Simien Mountain National Park

Written by simien. Posted in National Parks

The Simien  Mountains National Park was formally established in 1966. The park is endowed with unique landscape and endemic mammals and plants found nowhere else in the world  and inscribed on the list of World Natural Heritage by UNESCO in 1978. It offers opportunities for mountain trekking, ecological studies and viewing life of the local people.

Location 

The park is located northwest of Ethiopia, in Amhara Regional State. Debark town, the headquater town of the national park is about 887km from Addis Ababa and about 102km from Gondar. It is 22km from Debark town to the park area. The national park is on the west side of the Simien Mountains and adjacent to Mt. Ras Dejen (Ras Dashen), the highest summit of Ethiopia and the top ten highest peak in Africa. It lies within the center of the triangle of important historical sites of Ethiopia, namely Axum, Gondar and Lalibela.

The”Roof of Africa”Geological Overview

The Simien  Mountains were formed from lava outpouring in the Miocene and Oligocene geological periods. These Trap lavas covered all the previous rock formation and the type of volcanic  activities were like the “Hawaiian” type/ found in China/ and spread over a wide area covering about 15000km2 or more. which believed to be the apart of the great rift valley which passes through Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania down to Mozambique. These trap lavas hardened slowly forming a profile with gently sloping side like the Hawaiian volcanoes.

During  the cenzoie era lasted from 70 million years ago up to the present, the most important activities was processed for shaping the present landform of Ethiopia. Tectonic activities, which include the folding faulting and breaking off the massive blocks of the Simien  Mountains, preconditioned a way for erosion during the Teritiary period. As a result of uplifting that caused in openings through which large  quantities of Trappean lavas were ensilted, and glaciers covered the highest points which heavy rains pelting the rest. Glaciation in the Simien  mountains occurred 2000 years ago parallel with glaciation of the Bale mountains and Glaciers descending to 1500 m deep were cut. As a result of Tectonic activities in the Teritiary period and Glaciation/ ice cover/ much of the original topography of the Oligocene Lava out pouring” were modified and reshaped by over 20 million years of water, wind and ice erosion to produce the thin slices of the plateau, and isolated blocks from the volcanic  cores overlook standing high above the Tekeze Goege as we see today. The Simien  Mountains also called  “Roof of Africa” because more than 20 mountains are over 4000masl including Ras Dejen  the highest peak in Ethiopia and one of the top ten Mt. highest peak in Africa and it plays a great role as a water catchments area. The park area is the source of many of rivers  and springs and part of the Tekezie Rivers It provides water for multipurpose for the local peoples and else. Especially  the people living downstream heavily  depend on the Simen Mountains for their water supply during the dry season.

The”Roof of Africa”Geological Overview

 The Simien  Mountains were formed from lava outpouring in the Miocene and Oligocene geological periods. These Trap lavas covered all the previous rock formation and the type of volcanic  activities were like the “Hawaiian” type/ found in China/ and spread over a wide area covering about 15000km2 or more. which believed to be the apart of the great rift valley which passes through Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania down to Mozambique. These trap lavas hardened slowly forming a profile with gently sloping side like the Hawaiian volcanoes.

During  the cenzoie era lasted from 70 million years ago up to the present, the most important activities was processed for shaping the present landform of Ethiopia. Tectonic activities, which include the folding faulting and breaking off the massive blocks of the Simien  Mountains, preconditioned a way for erosion during the Teritiary period. As a result of uplifting that caused in openings through which large  quantities of Trappean lavas were ensilted, and glaciers covered the highest points which heavy rains pelting the rest. Glaciation in the Simien  mountains occurred 2000 years ago parallel with glaciation of the Bale mountains and Glaciers descending to 1500 m deep were cut. As a result of Tectonic activities in the Teritiary period and Glaciation/ ice cover/ much of the original topography of the Oligocene Lava out pouring” were modified and reshaped by over 20 million years of water, wind and ice erosion to produce the thin slices of the plateau, and isolated blocks from the volcanic  cores overlook standing high above the Tekeze Goege as we see today. The Simien  Mountains also called  “Roof of Africa” because more than 20 mountains are over 4000masl including Ras Dejen  the highest peak in Ethiopia and one of the top ten Mt. highest peak in Africa and it plays a great role as a water catchments area. The park area is the source of many of rivers  and springs and part of the Tekezie Rivers It provides water for multipurpose for the local peoples and else. Especially  the people living downstream heavily  depend on the Simen Mountains for their water supply during the dry season.

Climate

Though not far from the equator, the daily temperature ranges between a minimum of -5 Celsius and a maximum of 18 Celsius, generally an afro  alpine characteristic. The northern part of Ethiopia has  two distinct seasons; wet season and dry season. Wet season is 8 months from March to October and dry season is 4 months from November to February. In the wet season, June, July and August have heavy rainfalls. The best time for trekking in the Simien  Mountains is after the heavy rain season from September to October. In October there is little rain. At this time all the area of the park is greener and more flower.

Species

22 large,  13 small mammals, 57 tree species and variety of herbaceous plants, and about 180 bird species have been recorded. Spotting wildlife is not guaranteed. Nevertheless, with some luck you may  see a number of species which appear to be endemic to Ethiopia and certain of these to the Simien  Mountains area.

Fauna

Flagship mammals are the Gelada Baboon(Theropithecus gelada), Walia Ibex(Capra Ibex Walia) , Ethiopian wolf(Canis  Simiensis) and Menelik’s Bushbuck(Tragelegus Scriptus Menelik), which are endemic mammals. These species are mainly  found on the escarpment and on the highland part of the park and the surrounding plateau.

Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada)

Gelaba Baboons are the most frequently observed mammal of the Simien  Mountains National Park. Tourists can observe them up-close and learn about the primates by observing impressive socio- ecological aspects of the Gelada Baboons.

The Walia Ibex (Capra Ibex Walia)

The Walia Ibex is one of the most fascinating wild goats, which is endemic to the area. Simien  Mountains are the southern-most limit of all species of ibexes in the world.

Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis)

For several years the species has  been called  Simien  Fox, Red fox and Simien  Jackal. However, recently, it was showed that the species has  neither similarity with a fox nor with a jackal but close similality with the European Red Wolf. Thus, since  the species is endemic to Ethiopia, the name Ethiopian Wolf was given.

Other mammals in the park

There are also various species of larger animals such as leopard (Panthera pardus), wildcat, common jackal (Canis aureus), spotted hyena(Crocuta crocuta), bushbucks(Imbabala and Kéwel, common bushbuck and an endemic subspecies called  Menelik’s bushbuck), klipspringer(Oreotragus oreotragus), black and white Colobus monkey(Piliocolobus), Anubis(Papio anubis) and Hamadryads baboons(Papio hamadryas). Moreover, considerable numbers of species of rodents such as white-tooth shrew, Ethiopian Narrow-headed rat(Stenocephalemys albocaudata) and unstriped grass rat (endemic to Ethiopia) are also conspicuous in different habitats of the park.

Bird life 

The Simien  Mountains National Park is one of the important bird areas in Ethiopia. Over 180 species of birds are recorded and few of them are endemic to Ethiopia. This richness of the birdlife implies the Simien  Mountains National Park is a bird watcher’s paradise.

Some of the birds that are frequently watched are the Lammergeyer, called  also The Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), White-backed Volture (Gyps africanus),Griffen Volture (Gyps fulvus), Lappet-faced Voltue (Torgos tracheliotos), Wattled Ibiss (Bostrychia carunculata),spotbrested proverb(endemic to ethiopia), Thick-billed  Raven (Corvus crassirostris),fatailed raven,african cape rock,paid crow, Verreaux’s Eagle(Aquila  verreauxii), Augur Buzzard (Buteo augur), Erckel’s Francolin (Pternistis erckelii), Ankober siren, the Vultures, Alpine chat(Cercomela sordida), Tacazze sunbird(Nectarinia tacazze) , etc. The most spectacular of these is the lammergeyer, a magnificent bird with a three meters wing span. The park also comprises important populations of spot-breasted plovers (on the highland such as Gich and Ambaras), white-winged cliff-chats, white collared pigeons(Columba albitorques), and Ruppell’s chat(Myrmecocihla Melaena) on the cliffs. Lower altitude has  much diversity of birdlife than the highlands. Tourists interested in bird watching are expected to trek in the lowlands.

Flora

The variety of flora in the park is as diverse as the range of altitudes. Various species of herbs, grasses and trees are recorded in the park. The numerous flowers in the highland and forested areas of the Simien  Mountains National Park are of photographers’ delight.

At levels above 3000masl the Afro alpine vegetation dominants the area. Here  grass and herbaceous species are the dominant floristic composition. However, the superb landmark species is the Giant Lobelia. Other species include kniphofilia spp, Helichrysum citrispinum, Ranunculus oreophytus, Alchemilla species, etc.

At levels above 3000masl the Afro alpine vegetation dominants the area. Here  grass and herbaceous species are the dominant floristic composition. However, the superb landmark species is the Giant Lobelia(Lobelia rhynchopetalum). Other species include kniphofilia spp.,  Helichrysum citrispinum, Ranunculus oreophytus, Alchemilla species,wildrosespecies, etc.

The natural vegetation found in the Afro-montane areas (altitudes 2000-2700masl) include species such as Hagenia abyssinica, Schefflera abyssinica, Olea europea, Juniperus procera, Dombeya torrida, Albiza shimperiana, and many other species.

What to bring

Trekking in the Simien  Mountains tough but not impossible. It is recommended for tourists to equip themselves with safe  and sufficient equipment. The following  are some of the most important items. Based on requests, we can arrange stuffs listed below.

  • Comfortable clothes (Various types to wear with the changing in weather condition during the day and night)
  • Hiking boots Walking stick Binoculars Raincoat Cap/ hut Backpack Sunglasses Sunscreen First aid kit
  • Battery (camera, phone)
  • Flashlight and battery (head torch)

The items listed below are included in the package tour, however, it is also fine if you can bring  your own.

  • Waterproof tent
  • Warm  Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mattress

  • Holiday/ Vacation tours and travel
  • Business tours and travel
  • Study/educational tours
  • Mountain and desert trekking
  • Bird watching, horse riding experience
  • Cycling tours
  • Other special interest tours

  • Designing tailor made program depending on the client’s time budget and choice of destinations and other interests
  • Meet and assist services, airport transfers
  • Air ticket services (including booking)
  • Hotel and lodge reservations

  • Guiding service
  • Car/vehicle hire services
  • Camping equipment arrangement
  • Cook, Mule, Mulemen arrangement

Get in Touch

Eimail: tours.simien@gmail.com
        info@outstandingsimienmountainstours.com
Phone: +251(0)918380137
Address: Gondar, Ethiopia