In Ethiopia there are plenty of natural attractions to view or visit – a collection of natural wonders located in all corners of the world. They are absolute must-sees.The natural beauty of Ethiopia amazes the first-time visitor. Ethiopia is a land of rugged mountains (25 of which are over 12,000 feet high) broad savannah, lakes and rivers. The unique Rift Valley is a remarkable region of volcanic lakes, with their famous collections of birdlife, great escarpments and stunning vistas. Tisisat, the Blue Nile falls, must rank as one of the greatest natural spectacles in Africa today. With 14 major wildlife reserves, Ethiopia provides a microcosm of the entire sub-Saharan ecosystem. Birdlife abounds, and indigenous animals from the rare Walia Ibex to the shy wild ass, roam free just as nature intended. Ethiopia, after the rains, is a land decked with flowers and with many more native plants than most countries in Africa. Among the many natural tourist attractions only the principal ones are briefly given below
Simien Mountains National Park
Simien Mountains National Park – Massive erosion over the years on the Ethiopian plateau has reated one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 meters. The park is home to some extremely rare animals such as the Gelada baboon, the Simien fox and the Walia ibex,a goat found nowhere else in the world.The region includes many summits above 1,000 metres (13,0001 feet), and culminates in the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dashen, which at 4,5-13 metres (14,901 feet), is also Africa’s fourth highest mountain. It is not a difficult mountain to climb and can be reached by travelling through the Simien Mountains National Park.The base from which to explore the small, 179-square-kilo-metre (111-square-mile)
Nechisar National Park
Nechisar National Park is situated 510km south of Addis near the town of Arba Minch, in between Lakes Abaya and Chamo. From the town on the ridge of land that divides Abaya and Chamo there are commanding panoramic views all around, including both lakes with Nechisar on the eastern side and, to the west, the Guge range of mountains. The outstanding beauty of the neck of land between the two lakes has earned it the sobriquet of’Bridge of Heaven’. The equally poetic Arba Minch – meaning ‘forty springs’ – takes its name from the bubbling streams which spring up amid the undergrowth of the luxuriant groundwater forest that covers the flats beneath the town. This alluring area is considered one of Ethiopia’s last great surviving wildernesses A wide variety of plains game roam freely amongst 514 km2 of savannah, dry bush and ground water forest, which are also the habitat of 188 recorded species of birds. Animals to be seen are Bushbuck, Swayne’s Hartebeest, Burchell’s Zebra, Grant’s Gazelle, Guenther’s Dik-dik, Greater Kudu, Crocodile, Anubis Baboon, Grey Duiker. Birds seen include Red-billed Hornbill, Grey Hornbil,l Fish Eagle, Kori Bustard, Abyssinian Ground Hornbill. A backdrop of hills and mountains combine to make this one of the most attractive national parks in Ethiopia, and its location makes
Awash National Park
Located at the southern tip of the Afar Region, this park is 225 kilometers 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. The park is traversed by a series of well-maintained tracks, which take in the most spectacular of the many scenic attractions. One of the main features is the Fantale volcano,on the southern flank of which can be seen the dark scar of the latest lava flow of 1820
OMO NATIONAL PARK
The Omo National Park – one of the Ethiopia’s largest and richest nature sanctuary and yet one of the least visited areas in East and Central Africa. Located on the west bank of the Omo River, the park covers approximately 4,068 square kilometers, about 870 kilometers southwest of Addis Ababa.Most easily accessed from the town of Jinka, Mago National Park is mainly savannah, with some forested areas around the rivers It was set up to conserve the large numbers of plains animals in the area, particularly buffalo, giraffe, and elephant. Also seen here are topi and lelwel hartebeest, as well as lion, leopard, Burchell’s zebra, gerenuk, and greater and lesser kudu. The birds are also typical of the dry grassland habitat, featuring bustards,hornbills, weavers, and starlings. Kingfishers and her-ons feed in and around the Neri River, which provides an alternative habitat. The Omo and Mago parks are extensive wilderness areas and wildlife can be prolific: large herds of eland and buffalo, elephant, giraffe, cheetah, lion, leopard, and Burchell’s zebra.Lesser kudu, lelwel hartebeest, topi, and oryx are all resident species, as well as deBrazza’s and colobus monkeys and Anubis baboon. The 306 bird species recorded include many that will be familiar to East African visitors.The lower reaches of the Omo river were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980,after the discovery (in the Omo Kibish Formation) of the earliest known fossil fragments of Homo sapiens, which have been dated circa 195,000 years old.
MAGO NATIONAL PARK
Located about 782 kilometers south of Addis Ababa and on east bank of Omo river, the 2,162 square kilometers of this park are 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. The park has about 200km internal roads, which lead to the different .Most easily accessed from the town of Jinka, Mago National Park is mainly savannah, with some forested areas around the rivers. It was set up to conserve the large numbers of plains animals in the area, particularly buffalo, giraffe, and elephant. Also seen here are topi and lelwel hartebeest, as well as lion, leopard, Burchell’s zebra, gerenuk, and greater and lesser kudu. The birds are also typical ofthe dry grassland habitat, featuring bustards,hornbills, weavers, and starlings. Kingfishers and her-ons feed in and around the Neri River, which provides an alternative habitat.
Bale Mountains National Park
Bale Mountains National Park is 2,400 square kilometres (1,488 square miles) in area,covering a wide range of habitats and ranging in altitude from 1,500 to 4,377 metres (4,920 to 14,357 feet), southern Ethiopia’s highest point. The spectacular Harenna escarpment running from east to west divides the area into two major parts. To the north is a high-altitude plateau area, formed of ancient volcanic rocks and dissected by many rivers and streams that have cut deep gorges into the edges. In some places this has resulted in scenic waterfalls.
Gambella National Park
Gambella National park is located 850 km west of Addis Ababa. It was established as a protected area in 1973 to conserve a diverse assemblage of wildlife and unique habitats. Although not technically in the Rift Valley, Gambella National Park lies along another of the country’s important rivers: the Baro. Near the town of Gambella, Gambella National Park, is one of Ethiopia’s least developed parks and has no facilities. Nevertheless, the large conservation area contains many species not found elsewhere in the country, such as the Nile lechwe and the white-eared kob. Roan antelope, topi, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, and the unusual whale-headed stork are also to be found here
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, 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 tribe and the Issas tribe, and while violence has been frequent between them, most of the park happens to be 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 to protect the African Wild Ass. Recently, the Wild Ass went extinct in Yagundi Rassa. However, there is a small population in the adjacent Mile-Serdo Wild Ass Reserve (8,766 km²). The park headquarters are in the town of Gewane. Large animals native to the park include Beisa Oryx, Soemmering’s gazelle, gerenuk and Grevy’s zebra. Bird species of interest include Phoenicopterus minor, Petronia brachydactyla and Ardeotis arabs. Unique features – Yangudi Rassa is an extensive wilderness in this remote northeastern partof the country. More than 200 birds have been recorded here. Of these, no less than 23 Somali-Masai Biome species and two globally threatened species, namely, the Lesser Kestrel and Pallid Harrier are know to occur in the park. It is an important flyway for species like the Terek Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Woodchat Shrike, Lesser Grey Shrike, Black Cap and Ortolan Bunting. This protected area also has 36 species of mammals including Wild Ass, Beisa Oryx, Dorcas Gazelle, Hamadryas Baboon, Bat-eared Fox, Black-backed Jackal, Striped Hyena and Aardwolf.
Sof Omar Caves
Not far from Bale Mountains is one of the world’s most spectacular and extensive underground caverns: the Sof Omar cave system. The weib river, which sources from the Bale Mountains National Park, penetrates the caves year round, offering a magnificent view to the visitors. Sof Omar is an extraordinary natural phenomenon of breathtaking beauty. At 15.1 kilometres long, Sof Omar Cave is the longest cave in Ethiopia and the largest system of caves in Africa, through which the Weib River flows.
ERTA ALE & DALLOL
This part of the world is called the Danakil Depression , one of the remotest, the lowest and unique land formation of the world in the great rift valley system, still this part of the earth is unstable and pulling each other to the opposite side.Erta Ale is an absolutely unique lava lake erupting 24 hours a day. It is a round crater because it is inside the rift valley system where the earth is unstable. This is a place for adventure trip or just to look but it is also the best place to study the volcano. Still the science is unclear about why and when volcanos erupt. Studies here can help to save lives of many people if we can better understand the way the volcano erupts.Erta Ale means Smoking Mountain by Afar Language. At night when you walk to the volcanic hill Erta Alle 613 m high you will see light away from the sky. You will walk over unusual and amazing dry lava topography. To visit there is to feel like being in another world – in space. The Afar People is one of the few African people with unspoiled culture and they will stay in your mind always.
Dalol is 100 km from North West of Erta Ale in the lowest part of Danakil Depression – 116 m below sea level. It is an extremely hot and inhospitable place but enjoyable and extraordinary colorful landscape;nearby Lake Asale famous salt mining lake, which is supply salt consumption of the eastern Tigray highland people transport by camels. Once the stone salt was used for money in Ethiopia. Still hundreds of camel caravans on the road everyday except Friday and in the hottest month from June -September transport salt to the western highland. Dallol Depression it is the best and real place to experience desert.
The Blue Nile Falls (Tisisat Falls)
The River Nile, the longest river in Africa, in Ethiopia. From Lake Tana, the Blue Nile, known locally as Abbay,flows from Ethiopia to meet the white Nile in Khartoum to form the great river that gives life to Egypt and the Sudan. It has been said that the Blue Nile contributes up to 80% of the Nile’s flow. Nowhere is it more spectacular than when it thunders over the Tisisat Falls near Bahar Dar. Here millions of gallons of water cascade over the cliff face and into a gorge, creating spectacular rainbows, in one of the most awe-inspiring displays in Africa, earning its name ‘Smoking Water’. The Blue Nile falls can easily be reached from Bahar Dar and the Scenic beauty of the Blue Nile Gorge, 225KM from Addis Ababa, can be enjoyed as part of an excursion from the capital.
Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, is the source and from where the famed Blue Nile starts its long journey to Khartoum, and on to the MedIETrranean. The 37 islands that are scattered about the surface of the lake shelter fascinating churches and monasteries.Some of which have histories dating back to the 13th century. A sail or cruise on Lake Tana is one of the most pleasant excursions for visitors to this region, particularly in the heart of the summer. Boats can be hired from the Marine Transport Authority in Bahir Dar.Along the lake shore bird life, both local and migratory visitors, make the sIET an ideal place for bird-watchers. Bird lovers will not want to miss Fasiledes island, which is specially famous as Lake Tana is an important wetland. The whole of the lake Tana region and the Blue Nile gorge host a wide variety of birds both endemic and migratory visitors. The variety of habitats, from rocky crags to riverain forests and important wetlands, ensure that many other different species should be spotted.
Rift Valley Lakes
The Ethiopian Rift Valley, which is part of the famous East African Rift Valley, comprises numerous hot springs, beautiful lakes and a variety of wildlife. The valley is the result of two parallel faults in the earth’s surface, between which in distant geological time, the crust was weakened and the land subsided. Ethiopia is often referred to as the ‘water tower’ of Eastern Africa because of the many rivers that pour off the high tableland. The Great Rift Valley’s passage through Ethiopia is marked by a chain of seven lakes. Each of the seven lakes has its own special life and character and provides ideal habitats for the exuberant variety of flora and fauna that make the region a beautiful and exotic destination for tourists. Most of the lakes are suitable and safe for swimming and other water sports. Lakes Abiata and Shalla are ideal places for bird watchers. Most of the Rift Valley lakes are not fully exploited for tourists except lake Langano where tourist class hotels are built. The Rift Valley is also a site of numerous natural hot springs and the chemical contents of the hot springs are highly valued for their therapeutic purposes though at present they are not fully utilised. In short, the Rift Valley is endowed with many beautiful lakes, numerous hot springs, warm and pleasant climate and a variety of wildlife. It is considered as one of the most ideal areas for the development of international tourism in Ethiopia.
The major ones are
Lake Abaya (areal extent 1,162 square kilometres (449 sq mi), elevation 1,285 metres (4,216 ft),
maximum depth 13.1 metres (43 ft)), the largest Ethiopian Rift Valley lake
Lake Chamo (areal extent 551 square kilometres (213 sq mi), elevation 1,235 metres (4,052 ft),
maximum depth 14 metres (46 ft))
Lake Zway or Dambal (areal extent 485 square kilometres (187 sq mi), elevation 1,636 metres
(5,367 ft), maximum depth 8.9 metres (29 ft))
Lake Shala (areal extent 329 square kilometres (127 sq mi), elevation 1,558 metres (5,112 ft),
maximum depth 266 metres (873 ft)), the deepest Ethiopian Rift Valley lake
Koka Reservoir (areal extent 250 square kilometres (97 sq mi), elevation 1,590 metres (5,220 ft),
maximum depth not listed)
Lake Langano (areal extent 230 square kilometres (89 sq mi), elevation 1,585 metres (5,200 ft),
maximum depth 46 metres (151 ft))
Lake Abijatta (areal extent 205 square kilometres (79 sq mi), elevation 1,573 metres (5,161 ft),
maximum depth 14 metres (46 ft))
Lake Awasa (areal extent 129 square kilometres (50 sq mi), elevation 1,708 metres (5,604 ft),
maximum depth 10 metres (33 ft))