The 2400 sq km Bale Mountains National Park, 400 km south of Addis Ababa, is the largest area of Afro-alpine habitat in the whole of Africa. It is the best place to see Ethiopia's endemic mammals and birds and offers unbeatable mountain walking. Bale Mountain is a region of high-altitude plateau formed of old volcanic rocks and broken by dramatic volcanic plugs and peaks, limpid alpine lakes, and rivers and streams that have cut dramatic gorges over the millenia - an area of outstanding scenery.
Divided by the spectacular Harenna escarpment, Bale National Park contains a rich diversity of habitat, the result of the great variations in altitude and topography. Habitats include juniper and Hagenia woods around Dinsho and Goba, the bleak Sanetti Plateau for Afro-alpine moorlands and alpine meadows seasonally coloured with abundant wildflowers.
Among the endemic mammals present are the endangered Mountain Nyala and the iconic Ethiopian Wolf (the world's rarest canid). A visit to Dinsho for the antelopes and the Sanetti Plateau for the wolves, is usually successful in revealing these mammals. Other endemics are Menelik's Bushbuck and the Giant mole-rat. Serval, golden jackal and white-tailed mongoose are among the carnivores inhabiting the area.
Bale National Park holds at least 14 of Ethiopia's endemic birds. Forest-dwelling endemic birds include Abyssinian catbird, Banded barbet and Abyssinian woodpecker. Up in the Sanetti moorlands are Blue-winged goose, Rouget's rail and Spotbreasted lapwing.The latter are easy to see during the standard excursions crossing of the plateau on Africa's highest-lying road.
Bale Mountains National Park is a full day's drive south of Addis Ababa. The best country lodge in Ethiopia, Bale Mountains Lodge, is in the lovely Harenna Forest.
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