More than any other park in Ethiopia, this soon-to-be World Heritage site is known for its wildlife, but it’s a very beautiful place, too. As you approach from Dodola, ridges to the east are punctuated with fortress-like escarpments, standing out from the gentler, rounded rock pinnacles to the north.
Up in the hills, accessible by footpath and road, are deep gorges, alpine lakes, rushing streams, several waterfalls, lava flows and views that go on almost forever. If it weren’t located in such a remote corner of the country it would probably be as popular as the Simien Mountains.
The road across the Sanetti Plateau, built by the Derg to provide an alternative emergency access route to the south, is reportedly the highest all-weather road in Africa. The Bale Mountains are of relatively ancient volcanic origin, having formed from solidified lava more than ten million years ago.
Bale can be rewarding at any time. Although the nights are cold, November to March is dry and visibility is at its best. August to October is the wettest time and wildflowers are most abundant. Though the rain usually comes only in the afternoon the fog can last for days. Negative temperatures are normal at night on the Sanetti Plateau.
Sanetti Plateau The Sanetti Plateau is cited as the world’s largest expanse of Afro-alpine moorland, a montane habitat confined to altitudes of 3,500– 4,500m on east Africa’s tallest mountains. Because such habitats are isolated from similar ones on other mountains, they tend to display a very high degree of unique species, and Sanetti is no exception. Among other things, the plateau is renowned for supporting the most substantial population of Ethiopian wolf. It is some measure of how little explored Bale was until recent times that this wolf population was first made known to science in 1959.
Harenna Forest At the southern end of the Sanetti Plateau, the Harenna Escarpment affords an astounding view over the forest almost 2,000m below. The road then switchbacks exhilaratingly to the base of the escarpment, where the green heather suddenly transforms to a Grimm Brothers’ forest of low gnarled trees laden with moss and swathed in old man’s beard.
The Ethiopian Wolf
The Ethiopian wolf is the rarest canid in the world. Found only in the Ethiopian highlands, it’s teetering on the verge of extinction with only about 500 believed remaining. The Bale Mountains are home to the largest population, with approximately 350.
In Amharic, the wolf is known as a key kebero (red jackal), and indeed it does outwardly resemble one. Living in family groups of around 13 adults, the wolves are highly territorial and family oriented. When the dominant female in the pack gives birth to her annual litter of between two and six pups, all members chip in to rear the young.
When it comes to hunting, however, the wolves forage alone, favouring giant molerats and other rodents.
I hope you found this interesting. Please feel free to leave any thoughts, questions or comments that you might have.
Briggs, Philip (2012-09-24). Ethiopia (Bradt Travel Guides). Bradt Travel Guides. Kindle Edition.
Planet, Lonely; Jean-Bernard Carillet; Tim Bewer; Stuart Butler (2013-05-01). Lonely Planet Ethiopia, Djibouti & Somaliland (Travel Guide). Lonely Planet Publications. Kindle Edition.