What makes the Bale Mountains special?

Rising over 4,000 metres, the Afro-Alpine plateau of the Bale Mountains is the highest mountainous area in southern Ethiopia. 

The north side of the park is home to the Sanetti Plateau - a high altitude region of glacial lakes surrounded by high volcanic ridges

In the south of the park you'll find the Harenna Forest, a thick, jungle-esque region home to colobus monkeys, wild horses, forest hogs, warthogs, and even lions and leopards. 

The beautiful Bale Mountain Lodge - nestled into the thickets of the Harenna Forest - is one Ethiopia's best boutique lodges. It's the perfect place to return for sun-downers by the roaring fire after a day's exploring. 

In the surrounding villages, makeshift bars serve Tej (honey wine) round the clock and in the surrounding forests you can learn how that incredible Ethiopian coffee is produced. 

The Bale Mountains are a place of beauty, in both nature and community.

If wildlife, scenery, and the great outdoors are high on your Ethiopia travel wish list - the Bale Mountains should not be missed.  

Fireplace outside Bale Mountain Lodge with mountains in background

Flora and Fauna in the Bale Mountains

Fauna

The Bale Mountains are one of Ethiopia's best wildlife destinations.

The endemic (and rather elusive) Ethiopian Wolf is found in large numbers here. The wolf is the rarest canid in the world, and your best bet for spotting one is in the Sanetti Plateau of the Bale Mountains.  

The conservation of the Ethiopian Wolf, as well as the endangered Mountain Nyala, was a leading reason for the establishment of the national park. 

It's not just the Wolf and Nyala - the Bale Mountains are home to 20 endemic mammals, not to mention dozens of reptiles and amphibians, and hundreds of bird species.

Other wildlife often spotted in the park includes the Menelik Bushbuck, grey duiker, warthog, African golden wolf, colobus monkey, and spotted hyena.

If you look to the trees, you'll find countless bird species, monkeys, and chameleons

Ethiopian Wolf in the Bale Mountains National Park

Flora

Thanks to its altitudinal range, the Bale Mountains can support a huge variety of plant life. 

There are around 1,300 species of flowering plants in the mountains, of which 12% are endemic to Ethiopia and 14% endemic to the Bale Mountains alone

The Helichrysum (‘everlasting’ flowers) is the most dominant flower in the park, their yellow flowers making for beautiful backdrops as you hike through the forests in search of wildlife. 

The southern part of the park is heavily forested with wild forest coffee (coffee arabica) and medicinal plants like the hagenia. 

The most striking of all are the seemingly misshapen Juniper Trees, whose branches bend and contort to create a scene straight out of a Harry Potter film!

Bale Mountains National Park

The wild flora of the Bale Mountains

Trekking & Camping in the Bale Mountains

The Bale Mountains are a great place to lace up your hiking boots and explore Ethiopia's great outdoors on foot.

If you're basing yourself at the Bale Mountains Lodge, you can take sorties in and out of the park via 4x4 and return to the lodge at the end of the day. 

For those looking for more adventure, it's possible to arrange multi-day treks across the park. These treks range from 2-12 days with overnights at campsites dotted around the park. Horse riding is also possible in the park. 

You can modify the routes and length of the treks to suit your fitness levels. Generally, hiking in the Bale Mountains is relatively easy if you are of average fitness. 

Most visitors spend two nights in the Bale Mountains and will combine short hikes to the best viewpoints with road transfers to cover the longer distances.

Bale Mountains National Park

At the summit of Tulu Dimtu

Bale Mountains National Park Map

Bale Mountains National Park Map

When to Visit

Being a highland area, the Bale Mountains have a very different climate to many parts of southern Ethiopia. In fact, the mountains follow similar weather patterns to the high-altitude north of the country. 

The Bale Mountains have a rainy season from June to September, so if you want to see the park at its most beautiful, September and October are fantastic months to visit if you don't mind overcast skies and slightly colder temperatures. 

The best time to visit for hiking is between October and March during the dry season. 

When you choose to go will depend on which other destinations you are visiting in Ethiopia - the size of the country means different regions have different weather patterns, so it's important to plan ahead. 

Bale Mountains National Park

The path up towards Tulu Dimtu

Getting There

Getting to the Bale Mountains usually involves catching a domestic flight into the nearby airport town of Robe.

From here, it is a 2-hour drive to the Bale Mountains Lodge. If you are basing yourself in the town of Dinsho, it is a slightly shorter drive from Robe. 

One of the best ways to get to the Bale Mountains is via a road trip across the Rift Valley. Often, you can learn much more about a country by driving through, rather than flying overhead.

A road trip from Addis down to the Bale Mountains is an awesome couple of days, and well worth it if you have more time to weave into your itinerary. 

Bale Mountains National Park

Arriving in style at the Bale Mountains

Accommodation in the Bale Mountains

Accommodation options in the Bale Mountains are limited. 

By far the best option in the area is the Bale Mountains Lodge. Not only is it the best accommodation option in the park, but it's one of the best lodges in Ethiopia

Unfortunately, the Bale Mountains Lodge does not come cheap, so if you are on a budget you will need to stay at some of the basic hotels in Goba or Dinsho.

There's no way around it, these hotels are not very good, which can detract from your experience of the mountains. If you can afford the Bale Mountains Lodge, it's well worth it. 

For those who want a proper outdoor adventure, there are a number of fly camps set up around the park. Seldom used, you won't see any other trekkers around, and it'll feel like you and your trekking team have the entire 2,200 square kilometre forest to yourselves. 

Breakfast served at Bale Mountains Lodge

Discover the Bale Mountains

Bale Mountain Lodge

Breakfast served at Bale Mountains Lodge

Set deep within the national park, the Bale Mountains lodge is by far the best accommodation option available in the Bale Mountains. The lodge has a selection of cosy and …

Discover More

Ready to plan your Ethiopia adventure?

1
Listen

Listen

2
Match

Match

3
Reserve

Reserve


Whatever your budget, group size, length of stay, preferred activity or appetite for adventure, we can help.

+1 315 636-4279