Many years ago when we lived in Ethiopia, one of our favorite outdoor activities was to drive to Awash National Park which is situated about 140 miles (225 km) South-East of Addis Ababa. It was a wonderful break from work and activities in the city and provided true closeness to nature. We spent one memorable Easter weekend camping there so I thought I’d share a few memories at this time.
The landscape in the park was a fascinating mix of dry grasslands, acacia forests, mountains, hot springs and the Awash River with its spectacular waterfalls. The river is about 745 miles (1200 km) long and a part of it runs along the southern border of the national park. It connects several lakes and provides much-needed water to a wide variety of inhabitants in the park and much beyond.
It is interesting to note that, based on archeological findings, the Awash Valley has been inhabited by humans very early on, almost since the beginning of our existence. Much of the valley has been and still is the traditional home of the Afar people who are pastoralists, raising cattle, sheep and goats in the desert.
We met Afar people several times in the northern part of the park during our visits. They were often herding their cattle, just like this young boy.
Various species of antelopes (Oryx, Kudu, Gazelle and others) dominated the park’s wildlife which was concentrated in the southern part of the park, although we did also spot African wild dogs, hyenas and different kinds of baboons.
In addition, Awash is a bird watchers’ paradise with about 350 species of native birds, ranging from the great ostrich to Secretary Birds and Hornbills. During dinners on the terrace of the park’s small eatery, we would sometimes listen to groups of enthusiastic ornithologists exchange information on this and the other rare bird they had spotted that day.
The amount of water carried in the Awash River varies widely depending on the season. This is apparent not only in the huge variations of the river’s breath and water depth but also at the waterfalls, one of which is situated only a short drive from the camp grounds.
While most of the wildlife was to be found in the southern part of the park, that is divided by the Addis Ababa – Dire Dawa highway, the northern part was famous for its hot springs.
Driving through very dry savannah one suddenly came upon a fresh, green oasis with bushes, palms and a variety of other tall trees.This was a beautiful place, nature at its best. But it was a particularly welcome sight also for another, more practical reason: there were no shower or other washing facilities at the camp grounds, and the Awash River was not considered safe to swim in.
After a hot and dusty day on the savannah and walking along the river, it was wonderful to jump into the clear blue warm water and actually swim! Seeing the hot springs again on these photos makes me want to jump right in!
This particular Easter weekend in the 1990s was celebrated in the temple of untouched nature – without any modern distractions or conveniences. With this somewhat nostalgic trip down the Easter-time memory lane I wish all blogging friends, followers and visitors who celebrate Easter a very happy one! Peace.