While there are as many as nine parks and sanctuaries with elephants in Ethiopia, it is difficult to find them in most cases. Babile Elephant Sanctuary in the eastern part of the country is different. This vast protected area stretches south from the historical city of Harrar and the little town of Babile. The main entrance to the sanctuary is situated mid way between Harrar and Babile.
The best time to see elephants in Babile is during the dry season, when they are easier to locate. This is because they tend to stay closer to the few remaining water sources. There are four parallel riverbeds that run north to south just like the road, two in the middle and one on each boarder of the park. One of the best areas to find the elephants is along the Gobele River, which is the first river to the west of the road.
The sanctuary does have some dramatic geological features, and, unfortunately, sometimes the elephants go way down into an inaccessible part of the park. It is, therefore, wise to plan for a week’s stay in the Harrar area. That way, if the elephants are not accessible at the beginning of the trip, other sights can be enjoyed around Harrar before checking back again in a few days. Some of the elephants used to have tracking collars. So, uploading their location was possible with the right guide who had access to this information. The foremost expert on elephants in Ethiopia is Yirmed Demeke (PhD), who organized and led several expeditions to put tracking collars on the elephants in Babile as well as in other areas. Other places to check for elephants include Omo National Park, Mago National Park, Alatish National Park west of Gondar and bordering Dinder National Park in Sudan, Kafta Sheraro National Park in western Tigrai on the border with Eritrea, Geraille National Park in Somali, Chebera Churchura National Park in the southern part along the Gibe-Omo Valley between Jimma and Sodo, and Gambella National Park.