Ethiopia is Africa's oldest independent country and its second largest in terms of population. Apart from a five-year occupation by Mussolini's Italy, it has never been colonised. Situated in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia boasts extraordinary natural features, a vast range of wildlife, and a captivating historical and cultural heritage. It has a unique cultural heritage, being the home of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church - one of the oldest Christian denominations - and a monarchy that ended only in the coup of 1974. It served as a symbol of African independence throughout the continent's colonial period, and was a founder member of the United Nations and the African base for many international organisations.
An increasing number of visitors are frequenting this treasure trove filled with unique attractions. Popular attractions include: the medieval castles of Gondar; the walled city of Harar; and Lalibela, a pilgrimage site known for its ancient monolithic churches, hewn into the area’s steep rocky hillsides. Ethiopia’s stunning natural landscapes are the real tourist drawcard. From the lush Simien Mountains to the sulphur vents of the Danakil Depression, the country’s outstanding natural environment is unforgettable. Bahir Dar, located on Lake Tana, is popular as a base from which to explore the fascinating monasteries situated on the numerous islands dotted around the lake, as well as the Blue Nile Falls, which are arguably the most spectacular falls in North Africa.
Drought and civil conflict left Ethiopia in a state of turmoil under a Marxist dictatorship from the fall of the monarchy until 1991, when the long authoritarian rule of Meles Zenawi brought a degree of stability.
The Bale Mountain National Park is a protected area of approximately 2,200 km2 and is located around 400 km southeast of Addis Ababa. Its high mountains, sweeping valleys, dramatic escarpment and wide expanses of forests provide visitors with a diversity of vistas unique to the Ethiopian highlands. UNESCO has estimated that more mammal species would become extinct were the habitats of the Bale Mountains to decline than if any other area of equivalent size on the globe were to disappear and, when this is combined with rare amphibian species, endemic birds and spectacular flora, it is easy to see why the park is designated as a Biodiversity Hotspot by Conservation International.
In the south of the Park lies a 1200m (3700ft) escarpment, below which is one of the largest and most extensive forests remaining in Ethiopia, the Harenna Forest. In the centre of the park lies a high level Afro-alpine plateau, with heights ranging from 2800m in the north and 4377m to the south. This is the largest remaining alpine habitat in Africa and here the landscape is wild and open and one can often see snow or frost on the ground. The landscape of the northern Gaysay section comprises a central broad flat valley with an altitude ranging from 3000 to 3550m above sea level.
The main wildlife attraction, and almost an ‘icon’ for Ethiopian wildlife travel is the Ethiopian Wolf. The Sanetti Plateau is home to the largest numbers of the remaining Ethiopian wolves. They are the world’s rarest canid and Africa’s rarest carnivore. Other endemics include the Mountain Nyalla, Menelik’s Bushbuck, Bale Monkey, Bale and Harenna Chameleon and Stark’s Hare. There are several endemic rodent species including the charming Giant Mole Rat, the staple diet of the Wolf.
The Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise and has been rated ‘4th best birding site in Africa’ by the African Birding Club. Several teams of research scientists visit the Park throughout the year and are happy to liaise with guests. Since opening Munich University have discovered 22 new species of butterflies and moths, and we are very pleased to have one name after our family. More recently, a viper has been officially ‘discovered’ jointly accredited to Mississippi and Utah universities and named Harenna Bitis. It may not be everyone’s favourite but in a modern world it is great to be living in an area where new creatures are being scientifically ‘discovered’.
Bale Mountain Lodge is set high in the mountains, on an 8 Hectare plot within the cloud forest, with views overlooking a large clearing which is used by animals for grazing and foraging. The lodge uses a mixture of contemporary and traditional designs centered around two large fireplaces which encourage an inclusive and cosy atmosphere within this truly remote and wild environment. All of the 8 ‘menyettabets’ (guest rooms) offer comfortable beds, private decks and wood burning stoves. Each is hidden from view from any other to permit guests to feel totally isolated whilst being safe and warm. The lodge is a superb location from which to explore the forest and the plateau, both of which offer walking safaris in the company of a knowledgeable guide. The Rift Valley, with its camel markets and dry dusty conditions, is a mere 45 minute drive to the south and the Sof Omar caves, Africa’s largest limestone cave system is a return day trip to the North.
The open plan living and dining room has traditional architecture with a high thatched roof, lined with bamboo, both areas furnished with locally sourced furniture and fabrics A large sunken fireplace acts as the focal point of the room with fires laid on both the lounge and dining room sides of the hearth. Our friendly service creates a sense of comfort and relaxation and guests are encouraged to meet before dinner for sundowners around the external fire pit on the front deck. The bar area has its own wood burning stove and provides an emphasis on quiet contemplation and relaxation. A wide eucalyptus wood deck encircles the lodge and offers additional space for al fresco dining or taking tea and cakes in the afternoon. Walkways extend around the site to numerous attractions; a waterfall fed rock pool is ideal for cooling down on hot days; secluded benches and pagodas are great spots from which to watch the wildlife, or simply get away from the pressures of modern life. All of the paths and decks permit views of the clearing, the stream or a wetland habitat (which harbours many endemic species of fogs and newts) all areas of which attract migratory birds and local wildlife.
WHY VISIT BALE MOUNTAIN LODGE?
Bale Mountain Lodge will ultimately accommodate 30 guests in 15 menyettabets but currently opeates with 8 guest rooms and a 3 bedroom house. The menyettabets, all unique, are of stone and wooden construction set around the 8 hectare site. Three menyettabets located near the main lodge are fully wheelchair accessible but are also well suited to families or individual travelers. Every room has private views. The rooms are predominantly set up as large doubles but many can incorporate additional beds on request, in support of family groups. The house is offered as a self-catering unit or additional rooms for large groups.
Join us for an extraordinary journey off discovery in search of these unique animals in this incredible part of Africa. The privilege and thrill of observing one of Africa's most endangered large carnivores in the Bale Mountains National Park, one of the largest remaining tropical Cloud Forests on earth and Ethiopia’s premier National Park, is one not to be missed!
Explore all habitats of the Bale Mountains National Park as you trek across the home of the Ethiopian wolf, mountain nyala, giant molerat and Bale monkey. Experience stunning Afroalpine mountains and natural scenery while heading deep into the heart of the Sanetti plateau – a floating land.
4 nights / 5 days