Extending over almost 7,000 square kilometres to the southeast of Harar, Babile Elephant Sanctuary is a vast and spectacular reserve comprising wide gorges flanked by open plains, rocky out-crops, meandering river beds and, in the south and the east, a drier almost-desert like landscape. Babile is home to Africa’s most north-easterly population of elephants, which some authorities assign to a unique race Loxodonta africana orleansi, endemic to the Horn of Africa.
The sanctuary also provides refuge to thin populations of the localised black-maned Abyssinian lion and greyhound-like cheetah, along with various antelope (including greater and lesser kudu), the hamadryas baboon, and a spectacular selection of dry-country birds, including the endemic Salvadori’s serin. An estimated 200 elephants inhabit Babile, moving seasonally between the Erer and Gobelle river valleys, but also sometimes venturing outside the sanctuary to the western ridge of the Gobelle Valley. The best time of year to visit is the late rainy season (June to September) when the elephants usually congregate in the Upper Erer Valley about 40km from Harar.