Trekking In Ethiopia
Trekking is a great opportunity to slow down and take in the fantastic scenery and vistas. You will enjoy the birdcalls, which are heard in the quiet and sparsely populated hills and mountains. And feel the sensation of crisp, cold, zingy water from the springs and streams that meander their way through staggered rocks and Afro-alpine moorland. There are giant lobelia, soft plains, deep valleys and lush forests to the large rivers. You will breathe air and wind deeply whilst fishing for fresh trout - all under the huge, expansive African skies.
The two main trekking areas are the Simien mountains to the North and the Bale Mountains to the South East. For a more gentle trek, suitable for families with younger children, the foothills of the Bale mountains, the Dodola mountains are superb as accommodation is in lovely mountain huts and the temperature is comfortably cool at night, unlike the Simien and Bale mountains, where temperatures can drop to just under freezing, giving the surprising sight of frost across the ground after the days hot sun.
The Bale mountains offer unique bird watching opportunities as well as olive baboon, bushbuck and warthog and Ethiopian wolf, whilst the Simien mountains offers the ultimate challenge of reaching the top of Ras Dashen, the highest mountain in Ethiopia - time permitting.
Trekking is very easy to arrange and can be done both on foot and horseback and can be tailored to meet your needs and experience; treks can be organised as long or as short as required. Local, very experienced guides along with the National Park’s wardens make trekking in the mountains a great experience.
Simien Mountain National Park
A world heritage site, the Simien Mountain range in the North of Ethiopia is host to the fourth highest mountain in Africa, Ras Dashen, reaching a height of 4,543 metres, (14,901 feet). The mountain range is bounded on the north and east by a massive and long escarpment cut along its length by deep gorges. Views over this vast plain from the top of the rugged, torn escarpment are breathtaking.
Trekking from west to east, you can take in the dramatic landscapes and wonderful sunsets. Temperatures at night drop dramatically in contrast to the heat of the day. It is possible to see the Wild Ibex, once hunted close to extinction, and the Simien fox, of which there are no more than 50 left. You will also see the common groups of Gelada baboons.
The Bale Mountains
Taking you through the Rift Valley Lakes at a more leisurely pace, we turn South-East and start climbing toward the Bale Mountains. There are more dramatic changes in topography when we reach the forests, dominated by Juniper and St John’s Wort trees. Some of these majestic trees are over 12 metres high, hosting Colubus monkeys as well as other wildlife.
After our journey through the forest we reach the Bale Mountains, temperate by day and often a few degrees below freezing at night. Crater lakes and trout filled streams make for a wonderful trekking experience.
The Bale Mountains scenery is wildly alpine and can be explored on foot, horseback or by vehicle making it accessible to all.
The Bale Mountains is undoubtedly the best part of Ethiopia for endemic birds; a bird-watching enthusiast’s paradise. More than 40 streams rise in the Bale Watershed eventually flowing into the mighty rivers of Juba or Wabe Shabelle.
These mountains, formed from solidified lava, make a wonderful trek during which it is possible to see endemic wildlife. Menelik’s bushbuck, warthog, mountain nyala, monkey and baboon can all be seen from the mountain treks. Lion, leopard and African wild dog do inhabit the Bale Moutains but are rarely seen by visitors. A most important fact is that the Bale Mountains are home to a population of the rare Ethiopian Wolf and it was when this was proved and data collected that the Bale Mountains were declared a national park.
Dodola – Juniper Forest
The journey to Dodola takes your through some sensational landscapes in southern Ethiopia, craggy peaks, waterfalls, and streams. After the rainy season, a festival of colour arrives, bringing red-hot poker and yellow and blue wildflowers set against a backdrop of lush green vegetation and trees.
Dodola is perfect hiking and trekking. The mountain scenery with it’s high altitude natural forest and Afro-alpine moorland, are attractive. Amazing juniper and hagenia forests protect a variety of birds including Rouget’s rail, black-winged lovebird and Abyssinian longclaw. Colubus monkeys can be seen sitting casually in the trees. The forest gives way at 3,200 metres to open moorland of St John's wort and heather, along with giant thistles and giant lobelias dotted on the mountain sides and through the plains.
The full five night, six day trek will take you round a circuit of five mountain huts from west to east: Wahoro, Angafu, Adele, Mololicho and Duro. If your time is short, then a one, or two day, trek can be arranged. The altitude is high and trekking on horseback is a lovely way to move around the mountains.
What is so fantastic about this trek?
This trek was established by the IFMP (Integrated Forest Management Project), with implementation by GTZ (Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit), as a non-profit activity aimed at protecting, and conserving what remains of the precious Afro-mountain forest. The project has generated community earnings and employment from tourism by ensuring that each of the huts are run by locals of the area and that payment for staying at the huts is given directly to the keeper. Similarly, the same for the hire of horses: each leg of the circuit has fresh horses brought and payment is to each of the owners, as horses are changed over. This whole, simple process makes the tour inexpensive as there are no travel companies involved for profit and enables the local population to take responsibility of the precious mountains. We highly recommend this trek.
The Forest Management Project (IFMP)
Since 2005 the Integrated Forest Management Project Adaba-Dodola (IFMP) has become a unit under the GTZ-SUN (Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit- Sustainable Utilization of Natural Resources) for Food Security Oromia program. This is a new arrangement under the Ethio-German development cooperation programme.
The GTZ-SUN Dodola office is a technical cooperation project of the Governments of Ethiopia and Germany, which started in 1995. Its mission is to develop a feasible approach for the conservation of natural forests in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia.
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