Abiyatta Shalla Lakes National Parks situated in the Great Rift Valley, only 200 kilometers (124 miles) south
of Addis Ababa, and in the Lake Langano recreational areas, the Abiyatta
Shalla lakes national Park attracts numerous visitors. It was created
primarily for its aquatic bird life, particularly those that feed and
breed on lakes Abiyatta and Shalla in Large numbers. The park compresses
the two lakes, the isthmus between them and a thin strip of land along
the shorelines of each. Developments have been limited to a number of
tracks on land, and the construction of seven outposts. While attention
is focused on the water birds, the land area does contain a reasonable
amount of other wildlife.
Two different lakes:
Two different lakes: The two lakes are very different in character.
Abiyatta is shallow at about 14 metres (260 metres (853 feet) and is
calculated to hold a grater volume of water than all of the Ethiopian
Rift valley lakes put together. Abiyatta is surrounded by gentle,
grasscovered slopes and swathed in acacia woodlands. Shalla exudes a
sense of mystery and foreboding, surrounded as it is by steep, black
cliffs and peaks that reflect in its deep waters, which are liable to be
whipped up by sudden storms and flurries of wind. It contains nine
small, is located islands, rarely visited since there are no boats on
the lake. These islands provide an excellent breeding ground for many
Souces of Fresh Water
The network of tracks in this park is always developing. At present you
can enter at four different points, three of which are inter connected.
Approaching from Addis you first reach the Horakello entrance, where the
small Horakello stream flows between lakes Langano and Abiyatta. The
steam mouth is a source of relatively fresh water, much frequented by
water birds for drinking and bathing.
Abijatta itself is very alkaline but shallow, so flamingoes can be seen
scattered over most of its surface, and especially along the windward
edge where their algal food source concentrates. You can approach quite
closely, but beware of treacherous deep and mud if the lake is low.
Large numbers of boat grater and lesser flamingoes gather here, together
with great white pelicans and a host of other water birds.
A tack which runs for 20 kilometers (12 miles) along the treeline of the
eastern shore of Lake Abiyatta connects Horakello with the park
headquarters further south at Dole.
From here you can see other parts of Lake Abiyatta and some mammal
species, especially Grant’s gazelle, warthog and occasionally the Oribi.
The headquarters houses a small museum, currently being upgraded, which
gives an excellent idea of the wealth of birdlife in the park. There are
over 400 species recorded here, almost half the number recorded for the
whole country, A further track leads on from Dole to the shores of Lake
Shalla where hot steam, mud and water bubble to the earth’s surface.
Revered locally for their medicinal properties, the
have a sense of primaeval mystery about hem, especially in the cooler
early mornings.They are relics of the massive volcanic activity that has
formed this amazing country and landscape.
A further entrance to this park exists in the south, where a rough track
leads to another small hot spring area at Ghike. Here you can staying a
wooden self help guest house, perched high on a cliff above the lake,
with a vies across this lands. There are plans to install a boat at the
lake which will ferry small groups of people to the islands to observe
the breeding colonies of thousands of great while pelicans and grater
flamingoes. The grate white pelican colony is estimated to be visited by
up to 13000 pairs annually, and is the most important breeding site for
the species in the world.
There is no accommodation in the park but
Langano, which lies just over the main road marking the boundary,
has two reasonable hotels on its shores, the Wabe Shebelle and the
Bekelle Mola, from which all parts of the park are easily reached. It is
possible to camp at the hoe springs and further south of the track east
of Shalla, leading to be the
River and outpost.
There is no accommodation in the park but lake Langano, which lies just
over the main road marking the boundary, has two reasonable hotels on
its shores, the Wabe Shebelle and the Bekelle Mola, from which all parts
of the park are easily reached. It is possible to camp at the hoe
springs and further south of the track east of Shalla, leading to be the
Dedaba River and outpost.
In association with the Abiyatta Shalla Lakes National Park is Senkello
Swayne’s hartebeest Sanctuary, some 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the
town of Shashemene, and close to the Chike entrance of the park. The
sanctuary was established for this endemic subspecies of the hartebeest
(Alcelaphus buselaphus swaynei) which once roamed the plans of Somalia
and Ethiopia in thousands, but is now restricted to four small
localities in Ethiopia. The sanctuary is small but well worth a visit.
Set beneath a small rounded hill, over 2,000 of these rich, chocolate
coloured hartebeest are packed into this area of wooded grassland, along
with bohor reedbuck (Redunca Redunca), Oribi and many different species
Ethiopia Tourism commission