Treking in Bale Mountains, land of hobbits?

Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
Trip End Mar 02, 2010

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Flag of Ethiopia  , Bale,
Friday, February 5, 2010

I will add more details and edit this entry after returning home.  Just too much information to add on the questionable Ethiopian internet service.

Left Adama (Nazareth) on Friday, January 30th,  and headed south to Aselsa.  When I arrive I sit down on my pack outside the bus station to read the Bradt Guide Book, want to  see some options for hotels.  A few minutes later I look up and am surrounded by at least 15 people, they are just curious.  Usually farangi's chooses a different route to access the Bale Mountains, so I am somewhat of an unusal sight in Asela.  Had to spend the night here, the last and only bus headed to Dodola (the town which you access the Bale Mountains from) left at 7 AM. I've purpously not drank much today, one never knows if the bus will stop for a pee break!  Late in the afternoon after getting settled in, I rehydrate... one Fanta Orange soda, one tea, two coffees and two Jumob draft beers at three different locations.  Total price is about 23 birr, $2 US.

So the next morning I'm at the bus staion at 5:15 AM, get a good seat, and we leave about 6:30.  It's always best to show up early, the busses fill quickly. I reached Dodola after a 6 hour wonderfully scenic journey on a very bumpy dirt and gravel road.

The guide from the company organizing the Bale Mountains treking knows I will be arriving, and he greets me outside the bus station.  It is still early enough in the day to make Camp 1.  I spend  the next two hours having lunch, purchasing some food for the trek, and choosing what clothing to take.  At 3:00 I'm on the trail with my guide, Hussein.  I have a horse and horseman to carry food and clothing, so the walking is easy.  At somepoint during the trek I asked Hussein how many children he has, his repy.."ABOUT five"  He is Muslim, so maybe he has more then one wife? 

The treking in the Bale Mountains is a unique experience for me, the landscape and forest is something I've not seen before.  I met a man from Germany after arriving at Camp 1, Norbert, so we are treking together.
Norbert is a pleasure to walk and talk with, he is 45 and has traveled in an adventurous way throughout the world.
He describes the landscape and scenery in the Bale Mountains  as seen in  the 'Lord of the Rings' movies, and expects to see a hobit walk out from behind a tree.

The treking is not difficult, mostly gently rolling hills, sometimes in the forest, sometime above treeline.  This area is outside the Bale Mountain National Park so there are people living in the area which adds to the experience in a positive way.  The children are nice, no hassles here.

We have a comfortable hut to sleep in each night, bedding included,  and each hut is also equipped with a kitchen.  Our guide is doing most of the cooking, and the huts also have beer and soft drinks, delivered by horse and donkey.

We treked for four days in this area, the shortest day was about 3 hours, the longest about 7hours.  Then we move east 60 KM to the dusty and desolate town of Dinsho, access site to the Bale Mountain National Park.  Norbert and I spend two days here.  The scenery is less spectacular,but we see more wildlife here, including mountain nyla (endemic antelope) warthogs and a variety of birds.  Warthogs are big and beefy, living in burrows.  One evening at dusk, I walked by a warhog residence, did not see the burrow, and the 'owner' came charging out.  Not directly at me, but still scared the crapout of me!! 

Norbert is staying longer in the Bale Mountains, I'm headed to Awash for a couple of days, and then on to Arba Minch. 

Leaving Dinsho is a bit problamatic.  There are no buses leaving from here, only buses passing through town.  The previous day I had made arrangements with a 'broker' to purchase a ticket so I would have a seat when the bus gets to Dinsho.  I was a bit skeptical, and as it turns out, with good reason.  I arrived at the appointed time of 6:30 AM, but no broker in sight.  The first 6 buses don't even stop as they come through town, they are full.  By 8 AM I'm thinking I won't read Awash today, but then I have some good luck.  Another broker aproaches me and says he can  arrange transportation.  Again I'm skeptical, but within 15 minutes I'm headed out of town in the front seat of a truck, not complaining, but not a St. George Beer truck. 
The driver speaks some English, so it's an enjoyable trip.  We are moving along at a pretty good speed considering the road conditions, and within 2 hours pass all of the buses that had no seating. 

So today is a rest day, relaxing is Awassa,  and also taking care of laundry and a haircut.  I was feeling pretty scruffy, but now all is good.  Oh, a hot shower was really great!

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Poan on

Hi Richard, I am glad to hear your trekking has been so smoothly and that you enjoyed with it so much. Hope also you get to have nice every day food in Ethiopia. Have a nice day and have a nice weekend! Love, Poan

Cynthia on

Hi Richard - it's great to see another update on the blog, we love reading about your adventures! We're enjoying the photos that Carole has posted so far - it really brings your trip to life for us, can't wait to see more! We've also been doing some online research on the places you've been visiting, don't know if you are aware of how educational your vacation is for the rest of us.

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