Nechisar National Park is a small and scenic national park located 500 kilometres south of Ethiopia’s capital in Arba Minch. This tract of wilderness spans a narrow mountainous region separating Lakes Chamo and Abaya. In total, the national park covers 514 square kilometres of Great Rift Valley landscape.
The terrain is varied and comprises mainly impenetrable evergreen forests, crystal lakes, swamps and savannah. The entire region is rugged and offers an idyllic wilderness experience filled with ample opportunities to hike and enjoy boat cruises on the lakes. The most prolific species in the park include hippos and crocodiles, as well as the incredibly rare bird, the Nechisar nightjar.
International visitors would need to fly into Addis Ababa and then catch a connecting flight to Arba Minch, where there’s a small local airport. The park is situated close to Arba Minch, where most visitors choose to stay.
Nechisar National Park can be accessed by flying into the local airport at Arba Minch. The airport is serviced by connecting flights from Addis Ababa.
Twitchers can delight in the more than 340 bird species calling Nechisar National Park home. Among them are the rare Nechisar nightjar as well as the thick-billed raven and wattled ibis.
The national park is not known for prolific wildlife, but rather for its remarkable landscapes and unique geography. The most commonly spotted species include the Burchill's zebra, hippos and crocodiles. In addition to the common residents, there are 84 species of mammals which include Swayne’s hartebeest, Grant’s gazelle, the jackal, warthog, African wild dog, and kudu.
The rarest species in the park is the Nechisar nightjar, a real-lifer for avid birders. There are 342 recorded bird species, three of which are endemic: thick-billed raven, wattled ibis, and Nechisar nightjar. Lesser flamingoes, storks, kingfishers, and fish eagles can be seen on the banks of the lakes.
The best time to visit Nechisar National Park is from January to March when the temperatures are comfortable, and there’s low rainfall. Low rainfall is ideal for spotting wildlife and for trekking. This time of year is peak season, so visitors in search of something quieter should consider the October to December period. The monsoon season is unpleasant and best avoided (April to June).
Lake Chamo is teeming with crocodiles and hippos, best observed from the comfort of a boat - a fantastic safari experience. Local guides will take visitors out on a rudimentary boat to find hippos and crocs basking, and view an array of waterbirds such as pelicans, flamingoes, and herons.
Trekking through the park with a guide is yet another eye-opening experience and provides ample opportunity to spot game. Typically, hikers will see zebra, primates, antelope, and an array of birds while wading and walking through unchartered terrain. Guides will introduce safari-goers to the wildlife hotspots and safe walking areas.
Three kilometres from the entrance is the famous hot springs, which are well worth a visit, a dream destination for nature enthusiasts and photographers. The Bridge of God refers to the small strip of land that divides two lakes and is a fantastic viewpoint to see the awe-inspiring mountain ranges and sweeping landscapes.
Visitors usually stay in Arba Minch, the closest village to the park. Most of the accommodation options are luxury thatched huts with superb views of the natural surrounds. Lodges and accommodation options generally have swimming pools, bars, and restaurants. There are a few campsites in the area that cater to the adventure lover.