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Into Thin Air

Wild Dogs Ethiopia Wolves Gorillas Rwanda Kenya Laikipia

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#21 SafariChick

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 10:27 PM

@Id1 Oh ha ha funny - not familiar with it! When I was a kid, I was only allowed to watch one hour of TV per day and so I missed out on a lot of stuff!


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#22 ld1

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 11:01 PM

@SafariChick that's what YouTube is for, all the stuff you weren't allowed to watch! The Wooluf was a firm favourite along with the Hairbear bunch, the latter in my book was entirely educational 🎶 in the wonderland zoo, dooby-do-do-doo.
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#23 Towlersonsafari

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 08:52 AM

Hurrah @ld1 and @SafariChick the wolf- whose aim was to catch and eat lamsy, but who was always thwarted by her faithful sheepdog protector was called-I looked it up- Mildew wolf and was voiced by the same actor who did The Hooded ClawSorry I'll stop now but just wanted to say " Oh no its the wolf"


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#24 Alexander33

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 02:08 PM

@SafariChick

I've been looking forward to this report ever since you first posted your ambitious itinerary. I'm not sure I could have made that 10-hour drive after the flight from the U.S., but it certainly appears that everything fell nicely in place for you.

Great wolf sightings and the area around Bale Mountain Lodge looks spectacular.
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"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."  -- Unknown 


#25 SafariChick

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 11:32 PM

Thanks for all the comments, folks!  Here are some photos from the village as we drove through it on the way back to the lodge. They were having a market day so there were more people around than usual and the women were mostly dressed in colorful outfits.  

 

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Some of the kids were very friendly and outgoing and came right up to the car to say hello

 

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When we got back to the lodge, we decided we really would like to change rooms. There was an odor coming from the bathroom, seemingly from the shower drain, that was getting worse. It was sort of a mildew or wet clothing smell and the night before it had been very bad, making me feel nauseated even when we closed the bathroom door.  The manager had someone come to look and try to determine what the problem was but also offered us that we could move to another room so we decided to take her up on that. She offered us a choice of another treehouse or one of the rooms closer to the lodge, and we decided to go with the latter.  These rooms are made to be handicapped accessible but that didn't bother us in the least, and we loved that it was close to the lodge. Also, the treehouse floors were such that when anyone walked on them it could be felt in the rest of the room. These were more stable.  And when we saw the name and logo for our new room, we knew we'd made a good choice:

 

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View from our new room:

 

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As a bonus, you're only supposed to be able to get wifi in the main lodge but this room was close enough that sometimes we could get it from the room!  :P

 

This is a photo of the view from the main lodge out one of their windows - in fact it is a view of Mt. Gusharelle, also known as Elephant Rider since it resembles a person riding an elephant, and Mr. S. was to hike this hill the following day - but more about that soon.

 

32381373043_949f419c06_c.jpg


Edited by SafariChick, 01 March 2017 - 11:41 PM.

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#26 SafariChick

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 12:48 AM

That afternoon, we decided to do a walk with Biruk from the lodge to see the Micro-hydro power plant.  This is from the Lodge's website:

 

 

All electric power used at the lodge is generated by a 25Kw micro-hydro power plant which is located in the river some 500m east of the main lodge building. The plant generates power by diverting 30% of the river flow through a turbine which has been located at the bottom of a 25m drop, down which the diverted water is piped.  Timing mechanisms and power management that this constant power is sufficient to deliver all the electricity needs of the lodge but a backup generator may have to be used on some occasions. Efficient appliances, such as heat-pump hot water heaters which act as a reverse refrigeration, ensure that the lodge minimises its power draw to ease power management issues.

 

http://www.balemount...ge.com/eco.html

 

and here's a description of the walk from the Sample Itinerary sent by BML in advance of our visit:

 

 

The stream, which runs through the clearing is a wetland habitat which harbours many endemic species of frogs, newts and recently discovered crabs. There are many shorter walks in the vicinity of the Lodge, including the route of the Micro-hydro power system, something of an engineering feat in such a remote location, and which provides ‘clean’ energy to the Lodge. This walk is known to offer some of the best sightings of the shy, rare endemic Bale Monkey. For bird-lovers, the forest supports the endemic Ethiopian Cisticola, the Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher, the Abyssinian Catbird, the Thick Billed Raven and other colourful varieties such as the Yellow Fronted Parrot and Black Winged Lovebird. 

 

 

 

 

Here are some photos from our walk:

 

We didn't see too much wildlife on the walk - despite the description above - but here is an Abyssinian Ground Thrush we saw:

 

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and a couple of photos of the micro-hydro power plant:

 

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It was a pleasant walk and though it had a bit of uphill in it, not too strenuous.

 

The next morning, I woke up very early with pains in my stomach and diarrhea.  In addition, I broke out into a cold sweat. I never really knew the meaning of that term until this moment as I think it was the first time I have experienced it. I was so frustrated because I did not want to be sick on my trip of course - and this was the first time I've been sick on one of my safaris so I guess I have been lucky until now. As Mr. S. and I talked about it, he'd actually had an upset stomach the day before but it hadn't been as bad as this and hadn't prevented him from doing activities. I, on the other hand, felt awful and took some Immodium and got back into bed. When breakfast time came, I wasn't sure I could eat. We had planned to go see the wolves again but I didn't know if I could manage it. I decided to try to eat but I could only eat a little bit and started to feel like I had to lie down again. I decided there was no way I could make it up to the Plateau and Mr. S. felt bad going without me, so he decided to instead do a hike with Biruk up Mt. Gusharelle. Demiss decided to come along. The Sample Itinerary said of this hike that

 

A more strenuous two hour walk up Mount Gushuralle will give fantastic views over the vast expanse of the pristine Harenna Forest.

 

 

I believe that it was about 2.5 or 2 and three quarters hours round trip by the time they got back. I slept the entire time they were gone.  Here are some photos Mr. S. took:

 

Mt. Gusharelle ("Elephant Rider") from the ground:

 

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The "rider" portion from the elephant:

 

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View from the top looking down:

 

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View of the lodge and the three handicapped-accessible rooms next to it - ours was the farthest to the right

 

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Biruk climbing - shows how steep it was at the top:

 

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Through bamboo on the way down:

 

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at the top:

 

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Demiss has been bringing guests up to BML for a long time and has worked with Biruk before. While they were up on the mountain, Demiss and Biruk told Mr. S. a story about a time about a year prior when he and Biruk had climbed up this same mountain and they were kind of showing off for the guests and decided to swing from some vines. Well Demiss fell and dislocated his ankle! Biruk had to painfully snap it back into place and then CARRY him all the way down!!  After that, the lodge managers decided to cut down the vines!  :P

 

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Back on terra firma:

 

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After they returned, I managed to get up and eat a little bit of lunch. Then Mr. S and I spent the rest of the afternoon in the room, me napping. By dinner time I felt pretty normal again. The manager told me she had also been sick to her stomach the day before so there must have either been a virus we all caught or something with the food. But at least it was short-lived. And my one consolation was that another couple had gone up to the Plateau this day and apparently didn't see any wolves!  So maybe we got the 'best' two days! 


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#27 douglaswise

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 10:57 AM

@SafariChick:

 

I've been following your account with great interest.  The experiences of you and your husband are similar to those experienced by my wife and self - even to the extent respective gastrointestinal tracts!  I do hope that, overall, you found your trip to Bale Mountain Lodge worthwhile.  It will certainly be memorable and the plateau part, I'm sure, would have been enjoyable.


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#28 optig

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 11:26 AM

@SafariChick Thank you so much for your trip report. I've long been mulling a trip to Ethiopia and your trip report and photos have just strengthened my desire. I'm not afraid of having any gastrointestinal problems because I was just medically evacuated from Ol Malo Camp and had to spend three hospitalized in Nairobi Hospital. I have the possibility of a medical evacuation arranged in advance. 


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#29 IamFisheye

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 12:22 PM

@SafariChick great report, I need to get mine finished, you stayed in the same room as us at Bale Mountain Lodge.


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#30 SafariChick

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 03:34 PM

@IamFisheye which one - Treehouse #7 or Ethiopian Wolf # 3? Yes please do finish your report, I was enjoying it before I left but it had not gotten to the Bale Mountains yet at that point. Would love to read the rest!

 

@optig yes, I saw you had to be evacuated from your last safari, such a shame but glad you were treated well at the hospital and recovered fine. My travel doc always sends me to Africa with an antibiotic to use in case of severe diarrhea. This was the first time I thought I might need it but I didn't. Luckily the one dose of Immodium was enough. But we also always have emergency evacuation as part of our travel insurance just in case of anything severe happening. 

 

@douglaswise I remember your report but had forgotten you had the respective GI tract issues!  I think I remember you saying you wanted to spend every day up on the Plateau and our guide/driver were a little surprised that we did too - I guess most people are not so interested to do that every day they are there. But we kept saying "the wolves are the whole reason we came here, why wouldn't we?"  We met one couple who are interested in hiking and while they'd done other safaris, they were not super interested in wildlife. They didn't know that there were wolves in this area and when they drove through the Plateau, they saw one run in front of their car (lucky) and said to their driver "oh, a fox" and he said "yes."   :rolleyes:  So even their driver didn't know what it was. That one sighting was enough for them - they never went back to the Plateau! (though they were only there 2 nights). Yes, we loved the experience, it was unique - exhausting to get there and back but glad we did it.


Edited by SafariChick, 02 March 2017 - 03:35 PM.

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#31 IamFisheye

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 04:51 PM

@SafariChick #3 Ethiopian Wolf.  

 

I've just got back from 10 days in Morocco and drafted a bit of Day 7 during my lunch break, we didn't hit Bale until day 13.  I'm going to try and get my head down over the weekend.


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#32 marg

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 08:27 PM

@SafariChick...great trip report and so different from the trips that most of us take.  We always take the meds but thankfully most of us do not need to use them....glad that you recovered quickly!


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#33 offshorebirder

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 12:15 AM

Great report @SafariChick - and I love the Abyssinian Ground-Thrush!


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#34 pault

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 04:38 AM

People around here need to toughen up again. How many gastrointestinal issues is that in the last year? Has anyone NOT had any? :)

 

@IamFisheye  Iwas just wondering what had happened to your report as I caught up this morning., Just back from Morocco is a very good excuse!


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Waiting again... for the next time again


#35 Alexander33

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 05:11 AM

@SafariChick

What a bummer to get sick, but at least there's the silver lining (at least that you can imagine) that you would have missed the wolves anyway.

Actually, the hike that your husband took looks pretty interesting. From the view of the mountain, I'm surprised it only took 2 3/4 hours round-trip. He actually sounds like a pretty nice guy. I probably would have left you behind to go look for the wolves. 😏

And, of course, I'm glad to hear that your ailment, whatever the cause, was short-lived.

Edited by Alexander33, 04 March 2017 - 05:13 AM.

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#36 SafariChick

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 05:00 AM

Our last morning had come, and we had to face the long drive back to Addis Ababa. Our flight was not until about 10:45 p.m. so we had time. We left the lodge about 6:30 a.m., earlier than was necessary but we wanted to leave time as we drove over the Plateau in case we saw any more wolves and wanted to spend time with them. We only saw one wolf on this morning, and it was a bit far from the road and mostly resting. We took some photos but they are not good enough to bother posting since I've already posted better ones.  We felt very lucky we had those two good days at the beginning of the trip since the third day I was sick and this day we only saw the one wolf. Still, it was nice to see one more before we started heading back to "civilization."

 

A few sights from the road:

 

Poor donkeys were all so heavily laden:

 

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Mother and baby baboon, looking for a handout:

 

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I'm so bad with birds - is this a Goshawk?:

 

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The drive back was no less tiring than the drive down to BML had been. Also, I should warn ladies that what passes for restrooms along the way is pretty dismal.  It may just be a hole in the ground and it may be very smelly and not clean.  And usually it will not have toilet paper so good idea to bring some along.

 

When we reached Addis it was early evening. Mr. SafariChick was fascinated by this statue of Bob Marley: 

 

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Bob Marley believed Ethiopia was his spiritual home and considered Emperor Haile Selassie as divine figure. He often sang of a return to Africa and for the need for unity among all those who now lived, or originally came from Africa. But he never moved to Africa during his lifetime, although he did visit the continent for a memorable concert in 1980, soon before his death. He was baptized at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church with baptismal name Berhane Selassie – “Light of the Trinity"

 

 

From http://www.ethiopiao...in-addis-ababa/

 

Demiss wanted to take us to a good restaurant with traditional Ethiopian food and singing and dancing, and we had time before our plane. It was called Yod Abyssinia and it was packed, even on a Thursday night, with both Ethiopians and what seemed to be some ex-pats and tourists sprinkled in. The food was quite good (I was able to get a vegetarian platter even though the menu indicated it was only available on Wednesdays and Fridays) and the singing and dancing was fun. A few photos:

 

33278343575_e86411ddf4_c.jpg

 

Strangely, the restaurant had a section with a thatched roof and what seemed to be taxidermied chickens on it 

 

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After dinner, Demiss dropped us off at the airport and so ended the Ethiopian portion of our trip. Stay tuned to the Rwanda forum for the next installment of the trip report - and I will post a link to it here once I've gotten it started!


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#37 optig

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 09:18 AM

@SafariChick I wish that someone would identify that gorgeous hawk. I can hardly wait to see your next installments. 



#38 SafariChick

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 04:55 PM

There are so many knowledgable birders on this forum I hardly know who to ask what the hawk might be! 



#39 michael-ibk

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 05:51 PM

I think that's an Augur Buzzard.

Thanks so much for this report, SafariChick, I greatly enjoyed it, especially those gorgeous landscape shots. Def. want to do that hike Steve went on. Glad you found the Wolves, that's encouraging after all the bad news last year. Sorry that you were sick, but at least it was only for one day.
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#40 SafariChick

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 06:38 PM

@michael-ibk Thanks, Michael - now that you say that, that does sound familiar!  Can't wait to hear all about your trip!


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