Mago National Park

Posted By on March 3, 2015

Mago National Park

Mago National Park occupies the northern end of the small branch of the main Rift Valley called the Omo Trough, a day’s drive south west of Arba Minch. The park encloses some 2,162 square kilometer of gently undulating valley floor at about 450 m above sea level bounded on the east, west and north sides by precipitous escarpments that create the spectacular landscapes for visitors who see from almost every point in the park. To the south of the park the plain falls gradually. Rising over 2,000 m above the valley floor at the northern end is Mt Mago, 2,528 masl. The Mago River draining the northern highlands is joined at the top end of the park by the southern end. Near the center of the park, the Mago is joined by the Neri River that rises in the hills around Jinka. Jinka is the seat of the Soruth Omo Zone administration situated near the north – east border of the park. Some distance before joining the Mago the Neri feeds a forested swamp that is a vital dry season refuge for elephant and buffalo. The vegetation of the plain is mostly savannah bush and woodlands with isolated, small patches of grassy plain. In the south the bush becomes very dense with shrub height sometimes reaching 6 meters and the canopy cover more than 20%. Along the Mago and Neri Rivers grows a beautiful reverine forest, quite dense in places, providing wonderful, cool places to camp. In the valleys on Mount mago, the Mursi Hills to the west and the Banna Hills to the east are patches of quite dense forest. Access: Most visitors travel the 800 km from Jinka down a precipitous escarpment road requiring a 4- wheel drive vehicle. Ethiopian Airlines fly to Jinka. The rainy seasons is in March and April (main rains) and August and September (short rains)

Wildlife viewing: Mago is one of the last protected areas of Ethiopian where the visitors can still see herds of elephants and buffalo and other large savannah mammals.

The park is known for its buffalos and small populations of perhaps 200 elephants. Giraffe, waterbuck, bushbuck, lesser kudu greater kudu, warthog, bush pig, gerenuk, Duiker, lion, leopard, caracal, wild dog, hyena, jackal and baboon are all common. In some parts of the park, there are Zebras. Even though the park has few areas of grassland many species more typical of the open plains, are present including: Oryx, Lelwel, hartebeest, Tiang. Grant ’s gazelle and serval cat are commonly seen. Altogether 81 mammal species so far recorded.

The area is rich in birds with 153 species recorded to date including 4 endemics: the white-winged cliff chat, the black headed forest oriole, the thick billed raven and the watled ibis. Although most viewing is done from a vehicle the park offers great opportunities for hiking. There are fringing escarpments with magnificent landscapes, the steep shapes and Mt Mago and the hot spring at the northern tip of the park in the upper Mago valley, offer great experiences for the hiker.

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