- Written by Keb
The park was primarily created to conserve Walia Ibex and other endemic species. Its scenic value, probably the most rugged in Africa, also formed the backbone of the concept for conservation of the area. These unique wildlife and breath-taking views on a landscape has further led the park to the recognition as a World Natural Heritage Site in 1978 by UNESCO.
Location: the Simen Mountains National Park is situated on the northwestern side of the Simen mountains massif in northern Ethiopia, Gonder, with an altitudinal range from 1900 to the highest peak of the African horn, Ras Dejen, at 4620m asl. It lies in the center of a triangle formed by Gonder, Lalibela and Axum- three major Historical Northern Routes. It is roughly about 900km from Addis Ababa. The head quarter is situated in debark, where entrance to the park is permitted.
Rainy Season: There is a single rainy season in the area that occurs between June and mid-September. Average annual rainfall is about 1550 mm.
Temperature: the area usually experiences a cool climate, which ranges from -2.5 to 180c. During dry season early morning is the coldest.
Ecological zone: north-west highlands.
Vegetation types: Afro-alpine steppe belt (grassland zone), Ericaceous belt and Afro- montane forest belt.
Major wildlife species: Walia Ibex, Ethiopian Wolf, Gelada Baboon, Klipspringer; and spectacular birds of prey such as Lammergeyer and Thick-billed Raven (once endemic). The Simen Mountains also boast a unique flora. Alpine steppe is characterized by the occurrence of giant Lobelia (jeabeera); the Ericaceous belt contains Erica/ asseta/ bushes and trees and the lower montane forest supports Juniperus procera (Abesha Tid).
Endemic mammals of the park: Gelada Baboon, Walia Ibex, Ethiopian Wolf, Mahomet’s Mouse, White-footed Rat, Ethiopian grass Rat, Crocidura baileyi, Lovat’s Mouse, White-tailed Rat, Grey-tailed Rat, Giant Molerat and Simien Mouse.
Endemic birds of the park: Abyssinian cat bird, Abyssinian long claw, Spot-breasted plover and Black-headed siskin.
Other common bird species: these birds used to be endemic such as Black-winged lovebird, White-collared pigeon, Wattled ibis, White-winged cliff-chat, White-backed black-tit, Ruppell’s chat, White-billed starling and Black-headed forest oriole.
Major physical/geological features: spectacular mountain scenery and escarpments consist of dark Trapp basalts and bright, soft tuff.
Surrounding people: Amhara
Major human threats to the park: high altitude settlement, cultivation and livestock grazing.
The main attraction of the Simen Mountains National Park is its biosphere such as steep-cliff, escarpments, landscape, cool climate and endemic wildlife. These spectacular attractions can be largely discovered through trekking. So, trekking is one of the main reasons to visit the park.
1. From Debark to Sankaber camp
A trek to Sankaber camp and back to Debark would normally last 3-4 days. Tiya Afaf is a spectacular observation point. From this point Gelada Baboon can be scanned. The camp is equipped with modest infrastructure and tourist lodge.
2. From Sankaber camp through Gich camp to Chennek camp
A trek from Debark to Chennek camp and back to Debark would normally take at least 6 days. The viewpoints include:
Nigus Aysimush: one of a spectacular observation points offers good opportunity to view wildlife, including Walia Ibex.
Jinbar Waterfall: gives best view of impressive river waterfall.
Gidir Got Summit: offers spectacular view down to the lowlands.
Saha Summit: to gain the most spectacular views of the escarpments, including an ibex.
Imet Gogo Summit: offers a good opportunity to view Walia Ibex, Gelada Baboons and spectacular views in all directions.
Kurbet Metaya: offers a good opportunity to view Walia Ibex.
3. Chennek camp to Ras Dejen (the highest summit in Ethiopia)
A trek from Debark to Ras Dejen and back to Debark takes at least 9-10 days.
Accommodations: near-by town such as Debark cater to foreign tourism. Besides, camping sites and Simien lodges are available inside the park.
Time to visit: except during the rainy reason, a visit to the park can be undertaken at any time of the year.
Access: road and air
Outside park: along carrying on nature tourism, the northern part is famous to offer an outstanding historical routes- Lalibella, Gonder and Axum.