Overview – Mago 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.

Mago National Park is a large tract of typical East African savannah and is home to most well-known safari animals. Due to poaching problems, you’re not likely to see a lot of wildlife though. More alluring is visiting a settlement of Mursi people, most known for their ornate lip-plates. Meeting these pastoralists, who are living a lifestyle unchanged for hundreds of years, is an eye-opening experience.

Best Time to Go June to February (Little rainfall)
High Season October to January (It might be busier)
Size 2,162km² / 835mi²
Altitude 392-1,611m / 1,286-5,285ft

Pros & Cons

  • A chance to meet pastoralist Mursi people
  • Large wilderness area
  • Low numbers of animals
  • No facilities in the park

Mago NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Although the park has an impressive mammal checklist, you’re unlikely to see any of the larger mammals such as elephant, buffalo and reticulated giraffe. Olive baboon and Guenther’s dik-dik are common. Other wildlife you might spot includes defassa waterbuck, gerenuk, bushbuck, Jackson’s hartebeest, lesser kudu and patas monkey. Look out for movement high up in the canopy. Seeing a troop of beautiful black-and-white guereza monkeys is always a treat.

Scenery

The vast ecosystem is characterized by acacia woodland and open savannah. The park’s lifeline is the meandering Mago River and its riverine forest. The Mago River meets the Omo River via a large swamp area and all is overlooked by the majestic Mago Mountains. Traditional people live in small settlements along the two big rivers.

Weather & Climate

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

Best Time to Visit

Mago NP can be visited throughout the year. It isn’t primarily a wildlife destination and the Mursi people are always there. The best chance for wildlife viewing is perhaps in the driest months from December to February. April and May are the wettest months, and the bad roads deteriorate quickly after rain.

Getting There

Mago NP is usually visited as a day trip from Jinka. The drive is only 40km/25mi but, depending on the condition of the road, the drive can take up to two hours. There are regular flights to Jinka, the gateway of the Omo Valley, and you can hire a 4x4 there. Alternatively, you can hire a 4x4 in Addis Ababa and start a road trip to southern Ethiopia from there. There are many tours covering this part of the country as well.

Health & Safety

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

Want to Visit Mago NP?

Mago NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Home of the Mursi
3/5

Alongside the Simien Mountains National Park (and perhaps Bale Mountains), Mago is easily the most popular national park in the country. And yet, few of the park’s visitors come here in search of wildlife. Instead, they come here to stare...

Latest User Review
nae2409  –  
Thailand TH
Reviewed: Aug 22, 2018
A hidden treasure– fascinating and interesting itself to discover!
5/5

One morning while heading to South to Omo River, we noticed on the road a huge tree lying blocking the roads. Looking around one by one a Hamar tribe showed up fully armed, all heading towards a car that had our friends excusing them for...

Full Review