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Bale Mountains: enchanting forest, unique fauna and breathtaking landscape

Hello everyone!

Today we talk about a spectacular area found in Ethiopia, the Bale mountains.

An almost infinite stretch of gold, the exciting site of a red fox and the feeling of enchantment of the Harenna forest are what come first into my mind when recalling my trip to the Bale Mountains.

I recall a long drive, which was never boring, though, due to the beautiful landscape of the Oromia region. Bale mountains are infact four hours drive away from the capital, Addis Abeba, in South East Ethiopia.

My favorite part of this drive was the almost infinite stretch of gold, the enormous fields covered with teff, the cereal Ethiopia’s famous injera is made of. (Injera is a soft, flat bread which Ethiopians eat with most of their meals.)

Red fox. Image from Research Gate, by @Burrard-Lucas.

Once the asphalted road ends, we embarked on a long rough road that took us into the Bale National Park. The park hosts one fourth of the country’ endemic animals as it is home to several mammals and bird species. What impressed me most though, was the site of the Key Kebero, the Amharic name of the Red Fox. It looked like a wolf, but its red furred body said otherwise. It was also smaller than a wolf, at least smaller than I expected. Not a disappointment at all though, the beauty of its ochre colored fur and the sight of its furred pointy ears made up for the long walk in the park looking for it. I asked the guide how he was called in Afaan Oromo, the local language, he said “Jeedala Fardaa”. I asked if we could get closer, he said that, too much proximity might scare him away. So that is what I did. I decided to just pause, and savor that moment and watch until he moved away, admiring his agility.

The Sanetti Plateau, also part of the park, also hosted other mammals, such as mountain nyalas, Menelik's bushbucks, warthogs, and bohor reedbucks. Of course, Bale is also famous for its endemic birds and the guard showed us some. The once I liked most were the blue winged goose, which had a blue streak on a grayish body, and the yellow fronted parrot that reminded me of children drawings because it was too bright colored, all green with a yellow front.

Nothing in that trip beat the feeling of having been transported to an enchanted island, that I got when we entered the Harenna Forest. The moment we entered the forest, my mood changed. I forgot the unease and frustration coming from the long walk under the continuous rain on the top of my usual dislike of having to walk on muddy terrain.

It felt like entering a small magic world. I felt sheltered from the world, as the trees covered the sight of the sky. The sight of the trees was mesmerizing. Their trunks were fully covered by a green, soft, humid, spongy looking moss or lichens. Even the sounds seemed different in there, as is the sound from the outside had no place in there. The air also looked different, as if colored by a soft, cloudy tint was everywhere. I felt like the place was magical. I felt enchanted.

Harenna forest, Bale. Image taken from Youtube, Adamant critique.

The feeling of being in a surreal environment, again reawakened in me, once we climbed up again to a plane area inhabited by very peculiar fauna. Thousands of millions of years old, the Sanetti plateau, offers a unique view of the Giant Lobelias. These incredibly tall phallic shaped flowering plants added to the sensation of surreal. They stood each tall, far from the other and somehow, they reminded me of pineapples, as their crust was indeed like the pineapple fruits, only the lobelia’s tended more to green.

Giant Lobelia. Image taken from Wikipedia, Bair175, 2003

I remember returning to the capital with the feeling of somehow who had travelled into an enchanted land and back. I promised myself I shall return and, God willing, I shall.

Next Monday, I will talk to you about the Sof Omar. Found only a couple of hours drive away from the Bale park, it is famous because it hosted a local holy man called Sof Omar and the Weyyib river, a navigable river that passes through the labyrinth filled cave.

Wish you a nice evening!


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