The Bale Mountains were created, prior to the formation of the Great Rift Valley, by lava outpourings which covered all underlying rock formations between 38 and 7 million years ago. The main Bale highlands consist of the vast lava Sanetti Plateau, with at least six volcanic cones, each more than 4,200 meters high and considerably flattened by repeated glaciations. As a consequence, the landscape as we see it today is the lava outpourings much modified through over 20 million years of erosion by water, wind and ice. Rainfall of between 1,000 and 1,400 mm occurs in areas of higher altitude, and over 12 million people from Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are dependent on water from the Bale massif.
Located in southeast Ethiopia, the 2,200 sq km Bale Mountains National Park is a wonderful place for trekking, where the visitor can see many species of animals and birds, some unique to Ethiopia.
The largest group of Ethiopian wolves is found here. Only about 400 of these wolves survive. The big headed mole rat – the wolf’s primary prey - is an animal found only in the Bale Mountains.
Other large mammals indigenous to the Park are mountain nyalas ( a species of antelope), Menelik's bushbucks, warthogs, and bohor reedbucks.
Spot breasted lapwing Augur buzzard
A feature of the park is the wild alpine scenery. Bale Mountains National Park is home to 1,321 species of flowering plants, 163 of which are endemic to Ethiopia (12%), and 23 to Bale alone (14% of Ethiopia’s endemic plants). An unusual plant of the Dinsho area is the white-flowered Abyssinian rose. The alpine moorland of the Saneti Plateau is covered in heath-like vegetation broken by heather plants and stands of giant lobelia which grow up to 6 metres high. It blossoms only once, producing a flower that may reach 5m above the ground, and then dies of exhaustion.
Giant lobelia. Giant thistle. The Bale Mountains offer some fine high-altitude horse and foot trekking, and the streams of the park - which become important rivers further downstream - are well-stocked with rainbow and brown trout.
The Bale Mountains are the ancestral home of the Oromo, the largest single ethnic group in the Horn of Africa. Living as pastoralists and farmers, the population grew quite quickly and, beginning in the 16th century, expanded to different corners of the country. The population of the entire Bale Zone is approximately 1.5 million.
They are primarily Oromo-speaking cattle farmers. The predominant religion in the Bale Mountains is Muslim (77%), followed by Orthodox Christian (20%) and Protestant (1%). Currently over 40,000 people live within the park’s boundaries, increasing pressure on the natural resources of the area and diminishing natural habitats of wild animals.
A trek in the Bale Mountains National Park presents the visitor with an amazing opportunity to visit Ethiopia’s most important biodiversity hotspot and see some of the rarest creatures in the world.
Baregota Tour and Travel would be happy to arrange a 4 -5 day trekking tour of this beautiful park. Facilities are basic, but the rewards are huge.