NATIONAL PARKS SAFARIS ETHIOPIA

HIGHLIGHTS, WHERE THEY ARE AND HOW TO VISIT THEM

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BALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK TREKKING

BALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK TREKKING: Ethiopia's most scenic and lush national park, varying from 4000m - 600m with all sorts of wildlife

 

Bale Mountains National Park Trekking

Located at about 400km southeast of Addis Ababa, 215,000ha Bale Mountains National Park protects ecosystems from the park's highest peak, Mount Tulu Dimtu at 4,377 masl - being Ethiopia's third highest point:  after the two highest peaks in Simien Mountains National Park - down to the montane forests at about 1500masl. The park has one of the highest numbers of endemic animal species in the world.

 

Why consider booking our our Ethiopia Culture & National Parks modules? Because for the same price, our tour gets you to ALL cultural places Ethiopia is so famous for, and on top of that, you get to see up to 12 National Parks/Reserves accompanied by a conservation forester. There is nothing similar on the market. As Ethiopia can be combined with other East African countries, we organize tours in modules. Destinations Overview: Historical Circuit; Danakil Depression; Eathern Route; Simien Mountains; Bale Mountains; Southern Parks Safari; Gambella; Addis Ababa BUT WAIT: if you buy your international ticket with Ethiopia Airlines, they will sell the internal flights at a price that you can't even ride the bus for. But you MUST plan it all in one package and making changes will be very costly. So let us help you plan your entire trip for an incredibly low price!

 

BALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK AND

SOF OMAR CAVES

MODULE

SOF OMAR CAVES. DISCOVER ETHIOPIAN NATIONAL PARKS and wildlife with former professional to Ethiopian Park Service

Day 1: AWASSA - GOBA ± 225km

  1. Departure from hotel early in the morning and drive to Bale Mountains National Park entrance Dinsho and watch the Mountain Nyala, as well as other species of wildlife at the Sanetti Plateau;

  2. Spend the night at Goba Wabe-Shebelle hotel or hotel of similar quality.

 

Day 2: BALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

  1. Spend the day in the park to look for the Ethiopian Wolf, the Giant Mole Rat, Starck's Hare, all endemic mammals. Endemic and special birds include the Wattled Ibis, Abyssinian ground hornbill, Spot-breasted plover**, Rouget’s rail*, just to name a few. The extreme density of rodents makes the park ideal for many birds of prey.

  2. Visit the peak of Mount Tulu Dimtu

  3. Visit a splendid example of a full grown Erica Tree forest covered in thick cushions of mosses and draperies of lichen hair.

  4. Return to hotel in Goba.

 

Day 3a: GOBA - AWASSA ± 225km

  1. Hotel in Awassa

  2. In Awassa, the options are to return to Addis Ababa or to continue on the Ethiopia Central and Southern Parks & Tribes Safari module.

 

Day 3b: GOBA - SOF OMAR CAVES ± 120km

  1. Continue through the park to the Sof Omar Caves at from Goba. The bushes surrounding the caves have the reputation to be the best location to see the extremely rare endemic bird, the Salvadori's Serin. Greater and Lesser Kudu may also be seen. Accommodation in the neighborhood of the caves will be extremely basic.

 

Day 4B:  - AWASSA ±  250km

  1. Hotel in Awassa

  2. In Awassa, the options are to return to Addis Ababa or to continue on the Ethiopia Central and Southern Parks & Tribes Safari module.

 

Costs $240 for 3 days (3a) program. Included: meals, transportation, fees, non-alcoholic beverages, tee/coffee at meals. Minimum number of  passengers is 2.

Costs $320 for 4 days program (3b). Included: meals, transportation, fees, non-alcoholic beverages, tee/coffee at meals. Ask for a group discount.

 

Detailed information about Bale Mountains National Park

Bale Mountains National Park is an incredibly scenic park, also if you don't really care about the endemic animals and birds. As there are a lot of biologically keen people and birdwatchers who want to know this. We customize to our clients, and if you want something more general, don't hesitate to ask. We make it work for you! So let us give the naturalists what they want to know, but don't get discouraged. Just email us your interests so we can customize to your needs. We will give you the time of your life in this fabulously beautiful national park.

 

The mountainous conditions and the variety of elevations make Bale Mountains unique. The high elevation in an otherwise very dry region, causes relatively high annual rainfall, varying from 1,000 - 1,400 mm at the higher elevations and 600 - 1,000 mm per year at the lower elevations of the park, while evaporation is relatively low due to the much cooler conditions in the mountains. As a result, the Bale Mountains are the main source of water for 12 million people and for a hydroelectrical dam downstream from the mountains. 

 

In the highlands, daytime temperatures fluctuate around 10°C with strong winds, while daytime temperatures in the Gaysay average at 20°C and at the lower elevations of the Harenna Forest they are about 25°C. It often freezes above 3,000masl. The rainy season is from May -November, during which period the area is often cloaked in mysterious fogs.

 

This variety in elevations and climatic conditions has created at least six major ecosystems, each with dramatically different beautiful landscapes, vegetation and wildlife. Species diversity is very low at the top with only a handful of species growing above 4,000masl, to very rich in the low parts of the park. What makes Bale Mountains National Park so special is it is one of the areas with the greatest number of endemic animals in the world, the most spectacular ones of them being highly visible. Of the 20 endemic mammals, five only live in the Bale Mountains, including the Giant Mole Rat. Other flagship endemic mammals are the Ethiopian wolf, Canis simensis, - of which only 400 - 500 remain worldwide - the Mountain Nyala, Tragelaphus buxtoni, and the Bale Monkey.

 

The 9 of the 18 endemic birds of Ethiopia in occurring in the park are: Blue-winged Goose, Cyanochen cyanoptera, Spot-breasted Lapwing, Vanellus melanocephalus, Yellow-fronted Parrot, Poicephalus flavifrons, Abyssinian Longclaw, Macronyx flavicollis, Abyssinian Catbird, Parophasma galinieri, Bale Parisoma, Parisoma griseiventris, Ethiopian Siskin, Serinus nigriceps, Fawn-breasted Waxbill, Estrilda paludicola and the Abyssinian Owl, Asio abyssinicus. The African Bird Club rated the park as the number four birding site in Africa.

 

There are also 12 Ethiopian endemic amphibians and four Ethiopian endemic reptiles living in the park.  Moreover, the forests of the Bale Mountains are important for genetic stocks of wild forest coffee, Coffea arabica and for a variety of medicinal plants.

 

* Ethiopian endemic ** Abyssinian endemic (Ethiopia and Eritrea)

 

Afroalpine Meadows

The afroalpine meadows on the undulating afroalpine Sanetti Plateau vary from 3,500masl to 4,377 masl at the peak of Mount Tulu Dimtu and is covered with a heath-like vegetation of wormwood (Artemesia afra) and Cape gold (Helichrysum splendidum), larded by Giant Lobelia while shrub forms of the Tree Erica grow in wind shaded pockets. Cliff dominated glacial lakes and swamps provide habitat for water birds:

Blue-winged goose*; spot-breasted plover*; Ruddy shellduck and Wattled crane as well as many  Palearctic waders.

 

Afroalpine rodents are very abundant: Giant molerat* (endemic to the Bale Mountains only), rock hyrax and Starck’s hare*; these rodents are the staple food for the Ethiopian wolves* as well as for large numbers of birds of prey. Look for Augur buzzards; Verreaux’s, Tawny and Steppe eagles; Lanner falcons; the Lammergeyer and Golden eagles. Additionally, there is a population of red- billed chough, the most southern population in Africa.

 

Northern Grasslands

The Northern Grasslands (Gaysay Valley at the park entrance) between 3,000masl and 3,500masl, in the Web and Danka River valleys, are located South of the Bodeti Mountain, North of Adelay ridge and northwest of Dinsho. Being flat the areas is quite wet and muddy in the wet season and covered with marsh grasses and sedges. While the wettest spots may be natural grassland, it is most likely that these grasslands have developed from grazing by livestock.

 

The Northern grasslands are the best place for viewing herds of the endemic Mountain Nyala*, Bohor Reedbuck*, Warthog, Grey Duiker and predators like, Serval, Golden Jackal and Spotted Hyena. Interesting birds include the Abyssinian longclaw*, Winding cisticola, Marsh harrier, Abyssinian ground hornbill, Spot-breasted plover**, Rouget’s rail*, Wattled ibis**, Abyssinian catbird, etc.

 

Juniper Woodlands

The juniper woodlands (around the park headquarters) also occuring from 3,000masl to 3,500 masl cover the northern slopes of the Bale massif, reaching from Dodola to Dinsho. These woodlands are under intense pressure from grazing, thus creating an open woodland to savannah landscape dominated by sometimes very tall Hagenia abyssinica trees - flowering red from November to February - and African juniper, Juniperus procera trees.

 

Mountain Nyala*, Warthog, Menelik’s Bushbuck*, Colobus monkey and Olive baboon frequent this zone.

Birds: Wattled ibis**, Abyssinian catbird*, White-backed Black Tit*, Abyssinian ground thrush, Gold-mantled woodpecker**, Red- breasted wryneck, Thick-billed raven*.

 

Erica belt

The Erica belt occurs from 3,400masl to 3,800masl, and is dominated by Tree Heath, Erica arborea, that grows to trees of up to 10m in Bale in optimal places or just as typical heath shrubs of 50cm at windy slopes and extreme elevations. The Erica forests are fairytale gnarled woods of giant heather dressed covered in moss and old lichens.

 

Mountain nyala*, Menelik’s bushbuck*, Grey duiker Klipspringers and Hyraxes are common grazers.

Birds to look out for: Moorland and Chestnut-naped francolins, Alpine chat and Rouget’s rail**.

 

Harenna Forest

The Harenna forest occurring from 1,500masl to 3,000 masl, is rather a geographical area than a ecological zone, which should be spilt into at least two different ecosystems. It makes up half of the park and is the second largest forest in Ethiopia; The upper part is wet cloud forest with abundant bamboo stands, while the lower belt consists of drier submontane forests.

 

From 2,200masl fern pine, Podocarpus gracilior, and fig trees, grow taller, 30+m with impressive trunks and the canopy becomes denser, while branches are covered with dense epiphytes. In the lower forest belt grows an important genetic stock of wild forest coffee.

 

Typical mammals include: Black-and-white Colobus Monkey, Olive Baboon, Warthog and Menelik’s Bushbuck*, Giant Forest Hog, Bush Pig, Bale Monkey*, Lion, Leopard, Genet, Civet, Porcupine, and Hyena; all present but difficult to spot among the dense forest cover.

 

Birds include: Abyssinian hill babbler, Abyssinian crimson-wing, Ayre’s hawk eagle, silvery-cheeked hornbill, black-winged lovebird**, Abyssinian oriole**, Yellow-fronted parrot*, White-cheeked turaco and Narina trogon as well as Palearctic migrants.

 

The famous Tree Erica forest of Bale Mountains

The park headquarters of Bale Mountains National Park are located in the Juniper Woodlands.

The Bale Mountains Park entrance is located in the plains of the Northern Grasslands.

The park headquarters are located in the Juniper Woodlands.

The Park entrance is located in the plains of the Northern Grasslands.

   

The biological station of Bale Mountains in the Afroalpine grasslands dedicates its studies to the Ethiopian Wolf and its prey

The biological station (above) in in the Afroalpine grasslands dedicates its studies to the Ethiopian Wolf (above right) and its prey, like the Giant Mole Rat (below left) and the Starck's Hare (below right).

   

Giant Mole Rat, endemic rodent, and staple food for Ethiopian wolf at afroalpine meadow, Bale Mountains

Starck's Hare, endemic rodent and staple food for Ethiopian wolf, at afroalpine meadow, Bale Mountains

The Giant Mole Rat (above left) and the Starck's Hare (above right) Make up a considerable part of the many rodents that form the staple food for the Ethiopian Wolf and a great number of birds of pray that either breed in the park or spend the northern winter there.

 

Mount Tulu Dimptu (below) at 4,377m the highest peak of Bale Mountains, the third highest peak of Ethiopia.

Glacial lake (below) and highland bog on Sanetti Plateau, Bale Mountiains.

Mount Tulu Dimptu at 4,377m the highest peak of Bale Mountains

Glacial lake and highland bog on Sanetti Plateau, Bale Mountiains
Landscape Afroalpine meadows with Giant Lobelia in Bale Mountains National Park. Giant Lobelias with glacial lake in the background on Sanetti Plateau, Bale Mountiains

Giant Lobelias are landscape shaping endemic plants in the Afroalpine highlands of Bale National Park. Left above, detail of the vegetation at the Sanetti Plateau. Right above, Giant Lobelias with glacial lake in the background. Left under Giant Lobelias in the Dry season in the Plateau.

   

Giant Lobelias in dry season on Sanetti Plateau, Bale Mountiains

Cape Gold Helichrysum splendidum is an important part of the Afroalpine meadows in Bale Mountains

Little anemones are important food for the rodents on the Afroalpine meadows in Bale Mountains

These yellow flowers are important food for the rodents on the Afroalpine meadows in Bale Mountains

These anemones are important food for the rodents on the Afroalpine meadows in Bale Mountains

Yellow flowers on the Afroalpine meadows in Bale Mountains National Park.

   
Spot breasted Plover, endemic bird Bale Mountains National Park. Endemic Wattled Ibis are are common on the Afroalpine meadows of Bale National Park.

Spot breasted Plover, endemic bird Bale Mountains National Park.

Endemic Wattled Ibis are are common on the Afroalpine meadows of Bale National Park.

 

Moss curtains haning down from Erica Trees, Bale National Park

Tree Erica Forest with moss growth on trunks in Ethiopia

Moss covered Tree Ericas Harenna Forest, Ethiopia

Moss covered Erica Trees, Bale Mountains

Moss covered Harenna Forest.

Red flower in the Tree Erica Forest in Bale National Park

Red Hot Poker in the Tree Erica Forest in Bale National Park

Fern in the Tree Erica Forest in Bale Mountains National Park

Erica belt in the Bale Mountains National Park

Erica and Hagenia abyssinica covered in lichens beard moss in the Bale Mountains,

Moss covered Tree Ericas (five pictures above)

Red Hot Poker in the Tree Erica Forest.

Fern (left above) in the Tree Erica Forest

Erica belt (above)

Erica and Hagenia abyssinica covered in lichens beard moss (left)

The Bale Mountains Heather Chameleon, Chamaeleo harennae, is a native to the Tree Erica belt.

The Bale Mountains Moss, Frog Balebreviceps hillmani, is a species of the Tree Erica Forest

The Bale Mountains Heather Chameleon, Chamaeleo harennae, is a native to the Tree Erica belt.

The Bale Mountains Moss, Frog Balebreviceps hillmani, is a species of the Tree Erica Forest.

 

 Mountain Nyala

Juniper Woodlands are semi-open areas frequented by Mountain Nyala, Bale Mountains

The Juniper Woodlands (left above) are semi-open areas frequented by Mountain Nyala (above and left) and other savannah grazers. Important shrubs are St. John's Wort (left below) and Abyssian Rose (right below).

Yellow Forest Primroses or St. John's Wort, Hypericum revolutum, are common small trees and shrubs in Bale Mountains National Park

Yellow Forest Primroses or St John’s wort, Hypericum revolutum, and white Abyssinian roses, Rosa abyssinica, - the only native rose in Africa - are common small trees and shrubs in Bale Mountains National Park that often mix with Tree Erica and the Juniper woodland. Their flowers are the major source of nectar for the honey produced in the area.

   

Tall trees in the lower Harenna Forest, Bale Mountains.

Bamboo groves in the higher Harenna Forest

Tall trees in the lower Harenna Forest

   

Yellow Butterfly Pea flowers in the Harenna Forest.

The wild genetic stock of crop plants if always important for crop improvements and quality continuation. Harenna Forest has totally wild coffee growing as undergrowth in the forest ((thin stems in the center)

Yellow Butterfly Pea flowers in the Harenna Forest.

 

Sof Omar Caves

The Sof Omar Caves is a geomorphological highlight East of Bale Mountains National Park, an extraordinary natural phenomenon of worldwide significance. The caverns are formed by the Web River - flowing from the Bale Mountains- which vanishes into this giant underground world with its arched portals, high, eroded ceilings, and deep, vaulted echoing chambers. The site has a religious history of thousands of years starting with prehistoric peoples of the region. The caves became an important Islamic sacred place and was named after Sheikh Sof Omar, who supposedly had taken refuge here in the 12th century. At more than 15km long, Sof Omar Cave is the longest cave of Africa and among the longest worldwide. The surrounding area is also known to provide the habitat for the rare endemic bird, Salvadori's Serin. This can be a very worthwhile addition to a Bale Mountains National Park trekking.

       

Ethiopia modernizes and changes more rapidly than any other country in Africa. Many features may not be there anymore in the near future. If you want to see it the way it was for thousands of years, see it now before it has changed forever! Compose your own once-in-a-lifetime Ethiopia-Africa-Adventure from our affordable modules:

Famous Ethiopia Historical Circuit

Simien Mountains trek or car visit

Danakil Depression and Erte Ale Volcano Expedition

Awash Babile Harar Safari Tour

Ethiopia Central and Southern Parks & Tribes Safari Tour

Bale Mountains National Park and Sof Omar Caves Tour

Gambella National Park Safari

Addis Ababa City Tour & Airport Transfer

All Ethiopia modules and prices together

We designed our itineraries in such a way that you can compose a 2 to 4 weeks journey from different modules that can show you the entire country or just the parts that interest you, all depending on your personal preferences, available time and budget. Email us on your interests and we can discuss a custom program with you by phone (we have phone lines from the USA and Europe) or skype. So, weather you have a great ethnic affinity, are a birdwatcher or want to go on safari, contact us and we work out a customized program that focuses on YOUR interests.

Blue Nile Falls, EthiopiaSt. George Church, LalibelaStellas, Axum, EthiopiaTukuls, Lalibela, EthiopiaElephant bull, Babile, EthiopiaEthiopian Wolf, Bale National Park

Gelada, Simien Mountains National ParkFacilides Bathroom, Gondar, EtiopiaWabia Ibex, Simien MountainsChurch, Lake Tana, EthiopiaErica trees, Bale Mountains National Park.Facilides Castle, Gondar, Ethiopia

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is home of Ethiopian Airlines, featuring Africa's youngest fleet of the latest intercontinental jet airplanes - including 2 Dreamliners - as well as short-distance Bombardier turboprops for very comfortable, affordable and reliable in-country flights servicing all major cities of Ethiopia. The second best airline of Africa, will fly you non-stop from the USA and Europe to Addis Ababa. Take our 1-week Ethiopia Cultural Monuments Tour and than continue for your Kenya or Tanzania safari - or any other East African capital - thus completing your journey. IF YOU BUY YOUR INTERNATIONAL TICKET FROM ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES, YOU WILL GET MOST INTERNAL FLIGHTS FOR $25 - $35 PER LEG! BUT CHANGING AFTERWARDS IS EXPENSIVE, SO WORK OUT A SCHEDULE WITH US TO GET A FABULOUS DEAL FOR FLYING THROUGH THE COUNTRY IN STEAD OF SPENDING ENDLESS TIME ON THE ROAD!!!

 

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