Hike to the roof of AfricaEthiopia
Looking for a challenging hiking experience through spectacular scenery? Well, pack your hiking boots for 22 hours of trekking through the wildlife-filled landscapes of Ethiopia’s Bale Mountains.
Your first day starts with a leisurely stroll around Addis Ababa. With its wide avenues of jacaranda trees, fascinating museums, one of the largest open-air markets in Africa and a temperate climate of 25°C year round, it’s the perfect way to ease into your trek.
Travel to Wendo Genet, known for its natural hot springs and forests, and visit the Rift Valley lakes of Ziway, Abiyatta, Shalla and Langano, renowned for their abundant birdlife. Of course, you’ll get to enjoy soaking your muscles in the springs.
A drive to Dinsho, the headquarters of Bale Mountains National Park, will reveal some of the endemic mammals of Ethiopia, including the mountain nyala, a type of antelope. You’ll head off on foot to be one of the fortunate 200 people each year to trek through this landscape. Look out for giant lobelia plants that can reach up to five metres and stand guard over the undulating plateau. After five to six hours of trekking through this prehistoric expanse of glacial lakes and swamps surrounded by volcanic peaks, you’ll arrive at the stunning campsite of Meraro.
Trek beneath the peaks before making a steep ascent onto the Sanetti Plateau, which is covered by Afro-alpine moorland and resembles a lunar landscape. Keep your peepers peeled for the endemic Ethiopian wolf, Africa’s most endangered carnivore. There are only 500 in existence but they are readily spotted on the plateau.
For five to six hours you’ll climb Mount Batu, one of the highest peaks in Ethiopia then trek across the arms of the Batu horseshoe to a campsite beside Garba Guracha. This lake is set beneath towering cliffs at the head of the Tegona Valley.
With almost a thousand species of birds, Ethiopia is one of the best bird-watching destinations in the world and the highland lakes are frequented by more than 10 endemic species. Look out for the Abyssinian woodpecker, Somali chestnut winged starling and mountain buzzard.
After a three-hour scenic drive from Goba to Nazareth, you’ll visit the Arsi Mountains and the famous barley plantations of the Oromo people. Then come full circle back to Addis Ababa on the eve of Timket, the biggest religious festival in Ethiopia.
The Timket festival is a three-day event celebrating the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. Priests remove the tabots (replicas of the Ark of Covenant) from each church and march to the nearest water source, where the communal baptism takes place. Like no other celebration you’ll ever witness, the ceremony includes thousands of white-robed faithful following a procession of colourfully dressed priests shaded by sequinned velvet umbrellas.
For the denouement, unwind with a little shopping or sightseeing around Addis, including a visit to the National Archaeological Museum of Addis Ababa, the Merkato (open air market), and climb Mount Entoto for a panoramic view of the city.
Group tours from about US$4120 a person for the 10-day expedition.