Introduction to the Bale Mountains
Situated 400km southeast of Addis Ababa, the Bale Mountains National Park is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Ethiopia’s natural heritage.
The park contains a dazzling blend of different landscapes on its 4,000km high Afro-Alpine plateau, from glacial lakes to volcanic ridges, moorlands, jungle and the Harenna forest, the latter of which is filled to the brim with wildlife that includes Colobus monkeys and forest hogs.
The rich biodiversity in the Bale Mountains also includes the elusive Ethiopian Wolf and African gold wolf species, the spotted hyena, warthogs and 283 species of birds.
This extraordinary natural beauty and array of wildlife can be experienced by strapping on a good pair of boots and doing some trekking, either on foot or on horseback. While independent trekking is theoretically possible, the Bale Mountains can be difficult to navigate for the uninitiated: with our network of experienced local partners and guides, we can handle everything from tents to horses.
A popular choice is to stay at the Bale Mountain Lodge and take sorties into the park via road. However, for those who want more than a surface introduction to the mountains, a multi-day trek is the best way to get the most out of the park. You can trek from camp to camp over a number of days, stopping at the best viewpoints along the way.
What’s more, sleeping under the stars is quite an experience here, as the clear, pollution-free skies here means the night sky bursts with starlight.
Camping in the Bale Mountains
The campsites of the Bale Mountains, while lacking in facilities, have beautiful views and each has its own unique features. They are set between 17-22km away from one another at 3000-4100m altitude, meaning that it takes less than a day’s walking to travel from one to another.
As most people will be staying at the nearby lodge, you will likely have the park all to yourself.
The Webb Valley
Webb Valley Camp sits near the scenic plains of the high plateau, where the majestic Ethiopian Wolves can be spotted patrolling their territory in the early morning. Spotted hyenas, golden jackals, olive baboons and the mountain Nyala among other exciting species can also be seen in the area around Webb Valley, as well as some phenomenal bird life.
Ponies can be hired at this camp: while on the ponies’ backs, you are able to get much closer to the wolves. Don’t worry about any tense run-ins while camping, though: guides and porters will be at hand to make sure that these usually non-aggressive animals don’t cause any trouble.
From here, we recommend hiking up to the camp at Mount Waaswma, which offers a panoramic view of the plains and pyramid mountains. The next day, you can trek across the the park to end up in the ‘stone forest’ at Rafu Camp, where the influence of volcanic eruptions on the area can be seen from the surreal and spectacular collection of basalt pipes and granite boulders.
If your feet aren’t too sore yet, you’ll be able to go on to do the relatively short hike up to Ethiopia’s second-highest mountain, Mount Tuludimtu, where a truly mind-blowing 360-degree vista of the entire national park can be taken in (or you might see a floor of clouds!).
For those looking to spend just one night in the Bale Mountains, it's possible to camp at Dinsho, where the Bale Mountains National Park HQ is located.
It has some simple facilities, as well as a splendid view of the valley below. Sightings of wildlife like warthogs, Nyala and bushbuck are common here. Tents, sleeping bags and sleeping mats can be hired at the entrance of the park in Dinsho, along with tour guides and personalised itineraries: however, for guaranteed quality, you are better off arranging these things with us.
Ready to Explore the Bale Mountains?
Below are some examples of what is possible in the Bale Mountains - but get in touch with us and we can help you with a tailor-made holiday.
Hike across electric landscapes of thick forests, Afro-alpine moorland, peaks and plateaus, and jungle thickets. An extraordinary outdoor adventure, with high altitude hikes unlocking staggering viewpoints, beautiful clearings, and endemic wildlife. At night, the sky is ablaze with starlight in…
Explore the national parks, rift valley lakes, and highland peaks and valleys that make Ethiopia a world-class birding destination. Boutique and Eco lodges place you in the heart of the action as you discover the extraordinarily diverse bird life that…