Simien Mountains National Park , Trekking & Wildlife Tours
The Simiens National Park was founded in 1961 is located in Gondar a city in Ethiopia and it is one of the most astonishing parks in the country. The Park is located within the same vicinity as the Simien National Park and due to the rugged mountain and the good scenery, it was declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1996.
Although the Park has a lot to offer when it comes to vegetation, wild life, birds and the plains around the Park is facing a problem of the increasing population in the area as the locals keep on cutting down the trees so that they create land for settlement and farming, the poor infrastructure that leads to the Park is another problem and not forgetting the poaching of wild animals.
Trekking in the Simiens Mountain National Park
The Simiens National Park is located next to the Simiens Mountain with unique jagged peaks which makes it one of the best hiking destinations in Ethiopia. When planning for a trekking trip to the Simiens National Park, you will need to know a few things so that you enjoy your trip with less or no worries and these include:
- You will need to get a trekking permit in order to access the trek routes and these can be got form the Park office at the entrance.
- You will need boots that will take you through the trekking and appropriate dressing to avoid scratches from nearby trees.
- You cannot trek alone through the Park unless you have a trained guns man who is licensed for protection purposes.
The hikes through the Simiens National Park always take between three to fourteen days and the determinants of the time that one spends while trekking are the hours used for trekking per day, the trek routes that you use and the fitness of someone.
When you visit the Simiens Mountains National Park for hiking you need to be able to follow the rules and regulations that are in the area for example you are not allowed to trek through the Park alone at any one time. You need to be a licensed tour guide who has a gun for protection and one who will help you when it comes to translation.
When going for hiking there are different trails that were gazetted by the management and these have been listed below:
- the Buyit Ras-Adi arkay
This trek route is 155 kilometers long and it takes a minimum of 11 days to complete. The trail is usually used by those that are not faint hearted due to its distance and on this route you will be able to try out climbing the Ras Dashen and Buhait summits. You can also enjoy the great view of the various trees that are found in the park and a few bird species.
- the Debark-Chenek Debark
The Debark route takes roughly six days to finish and it starts from the Debark town and ends in the same place and it is 48 kilometers long.
- the Buyit Ras chenek trail
This trail is 55 kilometers long and normally takes four days to complete. it is locate at the eastern gate that enters into the park. The trek tarts at the gate and ends at the Chenek camp and while on this trek you will be able to see various tourist attraction sites like the Imet Gogo look out, the jinbar waterfall and numerous cliffs and if you are lucky you might want be able to see a bird or two here.
- the Sankaber Adi Arkay
The Sankaber trek route starts from the Sankaber town and ends in Adi Arkay. It is 85 kilometers long and takes over six to seven years to complete. The route provides you with good scenery from the animals, birds, vegetation and passes through different spots where you can see everything.
Wildlife watching in Simiens national Park
The Simiens National Park has a lot of wild life that can be viewed and most of them are endemic to the park. When most people hear about the Simien Mountain National Park, they all think about mountain ranges but you will find that it is a home to a variety of life and some of it includes:
- The Gelada monkey
The Gelada monkey looks like a baboon and most people mistake it for a baboon. Some people refer to it as the bleeding monkey and they are the only ones that feed on grass. These can easily be spotted in herds and the park has over 2500 geladas.
- The Ethiopian wolf
The park has a number of Ethiopian wolves and these are the only remaining wolf family on the African continent. These mostly feed on the monkeys but they are also facing a problem of poaching which has greatly reduced their number.
The above are some of the unique animals that can be seen in the Park and others also include the walia ibex, Menelik bush buck, golden jackal, antelopes, the hamadrya’s baboon and many more others. The best time for one to view the animals is during the dry season because during the rainy season many animals stay in the different habitats and cannot easily be spotted but during the dry season, these can be seen moving around the Park in search of food and water.
Due to its closeness to the Simien Mountain, you can go for mountain climbing especially adrenaline addicts. You will need a permit to go mountain climbing and a tour guide.
Birding in Simien National Park
Ethiopia is known to have many unique bird species and some of them can be seen in the Simien National park. The Simien National park has a recorded number of birds that amount to over 130 bird species. Some of the bird species include the thick billed raven, bearded vulture, the Tawny eagle, the verreaux’s eagle, lanner falcon and many more others.
Birding in simiens National Park is normally done in the morning and during the rainy season. This is the only time that most birds come out of hibernation and they can be seen at the different water sources in the park and others can be seen in their different habitats.
Flora & Fauna
The Simiens National park is filled with different unique vegetation that grows in variations depending on which part of the National Park you are in. altitude is a huge factor that determines the growth of the vegetation.
The lower altitude has the afro-montane vegetation and this covers the lower part of the National park and the types of trees that are majorly in this area are the Ethiopian Tid and scerophyllous trees.
Best time to visit the simiens National park
The months of June and August receive rainfall at least every day and this might deter you from going in for hiking. The rainy season makes it hard because it makes the trek routes impassable which are always slippery during the rains although during this period you will be able to watch the birds that are in their habitats and enjoy the beautiful view of the green vegetation that flourishes during this time.
The best time to go for hiking at the Simien National Park is during the dry season which runs from the months of October to March. although it gets cold especially in the mornings and in the night, it is still the best time to view the animals in the Park, hike and visit the nearby villages to get to know more about the locals and their cultures.
How to get to Simiens National Park
The park is located in Gondar and there is an airport that is found in the area. From the airport it is just a six hours drive to the park’s entrance where you will be required to get a ticket when you get there. If you get in late the town where you can make a perfect stop over is at the Debark town where you can get a hotel to stay.
Where to stay in simiens Mountain National park
There are several places where you can sleep when you go to Simiens national park and most of these are camps. The different camps where you can stay include the chenek camp, the Sankaber camp, the ginch camp and these are located within the Park. The camps have some where you can prepare meals from and well maintained toilet facilities. There are also several other places that you can stay in like the Limalimo lodge and the Simien lodge although these fall under the luxury category and you will need to have a heavy budget to afford them.
If by any chance you fail to get anything within the vicinity of the park, you can still get accommodation facilities in the neighboring towns. And to get the best accommodation facilities you will need to book earlier on to avoid inconveniences.
The Simien Mountains is the best destination that Ethiopia has to offer for a trekking holiday. These rugged mountains situated in northern Ethiopia offer spectacular landscapes with distinctive flora and fauna that are quite challenging to climb. Among the landscapes you will hike is Ras Dashen whish is 4,533m and the highest peak in Ethiopia. You will get an opportunity to interact with the local natives and learn more about their customary and rural lifestyles. A holiday trekking in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia will great a memorable experience.Its quite adventurous as you take a close look at nature.
The Simien Mountain Massif is among the main highlands in Africa, soaring as the highest point within Ethiopia – Ras Dejen at 4620 meters, and it is the 4th highest peak in the world. Even though found in Africa and not very far from the crossing of the equator, the highest points are covered with snow plus ice and at night the temperatures drop lower than zero.
This national park features 3 overall botanical regions: The lower slopes have actually been cultivated and also used for grazing, and then the alpine regions (to 3600 meter) are forested, even though much of this has disappeared. Then the higher lands are entirely mountainous grasslands having fescue grasses and heathers, marvelous Red Hot Pokers as well as Giant Lobelia.This park was established mainly to safeguard the indigenous Walia Ibex, a wild goat. In addition, within the park are groups of the Gelada Baboon plus the uncommon Ethiopian wolf. You will find over 50 bird species which have been documented within the Simien mountains.
What To Expect On A Trek
Flora and Fauna
The Simien Mountains are dwelling place to a chain of flora and fauna all of which can be explored during your trekking holiday in Ethiopia. The massive attractions including the lobelia is one of the sites that you will see as you trek although in some places along your trail you will be able to see the buzzards hovering above them. The endemic Abyssinian rose, jasmine, the endemic globe thistle, fennel, wild lavender and thyme, , non-fruiting olive trees and solanon are all part of the flora in this area. The fauna is majorly composed of the popular Abyssinian fox; also referred to as an Ethiopian wolf, the rarely seen canid which is facing extinction and the mysterious walia ibex. However, many more animals are better seen from the buzzards including the gelada baboons which have a characteristic red patch on their chest which resulted in them being refers to as bleeding heart baboon. Various birds are seen flying and among these are the falcons.
Challenges In Climbing Simien Mountain
Trekking in Ethiopia is quite an incomparable experience with some of its highest peaks such as the semei Mountains involving one to ascend to 3,000m or 4,000m high. This makes an Ethiopia trekking holiday useful and challenging for passionate trekkers. The climax of this adventure is summiting Ras Dashen which is 4,533mm high, and other peaks including Immetgogo; which is 3,926m, Saha at 3,785m and Kedadit at 3,760m. Take care caution should be taken when at these peaks although most highly regarded trekking company include time in the schedule to acclimatize.You can decide to take a walk tour around the surrounding.
What To Do After Trekking Simien Mountains
One of the activities that spice up trekking in Ethiopia is unwinding at the traditional coffee ceremony after a long day’s trek or hike. The ceremony starts by washing the coffee beans, after which they are roasted on a charcoal stove. After that they are ground in a pestle and mortar prior to pouring them into a kettle of water and boiled on a stove. The resulting black coffee is served with sugar in tiny cups. The ceremony ends after drinking three cups, burning incense and playing traditional music like the single-stringed masenko, a type of lute made out of wood, goat skin and horse hair. If you happen to enjoy any of the mentioned ceremonies, please think about donation some money to these your hosts, as this is a main source of revenue to this large family.
The Marketing Manager for Mountain Kingdoms-Jude Limburn Turner; an adventuring and tour company runs numerous trekking itineraries in Ethiopia. The company has been operating in Asia for more than 20 years, and at present offers tours and treks international, with tour destinations in Europe, North and South America, Africa, Central Asia and South East Asia.