Hiking Mt. Fentale
Situated at the northwestern edge of Awash NP, Mt. Fentale towers majestically over the surrounding lowlands being 2007 m in height a.s.l. The crater on top is approximately 3.5 km in diameter and offers a panoramic view. From here it is possible to see steam rising from the many geothermal vents on the sides of the mountain. The best time to see this phenomenon is during the cool time of the morning, which is also the best time to climb the mountain. The climb itself leads through Acacia dominated slopes and offers some breathtaking views.
Once you have reached the top and if luck is on your side, it is possible to see pairs of Egyptian vultures, Lammergeyers and other raptors flying beneath you. Currently, it is not possible to drive to the top of the mountain as the road needs maintenance, but parking is available at the base of the mountain in the north, where local guides are willing to guide you up the mountain. The walk to the top of the mountain is relatively easy and the hike to the peak should take between 2:30-3:00 hrs.
Awash NP is home to more than 80 species of mammals, 45% of these are Ethiopia’s distinctive Semi-arid species. The Park was once, and probably still is, a major habitat for one of the largest populations of the Beisa Oryx in Africa.
The Ilala Sala Plain in the southern part of the Park, where a game drive is a must, the plains are best viewed in the sun rise and sunset to see herds of Beisa oryx and Soemmerring’s gazelle. Lesser kudu, Anubis baboon, Salt's dik-dik, Common warthogs, Bat-eared foxes and jackals and Abyssinian hare are frequently encountered. There is also an opportunity to see open grass land birds like the Kori bustard (the heaviest flying bird in the world), Abyssinian ground horn bill, Secretary bird (hunting snakes in the savanna grass land) and different species of bustards. The wonderful Awash Gorge (about 150 m deep) from the view of the old Kereyu Lodge is really breathtaking experience.
Eighty km from the Park to the Afar side it is possible to visit the Alledeghi Wildlife Reserve and see herds of Grevy’s zebras, oryx and gazelles. A breathtaking view of the Awash Gorge is part of this drive, or one just relaxes at Kereyu Lodge and enjoys the fantastic view of the deep Awash Gorge.
Among others, the KEREYU Oromo and AFAR ethnic groups dwell nearby the Park. They have very interesting and attractive lifestyles with their own culture, languages and historical backgrounds. We recommend tourists to visit the mysterious dwellings of these colorful communities in the surrounding villages. One can see the sharp contrast between the two societies as you stroll through their unique pastoral villages. The Lodge in collaboration with the Park and the Fentale District Culture and Tourism Office commenced organizing cultural songs and dancing of the Kereyu community in the Lodge’s compound.
Crocodiles - Of the 40 plus species of reptiles in the Park, the ones most likely to be encountered are Nile crocodiles, Monitor lizards and Leopard tortoises. These are commonly seen basking and foraging in the vicinity of the Lodge. The crocodiles here are unique in that they climb on boulders and rocks for basking. One can also see smaller crocodiles at the Fil wuha hot springs, a bit further from the swimming pool in less warm natural water ponds, a possible adaptation to warm water. It is an inspirational experience to see basking crocodiles and monitor lizards in and around the Awash River and at the hot springs.
There are various sites which are pleasant for camping overnight in Awash NP: Four sites are under the riverine forest of Awash River (near the Head Office of the Park) and others are on top of Mt. Fentale, at the hot springs by the Palm groves, and in the Awash Falls Lodge compound. Camping visitors should be self-contained except inside the Lodge.
The Awash Falls Lodge has two boats with the capacity of three and five persons, which guests can use cool themselves under the falls anytime of the day and also above the waterfalls. Boating is possible for about two km. It is a bit uncomfortable to raft during the rains (July to October) it is recommended to use a professional rafter.
Awash National Park
Ethiopia has wildlife protected areas at different levels and dedicated about 193,600 km2 of its land. These protected areas are kept aside to protect natural ecosystems particularly for wildlife conservation, tourism, research and education. Awash National Park, the oldest Protected Areas in Ethiopia, is situated here as the best destination package.
Awash National Park (ANP)
This protected area is the first national park of Ethiopia and one of the two gazetted protected areas in the country. It is located about 205 km east of Addis Ababa. The Park covers an area of 756 km2 with altitudinal range between 750 -2007 m a.s.l. It is situated in a region of semi-arid grassland and xerophilous scrubs. The area was originally designated as a National Park because of the abundance of game and from physio-geographical and geological point of view. It has extraordinarily attracting areas: the point where the Afar triangle joins with the Rift Valley, the Awash water fall and the hot springs, and Mount Fantalle, a dormant volcano with slopes that are thrown with the rubble of ancient lava flows, which still provides roosts for a large bat population. The ANP has received more tourists than any other protected areas of the country.
This is because the Park’s location, availability of accommodation with reasonable campsites. A total of 76 mammal species have so far been recorded in the park. The Park was once said to be a major habitat for one of the largest population of Beisa oryx in Africa. The area is quite rich in avian diversity. Of the total 473 species recorded, the endemic Abyssinian woodpecker and other 5 near-endemic birds are known from the park. Thirty-nine species of reptiles and some invertebrates are also recorded from the area. Some areas adjacent to the Awash National Park are well known for their paleontological importance. Sites like Hadar are places where one of the oldest Hominid remains was discovered. The resource uses in the area are grouped into three categories: agriculture, animal husbandry and tourism.
The southern border of the Park is the Awash River, the lifeline for the many parts of Oromia and Afar Regions. The River is about 1,200 km long and joins Lake Abe on the Djibouti border in the north-east. The Falls at the lodge are high and wide at the head of the impressive Awash Gorge. Visitors have an excellent view from the lookout near the waterfall into the gorge. The falls have been described as a "scaled-down version of Victoria Falls". They are certainly one of the natural wonders of Ethiopia. Above the waterfalls, a narrow band of dense riverine forest, which is home to Black-and-White Colobus, Vervet Monkeys, Anubis Baboons, bee-eaters, Hammer kops, hoopoes and barbets, all attracted by the impressive evergreen Ficus and Tamarindus trees above the Falls.
When it comes to birds, Awash area has the greatest diversity of any National Parks in Ethiopia with more than 473 species. The variety in habitats, both aquatic (Metehara/Beseka Lake, Filoha hot springs and Awash River) and terrestrial, provide an excellent platform to watch and study a variety of migrant and resident birds. One can see species of herons, egrets, ibises, storks, ducks, vultures, francolins, plovers, doves, bee-eaters, hornbills, nightjars, barbets, woodpeckers, larks and pipits, rock chats and wheatears, sunbirds, starlings, weavers, seedeaters and six species of bustards (Black-bellied, White-bellied, Buff-crested, Kori, Hartlaub's and Arabian). The endemic Yellow-throated Serine and other 5 near-endemic birds are known from the park.
Amazing volcanic crack
Tourists can observe the recent volcanic fissure formed in the 19th Century. It starts from Lake Beseka and stretches up to the base of Mt. Fentale with a distance of about 6-7 km. The crack is as deep as 40 meters and in and close to this enormous crack visitors can see Rock hyrax, thousands of bats, Sparrow larks, Mocking cliff-chat, Sombre rock-chat, Owls, Red and yellow barbet. The Hyena’s dens are connected with the crack. Surprisingly, tourists can observe herbivorous animals like warthogs coming out in the late evening from the same caves with the hyenas.