Friday, 26 September 2014 00:00

Siemen Mountains

Siemen Mountains

The Siemen Mountains National Park is situated about 100 kilometers north of Gondar to the alongside of Axum road. The Simien Mountains offer a uniquely wonderful sight: high peaks and deep gorges, valleys and rivers, golden barley fields as far as the eye can see. One of Africa largest ranges, studded with at least a dozen peal topping covering 179 square kilometers of 4000 mark possibly the fourth highest range. Mountain Ras Dashen (4,620 meters) high and the highest peak in Ethiopia stand adjacent to the park. And the second highest mountain (4439 meters) is Ras Dejen, hut a lot of the peaks are above 4000 meters. The Simien escarpments, which are often compared to the Grand Canyon in the United States of America, have been registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

 

The Simien Mountain massif is a broad plateau, cut off to the north and west by an enormous single crag over 60 kilometers long. To the south, the tableland slopes gently down to 2,200 meters, divided by gorges 1,000 meters deep. Trek through the Simien Mountains, following an extensive network of trails, This makes it the ideal place for trekking; you can walk through days on end along easy paths, occasionally passing through villages amid breath-taking views, frequently encountering colonies of 'Gelada 'baboons and at nightfall among the steep gorges, sighting Waliyas and not so frequently, the Simien fox. The quality of these trails, along with the fantastic scenery, unique flora, diverse wildlife and rich bird life make this a rewarding and challenging trek.

Where branches south ward to terminate some 10 km outside of park boundary at the small town of Mekane birhan. This road is open to tourist vehicle and it provides the opportunity to see most of the parks key habitat in short space time. It is a paradise for natural history enthusiasts as well as for trekkers, within this spectacular splendor lives the Walia (Abyssinian) Ibex, Simien Red Fox and Gelada Baboon all endemic to Ethiopia as well as the Hamadryas baboon, klipspringer and bushbuck and Birds such as the lammergeyer, augur buzzard, Verreaux's eagle, kestrel and falcon also soar above this mountain retreat. Beyond the escarpment you reach the beautiful alpine meadows and rugged wildness of the high peak area. At their foot are remain of ancient hills, now eroded into hundreds of pinnacle and buttresses that were described as eloquently in from Red sea to Blue Nile.


The Simien Mountains are known for their dramatic and spectacular scenery; jagged mountain peaks flank deep valleys and high altitude plains where only grasses, junipers and giant lobelias grow. This is one of the major mountain regions of Africa, home to mountain Ras Dejen (4543m), the fourth highest peak in the continent. The National Park was created primarily to protect a type of wild goat, the Walia Ibex; and the Gelada Baboon and rare Ethiopian Wolf are also found here. Standing on top of a sharp precipice and gazing out over the magnificent landscape here will take your breath away, so it's definitely worth taking a bit of time to explore. The area is a great place to do some trekking, or you can hire mules to go in search of some of the more easily spotted wildlife, like the klipspringer, ibex and baboon.

It is one of the largest mountain ranges in Africa, with many peaks over 4000 meters. Most trekking routes take you through small villages and terraced fields in the lower valleys, before reaching a series of dramatic cliffs and escarpments. Beyond the escarpments lie the beautiful alpine meadows and the rugged wilderness of the high peak areas. The base for hiking and trekking holidays is Debark a small town some 90 km. north of Gondar. Guides and rangers are readily available to hire at very cheap rates. In addition mules can be organized for a few Euros per day. Overnights are normally near the old park camps and distances vary but reckon on four to eight hours a day of trekking. As most of this is on paths and tracks conditions underfoot are not too bad. Three of Ethiopia's endemic large mammals live in this area and are the gelada baboon, live in troops of up to 400. The walia ibex, although endangered will probably be seen, but the Simien fox is becoming very rare.

 

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