The Simien Mountain National Park

The Simien plateau provides the vertical edges to create the deepest canyonlands in Africa. The central plateau is 8000-15000 feets high and the canyon depths average about 3000 feet above sea level at the deepest points. The deepest points on the Blue Nile and the Tezeke george is equivalent to the Grand Canyon of the USA, at approximately 5000 feet deep.

The Simien mountain massif is one of the major highlands of Africa, rising to the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dejen. At 4,620 metres, it is the fourth highest peak in the continent Although not too far from the equator, snow and ice appear on the highest points and night temperatures often fall below zero.

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.

The park was created primarily to protect the Walia Ibex, a type of wild goat, and over 1000 are said to live in the park. Also in the park are families of the Gelada Baboon and the rare Simien fox. The Simien fox, although named after the mountains, is rarely seen by the visitor. Over 50 species of birds have also been reported in the Simien mountains.

Access to the park is from Debark, 101 km from Gonder, where riding & pack animals may be hired. This should be arranged in advance through your local tour operator or the Office of the Wildlife Conservation Department.

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