Ethiopia's most important biodiversity hotspot, Bale Mountains National Park supports a rich mosaic of high-altitude habitats including lush evergreen forest, stands of giant bamboo, pastel-shaded moorland, and sheltered river valleys swathed in fragrant juniper-hagenia woodland. Nominated as a tentative UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 2009, the park is the most important stronghold to three endemic large mammal species - the charismatic Ethiopian wolf, handsome mountain Nyala and delightful Bale monkey - while its incredible avifauna is reflected by the African Birding Club having listed it as one of the continent’s top five birding hotspots. The national park is an area of high altitude plateau that is broken by numerous spectacular volcanic plugs and peaks, beautiful alpine lakes and rushing mountain streams that descend into deep rocky gorges on their way to the lowlands below. As you ascend into the mountains you will experience changes in the vegetation with altitude, from juniper forests to heather moorlands and alpine meadows, which at various times of year exhibit an abundance of colorful wildflowers. Bale Mountains National Park is the largest area of Afro-Alpine habitat in the whole of the continent. It gives the visitor opportunities for unsurpassed mountain walking, horse trekking, scenic driving and the chances to view many of Ethiopia's endemic mammals, in particular the Mountain Nyala and Ethiopian Wolf, and birds, such as the Thick-billed Raven, Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged Goose, White backed Black Tit, White Collard Pigeon and Rouget's Rail. The climate of the Bale Mountains, as is to be expected in a high altitude mountainous region, is characterized by a high rainfall and periods of damp cloudy weather, interspersed with periods of sparkling sunny weather with brilliant blue skies.

The climatic year can be roughly divided into three seasons -the dry, early wet and wet seasons. The dry season is the best period to visit the National Park usually from November to February, especially for walking and horse trekking in the high mountain area. The vegetation can get very dry in the dry season, and fires must then be very carefully tended. The Mountains are most famous as home and refuge of the endemic Mountain Nyala and Ethiopian Wolf. Both these mammals occur in reasonable numbers, and visits to the Gaysay area, and the Sanetti plateau will ensure you see both. The Mountain Nyala is a large antelope in the spiral-horned antelope family, this large spiral-horned antelope most often seen on the short walking trail that runs through the juniper-hagenia forest around the park headquarters at Dinsho. Other mammals often encountered at Dinsho include warthog, Bohor reedbuck and the endemic Menelik’s bushbuck.

Bale’s high-altitude centerpiece is the Sanetti Plateau, a vast lava plateau interspersed with several 4,200-plus meter volcanic cones. Sanetti is the world’s most extensive Afro-Alpine moorland, comprising tussocks of heather interspersed with icy tarns and ethereal giant lobelias. The northern slopes below Sanetti support a mix of juniper-hagenia woodland and Afromontane grassland, while the southern slopes are layered with altitudinal bands of Erica, bamboo and Afromontane forest. Bale's 1,300-plus plant species include 160 Ethiopian endemics and 23 unique to the park.

Bale is the main global stronghold for the endangered Ethiopian wolf, a handsome red-and-white canid often seen trotting through the heather of the Sanetti Plateau, where it feeds on rodents such as the endemic giant mole-rat. The Harenna Forest south of Sanetti supports the park’s richest variety of large mammals, these include the remarkable giant forest hog (the world’s largest swine) and the much localized Bale monkey, a vulnerable endemic whose tiny range is attributable to its specialised diet of bamboo.

Bale stands out as the best place in Ethiopia to see endemic birds. Six national endemics are present, alongside another 11 species shared only with Eritrea, and several others unique to the Horn of Africa. Juniper-hagenia forest around Dinsho hosts woodland species such as white-cheeked turaco, yellow-fronted parrot, black-winged lovebird, and Abyssinian catbird, while high-altitude specialties on Sanetti include Rouget’s rail, chestnut-naped francolin, spot-breasted plover and alpine chat. Bale supports the only known sub-Saharan breeding populations of golden eagle, ruddy shelduck and red-billed chough, underscoring the Palaearctic affiliations of Ethiopia’s wildlife.

Bale is a superb destination for hiking and mule back treks. A good starting point for walkers is the undemanding trail around Dinsho, or the half-day Bamboo and Waterfall Trail in the Harenna Forest. Longer trails out of Dinsho, mostly above the 3,000m contour, take from two to eleven days. It can be explore by vehicle, with all-weather roads offering access to most of its more alluring habitats - indeed all-weather road across the Sanetti Plateau to the 4,377m peak of Mount Tulu Dimtu is the highest in Africa.