Omo National Park

Southern Ethiopia

Omo National Park has long been one of the most remote parks in Ethiopia and travelling here can be incredibly tough – but never less than fascinating. Because there is virtually no tourist infrastructure within the park, you will need to be totally self-sufficient with your own food, camping gear and a reliable, fully-equipped 4WD vehicle. But getting to the park has just got a whole lot easier – with two new bridges over the Omo River, the park can now be reached from the rest of southern Ethiopia, making it more accessible than ever before.

The park consists of grasslands, hot springs and riverine forests which provide good wildlife habitat, but like other parks in Ethiopia, wildlife here has come into conflict with the indigenous tribes who live here, among them the Surma, Mogudge and Dizi. Even so, the best wildlife areas are close to the Omo River in the park's east.

Surveys are still underway and, until they're complete, no-one really knows what wildlife the park holds. In the meantime, Omo's wildlife portfolio is believed to be broadly similar to Mago National Park across the river, where you can find eland, buffalo, elephant, giraffe, Burchell's zebra, lesser kudu, topi, and oryx, as well as predators (cheetah, lion, leopard) and primates (including deBrazza's and colobus monkeys).

Birding here is also excellent with 312 recorded species. Highlights include the blue-breasted kingfisher, red-naped bush shrike, bare-eyed thrush (burdened with the rather unfortunate scientific name Turdus tephronotus…), Boran cisticola, violet wood hoopoe and Donaldson Smith's sparrow-weaver among others.

The best months to visit are the driest months (January and February). Conversely, getting around is nearly impossible after rains, which are most likely in April, May and October.

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