Awash National Park is one of the eastern Ethiopia’s star attractions and got its name from the Awash River, the longest river in Ethiopia. This place is really beautiful and has stunning range of volcanic landscape. However, in opposition to Kenyan or Tanzanian safaris that park is rather quite. Firstly, during our visit we were the only travellers in the Park and secondly, wildcats, lions, leopards, caracals are barely seen. Nevertheless, it is still really worth a visit as it still offers good game viewing and also outstanding birdlife watching (Definitely recommended to birdslovers).
See short video:)
When we were driving to Awash, somehow we manage to skip the main gate (We basically didn’t notice it) and we drove further.We finally saw a sign: Aledeghe Wildlife Reserve Main Office; Main office looked like a shed, but Charlie decided to walk inside and ask for some info. While Charlie was away, I got surrounded by bunch of local Ethiopians, who were starring at me like I was UFO. Sometimes they were also smiling and waving towards me. To be honest I was like the biggest attraction in the area to them – and that was weird. After few minutes of staring at me, they came closer – I wanted to hide on the back of Rusty, but then I noticed that all of them got interested in side mirrors. Every single person started checking himself in the mirrors and they were seriously enjoining it. I was probably to scared to take a photo.. but I have never seen someone’s joy of looking at own reflection. It was priceless! Finally, Charlie came back with the guide, who needed to fit in Rusty somewhere (Rusty had only two seats, so the guy was basically sitting on our huge bucket). The guide actually was really nice and he brought 3 pairs of binoculars with him, therefore we could see something more than just running dots. The Aledeghe Reserve is basically a green plain, where you could see mostly herds of oryxes and impalas but from the far distance. We also saw there a family of warthogs, 3 zebras and Ethiopian wolf. We realised that it is definitely not even part of Awash NP, but we gave it a chance till big, dark, heralding heavy rain cloud appeared in the sky. We told our guide that actually we were not 4×4 and he claimed that it would be better to come back as getting stuck in the middle of muddy plain was not a good idea (For this Reserve I think we paid around 100-120 Birrs, including guide fee).
On our way back we that time noticed the proper gate to the Awash National Park and obviously we drove there. We paid for both of us and the car 210 Birrs and for camping site 40Birr. We paid around 14 USD for nice, two-days safari. Awash is divided into two part by a main road. In the South, were we were staying, roads are good for 2WD cars even during the rainy season. We never went to the Northern part. We were told that due to rainy season we wouldn’t manage to drive there, therefore we haven’t seen famous Filwoha Hot Springs ad Fantale Crater. We were supposed to camp along the Awash River in the place called Gotu, where during the night people hear noises of hippos, hyenas and jackals, but unfortunately the river overfloded and it was impossible for Rusty to drive through that strong current, which Awash River created. At the park headquarter, which was next to the campsite, we were told that Awash Lodge is near by and we could stay there. They also said that if we didn’t use camping spot we paid for, our money for it would be returned. We went to Awash Lodge, where except local we were the only people, who were staying there. We got a nice deal from them: we could stay at their premises without paying for it, however we needed to order something to eat in their restaurant. It was a good deal as in Ethiopia food generally is not expensive.
In the morning, the Lodge was visited by a group of cheeky ostriches. Those birds were like Angry birds, but in Ethipian way:) Firstly they attacked people sitting on the bench, later they noticed me (!). They started running towards me, but luckily I was hidden behind the door. The Ostriches were very interested in a sticker we had on the window ( I am guessing they thought that it was a massive seed as they were pecking continually the window in the place where it was attached.)
After breakfast we went to see the powerful Awash Waterfall up close and we did another few hour of game driving plus we visited the Awash Gorge.
Definitely Awash is the oryx kingdom. We have seen lots of those beautiful creatures. Besides oryxes, we manage to spot baboons, family of very shy warthogs, little dik-dik and plenty of colourful birds including ground hornbill.
We also met a group of local tribes people, who were walking around the park with their camels. Fortunately, they were nice and friendly. We have read in our guide that sometimes local people are unfriendly and they rob tourists. The guy in the photo with Charlie, was willingly posing when I was taking a picture, and when he saw van’s side mirror, he got very excited. For few minutes he was looking at himself and by the way, unwittingly scratching Rusty’s mirror with the riffle, he was carrying on his arm….(It was too dangerous to take photo of it as well)
So Awash National Park is definitely recommended by us! It is a great place to spend a tranquil weekend away from busy cities/towns.
On the way back we saw lots of storks