Dodola trek & Dinsho (Bale NP) trip report (1-5 Dec 2017)

Louis G writes:



Dodola Community Trek feels far more intimate & secret than breathtaking views (go to Simiens) or animal spotting (go to Bale… further down).


As a group of 5 French, with 3 days (drive from/to Addis included), we had to hire an extra ‘guide’ (1 guide = 4 walkers = 500 birrs/day, + 250 birrs/day negotiable for cooking) who in fact walked all the way separately with horses & horsemen… We met him back only on evenings. Fortunately, the veteran guide Ayano (0913348375) kept walking with us and explaining everything in a perfect English. We walked all the way without horseriding, so Day 1 & 2 only 2 pack horses, Day 3 only 1 pack horse (food&water gone in our deep stomachs !). Horse/day = 120 birrs, horse handler/day = 120 birrs, to pay from hand to hand day after day.


Food far best brought from Addis. Examples of possible onsite breakfast : porridge, tea, coffee. Dinner : pastas, tomato paste, rice, lentils. Additional vegetables to buy in Dodola. No water bottle available once Dodola left.


Material : nothing essential. Maybe your own sleeping bag, and/or a ‘silk bag’. Hot water buckets provided if arrived early enough at the house. No electricity available all the way so a front torch may be useful if emergency night toiletry…


Tuk tuk (bajaj) from Dodola to/from Changeti highly advised as the countryside road is hot, dusty and without shadow. 200 birrs/tuk tuk. Minibus are too low-wheeled. 4×4 are of course okay. From Changeti the pista terminates and one then enters by foot in the deep forest. Changeti campsite has plans to build a full refuge (see further).


Wahoro refuge, 4 beds announced but 6 possible if ground mattresses added. It perfectly worked for us 5. No common room but we were happy to warm ourselves when having dinner in the (always!) separate wood-functioning kitchen.

A full refuge with common room is well underway building just next door… maybe ready after 1 year.


Adele refuge, complete, lovely setting with a common room. 8 beds available. Vicinities not perfectly clean (some plastic trash).


Angafu refuge still under rebuilding after a fire (did not see it, we went by another way). All refuges still price their full beds (sheets&blankets included) at 100 birrs/night/person. (Guides prefer increase their own salary, that was 400 birrs/day the precedent year…)


All in all a wonderful friendly experience at cheap price.



I then went alone to Dinsho, with 2 days left for a first touch with Bale NP. After a proper Bradt study, I opted for 1 day trip in Gaysay extension, and another in the Web Valley, basing myself in Dinsho for fooding & bedding.


At Park HQ, rude welcome by first ignoring my wishes and proposing car rent options, camping overnight and blabla for random round totals of 4, 5, 6.000 birrs. I guess they are more used to deal with large and tour operators groups than with independent travellers. After a short but firm negotiation, the price eventually fell to 1.650 birrs for 2 days guiding, horseback riding, entrance NP included. Payment & receipts immediately issued. Official prices scotched at the door, day-trip guide price 400 etb – but « Guides don’t want work for such low prices ! »…


Day 1 : morning walk in Gaysay grassland, a 20-minutes walking from Dinsho, with a bunch of different animal species quietly standing as close as 5 meters in front of me. Wonderful, incredible ! Lunch in Dinsho. Afternoon, gentle walking around BMNP HQ where I found back the same happy species, in addition with a breathtaking point of view of Dinsho & further Gaysay.

Guide cost – 500 etb

Park entrance (resident) – 50 etb


Day 2 : horseback riding to the gorgeous & windy Web Valley, where I had the luck to spot the Abyssinian wolf !

However, from Dinsho, the 10 first kms are a… countryside motorable track. Full of farms, so few chances to spot any special animal there. After so, the waterfalls, and behind the Web finally are worth the trip.

Guide cost – 500 etb

Park entrance (resident) – 50 etb

My horse – 150 etb

Horse handler (‘porter’) – … 250 etb

Guide’s horse – 150 etb.


Dinsho itself : quite a Far-West atmosphere.


Nyala pension : 200 birrs/night for a basic bedroom, eventually fell at 100 birrs for ‘Ethiopian & foreign residents’ fare. Only 1 blanket provided, was so cold 1st night, they eventually conceded a 2nd blanket from another free bedroom without surcharge (!) after tons of negotiations & patience. Warm shower – more in the cold side than in the hot one. Not that much other lodging options in Dinsho because…


Dinsho Lodge upside of Park HQ ready to function but indefinitely closing due to a non-paid tax battle left by the precedent private owner. The caretaker is furious and explained all in a perfect English !


Food : only Ethiopian staples & eateries. (I’m lucky, I love injeera!) Just off the main road (near the Police signal), the popular Cafe Alem looks like being another HQ of Bale NP guides. OK food. The only place I found serving ful at breakfast, alternatively to the eternal egg firfir – though served wth the tasty local bread. The English-speaking owner can assist when ordering.


For coming back to Addis, everybody advised to go to Robe, sleep there and catch one of the three or four morning buses (5.30am), for about 150 etb. Arrival at Autobus Terra same day (!) around 2/3pm.

2 thoughts on “Dodola trek & Dinsho (Bale NP) trip report (1-5 Dec 2017)

  1. Muzeyen says:

    Will Burrard-Lucas | | http://
    Hi, my name is Muzeyen! Here I am looking for wildlife in the
    Bale Mountains National Park in Southern Ethiopia.
    I was born in the small town of Dinsho in the Bale Mountains
    National Park, Ethiopia. I studied less than an hour away in
    the city of Robe and started working in tourism when I was
    20 years old.
    I learned Bale Mountains like the back of my hand when
    I worked with the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation
    Programme (EWCP) for 4 years as a Wolf Monitor. I spent the
    days in the mountains following the wolves and helping to
    vaccinate the wolves against rabies. As a result, I know the
    packs by name and knows where they live – you’re
    guaranteed to see wolves on any trip with me!
    An early morning walk where we spotted wolf pups!
    After working with EWCP I worked with the Frankfurt
    Zoological Society as a para-ecologist. I capitalized on
    my knowledge of the park to help study and quantify
    vegetation, rodents (specifically rats), took transects and
    helped map the park using GPS.
    I am one of the most well-known guides in the park. When
    photographers, videographers or producers visit I always their
    guide! Some of my most memorable clients include Graham
    Norton and BBC, and professional photographers Will
    Burrard-Lucas , Vincent Munier and Delphin Ruche.

  2. muzeyentrekethiopia says:

    Muzeyen Turke of Trek Ethiopia took us all the way from Addis along the Rift Valley to the Bale Mountains. The range of scenery is incredible and the wildlife unique. Muzeyen was born nearby and knows where to find the wildlife – from the endemic mammals to the butterflies in the
    Harenna Forest. Naturally Muzeyen provided a long-wheel base 4×4 – an essential sort of vehicle for Ethiopia’s roads
    For more informations

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