Overview – Abijatta-Shalla NP

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Bradt guidebooks to African destinations, including the guide to Ethiopia.

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Bradt guidebook to Ethiopia.

Philip is the author of the Bradt guidebook to Ethiopia.

The twin lakes Abijatta and Shalla are the centerpiece of Abijatta-Shalla National Park. The shallow, algae-rich Abijatta is home to big flocks of lesser and greater flamingo from October to February. Shalla is, by contrast, Ethiopia’s deepest lake and its main attraction is a group of steaming hot springs where local people gather for bathing and cooking. Although less accessible, the picturesque little crater lake Chitu has semi-resident flamingos and is more than worth the detour.

Best Time to Go October to February (Flocks of flamingo)
High Season October to January (The park is never busy)
Size 918km² / 354mi²
Altitude 1,557-1,913m / 5,108-6,276ft

Pros & Cons

  • Great birding destination
  • Flocks of flamingos
  • Hot springs
  • Lots of hotels at nearby Lake Langano
  • Small driving circuit
  • Human encroachment
  • No tourist facilities or accommodation

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Wildlife

There is very little wildlife in this park. Small numbers of olive baboon, Grant’s gazelle, greater kudu, black-backed jackal and spotted hyena are here, but you’d be lucky to spot any. Bird watching, though, is excellent. Thousands of flamingos feed and breed in Lake Abijatta and crater lake Chitu, flocks of pelicans can be seen on Lake Shalla, and many smaller migrant waders flood the park from November to March.

Scenery

More than half of the park’s surface area is covered by its lakes: Abijatta, Shalla and the 80m-deep crater lake Chitu. Grassland with the occasional acacia tree covers most of the land beyond the floodplains. For a magical experience, plan your visit for the late afternoon to see the sun setting over flocks of flamingos in Lake Abijatta.

Weather & Climate

The weather and climate of Abijatta-Shalla NP is comparable to that of Ethiopia in general. More info:

Best Time to Visit

As Abijatta-Shalla NP is mostly a birding destination, the best time to visit is from October to February when large flocks of flamingo congregate in Lake Abijatta. This is also the time when Palearctic migrants arrive, and rainfall is very low.

Getting There

Abijatta-Shalla NP is about 200km/124mi from Addis Ababa on a good road. You’ll need a 4x4 to drive inside the park.

Health & Safety

Please read our vaccinations and malaria page for Ethiopia, and our general wildlife viewing safety precautions page for more info:

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Abijatta-Shalla NP Safari Reviews

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Most Helpful Expert Review
Flamingos in the Rift Valley
3/5

Due to human encroachment there is unfortunately not a lot of wildlife left in Abijatta-Shalla. Driving through, you might encounter a few skittish Grant’s gazelles or a troop of Anubis baboons, but not much else. But the main reason for...