Simien Mountains National Park is one of Africa’s least explored mountainous regions and covers an impressive 220 square kilometres of hilly agricultural lands punctuated by jagged pointed peaks. The distinct mountain peaks on the northern circuit are fondly referred to as the ceiling of Ethiopia. To protect species such as the rare Walya ibex, and endangered Ethiopian wolf (Sieman fox), the park was declared a World Heritage Site.
Looming escarpments with perfectly formed ridgelines, impressive canyons, waterfalls cascading over sheer cliffs, and vast plateaus provide the perfect terrain for a network of trekking routes, of which there are many. From the famous Gidir Got and Imet Gogo summits, visitors can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of savannah, mixed alpine vegetation, and emerald meadows carpeted with wildflowers.
Getting there is quite easy, but it’s a long journey. Simien Mountains National Park’s closest town is Gondar, which has a local domestic airport. The international airport in Addis Ababa offers regular flights to Gondar, and from there it’s a further two-hour journey by road into the mountains.
There are a variety of trekking opportunities - from three to nine days - in Simien Mountains National Park. Visitors can expect to see a variety of birds as well as the rare Ethiopian wolf.
Simien Mountains National Park is home to the Walya ibex and Gelada baboons that are both endemic to the area. The high altitudes suit these two species perfectly.
The savannah plains, belts of afro-montane forests, and alpine regions support a proliferation of wildlife. The shy and endangered Ethiopian wolf is the rarest species to spot while visiting the national park. Endemic to the area is the Walya ibex, a species that has managed to survive because of the cool climes and high altitude forests. Yet another fascinating species endemic to the park is the rather imposing Gelada baboon. Most of these endemic species congregate in the highland plateau region of the park.
Klipspringer, colobus monkeys, hyena, bushbuck, and caracals also occur within the park, along with numerous small mammals. Birding wise, there is always something to see. Bearded vultures, tawny eagles, and thick-billed ravens are just a few of the 180 species of bird to spot. Six species of bird are endemic to the area, making it a magical place for birders.
Because of the altitude and varying ecological zones, there are contrasting climatical conditions. Overall, the dry season is the best and safest time of year for trekking, as there is little risk of slipping. This time of year is between October and March when the skies are clear and the weather is warm.
The best way to take in the splendour of this awe-inspiring national park and enjoy an unforgettable safari experience is to go trekking. Visitors can get within proximity to animals while exploring the undulating terrain on foot.
A major drawcard is the array of trekking routes, which vary from three-day hikes to nine-day treks. The longer routes incorporate all the major highlights of the park and widen the scope for spotting wildlife. The three to four-day treks concentrate on the lowland areas characterised by distinct cliff faces.
The six-day treks cover the Nigus Aysimush Viewpoint which offers aerial views of the escarpment, the Jinbar waterfall which is a fantastic birdwatching spot, three summits, and the Kurbet Metaya. The nine-day trek covers the tall and challenging peaks, with views spanning thousands of kilometres. They are ideal for visitors wanting to spot the rare Ethiopian wolf and other endemic creatures.
Visitors to the park can either stay in campsites or luxury/comfortable lodges. Simien is developed for tourism and has a fantastic infrastructure. There are two lodges inside the park, one is a premier lodge, and the other a more affordable, rustic option. Just inside the park, visitors will find three main campsites and six campsites in the heart of the park.