Nechisar National Park, near the southern town of Arba Minch, 510 kms from Addis Ababa, has a memorable name which is translated as “white grass”. Once seen, this is never forgotten, as the white grass of the broad savannah stays vividly in the memory.
The Park covers an area of 514 sq kms or 198 sq miles, including about 78 sq kms (30 sq miles) of water. Altitude ranges from approximately 1108 m to 1650 m (3635 ft to 5413 ft) above sea-level. Temperatures typically range between 11C and 26C (52F to 79F). Rainfall traditionally averages 880mm (35 inches), falling from March to May and September to November.
The National Park lies beautifully located between two lakes. Lake Abaya is the longest and largest of Ethiopia’s Rift Valley Lakes, covering an area of 1160 sq kms (448 sq miles). Lake Chamo, slightly further south, covers 551 sq kms (213 sq miles). The lakes provide superb vistas, with the backdrop of the Guge Mountains in the west, and the Amaro Mountains in the east. Between the lakes is a ridge of land known as “The Bridge of Heaven”, and this forms the usual entrance point to Nechisar National Park.
Apart from the lakes, the Park has several diverse wildlife habitats, including acacia woodland, bushland and riparian forest. In the savannah, Burchell’s Zebra and Greater Kudu are often seen, plus Grant’s Gazelle, Swayne’s Hartebeest, Black-Backed Jackal and Guenther’s Dik-dik. In the forest, Anubis Baboons, Vervet Monkeys, Genet, Bushbuck and Bushpig. Not forgetting, of course, about 350 species of birds. It is a great location.