Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Bale Mountains National Park

A very impressive place in Ethiopia (for me the most beautiful place) is the Bale Mountains National Park with several, very different habitats and environments. It is placed 400 km in the South of Addis Ababa and easy to reach by car. The area is home to many endemic species of Ethiopia like the Mountains Nyala (Tragelaphus buxtoni), Meneliks Bushbuck (Tragelaphus seriptus meneliki) or the Ethiopian Wolves (Canis simensis) and a biodiversity hotspot. 

Bale Mountains National Park
The Bale Mountains.

I have seen that most tour operators offer one or to day trips with an accommodation outside the park. I highly recommend staying longer and try to get one of the cottages inside the park, near the entrance area. There is the great opportunity to walk alone in the park; really alone (no guide, no selling’s, no humans). The area here is covered by dense Juniper woodlands that have an atmosphere like the northern hemisphere but with African animals. Many species can be seen there in very short distance; Mountains Nyalas, Bushbucks and Warthogs are common and have almost no escaping distance. 

Bale Mountains National Park Cottage on the entrance area
Cottage near the entrance area.

African Dusky Flycatcher in the Bale Mountains
African Dusky Flycatcher.

Menelik's Bushbuck in the Bale Mountains
Menelik's Bushbuck.

Mountains Nyala in Juniper Forest in the Bale Mountains
Juniper forests and a Mountain Nyala.

Warthog in the Bale Mountains
A 'Mountain' Warthog, in an elevation of 3300 m.

Mountain Nyala in the Bale Mountains
Mountain Nyala.

Birding is good in all areas of the park but difficult in the forests. A very relaxed and wonderful walk was on the Gaysay grasslands with birds like the Rougets Rail or Black-winged Lapwings.

Gaysay grasslands in the Bale Mountains.
The grasslands.

ethiopian black headed siskin in the Bale Mountains
Ethiopian Black-headed Siskin.

Black-winged Lapwing in the Bale Mountains
Black-winged Lapwing.
Rouget's rail (Rougetius rougetii)
Rouget's rail (Rougetius rougetii).

Bohor Redbook in Gresslands Ethiopia
Bohor Redbooks.

Mountain Nyala in the Bale Moutnains
First, I saw only the horn, than he rised up.

The Sanetti Plateau is a highland plain with an elevation of 3300 to 4000 m and home of the Ethiopian Wolves. The landscape looks more like tundra than Africa (it is part of the Afroalpine ecosystem) and can be very cold with ice on the lakes, as well as strong wind. The wolves were not so easy to find, in the morning we searched for hours without result and in the evening we saw several pairs. Good places to stay are the Carne Lakes, some small lakes famous as nesting place of Wattled Cranes. There were many birds like the Blue-winged Goose, Buzzards and of course the Wattled Cranes. 

 blue-winged goose (Cyanochen cyanoptera) bale mountains
Blue-winged Geese (Cyanochen cyanoptera) is an endemic species in Ethiopia.

Blue-winged Geese (Cyanochen cyanoptera) on the Sanetti plateau
Blue-winged Goose.

Buzzard in the Bale Mountains
Augur Buzzard.

Sanderling on the crane lakes in the bale mountains
A Sanderling.

Ethiopian Wolf on the Sanetti Plateau
...and I prouldy present: An Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis), one of the world rarest canids.

Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) on the Sanetti Plateau in the Bale Mountains
And another Ethiopian Wolf; most of the 330 to 400 individuals live in the park. They are highly endangered by landscape degradation and deseases from domestic dogs.

giant lobelia in the bale mountains
A Giant Lobelia.

Flowers on the Tulu Dimtu at 4,377
Flowers on the Tulu Dimtu, with 4377 m elevation the hightes point of the Sanetti Plateau and the second highest mountain in Ethiopia.

The crane lakes on the Sanetti Plateau
The Crane Lakes on the Sanetti Plateau, a number of small lakes.

 wattled crane (Bugeranus carunculatus) in the Bale Mountains Ethiopia
And the Wattled Cranes, they have a small isolated population on the Sanetti Plateau.

A fascinating place, one the way from teh Sanetti Plateau to the Harenna Forest, are the Erica Moorlands where Ericacaea shrubs (similar to our heath) grow in sizes of trees and form dense forests.

Erica Moorlands in the Bale Mountains
Erica Moorlands.

Another area to visit is the Harema Forest, a dense tropical forest and one of the few original forests remaining in the country. He is famous for several endemic species but most what I saw were illegal settlements, cattle and goats. The forest is grandiose with unbelievable trees and bushes like wild coffee (coffee is originating from the area). 

Thick tree in the Harenna Forest
Inside the Harenna Forest, have a look to the thickness of the tree compared with the man.

Guereza monkeys in the Harenna Forest.
Guereza monkeys.

Wild coffee in the Harenna Forest, Bale Mountain National Park/Ethiopia
Wild Coffee.


  1. I love the natural landscapes and the wonderful scene of nature ! Your pictures are gorgeous !

  2. An amazing and beautiful place; I am glad it is a National Park . Agree it is always best to see these places on one's own (when you can do it). All of your animals and birds are great and the pics are wonderful. I'm especally like ith that beautiful Mountain Nyala -- gorgeous, graceful and with those ears I bet she can hear all over the whole park! Thanks for the tour -- I loved it.

  3. fabulous animal photos. The wolf is beautiful and looks a bit like the coyote that lives here in the US. The nyala is awesome too.

  4. Spectacular landscapes and wonderful birds and animals. I love the wolves.

  5. such a wonderful place to visit and see wildlife

  6. What a great critter post.. So many cool animals and great birds. I would love to see the cranes. Sounds like an awesome place to enjoy the wildlife. Thank you for sharing your post with my critter party. Have a happy weekend.

  7. What an incredible place to see! I was excited to see all the species you encountered. And that Ethiopian Wolf is wonderful! What an incredible post!

  8. Wow! It would have taken me a while to come up with Ethiopia as an answer to "where are these taken" - what a remarkable place.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  9. What a beautiful scenic place, filled with such a variety of animals and plants! Congratulations on those great captures of the endangered Ethiopian wolf.

  10. The moorlands, I bet, are spectacular. As is the open land, but I would love to go through the wooded area myself.

    Incredible wildlife. Of course I especially like the beautiful four legged shares are just as stupendous.

    thanks for linking in this weekend.

  11. I have never seen such beautiful images from Ethiopia. All the media has ever shown us is photos of starving children. These are wonderful.

  12. What an amazing experience it must have been! I've never been camping!

  13. what a great spot, overflowing with incredible wildlife!!!

  14. Great scenery and animals and of course amazing birds. Great photos!

  15. Beautiful collection of birds and photos!

  16. A fascinating place indeed and such great diversity of habitats. Love all the birds and beasts.


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