15 Ethiopia National Parks

awash national park ethiopia

The Ethiopia National Parks include the Simien mountains national park, Bale mountain national park, Awash national park, which are home to many endemic birds and wild animals. The vast Ethiopia national parks together gave the land a unique natural setting that attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Ethiopia is a land highland locked country in East Africa. It is also referred to as the horn of Africa due to the horn-shaped setting in the region. It Neighbours the countries surrounding it are Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, South Sudan, and Sudan. There are different varieties of climate, terrain, vegetation, and living conditions.

Due to its geographic setting and vairy of altitude in the country, Ethiopia is an ecologically diverse country with a great variety of animals and plants such as the endemic species like the red fox, gelada baboon.

Not only that the main historic cities like Gondar and Axum are located in the highlands of this country which covers most of it. Having world heritage sites like The Rock-Hewn churches of Lalibela, King Fasiledes’ castle of Gondar, Aksum, Harar Jugol, Tiya stones, Landscapes of Konso, Awash and Omo valleys and the Simien Ethiopia National Parks make it one of the best tourist destinations in the world, the National parks being one of those.

awash national park ethiopia
Ethiopia national parks zebras

National parks are areas of land protected to conserve native plants and animals and their habitats, places of natural attractiveness, historic heritage, and native cultures. It is an area in use for conservation purposes.

The ecosystem must not materially be altered by human exploitation and occupation. Therefore, it is a place for plant and animal species, and geomorphological sites.

National parks also contain a natural landscape of great beauty. Usually, the highest competent authority of the country has taken steps to prevent or eliminate exploitation or occupation as soon as possible in the whole area. This is to effectively enforce the respect of ecological, geomorphological, or aesthetic features that have led to its establishment.

Including the Ethiopia national parks, most other parks allow visitors to enter for inspirational, educative, cultural, and recreational purposes.

The Ethiopia national parks also have legal protection, budget, and staff sufficient to provide sufficient effective protection and protection from exploitation of natural resources.

Being a country with diverse ecology and wildlife, Ethiopia has several protected national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

Abijatta-Shalla National Park

Abijatta-Shalla National Park established in 1963 is located in the Oromia Region and the Ethiopian Highlands region, 200 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, and east of the Ziway–Shashamane highway.

The park covers about 887 square kilometers, that includes the Rift Valley lakes of Abijatta and Shalla. The park altitude differs between 1540 to 2075 meters.

Besides the two lakes, the park has hot springs on the northeast corner of Lake Abijatta, and large numbers of flamingoes on the lake.

It is reportedly said some of the Acacia woodlands near the Lake Abijatta has been exploited for charcoal. This practice still persists. Many cut and sell the trees and charcoal not far from the lakes.

Ethiopia National Parks #1- Abijatta-Shalla National Park

Alatash National Park

Alatash national park or Alatish national park is a rather new national park located in the Amhara region. Alatash national park covers about 2666 square kilometers. It was established in 2006.

Ethiopia National Parks #2- Alatash National ParkPark

Awash National Park

Located at 225 kilometers east of Addis Ababa in the regions Oromia and Afar, the Awash national park is considered the first in Ethiopia. Established in 1958 with an area of 756 square kilometers, it inhabits wildlife including the East African oryx, Soemmerring’s gazelle, dik-dik, the lesser and greater kudus, and warthogs.

This Ethiopia national parks also has the Anubis baboons and hamadryas baboons and over 453 species of native birds like the North African ostriches. 

African wild dogs that used to live in the park are now extinct.

Ethiopia National Parks #3- Awash National Park

Bahir Dar Blue Nile River Millennium Park

Established in 2008 in the Bahir dar region, the Bahir Dar Blue Nile River Millennium Park has a large area of 4728 square kilometers.

Ethiopia National Parks #4- Bahir Dar Blue Nile River Millennium Park

walia ibex
Walia Ibex Ethiopia National Parks

Borena Saynt national park

Borena Saynt national park located in the Amhara region having an area of 4325 square kilometers was established in 2001.

Ethiopia National Parks #5- Borena Saynt national park

Bale Mountains National Park

Bale Mountains National park is located in southeastern Ethiopia, 400 km southeast of Addis Ababa, and 150 km east of Shashamene in the Oromia region.

The park encompasses an area of approximately 2,150 square kilometers in the Bale Mountains and Sanetti Plateau of the Ethiopian Highlands. The Bale Mountains are part of the Bale-Arsi massif, which forms the western section of the southeastern Ethiopian Highlands.

The boundary of the Bale Mountain National Park lies within five districts, Adaba (west), Dinsho (north), Goba (northeast), Delo-Mena-Angetu, and Harena-Buluk (southeast). The park’s Afromontane habitats have one of the highest incidences of animal endemicity of any terrestrial habitat in the world.

The park was nominated to the World Heritage Tentative List in 2009. The park is divided into five distinct and unique habitats, the Northern Grasslands (Gaysay Valley), Northern Woodlands (Park Headquarters), Afro-alpine Meadows (Sanetti Plateau), Erica Moorlands, and the Harenna Forest.


Habitats of the Bale Mountains National Park range from grassland areas around 3,000 meters in elevation to Mount Tulu Demtu, the second-highest point in Ethiopia at 4,377 meters above sea level. The Bale Mountains National Park is an important area for several threatened Ethiopian endemic species.

Additionally, the park holds 26% of Ethiopia’s endemic species including one primate, one bovid, one hare, eight rodent species, and the entire global population of the big-headed African mole-rat. There are also several rare and endemic amphibians.

Bale Mountains National Park is home to 1,321 species of flowering plants, 163 of which are endemic to Ethiopia, and 23 to Bale alone. The forests of the Bale Mountains are important for genetic stocks of wild forest coffee and for medicinal plants in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia National Parks #6- Bale Mountains National Park

Chebera Churchura National Park

Chebera Churchura National Park is a national park located in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region in the southwest of Ethiopia. The park was founded by the regional government in 1997.

The park covers 1,250 square kilometers and contains four types of habitat. Most of the park is wooded grassland dominated by elephant grass, with montane woodland and riparian forest. 37 species of large mammal, including African elephants, have been recorded in the park, and 237 species of bird.

Ethiopia National Parks #7- Chebera Churchura National Park

Ethiopia National Parks

Nech Sar National Park

Nech Sar National Park is a national park in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia. It is in the Great Rift Valley, within the southwestern Ethiopian Highlands. The 514-square-kilometer park includes the “Bridge of God”, an isthmus between Lake Abaya and Lake Chamo, and the Nech Sar plains east of the lakes. It is east of Arba Minch.

It was established in 1966. In the lawless period at the end of the Derg rule and immediately afterward, Nech Sar suffered much damage. Park buildings located far from the headquarters were looted and damaged. Wildlife in the park includes plains zebra, Grant’s gazelle, dik-dik, and the greater kudu as well as one of the last three populations of the endangered Swayne’s hartebeest, endemic to Ethiopia.

A stretch of the northwest shore of Lake Chamo is known as the Crocodile Market, where hundreds of crocodiles gather to bask. The park also has populations of bushbuck, bush pig, Anubis baboon, vervet monkeys, and black-backed jackal.

The endangered painted hunting dog once existed in the park with last sightings at Fincha, but may now be extirpated due to human population pressures in this region. In 2009, a small group of fewer than 23 lions was estimated in and around the protected area.

Nech Sar National Park of Ethiopian National parks is considered an important habitat for bird populations particularly those migrating. It has a noted population of kingfishers, storks, pelicans, flamingos, and African fish eagles.

Ethiopia National Parks #8- Nech Sar National Park

abiata national park ethiopia
Ethiopia national park- flamingos

Mago National Park

Mago National Park is located in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region about 782 kilometers south of Addis Ababa and north of a large 90° bend in the Omo River, the 2162 square kilometers of this park is divided by the Mago River, a tributary of the Omo, into two parts.

To the west is the Tama Wildlife Reserve, with the Tama river defining the boundary between the two. To the south is the Murle Controlled Hunting Area, distinguished by Lake Dipa which stretches along the left side of the lower Omo.

The park office is 115 kilometers north of Omorate and 26 kilometers southwest of Jinka. All roads to and from the park are unpaved. The major environments in and around the Park are the rivers and riverine forest, the wetlands along with the lower Mago and around Lake Dipa, the various grasslands on the more level areas, and scrub on the sides of the hills.

Open grassland comprises about 9% of the park’s area. The largest trees are found in the riverine forest beside the Omo, Mago, and Neri. Areas along the lower Omo (within the park) are populated with a rich diversity of ethnic groups, including the Aari, Banna, Bongoso, Hamar, Karo, Kwegu, Male, and Mursi peoples.

The Mago National Park was established in 1974, making it the newest of Ethiopia’s several National Parks. The park’s perhaps best-known attraction is the Mursi, known for piercing their lips and inserting disks made of clay.

Ethiopia National Parks #9- Mago National Park

Maze National Park

Maze National Park is a national park in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region of Ethiopia. It is 210 square kilometers in size. Maze was founded in 1997 and is managed by the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority.

Ethiopia National Parks #10- Maze National Park

black lion ethiopia
Ethiopia National Parks African lion

Simien Mountains National Park

The other well-known Ethiopia national parks is the Simien mountains national park, found in the north Gondar zone in the Amhara region. The park covers the Simien Mountains, which includes the Ras Dashan, which is the tallest mountain in Ethiopia and the tenth tallest in Africa with an altitude of 4550 meters. The park stretches out 412 square kilometers.

This Ethiopia National park was established in 1959 and was one of the first sites to be delegated to a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. However, due to serious population declines of some of its characteristic native species, in 1989 it was also added to the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The heritage area is on the western side of the Simien Mountains and is 120 km from the Gondar province of Begemder in the northwestern part of Ethiopia. The vegetation is mixed with African alpine forests, wilderness forests, and alpine vegetation.

High altitude areas include montane savannah and tree heath, giant lobelia, yellow primrose, everlastings, A lady’s mantle, and a moss. Lichen covers the trees of the alpine area. The vegetation throughout the park is divided into three sections

  • Montane forest (1900-3000m),
  • Ericaceous Belt or Sub Afroalpine (2700-3700m) and
  • the Afroalpine (3700-5433m).

Within the Montane forest, there are Juniper trees, African Redwood, African Olive, Fig Trees, and Water berry Trees. 

There are also many varieties of shrubs including Nightshade, Abyssinian rose, Cowslip, and Stinging Nettle. The ridges and canyons have scattered meadows, forests, and bushes.

The St. John’s wort Forests that grew from 3,000 m to 3,800 m above sea level are now deforested away. Only a few exist today. The park is populated with over 130 bird species and over 20 large mammal species such as gelada baboon, Ethiopian wolf also called Simien fox, Walia ibex, wild mountain goats, and the Anubis baboon.

Inhabits on the slope of the northern slope of the massif are mostly native to the Simien Mountains, and most of them are found in the park. The Ethiopian wolf is endemic to Ethiopia and other mammals include hamadryas baboon, colobus monkey, leopard, caracal, wild cat, spotted hyena, and golden jackal.

There are also large herbivores, such as bushbuck, common duiker, and klipspringer. The 400 species of birds include lammergeyer, Verreaux’s eagle, kestrels, vultures, lanner falcon, African buzzard, and thick-billed raven.

A total of 21 species of mammals, 3 species of endemic species, 63 species of birds, and 7 species of endemic species are recorded.

Ethiopia National Parks #11- Seimen National Park

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Ethiopia National Parks

Yangudi Rassa National Park

Yangudi Rassa National Park is located in the Afar Region, its 4730 square kilometers of territory include Mount Yangudi near the southern border and the surrounding Rassa Plains, with altitudes from 400 to 1459 meters above sea level.

Sandy semi-desert and wooded grassland cover the majority of the park’s area. This park lies between the territory of the Afars and the Issas, and while violence has been frequent between them, most of the park is in an area where they avoid each other.

As a result, most of the active protection of the park is focused on managing their conflict. This national park was proposed in 1969 in specific to protect the African wild ass, but the steps needed to officially establish this park had not been completed as of 1994. Recently, the wild ass became extinct in Yagundi Rassa.

Ethiopia National Parks #12- Yagundi Rassa National Park

Gambella National Park

Gambella National Park is a 4,575-square-kilometre national park in Ethiopia, near the South Sudanese border. It is the nation’s largest national park. Gambella is located several hundred kilometers from Addis Ababa.

Gambella was established in 1966, but is not fully protected and has not been effectively managed for much of its history. Gambella National Park has one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Ethiopia.

69 mammal species occur in the protected area including African elephant, African buffalo, White-eared kob bush pig, common warthog, giraffe, hippopotamus, kéwel, Nile lechwe, sable, tiang, topi, and waterbuck, cheetah, leopard, lion, mantled guereza, olive baboon, patas monkey, and spotted hyena.

The park also hosts herds of Bohor reedbuck, bushbuck, Lelwel hartebeest, oribi, reedbuck, roan antelope, and white-eared kob. The white-eared kob migration is Africa’s second-largest mammal migration.

In 2007, African Parks and the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority surveyed the park’s giraffe population for the first time and estimated there were between 100 and 120 giraffes. Gambella’s giraffes were once thought to belong to the Nubian subspecies.

327 bird species, including seasonal migrants, have been recorded, including the African skimmer, black-faced firefinch, Carmine bee-eater, cisticolas, crowned cranes, Egyptian plover, exclamatory paradise whydah, green bee-eater, pelicans, approximately 40 species of raptors, red-necked buzzard, red-throated bee-eater, storks, warblers, and vultures.

Plant species along the Akobo and Baro rivers include: Acacia victoriae, Arundo donax, shenkorageda, and temba. The invasive Eichhornia crassipes has also been reported. Since 1997, the protected area is considered a Lion Conservation Unit. Efforts to reduce poaching doubled the number of wild animals in the park between 2000 and 2005.

Ethiopia National Parks #13- Gambella National Park

Holiday to ethiopia - Gelada monkey ethiopia animals
Ethiopia National Parks Gelada Monkey

Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary

Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area and wildlife sanctuary in southern Ethiopia. It is located in the Borena Zone of the Oromia Region west of the town of Yabelo. It has an area of 2,500 square kilometers.

The area of the sanctuary is notable for its red soils which have little organic matter. Yabelo reportedly suffers from a great deal of deforestation, and illegal hunting of the spotted cats and ostrich is common.

Ethiopia National Parks #14- Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary

Kafta Sheraro National Park

Kafta Sheraro National Park is in Ethiopia’s western Tigray region, in the districts of Kafta Humera and Tahtay Adiyabo. The park borders with Eritrea’s GashSetit to the north and is traversed by the Tekezé River. Vegetation communities in the park include Acacia-Commiphora, CombretumTerminalia, dry evergreen montane woodlands and riparian types.

A total of 167 mammal species, 95 bird species and 9 reptile species have been recorded at the site. The park is home to a transboundary African elephant population of about 100 individuals, which it shares with Eritrea’s Gash-Setit, and which constitutes the northernmost elephant population in Eastern Africa.

Kafta-Sheraro is also an important wintering site for demoiselle cranes. Other notable wildlife species include lion, leopard, caracal, aardvark, greater kudu, roan antelope, red-fronted gazelle and red-necked ostrich.

Ethiopia National Parks #15- Kafta Sheraro National Park

Finally, On Ethiopia National Parks

There are also several more national parks, protected wildlife sanctuaries, and wildlife reserves in Ethiopia. As we have seen in the above descriptions of the most dominant national parks of Ethiopia.

There are many attraction points like endemic species, amusing views of nature and topography, different vegetation, and different rivers. These attractions could be a very important way to promote the country and make it a focal point for tourism, and this will help boost the countries economy significantly.

But these protected areas are facing problems like poaching, deforestation, extinction on the species, different conflicts between the tribes living around, etc… this makes it hard to develop the areas and make them suitable enough to the public.

Different measures should seriously be taken and the government body that is responsible for the development and protection of these areas should work very organized.

Different developmental activities like educating the people around the areas, promotional activities, and accommodation and suitable transportation and protection for the public and tourists to view the area should be available. These places are advantages for growth in the country and should really be taken seriously as they are the treasures of the country as a whole.

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