Bale Mountains National Park
Day 1 – Addis Ababa
Depending on your flight schedule, there will be time for a city tour through the capital of Ethiopia. Spend the night in a hotel in Addis Ababa.
Day 2 – From Addis Ababa to Goba
Leave the capital Addis Ababa early in the morning around 6 AM and enjoy the drive through the Rift Valley. You will reach Dinsho which is part of the Bale Mountain National Park in the afternoon. This area is famous for lots of mountain Nyalas, which are indigenous to the Bale Mountains. They will be easily spotted from the road side along with gazelles and plenty of warthogs. The Mountain Nyala was the last of the great African antelopes to become known to science. Still today very little is known about its habits or the full extent of its range. It was first collected by Major Ivor Buxton in 1908 and at that time seemed to be fairly widespread throughout the Arsi and Bale regions in south eastern Ethiopia. Large numbers of them lived at very high altitudes, between 3,000 and 4,000 m, in the mountain forests where it was cold and wet much of the time, until the pressure of the human population destroyed vast tracts of their forest habitat. There are white markings on the legs and two white spots on the face, a white chevron between the eyes. Nyala are similar to Greater Kudu but can be distinguished by the single spiral horns and the absence of clear white stripes on the body. You can also take a short walk in the area. Continue your drive and spend the night in Goba.
Day 3 – Sanetti Plateau and Harena Forest
After breakfast you will enter the Bale Mountains National Park to drive on the top of the Sanetti Plateau with an average elevation of 4,000 m. Walk around, enjoy the view and try to spot the Ethiopian Wolf. The Ethiopian Wolf, simien fox or also Simien Jackal is listed as endangered (EN) and stands on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It will be quite windy and cold up there, so take a warm jacket. Afterwards you can move on to the Harena which is around 20 km away. The Harena Forest is one of the few remaining natural forests in the entire country of Ethiopia. It is known for its mammals, amphibians and birds including many endemic species. Spend the night in Goba.
Day 4 – Sof Omar Cave
Today you will drive to Sof Omar Cave which is around 125 km away from Goba. One of the most spectacular and extensive underground caverns in the world: the Sof Omar cave system, an extraordinary natural phenomenon of breathtaking beauty. The caverns are formed by the Web River, which vanishes into this giant underground world with its arched portals, high, eroded ceilings, and deep, vaulted echoing chambers.The caves currently constitute an important Islamic shrines named after the saintly Sheikh Sof Omar, who is said to have taken refuge here many centuries ago. The site has a religious history of thousands of years, which predates the arrival of the Muslims in Bale.The caves are where nature has worked wonders of architecture, where one can see soaring pillars of stone twenty meters (66 feet) high, flying buttresses, fluted archways, and tall airy vaults. Finally, the river itself is reached, sunless sea flowing through a deep gorge.The large central hall of Sof Omar, the “Chamber of Columns” (so named after the colossal limestone pillars that are its dominant feature) is one of the highlights of the cave system. Take as much time as you need. Today you will spend the night in Robe.
Day 5 – Drive back to Addis Ababa through the Rift Valley
Today you will drive back to Addis. If you manage to make an early start, you will be able to stop over at Lake Langano to enjoy a swim or lunch break at one of the lodges. If you have not seen Abiyatta Shalla National Park, this is a good opportunity to drive into the park, just opposite of Lake Langano, where you can see lots of Flamingos on the shore of the lake. You will reach Addis Ababa in the late afternoon. The tour ends with a farewell dinner at a cultural restaurant where you can enjoy delicious Ethiopian food and traditional music and dances.