This 756km2 national park on the border of the Afar and Oromia regions is readily accessible, being just 190km drive from Addis Ababa.

Habitat is mostly comprised of dry, grassy plains, acacia scrub and there is some riverine woodland along the Awash River, as well as Doum palm groves at the park's hot springs.

Scenery includes varied highlights such as the Awash Falls (at their best during or just after the rains); Lake Beseka, the crater of the dormant Fentalle volcano and the Awash Gorge. The park is best visited for its diverse birdlife, with a species list in excess of 450. Highlights for birders include 7 species of Bustard (notably Kori and Arabian bustards), flocks of various species of Sandgrouse; Abbysinnian roller and gorgeous Northern carmine bee-eaters.

Do note that mammal populations are sparse following years of poaching, but most visitors see fair numbers of Beisa oryx and the localised Soemmering's gazelle as well as Greater kudu, Defassa waterbuck, tiny Salt's dikdik and Black-backed jackal. Hamadryas and Anubis baboons are common, as are Vervet monkeys.

Activities in and around the park include game drives (the main circuit is about 35km and does include some rough roads) and walks; visiting the Aga Edu Hyena Cave 2km from Lake Beseka to see the resident Spotted hyenas and visiting Filwoha Hot Spings and their blue pools surrounded by Doum palms. 

Derek Schuurman

Travel Specialist

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