Explore the Bale Mountains
We’ve yet to meet a traveller who was not awed by the landscapes of the Bale Mountains on the south eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley. Perched at 4,000m above sea-level, the Sanetti plateau is the heart of the Bale Mountains National Park and home to the rare Ethiopian wolf. To the south of the Sanetti, the land drops steeply over the Harenna escarpment, plunging 2km down into the Harenna cloud forest, while on the mountains’ northern slopes you can experience the juniper forests and the open skies of the Gaysay grasslands.
From your base at the Bale Mountain Lodge in the cloud forest, you explore the Bale Mountains National Park. You walk or horse ride across Afro-alpine meadows, through juniper woodlands and past striking rock outcrops. Each day on your expeditions through this wilderness you experience something unique, from enjoying the delicious bitterness of the seasonal wild coffee or forest honey, to spotting a shy mountain nyala or a wheeling bearded vulture.
Your main guide and the local guide have a detailed knowledge of the birds, animals and plants around you, and share it readily. The views are magnificent, the days are relaxed, and the hiking or riding not particularly arduous, unless you want it to be, in which case we can make them more of a challenge!.
At lunchtime there’s the pleasant anticipation of finding out what’s included in your freshly prepared picnic, and in the late afternoon you return to a comfortable bed and a lovely meal at the boutique lodge.
The Bale Mountains National Park is exceptionally biodiverse and home to more endemic mammals than any other area of similar size in the world. Besides the Ethiopian wolf, other animals you’re likely to see include mountain nyala, warthog, spotted hyenas, Bale monkeys, olive baboons, giant mole rats and the tiny Menelik’s bushbuck. Lions, leopards and other rare cats are also residents, although shy ones.
With over 300 species of birds, the area has been voted by the African Bird Club as the fourth best place on the continent for bird watching. Here you may see golden eagles, bearded vultures, and the extremely rare blue-winged goose. The range in altitude means that the plant life is equally diverse, including Afro-alpine sedges, giant lobelia, bamboo, heath trees and Africa’s only indigenous rose.
The Bale Mountain and Lake Langano Tour
This is a sample tour that includes this experience. It gives you an idea of cost and what you could expect to see and do in 7 days.
- 1 day exploring Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s historic capital
- 2 days in total driving the scenic route along the Great Rift Valley to and from the magnificent Bale Mountains
- 2 full days (3 nights) exploring the cloud forests and Afro-alpine meadows of the Bale Mountains National Park
- 2 days (2 nights at the peaceful Bishangari Ecolodge on the shores of Lake Langano
Starting from £1,795 per person on double occupancy basis (excluding all flights)
Single supplement: £350
- All accommodation on B&B basis
- All airport and road transfers
- Entry fees and a local tour guide at all the national parks and historic sites
- An expert guide to accompany you throughout your tour
A few suggestions for tailoring your tour
- A 2-day (2-night) excursion to see the Islamic walled city of Harer in eastern Ethiopia – this includes another night in Addis Ababa too
- 3 days (3 nights) exploring the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and the surrounding countryside
- 3 days (3 nights) visiting the remote monasteries in the Gheralta Mountains in Tigray
We recommend that you spend at least 3 nights in the Bale Mountains. If you’re a bird enthusiast, you may want to spend longer in one of Africa’s top birdwatching areas.
If fly fishing in a remote mountain wilderness appeals to you, the Bale Mountains offer some of Africa’s best trout fishing. We can arrange a permit and a river guide to show you some of the finest spots on the Danka, Web and Shaya rivers.
When to visit the Bale Mountains
The best time for exploring the Bale Mountains is from October to April. We wouldn’t recommend travellingthere during the rainy season, which usually runs from July to mid-September.
Excellent additions to this experience
Combine your trek in the Bale Mountains with a few nights in the Bishangari Ecolodge on the shores of the expansive Lake Langano. The eco-lodge is a convenient mid-way break in the journey back from the Bale Mountains to Addis.
Our top tip for the Bale Mountains
“Although trekking on foot is an ideal way to experience the diversity of this area, day-treks on horseback are another fantastic option, especially if you’re travelling with younger children. You could all ride, or you can walk and have horses for the children. ”
If you’re looking for a bit of history, entertainment and insight into Ethiopia in general then try A Far Country: Travels in Ethiopia by Philip Marsden-Smedley.