Bordering Arba Minch’s eastern edge, the extensive Nechisar National Park protects portions of Abaya and Chamo lakes, along with the eponymous Nechisar (“White Grass”) Plain to their east. Lake Abaya, the country’s second-largest body of water, is known locally as Key Hayk (“Red Lake”) due to the ferrous hydroxide suspended within it. The smaller Lake Chamo hosts significant populations of hippo and crocodile, though game viewing is best on the Nechisar Plain, which supports fair numbers of Burchell’s zebra, Grant’s gazelle, Günther’s dik-dik and the endemic Swayne’s hartebeest. By contrast, the ficus forest near the park entrance is haunted by primates such as guereza, grivet monkey and Anubis baboon. Around 350 bird species have been recorded, none more alluring than the Nechisar nightjar, which was discovered in the 1990s and has yet to be seen anywhere else in the world. Also of interest, near the park entrance, are the forest-fringed hot springs and thermal pool after which Arba Minch is named. The park can only realistically be explored in a private 4×4, as walking is forbidden, roads are poor, and there is no public transport.

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