Hike Ethiopia`s Simien Mountains

Hike to the so-called `Roof of Africa` wandering atop the edge of escarpments that plummet hundreds of meters into the Ethiopian plains, providing a shield for creatures seen almost nowhere else on earth walk here before the rest of the world discovers the simiens.

Essential Experiences (Recommended by Lonely Planet)

  • Watching the sun set from the camp at Geech
  • Standing among gelada baboons above Geech Abyss as you watch the waterfall disappear into shadows
  • Wandering out onto a campside spur at Chenek at dawn, as gelada baboons arise from their cliff-hanging sleeps
  • Being mobbed by fascinated children as you walk through the village of Chiro Leba
  • Savouring the immense view from the summit of Ras Dashen

 

Topping out at 4559m, Ethiopia`s Simien Mountains are among the highest and finest of Africa`s mountain ranges. Towering out of patchwork agricultural plains studded with craggy peaks, the range is framed by massive escarpments. Standing at their edge, as you will most of the time when hiking here, you`ll agree the views are equal of any in the world.

Treks here isn`t just about the stupendous views. The simian Mountains National Park is a living, bustling landscape, inhabited by around 15,000 people. Villagers till weary slopes, shepherds roam the plateau, and village children sprint from homes to greet trekkers.

Among them- often grazing right beside the goats- is a host of wildlife so special that, in 1978, the Simien Mountains were included the first selection of sites to be granted World Heritage status. Most commonly seen are the gelada baboons, the world`s only grass-eating primates; the colouring on their chest gives them the nickname of `bleeding-heart baboon`.  Walia ibex cling to impossible slopes, and the call of the Ethiopian wolf might be heard on the slopes of Ras Dashen, through the coyote-sized, fox-coloured dog-the world`s rarest canid-is rarely seen.

Altitude sickness is less a problem in the Simien than in many equivalent ranges, with camps spaced at intervals aiding acclimatisation. This gives trekkers a good chance of summiting Ras Dashen, scrambling its final escarpment to soak in a view that rewards all of the effort in getting here.

The Bleeding-Heart Baboon: The gelada baboon is one of the Ethiopia`s most fascinating endemic animals. In fact, not a baboon at all. It takes up its own genus of monkey. Of all the nonhuman primates. It`s by far the most dexterous. It also lives in the largest social groups (up to 800 individuals in a group have been recorded), is the only primate that feeds on the grass, and has its `mating skin` on its chest and not on its bottom- a convenient adaptation, given that it spends most of its time sitting. This bare patch of skin has given rise to the gelada`s another popular name: the bleeding-heart baboon.

Not:This Article is taken from The Lonely Planet book of “Great Adventures”

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