Sangay Grassland and Park HQ Reserve

Bale Mts, Ethiopia

William Mackesy’s account of this walk

It is the back end of the dry season, and the Gaysay Grassland (actually, shrubland) is grey and most of its animals have retreated to the forest, although we see some absurd warthog and their adorable baby, a bushbuck and a nyala lurking at the forest edge. Lema our driver suggests the Park HQ's compound (actually, something like 30sq km of fenced open forest), which is pullulating with wildlife, will be more rewarding. We take his advice, and how right he is.

We meet the knowledgeable and charming Ayuba Ahmed (baletrails@gmail.com), and walk up hill then around and back down through open juniper and hagenia woodland. 

Within a minute, we are gazing on a fine pair of large mountain nyala (endemic to Ethipoia), the male a grand specimen with superb upward-curved horns, in a nearby clearing. They don't flinch: the beasts inside the enclosure are relatively unafraid, and we spend the next hour in rapture as we revel in sighting after sighting, all enhanced by the sun-dappled beauty of the woodland, with its shapely junipers and huge, stately hagenias. 

More nyala, lots of redbuck and bushbuck, all so graceful your heart sings. And plenty of ever-absurd warthog to lower the tone.

I suppose you can argue that, with its dense, relaxed population of wildlife, this isn't real nature, but it is a form of paradise.

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