The Maze National Park is one of the newest Parks in Ethiopia as it was created and opened in 2005 and it is located in the south western Part of the country in the region of Gamo Gofa which is about 460 kilometers away from the capital city of Ethiopia Addis Ababa. The Park got its name from the River Maze which crosses the Park before flowing into the Omo River and it is largely known for the large number of endangered species that habitate in the different parts of the Park. The Park has many River tributaries that pass through it although the Maze River is the main one which makes the Park one of the Parks in Ethiopia that have a good drainage system.
The Maze National park has a lot of tourist attractions that can be found within and around the Park and these fall under the historical, economic and cultural attractions that can be found in the Park and there are a lot of activities that tourists can carry put when they visit the Maze National Park and these have been listed below:
Visiting the locals
There are majorly four ethnic groups of people who live around the Maze National park and these include the Gamo, the Qucha, the Gofa and the Omotic tribe. These live harmoniously around the Park and each of them has their own cultural practices that are unique to them. Visit the locals and get yourself some souvenirs that are hand made by them from the different shops, get to know the historical legends surrounding the Maze national Park, taste their local food, find out about their way of life and activities that they carry out and their cultural practices.
The different ethnic groups are led by chiefs and elders and when visiting the different locals, you will need to first get permission from these elders as a sign of respect before you venture out to interact with the rest of the locals in the different villages.
Wildlife in Maze National Park
The Maze National park is famous for being one of the few Parks in the country that acts as a habitat for most of the endangered animals in the country. When we talk about wild life we mean both animals and bird species that habitate in the Park. Some of the wild animals that are found in the Maze National Park include the Vervet monkeys, the bush pigs, buffalos, waterbucks, Orbi, the Swayne’s hartebeest, the Anubus baboon, leopards, the Bohor red buck, warthogs, the lesser Kudu, wild cats, lions and many more other species. The best time to visit the Park for animal viewing is during the dry season because then you will be able to see many animals walking around the park in search of food and water.
The Park also has numerous bird species which amount to over 196 bird species that can be seen when one visits the Park like the African fish skimmer. The best time to visit the Maze National Park for birding is during the rainy season or immediately after because during this period, you will have a chance to see most bird species that are endemic to the Park including the migratory bird that fly into the country.
Exploring the Wonja Stone Caves
The Wonja stone caves are located in the northern part of the Maze National Park. The caves have a rich history that is the locals say that many years ago, the caves were used as an imprisonment place for all the criminals in the community and this is where they received their punishments from. The Wonja stone caves are so big in that they can hold a population of about 300 people at the same time and they are some of the tourist attractions that you will find in the Maze National Park. You will need a tour guide who will take you through the caving excursion and they will also let you know more about the requirements that are needed when it comes to exploring the cave.
A visit to the Chosho Market
The Chosho market is a home to one of the religious sites in Ethiopia and these are trees which the locals believe are judges for any trouble faced by the community or wrongs done by criminals in the community. These two trees are the oldest in the area and the specific place in the market where they are located is known as the Kaouwo Welloa which can loosely be translated as the King’s tree.
Besides visiting the two religious trees, you also get a chance to explore the market and get yourself some of the local things that are sold within the market but before you go there make sure you up your game with bargaining.
Trekking through the Maze Park
There are trek routes through the Park that were demarcated for tourists that love trekking or walking through the Park. These routes will take you all round the park and while trekking, you will be able to see the Bilbo springs which are located in the southern part of the park, the different animals in the parks and also see some bird species nestled in the trees. During your trek through the ark, you will be guided by an experienced tour guide who will explain all that you will see while exploring the Park on foot.
Trekking to the Bilbo hot springs
The Bilbo hot springs are located in the Southern part of the Maze National Park and they are one of the tourist attractions that you will find in the Park. The hot springs can be seen from a distance due to the smoke that they produce and many locals believe the water from the springs has healing powers and therefore many of them can be seen collecting the water for medicinal purposes. The water from the hot springs shoots up from the ground with an enormous force creating a great scene for all those that visit the Park and this same place can be used for resting especially by tourists who trek.
The vegetation in the Maze national Park
The Maze National Park is filled with different types of vegetation which offer all botanists a field trip. They grow in the different parts of the Park and they are mostly due to the different altitudes experienced in the different parts of the park.
- The bush land vegetation is one of the vegetation types in the Park.
- The mixed type of vegetation where different types of trees grow in the same area.
- The woodland vegetation is also experienced in the Park.
- The Savannah grassland both tall and short can also be found in the Maze National Park.
- The Riverine forests can also be found in the Maze National Park.
The vegetation is almost similar and the only thing that can help you differentiates them are the characters and the most common vegetation in the Park is the Savannah vegetation.
The beautiful view that can be seen when you get to the Maze National Park is breathtaking and it adds to more of the reasons as to why you should visit the National Park. It is surrounded by many hills, mountainous areas where you can go for trekking and the eco system surrounding the Park is one of the best.
When to visit the Maze National Park
The best time for tourists to visit the Maze National Park is during the dry season especially after the rains or before which is between January and May, September to December where the weather alternates between little rainfall and sunshine. The dry season enables you to see the different animals that roam around the Park in search of water and food and it’s also favorable because then the roads are not flooded.
The wet season is best for those who can brave the rain on order to enjoy birding in the park. It is sometimes not accessible and during this time, some accommodation facilities close down and open up when the rains have reduced and that is why it is not advisable for one to visit the Maze Park during the rainy season.
How to get to the Maze National Park
Access to the Maze National Park is a bit easy as compared to other National Parks in the country and you can gain access through the Jinka road or the Betomela part to get to the National Park. Part of the road is tarmacked which makes the road transportation easy especially that side of the Sodo Road.
As you explore the Maze national Park, you need to know that you cannot access the Park without a tour guide who is experienced and licensed to carry a gun for protection. The tour guides are also necessary when it comes to communication because many locals do not know English, these help you get a grasp about the locals are saying and vice versa.