Simien Mountains National Park (SMNP), with its undulating plateau and deep valleys is often dubbed the Grande Canyon of Africa. The park is located in the North Gondar Zone of the Amhara National Regional State. It sits 870km from Addis Ababa in the mountain massif to the north of the famous Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia.
Simien is home to Ras Dashen, the highest mountain in Ethiopia (4,533m). This ecotourism destination is popular with wildlife watchers including bird watchers, researchers and cultural enthusiasts.
Flora, Fauna and Avifauna
The combination of altitudinal variation and isolation of the Simien Mountains has given rise to a number of rare and endemic species and a high level of diversity. This high endemicity and diversity justifies the inclusion of SMNP in Conservation International’s Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot. The remoteness and isolation of the area that determine this endemism has also rendered these isolated populations of species such as the Ethiopian wolf, walia ibex or gelada to be more vulnerable to local extirpation or extinction from many threats.
The altitudinal variation in SMNP means that a wide diversity of plant species are found in the park and endemism has also arisen from its isolation. There are over 1,200 species of plant in SMNP, of which three are found only in the Simien Mountains: Festuca gilbertiana, Rosularia simensis and Dianthus longiglumi. There are three main vegetation zones in SMNP: Montane forest (1,900 to 3,000m), Ericaceous belt (Sub-Afroalpine) (2,700 to 3,700m) and finally the Afroalpine zone (3,700 to 4,533m).
We will meet you in the morning at Gonder Airport or your hotel in Gonder. Drive to the first camp (Sankaber) via Debark (the small town) you will be rewarded with very impressive views of the low land areas. To the north and west you will most certainly encounter troops of the endemic gelada baboons. The gelada baboon, only found in Ethiopia, is often referred to as the bleeding heart baboon or the lion monkey because their coat is shaggy resembling a lion, whilst their chest has a marked red heart or patch. The gelada baboon can be found in good numbers and is quite easy to approach. Sankaber camp is situated at an altitude of 3250 meters on an impressive view point between the northern escarpment and the southern wazla. Before you arrive the camp you have about 2hrs. walk
Day 2 :
From Sankaber Camp the path to Geech Camp will stretch for approximately ten kilometers.(5-6hrs). The initial stages of this path leads through extensive areas of highland grasslands and heather forests. This path offers some of the most impressive views of the escarpement. One of the best views is of the Jinbar Wenz waterfall which plummets down the Geech Abyss. After descending down to the Jinbar Wenz River a short ascent remains to Geech village. In this area, cultivation is done in a two-year cycle. One side of the valley is planted whilst the other side lies fallow. You will notice extensive soil erosion in this area as a result of the combination of such factors as slope steepness, cultivation, overgrazing, erosive rainfall and limited land resources. We pause in Geech village as we are invited into one of the local houses for a coffee ceremony. Here you will participate in this very important social tradition of Ethiopia as well as gain an insight into the traditional lifestyle. Just above Geech village is the campsite which will serve as your base for two nights. The campsite has great views of the mountains and is characterized by giant Lobelia plants. These plants can grow up to 10 meters in height and may live for as long as twenty years, at which point they first flower before dying.
Walk from Geech to the three stanning places namely Imet Gogo, Saha, and Kedadit and then walk back to Geech camp , overnight here.
Walk from Geech to Chenek via Imet gogo. If you are lucky you might see the Ethiopian wolf. Time taken to complete this hike is about 7-8hrs and then overnight at Chenek.
Walk from Chenek to Bwahit Mt which is the second highest point in the Simien Mountains, 4443mas. About five hours trekking from the camp till the point and back to the campsite again and sleep the second night at Chenek camp.
Drive from Chenek to Gonder as soon as you get ready to leave, it takes about five hours driving via Debark till Gond