Awash Valley National Park

This most accessible savannah reserve has 80 mammal species and 450 bird species. With almost 300 square miles of park land there is much to see and experience, not least of which is the deep—nearly 500 feet—gorge cut by the Awash River and creating a spectacular waterfall. Mount Fantelle is a mile-high dormant volcano with a near 1000-foot-deep crater and hundreds of endemic bird species can be seen on its slopes (including the very rare yellow-throated serin).

The area is home to the nomadic Afar people who consider themselves the oldest ethnic group, having inhabited this arid region for over 2,000 years. Even today, they trade in salt, transporting it on camels using ancient caravan routes. While many Afar are nomadic, moving their light palm frond houses on camelback, some have integrated farming into their culture.

For ultimate relaxation, the Filwoha Hot Springs are clear, blue pools surrounded by a grove of palm trees. Also intriguing is Lake Beseka, nestled amid black lava blocks created by ancient lava flows, with abundant water birds on its surface.

Just outside the park borders are the small towns of Metahara and Awash Saba. Metahara on the edge of the volcano is surrounded by sugar plantations and is rife with raptor species near the waterfall. Here are also found the Kereyu people with their unusual hairdressing custom. Awash Saba is distinguished mainly by its proximity to the famous Awash Gorge but also for its population of buzzards, vultures, kestrels, and falcons (and the rare Ethiopian cliff swallow).

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