Semien Mountains

Semien Mountains

The Simien Mountains Massif is one of the major highlands of Africa, rising to the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dejen (4,620m), which is the fourth highest peak in the continent.

Although in Africa, and not too far from the equator,

snow and ice appear on the highest points, and night temperatures often fall below zero. The park was created primarily to protect the Walia Ibex, a type of wild goat, and over 1,00 are said to live in the park.

Also in the park are families of the Gelada Baboon, and the rare semien fox. Although named after the mountains this is rarely seen by the visitor. Over 50 species of birds have been reported in the Simein Mountains. Access to the park is from Debareq, 101km from Gondar, where riding and pack animals may be hired. This should be arranged in advance through your local tour operator or the office of the Wildlife Conservation Department.

The Simien escarpments, which are often compared to the Grand Canyon in the United States of America, have been adopted by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is the first sites to be inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978. The Park which covers 179 sq KM lies at an altitude between 1900 and 4500 Meters. The mountains are lush and green: your former conception of Ethiopia is also likely to be turned on its head.

The Simien Mountains have the best scenery   with a fascinating area for trekking, where the scenery is dramatic and exhilarating. The dramatic landscape of the Simien Mountains is the result of massive seismic activity in the area about 40 million years ago. Molten lava poured out of the Earth's core reaching a thickness of 3000m. The 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 m. The famous pinnacles - the sharp spires that rise abruptly from the surrounding land - are volcanic necks: the solidified lava and last remnant of ancient volcanoes.

The national park has three general botanical regions. The lower slopes have been cultivated and grazed, while the alpine regions (up to 3600m) were forested, although much has now disappeared. The higher lands are mountain grasslands with fescue grasses as well as heathers, splendid Red Hot Pokers and Giant Lobelia.

Access to the park is from Debark, 101 km & about 3 hours drive north of Gondar, where the head quarter of the park is located. Here in the head quarter, you have to buy your entrance tickets and you need also to arrange your trekking team including guides, armed scouts, camp assistants and a cook, riding and/or pack mules and their handlers provide porter services.  

A road has been built to the park from Debark which is expected to facilitate tourism.   Buyet Ras, Sankaber, Geech and Chenek are the four major campgrounds in the park. Sankaber camp site is   36 km from Debark, about 1 hour and 30minutes drive from Debark. Chennek Camp site is 58 km from Debark. African Adventure Tours Suggest to start every trekking trip after an overnight stay at Sankaber camp site. Whilst trekking it is usual to walk among troops of Gelada baboons, to see Wyala ibex on the rocky edges of cliffs and to sight or hear Ethiopia’s many endemic birds and, if very fortunate, the highly endangered Ethiopian wolf. Other mammals’ which are the characteristics of the Park and that you might see on trekking include klipspringer, bushbuck and the bush pig. Over 50 species of birds have been reported in the Simien Mountains. Birds such as the Lammergeyer, augur buzzard, Verreaux’s eagle, kestrel and falcon are commonly seen and soar above this mountain retreat.


In General speaking, one will enjoy every part of a trek in the Simien Mountains.   The views are breathing and the canyons and gorges are amazing, and also its quietness ands to its beauty.

All the breathtaking scenery and the very warm hospitality of the local people ensure an unforgettable experience on a trek in Simien Mountain National Park.

"This has been one of my most fascinating expeditions. The views are unlike anywhere I have been and the people are so beautiful. Wherever we went, we were received with the kindest of smiles and genuine warmth. I will certainly come back."