The park is crossed by the deep-cutting path of the river Awash and has a 2007 metres high volcano, called the Fantale. It is an endless plain, dotted with spiny acacia trees and spurges. The park consists of 120,000 protected hectares, which extend down to where the Rift Valley flows into the Dancala plain on the edge of the desert.
Lying in the lowlands east of Addis Ababa it is one of the finest reserves in Ethiopia. The Awash River, one of the major rivers of the Horn of Africa, waters important agricultural lands in the north of Ethiopia and eventually flows into the wilderness of the Danakil Depression. The dramatic Awash Falls, as the river tumbles into its gorge, is a sight not to be missed in the national park.
The nomadic Kurrou people live around the river Awash and you can meet the Afar shepherds, the proud inhabitants of Dancalia.
The crater of Mount Fantale is the dominant geologic feature in the park. Its height is 2007 metres above sealevel. The crater is as deep as 350 metre and the diameter is about 3.5 km.
Occisionally, in the dormant crater, active steam vents are visible in the early mornings and late afternoons with Mountain Reedbuck and Klipspringer which live along the steep slopes of the crater.
In Lake Beseka, which is near the park, various aquatic birds and crocodile are easily seen. Interestingly, the surface of the lake has increased ten times from 3,3 kmē to 35 kmē in the last 20 years.
The Awash River
The Awash River is about 1200 km long (the secont longers river within the country).
The river has its origings in the highlands near Ginchi, 90 km west of Addis Ababa. it ends in the heart of the Afar Depression in Lake Abe from which there is no surface outlet.
There is beautiful scenery along the Awash River in the park. The Waterfalls is located near the headquarters. The Awash River Gorge, which is as deep as about 160 metres, starts below The Waterfalls and has riverine forest along it. One may occasionally catch a glipse of the Parks resident Crocodile, Hippopotamus and variety of aquatic birds.
Bird species (453):
The park can modestly be described as an Ornithologist's paradise. Various species of bustards, chats, sunbirds, storks and birds of prey can be seen throughout the park. Yellow-throated seedeater, endemic to Ethiopia, is seen along the rim of Mount Antale.
Big herds of Beisa Oryx and Soemmerring's Gazelle can be seen on Llala Sala Plains.
Around the campsite at Gotu, along the river, you will have the opportunity of seeing Lesser Kudu, Anubis Baboon, Grivet monkey and Defassa Waterbuck.
Lesser Kudu, Wharthog and Salt's Dikdik are found among the Acacia shrubs in most of the Park area.
Greater Kudu can be seen in the Kudu Valley and occasionally along the Awash River Gorge.
Predators including Lion, Leopard, Caracal, Hyena, Black-backed Jackal and common Jackal are seen mostly in the open plains of the park.
Most of the mammals are active in the early mornings and late afternoons.
The hot springs.
In the northern part of the park are the hot springs (Fil wuha in Amharic), where one can relax and visit the sparkling bluegreen pools and rivers. The pools are pleasant to swim in. Along the escarpment, one can overlook the Doum palm forest; Hamadryas Baboon and Defassa Waterbuck can be seen frequently.