Rick Layne & Mary Thomas’ Ethiopian Diaries
AWASH NATIONAL PARK
We continue on and finally reach Awash National Park about eight plus hours after departure from Harar. We enter the park to dry desolation: it looks as though the plant life hasn’t seen rain since Hailie Selassie was on the throne. And there is supposed to be wildlife here? We pull up to the Lodge in the park where we will spend one night and are shown to our “cabin”, a two-storey affair overlooking the river, with a bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor and a loft-like bedroom with a balcony. The park is situated in a lovely spot next to a series of falls on the Awash River. As we examine our new digs, we open the door to the balcony to admire the view, and herself goes downstairs to fiddle with the luggage while I go outside. Herself then heads back back up the stairs, only to be confronted with a mother baboon and newborn clutching on coming down the stairs – the baboon makes a quick u-turn and retreats to the balcony where it had climbed up and come through the open door. Herself summons me and we both find ourselves seated on the bed in the loft bedroom staring at mother and baby through the open door on the balcony. This lasts a few minutes until the baboon with baby hanging on below, crosses in front of us through the bedroom door, jumps over the stairs landing in one of the open suitcases, grabs a package of wine gums (carefully stashed away for a rainy day) and is out the door — all in about 15 seconds. This is not our only encounter with the park’s wildlife during our brief stay: in addition to the ever present baboons, there are vervet monkeys everywhere. With what is left of daylight we get back in the Landcruiser for a quick game drive, and are surprised to spot oryx, gazelle, kudu, hyena, crocodile, and several bird species. It is then back to the Lodge for a drink overlooking the falls and a reasonable alfresco dinner.