Two of us visited the Gambella National Park in April, 2016. . Our trip was set up as part of a 12 day trip to southwestern Ethiopia by Birhanu Mesele of New Ethiopia Tours (email@example.com). Superb Birhanu was our guide and the excellent Alex Girma was our driver. An additional guide/guard is required by the Park. He and his gun joined us.
The Park is a long way from most tourist treks in Ethiopia. It’s a few days’ direct journey to get to the town of Gambella from Addis (we detoured to camp for an additional two days in Kibish and Tum, among the Surma people), then another four hours from there to the Park. When we registered at the park entrance they told us we were the first visitors in six months, and we certainly did not see any signs of anyone else other than some workers on the road. In April the annual migration of the White-eared Kob is the draw. Second in scale only to the wildebeest migration in Masai Mara,. it is an immense movement of a million animals across a flat, barren landscape. This is not the wildlife rich savannah of Kenya and Tanzania. There are few if any lions or elephants or giraffes. There are the Kob if you’re there at the right season (we were), and many, many birds, most memorably an immense flock of Black, Crowned Cranes dancing in the heat. We did pass a caravan of nomadic Falatti people, their long-horned cattle looming large in the dust, on their way to South Sudan farther west.
It was a hot, dusty, bone-rattling trip, and it was wonderful to be where few people, other than nomads, go.