Mago national park is situated within the Great Rift Valley in the southern part of Ethiopia, adjacent to the Omo national park and in the south east it is close to the Kenyan boarder.  It comprises a total area of 2162 square km that has always been known for its wealth of wildlife varieties and is perhaps comparable to those of East Africa.

Among big mammals Buffalo comprises the highest population as compared to other conservation areas in Ethiopia. The park is bordered by the Mago River and the Mursi hills from the western boundary and by the Mago hot spring and mountains from the northern boundary.

Climate – the rainfall in the park averages about 900mm a year ranging from 1000mm in the north to 500mm at the southern end. The wet season is March to June with a second wet period in September. The main dry season is December to February. The highest temperature are at 36 – 42 Celsius December to February and the lowest temperature are at 19 – 21 Celsius April – June.

Rivers – Mago valley is one of the water richest areas in the country. There are more than four all year flowing rivers in the park namely; Mago, Usuno/Maki, Neri and Omo river. Local boat trip and rafting are possible in these rivers especially in Omo River.

Vegetation – The Mago valley vegetation is predominantly bush land with limited savannah bush; and small patches of savannah grassland. A narrow band of riverine forest occurs along the main water courses and the Mursi hills escarpment supports a law forest in the steep valleys.

Wildlife – Mago valley supports a wide range of savannah species. So far 81 species of mammals are recorded. A variety of antelope inhabit the valley notably lesser kudu, one of the world’s most important populations of these species. There are small numbers of greater kudu in the east and on the hills. Gerenuk and Lelwels hartebeest are common in the southern half of the park.

Along the rivers and streams water buck, bush buck and duiker are common. There are warthog and carnivores including lion, leopard, wild dog, bat-eared fox and many species of smaller mammals in the park. There is also a wide variety of birds with 237 species recorded of which 2 are endemic.

People and culture – Mago valley lies in one of the most culturally diverse areas in the whole of Africa where many elements of ancient nomadic lifestyles are still practiced. Seeing these colorful people is a rare experience for people from urban cultures.

There are 5 different tribes surrounding the park namely Ari, a group of sedentary agriculturalists who are active honey collectors. The Hamers, people that cultivate sorghum and millet around Omo river and also keep large herds of cattle and goats.

On the north east edge of the park are the Bena, closely related to the Hamer with many cultural similarities. At the south end of the Mago valley are a small off shoot of the Hamer and the Karo. They cultivate the Omo river banks and keep flocks of goats and some cattle.

To the west are the Mursi, a small tribe numbering 5000 to 8000. Mursi are people based on the Omo River having a remarkable characteristic of the lip plate tradition.

A young woman’s lower lip and ears are pierced and enlarged by inserting even bigger clay discs that eventually may be more than 12cm in diameter. The bigger the disc, the better a chance of securing a wealthy husband for herself.

Mago national park is situates 815 km south of Addis Ababa which the road is mostly asphalt.

Eskinder Hailu - Manager, Highway Tours

Eskinder Hailu
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