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Mount Tullu Dimtu

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Topographically, Mount Tullu Dimtu appears lower than it is and is thus less prominent on the horizon. This is because it’s situated on the Sanetti Plateau in the Bale Mountains National Park (BMNP).

The Sanetti Plateau, nicknamed the ‘Island in the Air,’ has been the location of several nature documentaries. Many of these focusing on the Ethiopian wolf, such as in the series, Megeti – Africa’s Lost Wolves.
The Bale Mountains area is the biggest alpine moorland in Africa. It’s also occasionally referred to as the Roof of Africa because of its height and size.

Nature is diverse due to the mixture of craggy peaks of the volcanic plateau. Waterfalls, bamboo forests, swamps, and meadows filled with wildflowers over distinct ecosystems are abundant and spectacular to behold. This biodiversity saw the Bale Mountains National Park tentatively listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2009.

The Bale Mountains form part of the dividing landscape drainage basins of the Shebelle- and Weyib Rivers. (There are over 40 rivers and crystal clear streams noted for great fishing. )These contribute to the 5 major rivers of Ganale, Dumal, Web, Welmel, and Wabe Shebele.

Mineral water from numerous natural springs in the area has high levels of zinc, calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium.  

The Best Time to Visit Mt Tullu Dimtu
During the dry season, from November to February.

Mountain Fact File

Continent: Africa
Country: Ethiopia
Province:  Oromia Region
Location:  72 km north of the country’s capital city, Addis Ababa.
Height: 4,389 meters at its peak above sea-level.
Range: Bale Mountains
Other Nature Info:  
One of the highlights of BNMP is the easy-to-spot endemic, Ethiopian wolves. Resembling coyotes somewhat, these wolves are the most endangered predator on the planet with their only listed predator being humans.

Their encroaching extinction is mostly due to human habitation and farming, yet, diseases such as rabies have also been a factor. Rabies and distemper are passed onto the wild wolves by domestic dogs, with the possibility of extinction increased further due to interbreeding of the two (hybridization) as well. Only 60% of dominant females are able to breed successfully every year in the wild.  

In addition, the tawny red Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) is the only wolf species to be found on the continent. There are less than 600 adults alive today scattered across 7 isolated Ethiopian highland enclaves. The majority remains in the Bales Mountains.

The Bale Mountain National Park is home to over 60 mammals. These include the mountain Nyala a.k.a. balbok, Menelik's bushbuck, warthog, gelada monkey, and black leopard.

Further of note is the Red Fox and huge African mole rats which are both endangered as well. The latter is not found elsewhere in the world, and is the main food source of the Ethiopian wolf.
Many of these animals are quite used to humans and can be approached well within 20 meters, making the BMNP ideal for those keen on wildlife photography. The assigned park guide will be sure to point out the best spots too.

Some of the creatures such as the Colobine monkeys approach tourists out of their own around the headquarters in the north of the park.  

The BMNP is a birdwatching paradise as well, as the largely unexplored area is inhabited by over 200 bird species. These include the Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged Goose, Black-winged Lovebird, and Thick-billed Raven. Over 40 of these are birds of prey and the Bale Mountains National Park is considered one of the best places in the world to see raptors. A further 16 of these are exclusive.  

The flora of the area is just as impressive. The Giant Lobelia (lobelia rhynchopetalum) has been recorded as growing as high as 5 meters!
Despite the abundance of wildlife in the Bales Mountain National Park and the overall natural beauty of the country known as the ‘Horn of Africa,’ sadly does not see as many tourists as other African countries. Only 200 people visit the Bale Mountains on average per year.

This is partly due to the reason that the country is mostly associated with famine. Another major influence is the civil unrest in the country that has drastically decreased the number of tourists over recent years.
Mount Tullu Dimtu Name Origin
Tullu Dimtu, (also spelled Tulu Dimtu), is known as the ‘Red Mountain.’ It is not known why this is so but it can be logically speculated that this name originated due to the proximity of the Red Sea to the mountain, since it is less than 1,500 kilometres from the Bales Mountains.
Mount Tullu Dimtu Geology and Formation
75 million years ago the Ethiopian Highlands rose due to the lifting the ancient rocks of the Arabian-Nubian Shield into a dome.

Basaltic lava flowed from the fissures approximately 30 million years ago. The flows were mostly tholeiitic with a small portion of the top consisting of alkali basalts and high-silica volcanic rock.

As the flows layered, it created the flood basalt plateau. Towards the end, large exploding eruptions caused caldera to form as well.

Within a million years of this time, the Great Rift Valley split and divided the Ethiopian Highlands into three (3) distinctive parts. One of these was the separation of Arabia from Africa. This rifting further created the shield volcanoes. The lava outpourings which created the rock were much altered by water, wind, and ice erosion some 20 million years later.

Of interest is that on either side of the rift, the habitat differs from the other. There is, however, certain mountainous flora present as is the same as elsewhere on the continent.  

Another reason for the variance of flora besides the separation of the continents is the Last Ice Age, which happened as recently as less than 2,000 years ago. Most of the area was glaciated, with individual glaciers reaching a thickness of 3,200 meters. Tullu Dimuti featured a 30km² ice cap.

It’s also thought the Last Ice Age caused the enigmatic striations on the shallow hills of the Sanetti. These are large grooved stripes measuring 80 meters in length and 2 to 4 meters across in the boulders.
Climbing (or Hiking) Mount Tullu Dimtu
The BMNP, which is built on Ethiopia’s 2nd highest mastiff range, covering 2,200km² and offers hiking on foot and horseback, as well as traditional game drives.
Hiking Trails/Camping Sites on Mount Tullu Dimtu
A variety of hiking routes snake across Mount Tullu Dimutu, but for those that struggle with altitude, there is much traveled and unnamed gravel roads to the summit. The road is also the 3rd highest road on the continent.

Generally, the road remains open throughout the year with access only being restricted when it has not been cleared of snow.

The gravel road starts at Goba Village, which is at an altitude of 2,600 meters. From there, it’s necessary to enter the park at a height of 3,500 meters.

It’s only 20 kilometres to the Sanetti Plateau, and just over that to the summit of Mount Tillu Dimtu. The last 4 kilometres is off this main road.

At the top, there’s a telecommunications tower/meteorological station with a single operator.

Hiking trails generally begin at the village of Dinsho, and head out to different areas of the park such as Rafu, Sanetti, Worgona, and Gaysay, which is just outside the village.

For those wishing to hike for an extended amount of time or camp through the Bales Mountain National Park, a series of huts and campsites are provided for.  The first campsite at Sodata is approximately a 4-hour hike from Dinsho. Kindly be advised that only pots and cooking utensils are supplied by the park.
Climbing or Hiking Mount Tullu Dimtu – Our Top 3 Tips
  • The Early Bird…Catches The African Mole? If seeing the Ethiopian wolf hunting is on the agenda, head out early in the morning as this is the best time to see them stalking the African mole rat.

    Sightings of the wolves are, however, regular throughout the day on the Sanetti Plateau and can be done from a vehicle. The wolves don’t shy away from cars but may keep their distance when approached on foot.
  • Dress Warm: Due to the high altitude, Mount Tullu Dimtu can get very cold and the entire area is considerably cooler than others regions close to the equator. This is further enhanced by the chilly winds. It’s not unheard of that temperatures do not exceed 10° Celsius on a cloudy day. Hail and heavy rains are common and nights can be expected to be freezing.

    Nonetheless, the dry season does see a daytime average of 20° Celsius. Layering of clothing items is thus advised.
  • Be Environmentally Conscious: All hikers and campers should ensure not to litter by bringing along their own garbage bags.

    In addition, even natural waste can have a negative impact on the environment and holes of at least 15 centimetres away from the water sources must be dug for faeces.
The Top Interesting Legend Involving Mount Tullu Dimtu
Nile Flood Myths And The True Cause Revealed
Flood myths are a global phenomenon, yet, most only cover the great floods.

For millennia, the Nile River is known to flood on an annual basis. This was so predictable that the Ancient Egyptians actually devised their calendar from this life-giving occurrence. Agriculture was also based on flooding.  

They were also further able to forecast the floods when the priests sighted the rising of Sirius around the 25th of June. Jewels placed on a statue of the Egyptian goddess at the Isis-Hathor temple are said to have caught the glimmers when the star rose. Sirius is also adeptly referred to as the Nile Star or the Star or Isis.

The flooding of the Nile was believed to be the tears that Isis shed for her dead husband, Osiris. He resurrects every time the crops flourish.  Other variations attributed the floods to the yearly coming of the god, Hapi.

Today, beginning on the 15th August and running for 2 weeks, the Egyptians still celebrate the occurrence or inundation of the Nile through an annual holiday called, Wafaa El-Nil. A Coptic Church ceremony, known as the Esba’ al-shaid (The Martyr’s Finger), is performed during this time by throwing martyr-related relics into the river.

The Ancient Greeks were perplexed as well when during the driest season in the Meditteranean, the Nile habitually flooded.

What was not known by the Ancients is that the Ethiopian Highlands, including Mount Tullu Dimtu, was the answer to this mystery. The monsoon winds of the Indian Ocean are caught by the mountains causing heavy rains from June to the middle of September. This, in turn, caused the Nile River to flood every summer.

In fact, the annual rainfall in the Bales Mountain measures between 1,000 to 1,4000 mm at higher altitudes, and 600 to 1,000 mm in the lower areas. This orographic rainfall provides over 12 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya with water. Furthermore, two of the rivers that emanate from the Bale Mountains are a source of hydro-electricity to the area.

Another change from days of yore is that the flooding of the Nile is no longer an annual occurrence. The natural cycle was stopped when in 1970 the High Dam at Aswan was completed.
To make the most of your trip to Mount Tullu Dimtu, install the below two apps to conveniently take photo routes and measure the height for peaks in the surrounding area.
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