Currently the only option for getting to the Bale Mountains National Park is by road. This can either by done in a private vehicle (good clearance essential; 4x4 necessary in wet season) or by public buses which run daily from Addis Ababa to Goba and Robe towns.
Below are directions from Addis Ababa (two routes).
From Addis Ababa by private vehicle (7-8 hours)
a)From Addis take the Debre Zeit road, traveling east to Mojo (65 km). In Mojo make a right turn following the sign post for Ziway and Shashemane. This is the Awassa road which takes you south along the great rift valley; it is asphalt and in good condition. You will pass some of Ethiopia’s famous rift valley lakes (Ziway and Langano lakes are best visited). The town of Ziway is 88 km from Mojo, and has a number of good fish restaurants and tourist hotels. A further 85 kms from Ziway you will arrive in Shashemane (unofficial Ethiopian capital of the Rastafarian community). Look for a sign to Goba town on your left hand side as you enter Shashemane. Turning left here will bring you on to a gravel road (likely to be paved by end 2009-2010 which will significantly reduce travel time to Bale), at which point you will be heading east towards Goba town. This road takes you through a number of small towns, most notably Kofele (25 kms), Dodolla (a further 73 kms) and Adaba (24 kms), and increasingly more magnificent mountain scenery; however the road is a slow and bumpy one, and full of all the usual obstacles that one faces in rural Ethiopia (potholes, sheep, cattle and pedestrians). Approximately 35 kms beyond Adaba you will enter the small town of Dinsho. The BMNP headquarters is approximately 1 km beyond the town of Dinsho - it is well sign posted.
b)From Addis take the Debre Zeit road, traveling east, passed Mojo to Nazareth (100 kms). This is the capital city of the Oromia Regional State and is a gateway to the magnificent Rift Valley. In Nazareth, a right turn at the main central junction takes you to Arsella (75 kms). Continue another 195 km on this road towards Dodola. At the Dodola junction turn left, at which point you will be on the road to Goba and can follow the instructions above.
From Addis Ababa by public bus (9 - 11 hours)
There are public busses serving both the above routes daily. The public bus leaves at 06h00-06h30 from the central bus station in Addis Ababa at Mercato Manharia. Get one of the Robe/Goba buses and tell the driver you want to stop in Dinsho. From the bust stop in Dinsho you can walk to the park headquarters (15 mins). It is recommended that travelers buy their tickets the day before and get to the bus station 1 hour before the leaving time. If you buy your ticket ahead of time, be sure to get on the correct bus in the morning as tickets are specific to specific buses.
Places to stay
Dinsho and the Park HQ
The Bale Mountains National Park has a self-catering lodge, the Dinsho Lodge. This is an ideal base for all visitors to the BMNP but be prepared for only the most basic amenities (although these are in the midst of being improved) – from here one can begin a number of different treks, can explore the Web Valley and the Gaysay grasslands, or can drive up to the Sanetti Plateau. It is situated near the middle of the fenced headquarters area and is a great place to spend a day or two relaxing and acclimatizing to the altitude. No food or catering facilities are available at the lodge so come prepared with your own food and cooking supplies, or visit the local eateries and shops (very basic) in Dinsho town. The BMNP HQ area also has a campsite, situated above the Dinsho Lodge, on top of a wooded hill with magnificent views of the Gaysay area. In the town of Dinsho itself there are two local hotels, the Tsehay and the Gennet, however these are recommended only for the truly adventurous traveler. Neither have running water, or electrical sockets. Both of these hotels serve good tibs and shiro and are recommended as places to eat or grab a drink in Dinsho.
For visitors with their own vehicle it is also possible to use Goba as a base to visit the high-alpine Sanetti Plateau, and the forests in the south of the Park. There are a number of hotels in Goba, the best of which is the Goba Wabe-Shebelle.