Located about 600 kilometres from
on the river Baro, Gambela has a strange history. From 1902 until it was
captured by the Italians in the Second World War, it was administered by
the British, the only part of Ethiopia to be so governed, The reason for
this is that the British opened a port there on the wide and navigable
Baro River, which during four months of the rainy season is navigable and
provides direct access to the sea via the Nile through Khartoum. Ethiopian
coffee was exported via this route, up to 1940. Now the port has fallen
into disrepair, though remains of the warehouses and jetty can be seen. At
its peak, up to 40 ships would be in dock at any one time. Gambela
(sometimes spelt Gambella} gives access to the GambeIa National Park. The
undulating plains of high Sudanese grass offer excellent opportunities for
wilderness exploration. It is not particularly easy to access however.
Beyond Gambela towards the Sudanese border, the Anuak cultivators give way
to the nomadic Nuer. These pastoralists herd their long-horned cattle into
huge camps when they stop for the night.
In the river are to be found huge
Nile perch, up to 100
kilograms, crocodiles and hippos. Other wildlife includes buffalo,
giraffe, waterbuck, Roan antelope, zebra, bushbuck, Abyssinian reedbuck,
warthog, hartebeest, hyena, lion and elephant. Unfortunately, there are
very few animals to be seen in the park, but the birds are many and
varied, the olive baboon and the local race of the vervet, with its white
whiskers, are the very common, as is the black and white colobus monkey.
Bus links to Addis Ababa
via Bako. (Min 2 day journey) 4 weekly flights from
by Ethiopian Airlines (Mon, Thurs, Fri, Sat).
All accommodation is to be found in nearby Gambela town.
Ethiopia Tourism commission