Located in the picturesque Omo Valley, Mago National Park extends across 2,160 square kilometres of undulating terrain dived by the Mago River. The national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting dramatic landscapes. It is situated roughly 770 kilometres south of the capital, Addis Ababa.
The park is probably best known for the local Mursi people. This ethnic group still follows ancient traditions of lip piercing and inserting large homemade clay disks into space. This park boasts the highest concentration of tribal communities in Ethiopia. Apart from the Mursi villages along the river, the Mago National Park has few inhabitants and is rich with wildlife, making it ideal for visitors who want both a safari and cultural experience.
The terrain is predominantly savannah grassland, wetlands, and riparian vegetation. Scrub covered mountains punctuate the open grasslands, with the highest point being Mount Mago, a popular peak for trekking. The park supports a wealth of wildlife and is home to the highest concentration of buffalo in the country. Also, lion, leopard, cheetah, and smaller cat species dwell within this dramatic landscape.
Getting to the park is easy. Visitors would need to fly into the closest town of Jinka, which is accessible via domestic flight (only two flights a week) from the international airport in Addis Ababa.
Mago National Park is regarded as a year-round destination with mild weather. Visitor intent on hiking, are advised to visit during the drier months of January and February.
Visitors to Mago National Park can observe the area’s cultural heritage and history during tours with expert local guides.
Mago National Park has 81 mammal species and 237 species of bird. The waterways provide the ideal habitat for numerous species of reptiles and at least 14 species of fish. Crocodile and hippo are also commonly spotted in the rivers and tributaries. Birding wise, the old world turdoides tenebrosus, hornbills, white-winged cliff chatweavers, Alpine swifts, woolly-necked storks, kingfishers, and herons are quite widespread.
There is a high count of buffalo in the park, and herds are scattered throughout. Visitors can also spot large mammals such as giraffe, elephant, roan, Lelwel’s hartebeest, Burchell’s zebra, Beisa oryx, and the unique gerenuk. Key species include black rhino, cheetah, leopard, lion, African wild dog, jackal, and the striped hyena.
There are incredible primate populations in the park, including species such as the photogenic De brazza’s monkey, found in abundance in the area.
The driest period is the best time of year for game viewing, and the odds of spotting big game are high. The driest months are January and February, which is also ideal for hiking. The national park is a year-round destination, despite the rains. Most of the time, the weather is mild but nights can be cold. The highlands experience more extremes in temperatures, so it’s always a good idea for visitors to be prepared for all types of weather.
This national park is rich with wildlife, but also boasts a significant cultural heritage. It’s the perfect destination for taking in both the safari aspect and history of an area. Visitors can also arrange boat trips, photography and birding safaris, day tours, and walks through the park with a local guide.
The park has a strong tourism infrastructure with a good network of roads, even though they are rugged and dusty. The main drawcard of the park is the Mursi villages lining the Mago River. Most visitors enjoy game viewing while en route to the villages. There are abundant picnic spots dotted across the reserve, ideal for birdwatching and taking in the landscapes.
Accommodation options are centred around the main town of Jinka, either close to the river or deep within the forested surrounds. Jinka is on the edge of the park and offers a variety of accommodation options with the convenience of being located close to the town. Accommodation options are generally thatched units reflecting the natural scenery of the area. More adventurous visitors can camp inside the park, with permission from the relevant authorities. Campers would need to be completely self-sufficient.