COMMUNITY TOURISM IN BALE MOUNTAINS

The recently established Integrated Forest Management Plan circuit of guided trails and huts through the mountains south of Dodola forms an excellent and in expensive goal for keen hikers and trekkers. Implemented by the German Aid Organization GTZ, the project is a non profit activity aimed in considering the remnants of areas Afro – montane forest by creating employment and generating community earnings from tourism. The main attraction of the trail is the mountain scenery and high altitude vegetation, which comprise some 50,000 hectare of natural forest as well as areas of Afro – alpine moorland. Birdlife is prolific and large endemic as well as common mammals are present in small numbers. The mountains covered by the trails are effectively the western extension of the Bale range.

The dominant tree types in the forest zone are the African Juniper, the Coniferous Podocarpus Falcatus and the fragrant Hagenia Abyssinica. Above 3,200m forest gives way to open moorland of Saint John’s Wort and Heather, dotted with Giant Thistle, shrubs with ball shaped Red Flowers and Giant Lobelias. The Juniper and Hagenia forest protect a similar composition of birds to that found at Dinsho, where the Bale Mountains National Park headquarters is located.

Among the more visible species are Watteled Ibis, Rouget’s Rail, Black Winged Lovebird, Yellow Front Parrot, Banded Barbet, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Abyssinian Longclaw, Abyssinian Catbird, White Backed Blacktit, Ethiopian Forest Oriole, White Checked Turaco, Black Kit, Augur Buzzard and Lammergeyer. The most visible large mammals are Vervet and Gureza Monkeys along with the endemic Mountain Nyala, Ethiopian Wolf, Menelik’s Bushbuck and Giant Molerat are among the mammals inhabited the mountains.

The circuit of the trails connects five simple but fully equipped mountain huts. Running from west to east, these are Wahoro 3,300m – Angafu 3,460m – Adele 3,300m – Mololicho – 3080m and Duro 3350m. The full circuit can be covered over six days and five nights, but any one of the huts can be reached from the trailhead within four hours.

Over this stunning world OVERLAND Ethiopia Tours encourages visitors to trek on horseback, for which no prior riding experience is necessary. Hiking is also permitted, but ascending to an altitude of 3,500m can be very tiring, particularly if visitors are not acclimatized to high altitudes. The best time for trekking is the dry season, between Novembers through May.

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