which young men are welcomed into adulthood.
Mago National Park
North of Mount Mago (2,528 m), along the Omo River lays the 2612 km2 areal of the Mago National Park. The broad grassland teems with herds of Buffalo, Giraffe, Elephant and Kudu. Sometimes even Lions, Leopards and Burchell's Zebras can be seen. The riverbanks attract a variety of birds like Kori Bustard, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Sparrow Weavers, Wattled Starling, Kingfishers and Goliath Heron. Due to its remoteness the park attracts relatively few tourists and therefore there are hardly any facilities.
A visit of the Mursi people who live at the border of the park is possible. From the rest of the world forgotten, they could develop and keep their traditional way of life. Mursi women wear big ear and lip plates as a sign of wealth and beauty.
Gambella National Park
In the western part of Ethiopia, well off the beaten track, lies the Gambella National Park along the Baro River. With its large area of swamps and wetlands the park creates unique biotopes which attract large quantities of birdlife, many of them migratory visitors. Egyptian Goose, Sacred Ibis, Egrets, Kingfishers and Pelicans are here plentiful. Also mammals like Sable Antelopes, Elephants, Giraffes, Topi and White-eared Kobs can be found in the park. A visit of the nearby villages of the Nuer and Anuake people is possible.
Yangudi-Rassa National Park
This seldom visited park along the Assab road consists of 4730 km2 of semi desert and dry scrub. The dry grassland is home to herds of the endangered Somali Wild Ass, Grevy's Zebra, Hamadryras Baboon and Beisa Oryx as well as different bird species. There are no tourist facilities in the park.