Simien Mountains National Park – Massive erosion over the years on the Ethiopian plateau has created one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 meters. The park is home to some extremely rare animals such as the Gelada baboon, the Simien fox and the Walia ibex, a goat found nowhere else in the world.
In some places rain has eroded the more recent rocks, exposing the original rocks. Nowhere is this more prominent – and stunning – than in Ethiopia’s northern Simien region. This was the epicentre of much volcanic activity about forty million years ago, and the resulting outpouring of a boiling mass of white-hot lava reached a thickness of some 3,000 metres (9,840 feet) in this area before it stopped. Subsequent erosion of this volcanic core has produced the dramatic highs and lows of the Simicns: deep precipices and gorges, tall pinnacles of jagged rock, and weird, withered landscapes.
The region includes many summits above 1,000 metres (13,0001 feet), and culminates in the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dashen, which at 4,5-13 metres (14,901 feet), is also Africa’s fourth highest mountain. It is not a difficult mountain to climb and can be reached by travelling through the Simien Mountains National Park.
The base from which to explore the small, 179-square-kilo-metre (111-square-mile) park is Debark, 748 kilometres (464 miles) north-west of Addis Ababa and 101 kilometres (63 miles) north of Gondar.
The first thing any visitor must do is rent pack and riding animals and hire guides for the six-hour trip into the park. Although it helps to inquire in Addis Ababa before you leave concerning dealers and current prices, the hiring of guides, mules, and muleteers is done through the national park head-quarters.