New Trip Report: Ethiopia

A nice report from Andreas Jonsson. It sounds like the Gaysay Grasslands at Dinsho may now be a reliable spot for Caracals. Ten years ago I saw several Servals here.

Ethiopia, 2019: Andreas Jonsson, 6 days & 35 species including Bale Monkey, Aardvark and Caracal.



  • tomeslice

    Very nice report, and great caracal pictures!

    I wonder if that was just a glitch or if it is indeed reliable for Caracals now… We’ll have to wait and see when a couple more people visit.

    Also – I wonder if a strong presence of Caracals in an area pushes away servals..?

    • Antee

      The information I got was that Servals are still present and that they see both Servals and Caracals here.
      More Servals than Caracals.

      But who knows, things maybe change fast and Caracals taking over.

      I am also curious about future sightings from these grasslands. If spotlighting is productive or not.

  • Manuel Ruedi

    Dear Andreas
    Thank and congratulations for you amazing trip report! Just the bat by the end: it does not look to be a tomb bat but Hipposideros caffer (or at least a species in this difficult species complex).

    • Antee

      Thanx alot.
      Yes, it does very much look like a Hipposideros caffer rather than a Tomb bat.
      Never trust a guide identifying bats anymore! 🙂

  • kittykat23uk

    Fantastic report Andreas. Ethiopia for mammals is still very much on my bucket list. I would be looking for people to share costs so if anyone is interested in doing something similar please drop me a message.

    • Judy

      2 folks Mammaling Ethiopia Dec 21-Jan 2. If you are interested in joining, let me know how to reach you & I can share particulars.

  • Mattia from Italy

    Andreas saw very few Ethiopian Wolves (only 4 in 2 days, the usual total was 7-8 per day) because there is a terrible canine distemper epidemy raging on Sanetti plateau and Bale Mountains NP. It seems 70% of Wolves died in the last few months.

    The reason is always the same: feral dogs are not vaccinated, despite all the efforts of conservationists and a lot of money spent, because local people think that a vaccinated dog is less strong. So, every 4-5 years an epidemy decimates the Wolf population.

    I think I’ll travel again to Ethiopia in 2021, when the Wolf population will hopefully have recovered…

    • kittykat23uk

      That is very sad to hear. It does sound sensible to wait. I think perhaps looking at some time in 2021. My plan would be to cover Bale, (sanetti, harenna and gaysay) in depth.

      Plus awash, alideghe and Harar for a night to see the hyena men. With some time around the lakes and a couple of nights in the simiens for the geladas /ibex- most likely around 3 weeks. I would be looking to share costs so if anyone is interested please contact me at or email jodale22 at Hotmail dot com.

      • Mattia from Italy

        Hi Jo, you can add even a visit to the Weyb valley in Bale NP, near Dinsho entrance. You have to camp for one or two nights, depending the time you want to spend there, but it’s the area with the highest density of Ethiopian Wolves, much more than in Sanetti. In Weyb valley I went to a den with very young pups. In Harenna is, I think, not worth to spend too much time for mammals: one or two days are well enough. Even in Simien you can see Geladas (a lot) and Ibex in just one or two days. Be aware of the situation in Awash and Alideghe, sometimes there are problems with local people (Hafar) and the area is closed.

        A very good guide in Ethiopia is Armaye of Armaye Ethiopia Tours Go absolutely with a reliable tour company (even Ethiopian Quadrants is good, but a bit too expensive for Ethiopian standards and Inside Ethiopia Tours, without to consider only the price: people that made this mistake had horrible experiences.

        • kittykat23uk

          Thanks for the info! Yes it looks like simiens don’t need much time. I don’t mind camping. Does anyone have a good map of the different areas of Bale? I know of Webb valley, gaysay, sodota, sanetti and harenna but not clear on where the boundaries are between all of these.

          • Adam

            There is a map available on the Bale website. Sodota is in the webb valley, gaysay is the first portion of the park you reach coming from Addis.
            Would definately recommend taking a walk in the Webb valley, only issue is the increase of human impact in the valley (most notably overgrazing). The animals are mostly still there, just harder to see. Wolves as said have a high density there and can be seen from campsite and in the area close by without much difficulty (when population was high that is). Serval also quite common had one just next to campsite, possible african wildcat also seen in the area, egyptian mongoose also.
            The ideal option would be to go to one of the more remote valley in the Webb, but does take time and a bit of effort to walk there ;although if just to see the mammals most can be done without too much walking, but you do miss out on some pretty nice scenery and places.
            If there is need I know of a very good and reliable guide from the park who can arrange everything that is needed, whether for Gayssay, Webb, Sanetti or Harenna.

          • Antee

            Regarding Webb Valley, My guide was recently to a remote valley in this part of Bale NP and had around 30 Wolves in one day…
            But you have to put some effort to get there. Long trekking and camping.

            If you are just fine to see them, Sanetti plateu is good enough. Everyone I spoke to had sightings of them and I saw 4 of them without put much effort into it. I just spent a few hours each day looking for them. Not the whole day. Much harder to see was the Mole rat 🙂

            If you come from Addis then Gaysay grassland is the first area along the road. 50 minutes further on is the Town of Goba. This is where I spent 2 nights.
            From here you drive up to Sanetti plateu. Only one road. If you follow this only road you will go all the way to the other side of the plateau and the road start to descend and you will reach Harenna forest when you are down from the plateau.

            Then you can go all the way back again to Goba if you want. Or stay in the expensive but beautiful Bale Mountain Lodge in Harenna forest. Here you can visit the plateau as easy as from Goba if you want.

          • Mattia from Italy

            Camping is fine in Weyb (or Webb, locals call it Weyb, foreigners Webb), many trekkers go there for a 6-7 days circuit in the NP, so tour companies are used in organizing it. The trekking for Wolves is not long, you have to stay one or two nights at the “Wolf camp”. The name says it all… 😀 .

            Antee, before this epidemy it was normal to see 8-10 Wolves in just half day, because E Wolves are diurnal and the place is completely open. To see only 2 means that the situation is actually quite bad for this wonderful animal. At the moment Wolves in Weyb are not so heavy impacted, but things could change right away, an infected dog is enough for a disaster.

            Harenna forest: I don’t think it’s worth to spend more than one or two days in the forest. There is just one road and very few trails, with very limited views. Bale Monkeys are easy to see, but other big mammals are seen just by chance.

  • Jan M

    Very nice report! I did not know that caracals are so common there. When I went there last year I saw neither caracals nor servals, but I only spend one day there before ascending. However, I saw a wildcat in the web valley. I plan to visit BMNP again early next year, I will make sure to spend more time in Gaysay area.
    Btw, grass rats and brush-furred rats are mixed up in the report

    • Antee

      Yes, I know the Brush furred rat and Grass rat are mixed up. Saw it directly when I sent the report to Jon.
      I hoped that no one should notice 🙂 But too sharp eyes here.

      Well, they are all mixed upp on the plateau as well so… what the heck 🙂

      • Jan M

        Sorry for blowing your cover 😉 I thought it may be necessary to point it out because I see them being confused all the time. You will find more pictures of the Brush-furred rat if you search for Blick’s grass rat on google than if you look for its actual name.

  • kittykat23uk

    Thank you Adam and Mattia. My other key targets for Bale are Starck’s Hare and the mole rat. Are they just as easy/difficult in the weyb valley as sanetti? Is it worth spending some days on both areas or not?

    I am also interested in the birds, but with Ethiopia the mammals are my main priority.

    • Mattia from Italy

      Both easy even in Weyb valley. Where there Wolves, there are even Mole Rats. Starck’s Hare (or Mountain Hare, as locals call it) is difficult to see the first time because the are very well camouflaged, same as a stone. Once you see the first, many other Starck’s Hares follow. Hares could be a bit difficult in very cold days, when they stay in the den.

      You can trek the first day to Weyb valley, than stay one day near the main Wolves area, and the following day a 4-wheel car will reach you and drive you to Sanetti searching for more Wolves and other mammals, without to descend again to Dinsho. So you can experience both places, worth especially for birds.

      • Antee

        I needed two visits to Harenna forest to see the Bale Monkey. First visit they were nowhere to be find, gone.
        Second day just before dark we found them in the bamboo.

        I think it´s a good strategy to allow 2 days here to make sure you see this highly endemic primate.
        Also if you are into Giant forest hog, Bushpig and other rare creatures it´s a good choice to stay here 2 nights.

        I don´t think you should take my 4 Wolves that serious as I more or less stopped looking for them after my first excellent view.
        But yes, if there is a “see the most wolf”-competition, then the Webb valley is the place to go.

  • Adam

    Best place for hare is Sanetti, overgrazing has meant the species has greatly declined in the Webb valley. Just walking around a bit on the plateau should be able to locate some. Mole rats are widespread throughout the park, during my last trip in February some could be easily at Sanetti camp (or known as BBC camp by the locals).
    For birdlife i’d recommend to time your trip between November and February to be able to see good number of migrants (notably good eagle numbers). Although towards February it tends to be very dry, was especially the case this year (on a good note this meant most herders leave the webb valley). The rainy season after can have an affect on travel to get the park.

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