Bale Mountain National Park
Lying south-east of Ethiopia, Bale Mountains National Park covers 2400 square kilometers (1488 square miles) covering wide range of habitats and ranging in altitude from 1500 to 4377 meters
(4920 to 14357 feet) at Tulu Dimtu, the highest point in the southern Ethiopia.The spectacular Harenna escarpment running from east to west divides the area into two major parts. To the north is a high altitude plateau area known as the Sanetti Plateau (4000m) formed of ancient volcanic rocks and dissected by many rivers and streams that have cut deep gorges into the edges. In some places this has resulted in scenic waterfalls and alpine lakes.
The vegetation here varies according to altitude. The park can be divided into three main zones. Around Dinsho, in the north, there are grass riverine plains, bordered by bands of bushes, particularly sagebrush and St. John’s Wort. Wild flowers, such as Giant Lobelia, Geraniums, ‘red-hot pokers’ and Alcheilla, form carpets of color. Higher up the mountains heather appears either as small bushes or as mature trees.
The second zone, the Sanetti Plateau, is home to typical Afro-Alpine plants, some coping with the extreme temperatures by either remaining very small or becoming large. The best example of the latter is the curious looking Giant Lobelia, whose stems stand high against the skyline. Wild flowers are many and various, the dominant plant being the Helichrysum, or ’everlasting’ flowers that can be seen in many forms. Keep an eye on the indigenous Abyssinia rose, with its lovely subtle scent.
The third habitat which is the southern part of the park is heavily forested – the moist, tropical Harenna Forest, is home to tree species such as Haenia, Celtis and Podocarpus.The wildlife of Bale includes many endemic species. The park was originally established to protect the two endemic mammals: the Mountain Nyala and the Semien Fox or Jackal.