Maasai giraffe, or the Kilimanjaro giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) amongst Baobab trees. Ruaha National Park. Tanzania
Shooting Panoramas
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Bale Mountain National Park

Giant lobelia (Lobelia rhyncopetalum). Bale Mountains National Park. Ethiopia.

Giant lobelia (Lobelia rhyncopetalum). Bale Mountains National Park. Ethiopia.

We visited the Bale Mountain National Park in Ethiopia to shoot stills and movies for our African Icons Book, staying at the very comfortable Bale Mountain Lodge. Bale was like nothing we’d ever seen before and working at about 14 500 feet above sea level was also a new experience for us. It’s a wild desolate place and, if you are out there when the cold mists roll in (which they can do and very quickly), you can easily find yourself in huge trouble – unable to find your way back to your vehicle.

The opposite happened to us one morning. We had driven up in very dense mist and fog, intending to head out into the higher areas to see if we could find some Ethiopian or Simian Wolves. Our guide insisted he knew where the animals were and so, we parked on the side of the road, donned our warmest gear and headed off into grey…

Well we didn’t find the wolves but we did find some really wonderful scenery when the mists started clearing, which more than made up for it and I guess there’s a lesson in there somewhere: When your plan doesn’t come together because of reasons beyond your control, go to plan “B” and make that work.

Giant lobelia (Lobelia rhyncopetalum). Bale Mountains National Park. Ethiopia.

Giant lobelia (Lobelia rhyncopetalum). Bale Mountains National Park. Ethiopia.

Photo details: A stitch of 8 photographs. Nikon D800 and 16 – 35mm lens. ISO200 1/250sec at f10.

Here then are some interesting facts about Bale Mountain National Park:

  • It has one of the highest number of endemic animals of any terrestrial habitat in the world.
  • It is about 2,150 km2 (2 150 000ha) and is divided into five distinct and unique habitats.
  • The Bale Mountains were formed some 38 000 000 years ago – prior to the Rift Valley.
  • Its annual rainfall is between about 1000 and 1400mm.
  • Bale is home to 20 Ethiopian endemic mammals as well as five that are found only in the Bale Mountains.
  • With only about 400 remaining the Ethiopian wolf is the most endangered carnivore in Africa and the most endangered canid in the world.
  • Just under a third of the 47 mammals that live in Bale Mountain National Park are rodents.
  • There are 1,321 species of flowering plants in the park, of which 163 are endemic to Ethiopia and 23 to Bale.
  • The park is open throughout the year although the most popular time to visit is November to April.

Roger de la Harpe

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