Gaysay Grassland: Seven Days Trekking In Bale Mountains


One of the five distinctive habitats of the Bale national park, Gaysay Grassland is a suitable home to one of the distinctive animals and only the land of Ethiopia can flaunt to the world – the Mountain Nyala. Traversed by the Dodola road, surrounded by clustered of hills, embracing a magnificent mountain and bonding the two major rivers of the Bale Mountains. Gaysay grassland is the paradise of exotically wild aromatic herbs and colorful everlasting wild flowers, which not only attracts wildlife but humans as well for soul replenishment.

 MEDIATIONAL & PICTURESQUE.

Gaysay Grassland Bale Mountains 1

Trekking Day 1

After spending the night and had breakfast the next morning at one of Bale’s small town Robe, we got picked by a blue and white minivan taxi from the guest house we were staying by our tour operator. Armaye is a young and an aspiring tour operator whom we have been planning our trip with via email few weeks before the actual trip.

Meeting with Armaye in person was a great pleasure as he was very welcoming and humble and of course actual human interaction is sacred in every way. While having getting to know each other and the overall brief picture of our seven days trekking in the Bale Mountains conversation, we drove back to Dinsho where the head quarter of the park located for formalities. The head quarter located in a very nice woodland covered with different kinds of beautiful trees and where we camped before continuing to the second day trekking.

We got introduced to our tour guide – Mohammed. He is born and raised in Bale, very passionate about his home turf, nature and conservation. We got introduce with our cook as well, Idris whom appeared to be introvert but someone whom might open up slowly along the way.

Right after the introduction, Idris asked us what we want to have for lunch even though the options were limited which we knew and prepared ourselves for. We agreed with one typical dish of trekking in wilderness in Ethiopia – Maccaroni with canned tuna cooked in tomato sauce.

As we planned, the first day of seven day trekking started by walking to the Gaysay Grassland, a 20 – minute walk from Dinsho head quarter. It was a walk on an asphalted road through the small montane village Dinsho characterize by white and blue tuk tuk and minivan taxis, little shops, eateries and coffee places along each side of the road enliven with people and with unique and beautiful trees as backdrop.

We had our intro conversation with our tour guide for the next seven days trekking in Bale Mountains. We learned that Mohamed speaks three languages –Amharic (My native language which is in sematic language group), English and French and Afaan Oromo (Cushitic language group) being his native language.

We picked right away that we were in treat of a very rich experience with him. This is one of interesting details of traveling in my own country, which is a melting pot of different ethnic group, which makes a very rich and interesting journey in Ethiopia even for a native traveler.

The first word Mohamed taught us was how to say hello to the local people and we were so happy to say it as it was not that difficult even for my Belgian husband. Akkam is the one word which was strong enough to spark a smile and an eye contact with the locals when every time they heard us saying it to them along the journey through the Bale Mountains for seven days.

After the paved road we stepped in Gaysay Grassland.

Gaysay Grassland Bale Mountains 2

It’s a tract of grassland on upper land of an altitude range from 3000 m – 3500 m above sea level, near to timberline for a splendid panoramic view and experience.

Its wide open space colored with the flora and fauna of gleaming golden grass, silvery grey Gold Cape ( Helichrysum Splendidum) and greenish Artmesia Afra ( African Wormwood). It’s decorated with fringe of greenish hills dotted with red from the flower of Hagenia abyssinica (African redwood). It’s a procreative landscape to induce powerful energy to rise from within.

Walking in Gaysay Grassland induces an intense feeling of how much little space we occupy in this world as it was hard not to contemplate the vast space and the magnificent hills we were surrounded by. Gaysay Grassland is a home to mount Gaysay (3,543m).

The sound of our footsteps on dry grass and bushes, wind and stream were more intensified for our sense of hearing. Sense of smell heightened by the aroma of different kinds of everlasting wild flowers and herbs.

As it’s a December trip in Bale Mountains, the one seasonal thing which was missing was the spectacular scene of Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) plant which flowers from March – November. Red Hot Poker plant is the colorful signature of Gaysay Grassland and Bale Mountain regarding wildflower.

Gaysay Grassland Bale Mountains 3

Red Hot Poker in Guassa Grassland

Every moment is different indeed as it would have created a different vibe and color of its own. Even though I had a beautiful experience to witness this colorful and exotic plant at Guassa Grassland where hills can be completely covered with the Red Hot Poker plant with colorful blossom at a certain time of year.

The Bale Mountains National Park is beautifully supports five different kinds of habitats, thus more than 1,300 species of flowering plants have been excavated in which 160 being Ethiopian endemic species and 23 which are distinctive to the park. One of more than 10 species of everlasting flower found in Bale.

The aromatic Artmesia Afra and the silvery Cape Gold lead us to the very handsome and endemic animal as being staple for the Mountain Nyala.

Gaysay Grassland Bale Mountains 4

Gaysay Grassland is suitable home to this distinctive and unfortunately endangered animal which was the last to be found in 1970. It’s a place which provides a close up look of Mountain Nyala as close as 50 m.

Gaysay Grassland Bale Mountains 5

Calves with their beautiful mother nurturing and grazing, young male with growing horn and spine mane fighting, and an older male –with notable white side spots, fully grown gracious horns and spine mane –usually alone browsing, are mesmerizing scenes to be witnessed at Gaysay Grassland.

Gaysay Grassland Bale Mountains 6

The Bale Mountains is home to different kinds of animals like the endemic Menelik’s Bushbuck, Grey Duiker, Serval and Common Jackal which all can be viewed in Gaysay Grassland and we were fortunate enough to spot other animals which also lives in Gaysay Grassland –Bohor reedbuck, Warthog, Herd of Olive Baboon and Spotted Hyena.

Gaysay Grassland Bale Mountains 7

Gaysay Grassland not only meddle to bring human and nature, it bridges two Bale rivers – Web River (Weyib River) and Danka River –on an impressive landscape. Besides being an eye vista, it provides an unusual experience of fly fishing of Brown and Rainbow Trout which travelled with British and being stocked in Kenya in the early 1900s and later found another African habitat in Ethiopia by being stocked in three of the Bale Mountains National Park’s rivers in 1960.

Waterfalls and streams induced a conversation about the fact that The Bale Mountains being the source of existence for over 12 million of people in the southeast Ethiopia even crossing the border to Northern Kenya and Somalia by proving water which rises from the Bale massif. 40 rivers rise in the Bale Mountain National park which empties into major rivers like Wabi Shabeelle and Jubba.

The local people has special and intimate connection with Gaysay Grassland as they revere the wild flowers and herbs for their medicinal value and the natural remedial water springs locally named as Hora. As we learned local people travel a long way to come here so that their cattle have a seep for overall good health and milk production.

Gaysay Grassland Bale Mountains 8

As it is a dry season trip in the Bale Mountains which is from November – February, the average temperature of Gaysay Grassland during the day is 20 C. It was a warm and sunny day with extremely beautiful clear blue sky, so it was picture perfect to start the seven day trekking in Bale Mountains.

While heading back, we witnessed the upper land pushing the timberline via strangely but beautiful trees appearing here and there.

Gaysay Grassland Bale Mountains 9

Back to the head quarter which is part of another Bale Mountain Habitat the woodland we, decide to spend sometime in the forest. During dry season the animals move from the Grassland to the woodland, so we get the chance to see the same animals back in the woodland which provided another beautiful scene.

The grassy forest bed within the woodland pave the way with the warming herbal aroma of the fallen leaf of the Hagenia Abyssinica tree which is another signature of the Bale Mountains. We were in treat as December and January is when the red spray of flowers of the tree blooms. Locally known as Koso, a mixture of dried flower of the tree traditionally used as remedy to combat tapeworm as Ethiopians love to eat raw meat.

Gaysay Grassland Bale Mountains 10

It’s in this woodland the indigenous African rose –Rosa Abyssinica –can be found but unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to witness as it was not the right time of year.

St. John’s worth (Hypericum Perforatum) with its beautiful yellow flowers, attracting wildlife and supporting traditional beehives for a delicious Bale’s Honey is a throughout the year scenery. The short but sweet Dinsho trail with in the woodland topped with spectacular view over the mountainous village of Dinsho, Gaysay Grassland from afar and cluster of hills.

Gaysay Grassland Bale Mountains 11

First Day Camping On The Roof Of Africa

We set up our tent on a ground which rises 3000 m above sea level, in the woodland hugged with trees and enliven with animal visits.

Gaysay Grassland Bale Mountains 12

The temperature in Bale Mountains varies as its different kinds of habitats. Spending the night on the roof of Africa is part of the adventure and it’s where the weather can be one of the eloquent details of the backdrop – Sleeping in the clouds during wet season (April – October).

The lowest temperature recorded in Dinsho is – 6 c. During dry season (November – March) the days are warm, sunny and with clear blue sky as we witnessed but it can be very cold at night in which temperature can drop to – 15 c and usually with frosty grounds above 3000 m.

When the sun start to set in, we felt we were traveling through seasons – from Summer to Winter – and the transition was instant.

Very Cold!

Posted in Adventure, Africa, Ethiopia, Nature, The Bale Mountains, Travel, Uncategorized, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Watching World Cup 2018 From Luxembourg City


Like everywhere else in the world, Luxembourg city stays under the theme of world cup for the past few weeks and I captured little details which grabbed my attention while enjoying world cup 2018 from Luxembourg city.

World Cup 2018 Luxembourg city.jpg1World Cup 2018 Luxembourg city.jpg2World Cup 2018 Luxembourg city3World Cup 2018 Luxembourg city.jpg4

Posted in Luxembourg, Photo Essay, Travel and Tourism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Luxembourg City From The City Skyliner


The City Skyliner Luxembourg 1It’s a sporadically exciting 7 minutes, of rising 72 m high up in the sky and slowly rotating 3600 for panoramic view of beautiful Luxembourg city, in a very comfortable cabin of the 81 m highest mobile observation tower in the world, seasonally set up at place de la Constitution next to the gleaming signature of Luxembourg city – Gëlle Fra (The Golden Lady).

Watching Over Luxembourg City!

The City Skyliner Luxembourg 2The City Skyliner Luxembourg 3The City Skyliner Luxembourg 4The City Skyliner Luxembourg 5The City Skyliner Luxembourg 6The City Skyliner Luxembourg 7The City Skyliner Luxembourg 8The City Skyliner Luxembourg 9The City Skyliner Luxembourg 10

Prendre de la hauteur.

Posted in Events, Luxembourg, Photo Essay, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Dervla Murphy: 10 Nuggets of Travel Wisdom


The following inspiring nuggets of travel wisdom of a woman adventurer – Dervla Murphy, is an excerpt from one of my favored travel books – The Tao of Travel by Paul Theroux.

Be Inspired!

  1. CHOOSE YOUR COUNTRY, USE GUIDEBOOKS TO IDENTIFY THE AREAS MOST FREQUENTED BY FOREIGNERS – AND THEN GO IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION.

This advice reeks of political incorrectness; it’s “snobbish” to draw a clear distinction between travellers and tourists. Yet it’s also realistic. The escapist traveller needs space, solitude, silence. Tragically, during my lifetime, roads have drastically depleted that natural habitat.

One favourite place where I did so was a trek from Asmara to Addis Ababa.

  1. MUG UP ON HISTORY.

To travel in ignorance of a region’s history leaves you unable to understand the “why” of anything or anyone.

Heavy sociological or political research is unnecessary, although if you happen to fancy that sort of thing it will add an extra dimension to your journey.

Before your trip, learn as much as possible about religious and social taboos and then scrupulously respect them.

  1. TRAVEL ALONE OR WITH JUST ONE PREPUBESCENT CHILD.

But a child’s presence emphasizes your trust in the community’s good will. And because children pay little attention to racial or cultural differences, junior companions rapidly demolish barriers of shyness or apprehension often raised when foreigners unexpectedly approach a remote village. I found this to be the case in all my travels with my young daughter, especially when we travelled through Kodagu in southern India.

  1. DON’T OVER PLAN.

Elsewhere, rely on fate to provide shelter: dependence on those you meet en route greatly enhances escapism, and villagers are unfailingly hospitable to those who trust them.

“Trust” is a key word for relaxed travelling among people who different way of life may demand adaptability but should prompt no unease or suspicion.

  1. BE SELF – PROPELLED, OR BUY A PACK ANIMAL.

For long treks far from roads and towns, buy a pack animal to carry food, camping gear, kerosene for your stove if firewood is scarce – and of course your child, should he or she be too small o walk all day.

In Ethiopia in 1966, I was lucky to be advised by Princess Aida, granddaughter of then emperor, Haile Selassie, and half a dozen mules were paraded around the courtyard of a royal palace for my inspection.

It’s important to travel light. At least 75 per cent of the equipment sold nowadays in camping shops – travel clothes lines, roll-up camping mats, lightweight hair dryers – is superfluous.  

  1. IF ASSISTED BY A PACK ANIMAL, GET DETAILED LOCAL ADVICE ABOUT THE TERRAIN AHEAD.

People can do the mind-over-matter bit, and resolve never again to let supplies run so low, but an equine helper doesn’t have that sort of mind. If there’s no fodder at six P.M., the mule cannot have consoling thoughts about stuffing it in at six P.M. the next day. And there is nothing more guilt-provoking than seeing a pack animal who has worked hard for you all day going without sustenance.

  1. CYPERSPACE INTERCOURSE VITIATES GENUINE ESCAPISM.

Abandon your mobile phone, laptop, iPod and all such links to family, friends, and work colleagues. Concentration on where you are derive your entertainment from immediate stimuli, the tangible world around you.

  1. DON’T BE INHIBITED BY THE LANGUAGE BARRIER.

Our basic needs – sleeping, eating, drinking – can always be indicated by signs or globally understood noises.

Even on the emotional level, the language barrier is quite porous. People’s features, particularly their eyes, are wonderfully eloquent. In our everyday lives, the extent to which we wordlessly communicate is taken for granted. In “far-flungery”, where nobody within a hundred miles speaks a word of any European language, one fully appreciates the range of moods and subtle feelings that may be conveyed visually.

  1. BE CAUTIOUS – BUT NOT TIMID.

The assumption that only brave and reckless people undertake solo journeys off the beaten track is without foundation. In fact, escapists are ultracautious: that’s one of their hallmarks and an essential component of their survival mechanisms. Before departure, they suss out likely dangers and either change their route – should these seem excessive – or prepare to deal with any reasonable hazards.

Optimists don’t believe in disasters until they happen, and therefore are not fearful, which is the opposite of being brave.

  1. INVEST IN THE BEST AVAILABLE MAPS.

And whatever you do, don’t forget your compass.  

Happy Traveling!

Posted in Inspiration, Travel, Travel Books, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey: Capturing The Spirit Of Rumi In Istanbul


Rumi Istanbul2Rumi IstanbulRumi Istanbul4Rumi Istanbul5

Posted in Istanbul, Photo Essay, Quote, Quote of the day, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Istanbul: Memorable Backdrop Of Travelogue


Istanbul 1Istanbul 2Istanbul 3Istanbul 4Istanbul 5

Posted in Istanbul, Photo Essay, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

ROAD TRIP: Seven Days Trekking In Bale Mountains


road trip Bale mountains 1

It’s a road trip through Ethiopian highlands, heightened by the magnificent picturesque landscape to an impressive destination. It’s a road trip unspooled series of treasured images, history and unique signatures of towns and villages studded along the way. It’s a road trip allured wanderlust via serendipity into the rhythm of enlightenment.

On the way to The Bale Mountains

road trip Bale mountains map

As the Great Rift Valley split the dome of Ethiopian Highlands, a journey to the Bale Mountains requires travelling through Ethiopian highlands which are divided in two portions by the main Ethiopian rift valley and this particular journey is towards the southeastern highland.

The Bale Mountains resides in the Oromia region – regional states of Ethiopia, covering 284,538 square kilometers. The Oromia region shares a boundary with every region of Ethiopia except for the Tigray region. Thus this journey required traveling through four zones of the Oromia region – East Shewa, Arsi, West Arsi and Bale.

The Bale Mountains are the lineal home of the Oromo – the largest single ethnic group in Africa. Pastoralist, farmers and famously known for their equestrian skills to name the few and which all can be witnessed while traveling through this full of character region.

A day before the actual seven days trekking started in the Bale Mountains, we drove from Addis Ababa early in the morning before the rush hour hits. There are two ways to reach Bale and we took the one which we haven’t done before to make the journey as interesting as the destination with an off the beaten path.

The other way of reaching bale from Addis Ababa – the one we trade to honor the off the beaten path– is via Shashemene and 40 km longer. It’s a pathway many travelers takes as it comes with driving through Ethiopia’s rift valley which dotted with plenty of beautiful rift valley lakes and definitely very interesting in spite of huge traffic. It’s a unique way of arriving to the Bale Mountains as it takes travelers through different kinds of major towns and small towns with their very own unique characters and unique landscape – from savanna portrayed with acacia trees to green forest and always topped with beautiful distant view of clustered hills or high mountains.

On this particular journey we embarked up on towards Bale via Asella, is 400 km from the capital city Addis Ababa to the head quarter of the Bale Mountains National Park which situated in one of Bale’s small village Dinsho.

It’s a journey which took us through different kinds of major towns and small villages with their very own interesting signature. Bishoftu (Debre Zeyit) with its crater lakes, Mojo with its lively but at times chaotic atmosphere as being transport hub and Adama with its locally famous gastronomic delight of delicious meat.

Once we reached Mojo, instead of going straight on the primary road which can take us straight to Shashemen, we rather diverted towards east via the expressway to Adama. After Adama we took the primary road which takes us straight to Asella.

As we continued, slowly the hustle and bustle of city life started to fade away and replaced by panoramic vista, serene village life and people. As always cracking a local tune goes very well on a road journey in Ethiopia or anywhere else for that matter as it’s going to end up being the soundtrack of a cherished journey.

Road trip and good company guarantees very lively journey and on our case, the universe assembled two Ethiopians and a Belgian on a road trip in Ethiopia. Endale with his cordial energy was the one behind the wheel and a very good family friend of the two passengers – myself as a traveler in her own country and my Belgian husband as wanderlust passionate.

While we were immersed in the liberating feeling which road trip provides for little while, one of the other characteristic of road trips presented itself – serendipitous. A scene which forced us to slow down and eventually to stop. Looking at this thrilling scene through the windows of the car was not enough, so we had to get out of the car and get closer.

The earth literally cracked open for almost a km long. We didn’t say much to each other we were just gazing with dropped jaw and trying to analyze the scene with our logical mind. We tried to capture the thrilling scene which the road trip provided not only with our lenses but with our mind.

road trip Bale mountains 2

Obviously, once we are back into the car,  we couldn’t help to have one of those road trip conversations, which involved little bit too much of an imagination. And we couldn’t help talking about, that far-fetched it seemed topic which has been surfacing around the media for a little while now – The breakup of Africa into two land masses.

We don’t know for sure what we witnessed has got anything to do with that, but all we know that the scene cracked open our imagination and urged to entertain the idea – as an African and Ethiopian being separated from the continent in spite of the fact that geologists asserting that it takes millions of years for it to happen.

Though what we witnessed, might not be created by tectonic movement, rather by erosion of soil beneath the surface due to heavy rain, it induced a conversation about how it can affect the life of local people who lives around and hoping for more disclosure to be inspected in order to regulate preventable damages from seismic hazards.

As we continued, eye grabbing wide farm fields kept stretching before us as the lower slopes of hill sides have good fertile soil. Thus the area largely inhabited by farming people, most of the land of the region has been transformed to agriculture and mostly Barley – which signaled us we are in an area locally known as the source of Ethiopian local beer.

road trip Bale mountains 3

It was a delight to witness one of the ingredients of Ethiopian local beer out in the field at a particular time of harvesting. Bundled up straw drying out under the sweltering sun of Africa after good harvest in a golden stubble field crowned with the highest point in Arsi – Mount Chilalo with an elevation of 4036 meters above sea level – as a beautiful backdrop was a feast for the eyes.

road trip Bale mountains 4

While seemingly endless golden stubble field kept stretching before us, we kept talking about Barley and its special connection with this particular region. The Arsi highland is home to many long distance runners and Olympic medalist of Ethiopian athletes, so we raised an insider in our road trip conversation – that locally it is assumed, the secrets for the strength of these long distance runners, from this particular area, is Barley.

The beauty of road trip is providing an opportunity of tasting a regional delight as people are selling along the road or in small shops in one of the villages or towns studded along the way. Talking about Barley, we were hoping to come across roasted Barley snack (Kolo) in which one of Bale’s villages Dinsho is known for.

We continued on a smooth and quiet ride to the southeastern highland of Ethiopia decorated with impressive landscape which makes any journey as interesting if not better than the destination –typical road trip anywhere in Ethiopia.

road trip Bale mountains 5

After 100 km from Adama, the journey curtain opened to reveal Arsi’s major town which lies at 2400 m altitude. Asella was the capital of Arsi Province before relegated to the Oromia region, however Asella still maintains being an administrative center of Arsi zone. Asella is also a special place which strongly associated with the incomparable, Ethiopia’s very own and Olympic medalist Haile Gebresillasie as Asella is his birth place.

Once again we are back to the bustling city life scene – building, the white and blue tuk tuk bajajs, minivan taxis, shops, hotels and restaurants. Asella town was once an overnight stopover to explore the Bale Mountains – way before the paved road all the way to Goba (Another Bale’s town) and comfortable express bus service from Addis Ababa introduced. However, Asella still can be an overnight stopover for travelers with plenty of time and interested in the off the beaten path.

As Asella is obviously perfect lunch or coffee stopover for the particular journey like we were on, we wanted to have lunch, feel the ground and hoping to grasp Arsi’s spirit. We picked a hotel owned and goes by the name of another Long distance – runner and Olympic Medalist Athlete Derartu Tulu herself – who is one of Ethiopia’s treasures the Arsi highland gave birth to. Besides the obvious connection we were glad to have lunch at this spacious and clean hotel restaurant with friendly staff and good food.

We continued our journey and the city vibe faded away quickly on a smooth quiet journey which took us to Arsi’s small town lies at an altitude of 2,800 m above sea level and 56 km from Asella.

road trip Bale mountains 6Bekoji – a name bigger than what the village appeared to be as it equally shares locally famous signature of being the birth place of many long – distance runners and Olympic medalist who put Ethiopia on the spot light with their victory in an international arena – Derartu Tulu, Fatuma Roba, Tirunesh Dibaba and Kenenisa Bekele.

One of the most memorable scene of this small town is colorfully embellished horses galloped by the skilled horsemen swaddled in warm shawl on an evocative frosty moorland. It was one of the thrilling reminders of being in an Oromia region.

road trip Bale mountains 7

The next small town which welcomed us, is where the Shashemene and Asella road converge in West Arsi zone. Dodola set an elevation of 2,400 m covered with Afromontane forest and afro alpine moorland. Dodola is the northwestern extension of the Bale Mountains which its magnificent mountainous forest and beautiful trees signaled the Bale Mountains as we were getting closer.

road trip Bale mountains 8

The Dodola road swiftly took us through the West Arsi zone in to the other Oromia Region zone where The Bale Mountains resides – Bale. As the road traverse one of the five habitats of the Bale mountain national park – Gaysay Grassland – driving slowly required with all the signs of animals along the road signaling that we might encounter the animals crossing the paved road to the other side of their habitat.

road trip Bale mountains 9

At this point our curiosity raised up. After few meters drive, we were welcomed by one of the animals lives in Gaysay Grassland – the olive baboons. Our excitement to see the olive baboons quickly replaced by puzzled curiosity, as the baboons aggressively run towards the car almost to bang the window as if they are looking for something and even jumped on the car as if to stop it, then we all got hit by some kind of awareness right away as we realized and finally conformed from our tour guide the next day the sad truth.

road trip Bale mountains 10

The animals unconsciously conditioned by some irresponsible people in spite of signs and common sense throwing food to the animals, as a result the animals keep doing this every time a car pass by. This particular unexpected incident actuated a heated conversation about awareness in conservation and how we humans play a role.

Finally we reached the mountainous village which locally famous for one of gastronomic delights of Bale – Dinsho kolo (roasted Barely snack) – perfect for road trip and trekking in bale mountains. Our Destination Dinsho lies at 3,100 m altitude and it is a village where the head quarter of The Bale Mountains National Park resides.

road trip Bale mountains 11

In the honor of Road Trips!

Posted in Africa, Ethiopia, Road Trip, The Bale Mountains, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments