Bale Mountains National Park was primarily established for the protection of the Endemics Mountain Nyala and Ethiopian Wolf, and other features including the spectacular scenery, an extensive Afro–Alpine Plateau and the moist highland forest. The park is located southeast of Addis Ababa within an altitude range of 1,500 – 4,377 meters above sea level. The entry gate is located 400 kms from Addis near Dinsho town in Bale zone. The park receives up to 1,200 mm of rain fall annually.
Covering an area of 2,200 square kilometers Bale Mountains National Park is the largest remaining alpine habitat on the African continent. Founded in 1970, the park contains the biggest continuous area of afro–alpine vegetation (~1000 square kilometers, circa 17.5% of all afro–alpine vegetation) and a large proportion of moist tropical forest. Bale Mountains National Park offers opportunities for unsurpassed mountain walking, horse trekking, scenic driving and chances to view many of Ethiopia’s endemic mammals, in particular Ethiopian Wolves, Simien Foxes, Menelik’s Bushbucks and Mountain Nyalas.
The park harbors diverse Fauna and Flora, with the fauna largely including the Mountain Nyala, Menelik’s Bushbuck, Ethiopian Wolf, Bohor Reedbuck, and Common (Grey) Duiker, Common Jackal, Serval Cat, Leopard, Klipspringer, Warthog, Rodents and birds. There are endemic mammals like the Mountain Nyala, Starck’s Hare, Bale Monkey, Giant Molerat, Lovat’s Mouse, Nikolaus’ Mouse, Mahomet’s Mouse, White–Footed Rat, White–Tailed Rat, Grey–Tailed Rat, Blick’s Grass Rat and Scott’s–Hairy Bat.
The endemic birds in the park include the Abyssinian Catbird, Abyssinian Long Claw, Yellow–Fronted Parrot, Spot–Breasted Plover, Black–Headed Siskin and Golden–Backed Woodpecker. Other birds once used to be endemic include Watteld Ibis, Blue–Winged Goose, Rouget’s Rail, White–Collared Pigeon, Black–Winged Lovebirds, Banded Barbet, White–Winged Cliff–Chat, White–Backed Black Tit, Black–Headed Forest Oriole and Thick–Billed Raven.
The major characteristics of the Bale Mountains National Park include the extensive plateau, valley and the lava outpourings. Over forty streams arise within the park. These join to form four major rivers — the Wabi Shebelle, the Web (leading to the Genale and Juba rivers), the Wemel and Dumal rivers. The most notable floras of the park are Giant Lobelias, Kniphofia, Helichrysum Splendidum, Hypericum Revolutum, Hagenia Abyssinica (Kosso) and Juniperus Procera.
Trekking can be arranged starting from Dinsho or from Dodola, a relatively new trekking area. Dinsho, the parks headquarters, lies in a grassy riverine plain bordered by St. John’s Worth Bushes. Wild flowers, such as Lobelia, Geraniums and Red–Hot Pokers form a colorful carpet during spring.
The trek takes you over the Sanetti Plateau, crossing Batu Mountain and to the highest peak of the Bale Mountains, Tullu Deemtu (4,377 meters). In the route you will find small alpine lakes, streams full of trout and typical afro–alpine vegetation like Giant Lobelias and Everlasting Shrubs. Most of the campsites lie between 5 and 18 kms apart and are situated over 3,000 meters, where temperatures get colder and night frosts are frequent. The trek ends on the road to Goba, where we meet the vehicles. This all–weather road crosses the loveliest mountainside at 4,000 meters altitude before it descends through heather moorlands followed by beautiful Hagenia forests.
The Simien Mountain National Park is located, in the North Gondar, Amhara Regional State, 886 kms from the capital, Addis Ababa, and 123 kms from the historical city of Gondar. Located at 13°N and 38°E, the Simien Mountains National Park covers an area of 179 square kilometers and lies between the altitude range of 1,900 to 4, 500 meters. Harbouring one of the principal mountain massifs of Africa, the Simien Mountains consist of several plateaus, separated by broad river valleys. With over twenty peaks towering to heights above 4,000 meters, Simien Escarpments are also known as the Roof of Africa. Its highest peak, Ras Dejen at 4,543 meters, is the fourth highest peak on the African continent.
The Simien Escarpments, which remind of the Grand Canyon of the USA, have been adopted in 1978 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The mountains are lush and green— your former conception of Ethiopia is likely to be turned over.
The dramatic landscape of the Simien Mountains is the result of massive seismic activity in the area about 40 million years ago. Molten lava poured out of the earth’s core reaching a thickness of 3,000 meters. This massive eruption has created one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 meters. The famous pinnacles – the sharp spires that rise abruptly from the surrounding land – are volcanic necks, solidified lava and last remnant of ancient volcanoes.
Simien Mountains, is endowed with unique landscape, endemic animals, and plants which are unique for the highlands of Ethiopia. There are 22 large mammals, 13 small mammals and 182 bird species currently living in the Simien Mountains, of which 3 large mammals (Gelada Baboon, Walia Ibex and Ethiopian Wolf), 8 small mammals and 6 bird species are endemic to Ethiopia.
Bird species include— Wattled–Ibis (Bostrychia Carunculata), Thick–Billed Raven (Corves Crassirostris), Tawny Eagle (Aquila Rapax), and Bearded Vultures (Gypaetus Barbatus).
More than 1,200 plant species with diversified floristic composition in wide range of altitudes are believed to exist in Simien Mountain National Park.
About 507 species are identified and described of which about 57 tree species are identified in and around the park. Of these more than 20 plant species are estimated to be endangered. Out of 52 species of grasses 10 are endemic to Ethiopia and 3 of them are endemic to the Simien Mountains.
The park offers great possibilities for trekking, with dramatic and exhilarating scenery. Access to the park is from Debark; about 2 hours’ drive north of Gondar. Buyet Ras, Sankaber, Geech and Chenek are the four major campgrounds of the park.
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