At the cave entrance
The other weekend, I had a great trip down to the Bale mountains. Fortunately we were able to borrow car (4×4) for a few days from a friends work in Addis. Bale is known for it’s trekking and horseriding, but fortunately, given that it rained almost the entire time, we hadn’t planned to do either of these activities and spent most of the time driving – our shortest days drive being about 7 hours.
The roads to and around Bale were far worse that we had expected- mainly because most them are in the process of being asphalted, so the ‘road’ that you can use is actually a track next to where the road is going to be. At one point it took us over 3 hours to do less than 100km.
Basing ourselves in Robe, we had a day up to the Sanetti Plateau (over 4000m high) to watch Ethiopian Wolves and then on to the Harenna Forest. The landscape is completely the opposite to that around Tigray – with real forest and greenery- as a result of all the rain. The next day we headed another 120km east to the Sof Omar caves. These were fantastic (see photos below), fortunately we picked up a guy from the local village who happened to be a history teacher at the local high school, so he was able to translate what the guide was telling us. Due to the rain we couldn’t get as far in to the caves as we would have liked – since crossing the river inside the cave would have been too dangerous. The teacher also had a map of the cave system (below) – 17km long – if anyone is interested I have higher quality copies of the images than I’ve uploaded below. Fortunately I’d remembered to take along my little tripod so was able to get some reasonable photos once we were inside the caves.
The next night was spent at the Dinsho lodge which the guide book describes as being like an abandoned ski lodge. It was a little tricky to find, the road builders had removed the signpost so we ended up taking someone from town to show us where to go, on arrival all was dark and locked up (living up to the guides book’s description) , so we went back into town to track down the warden.
The next morning the warden too us out for a walk to watch see Nyala (photos below again!), then back in the car for a drive to Shashemene (home of Rastafarianism apparently) for lunch and up to Lake Langano for an overnight stay by the lake, and few drinks and a swim – my camera battery had long since died by this point.
The highlight for me was certainly getting to the caves, it would have been difficult to get there without our own transport and now that I’ve seen a small part of the Bale national park, I’d certainly like to go back during a drier period for a trekking holiday.
Wolf on Sanetti Plateau
View from top of Sanetti Plateau
Harenna Forest (and a short stretch of flat road)
Inside the cave
Inside the cave
Cave system map (page 1)
Cave system map (page 2)
Nyala in the morning
Nyala in daylight