DANAKIL, HARAR AND BALE MOUNTAINS

Eastern Ethiopia is a land of astonishing geographic extremes. In the far northeast, the austere lavascapes and salt-flats plunges to 116m below sea level in the Danakil. Further south, the Bale Mountains rise to above 4,300m and support a wealth of highland wildlife including Ethiopian wolves and mountain nyala. Tempering these climatic extremes, are lush well-watered mid-altitude slopes swathed in lovely crater lakes, unexplored montane forests, Harenna Forest, and the historic city of Harar, the spiritual heart of the predominantly Muslim inhabitants of Ethiopia’s exotic east.The East - Danakil, Harar and Bale Mountains • The scorching Danakil, where salt-bearing camel caravans traipse mirage-like across blinding-white salt-flats, swept by a gale known as the Gara, or Fire Wind. • Volatile Erta Ale, its volcanic caldera cradling a bubbling cauldron of molten black lava and eruptive glowing fountains of red-hot

magma. • The labyrinthine alleys of Harar Jugol, an ancient walled citadel with a wealth of Islamic mosques and shrines, bustling markets overhung with aromatic spices and cafes brewing freshly-roasted coffee plucked from the surrounding hills. • The Afro-Alpine moorland of the Sanetti Plateau in Bale Mountains, where handsome red Ethiopian wolves - the world’s most endangered canids - trot jauntily through the pastel-shaded heather. • The cool damp Harenna Forest in Bale Mountains, a vast tract of gnarled tree heathers, towering bamboo clumps and a canopy of evergreen foliage. • A rapier-horned oryx antelope cantering across wide open plains of Awash National Park, a group of colourfully dressed sellers in Dire Dawa open-air market, the immense limestone caverns of Sof Omar. This is Eastern Ethiopia. A land of astonishing geographic extremes, where the austere lavascapes and salt-flats of the northern Rift Valley, which plunges to 116m below sea level in the Danakil, contrast with the misty peaks of the Bale Mountains, which rise over 4,300m a short distance further south. In-between these extremes, lush well-watered slopes support the lovely crater lakes surrounding the town of Bishoftu, the largely unexplored Harenna Forest, and the historic city of Harar, the spiritual heart of the predominantly Muslim inhabitants of Ethiopia’s exotic east.