Simien Mountains National Park Complete Guide

The Siemen Mountains are found in the North-western part of Ethiopia. They are also home to the highest peaks in the country.

At a towering 4543m above sea level, the tallest peak, Ras Dashen, is the fourth highest peak in Africa. Other notable peaks include Biuat and Abba Yared.

The Siemen Mountains may not be the highest in Africa, but they are the most dramatic in terms of scenery.  With high plateaus that end abruptly and the deep escarpments, these mountains are a sight to behold.

It helps that the mountains come with National park status, so they are well maintained and protected. If you are visiting Ethiopia, these mountains are a must-visit.

The Park in Brief

The area covering the mountains was declared a World Heritage site in 1978. It covers 190 km2 in total.

According to ancient myth, these mountains were the “chess table for the gods.” The towers, spires, rock formations, and canyons may make you agree with this myth.

Apart from the mountain peaks, this park is home to 22 large mammals and 13 small ones. Over 180 bird species live within the protected area as well as close to 60 tree species.

Some endemic species within the protected area include the Ethiopian wolf, Gelada baboon, and Menelik’s bushbuck.

At the bottom of the mountain are the Amharic people with their unique culture and way of life.

Simien Mountains

Activities

The Siemens mountains are ideal if you are looking for a trekking adventure. Take on this geological beauty as you enjoy the dramatic landscapes and unmatched sceneries.

As you transverse the ever-changing trails, it is easy to imagine how the landscapes would look with dinosaurs roaming the forested areas like it is thought to have been the case many years ago.

The network of canyons, gorges, and escarpments shows the effects of erosion for millions of years. It is amazing how much nature changes over time and the magnificent beauties created in the process.

There are different trails you can trek on depending on your skills and overall health. You can also choose to go up the mountain over several days to allow your body to adjust to the changing climate.

The views from the peaks are breathtaking. Enjoy the fresh air, the immense beauty, and the thrill of being atop one of the highest points in Africa.

If a trekking safari is not on your to-do list, visit Gondar and learn a thing or two about the mountains and Ethiopia’s history as a whole. The Gondar also contains remnants of the civilization that was once prosperous.

At the Geech camp, you get to learn all about agricultural rituals in the region and the workings of village life. You can also sit amongst the gelada monkeys and watch as the sun disappears into Chenek.

There are numerous villages around the mountains where the Amharic people live. Go to the towns for a taste of the local cuisine and the Amharic culture.

The Simien mountains have a total of 20 peaks. These divide the country into lowland and highland regions.

What Will You Love About A Trip To The Simien Mountains?

  • Trekking along the majestic and undulating peaks characteristic of these mountains. The landscapes are remote, and nothing like you have seen before.
  • Exploring medieval Gondar architecture, which includes the Royal Enclosure. This is where some emperors-built castles, and some of these structures are still standing.
  • Camping at the escarpments and enjoying the African wilderness at its best. Marvel at the star-lit skies and watch as the sun rises and sets behind the dramatic landscapes.
  • The gelada baboons, endemic to Ethiopia, are a sight to behold. These red-hearted creatures can often be seen playing on the slopes or walking up the mountains.
  • Testing your mountain climbing skills on the Ras Dashen ascent. This is the highest peak in the country, and the journey to the top, not one for the faint-hearted.

What Do You Need For Simien Mountains Trip?

Good physical health is a priority before starting the trip. Because of the altitude change, the trek up the mountain is more challenging.

You also need to set a few days, especially if you want to get to the peak or cover a big trek up the mountain. Taking a few breaks as you ascend to allow your body to acclimatize, so the journey to the top may take a few days.

High-quality hiking equipment is necessary. Since the temperatures at night tend to go down the more you go up the mountains; you also need to carry warm clothes.

If you did not carry hiking equipment with you, talk to the staff in the lodge you are staying at for where they can be rented or bought. It is important to ensure that you have all the necessary equipment before the start of your hike.

Be prepared to go for days without a shower, and the trails can be dusty depending on the time of year. Carry a dust mask, a face washer, and wet wipes.

Getting Here

The gateway to the Siemen mountains is in Debark. This town is roughly 100km to the North of Gondar. There is an airport at Gondar where you can fly any day of the week to Addis Ababa.

You have to travel by road from Gondar to Debark. Numerous buses ply this route, and the ride takes between 3-4 hours on the unpaved road.

Final Thoughts

Simien Mountains have a lot to offer to anyone visiting Ethiopia. From the challenging treks up the mountains to the breathtaking views from the peaks, you can bet that you will have a lot to talk about at the end of your trip.

The best thing about these mountains is that you do not have to be a seasoned mountain climber to enjoy them. You can choose to go with the less-challenging routes, just camp at the bottom of the mountain, or enjoy visiting neighboring villages and attractions.

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