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The intrepid 1920s traveler Rosita Forbes declared it to be “the most marvelous of all Abyssinian landscapes “waxing Iyrical about its “stupendous crags” and “gorges of clouded amethyst “upon inscribing it is as a natural world heritage sites in 1979, UNESCO went one further by lauding it as “one of the world’s spectacular landscapes ,with jagged mountain peak deep valleys and Sharpe precipices dropping some 1.500m”.
Ethiopians know it is as the roof if Africa ,an awesome afro -Alpine Plateau of grassy Meadows and ericaceous moorlands that rise to 4,533M at Ras Dejen. to biologists, it is the most important biodiversity hotspot in northern Ethiopia ,populated by an alluring wealthy of endemic plants and animals, including the imperious Walia ibex ,golden -maned gelada baboon and endearing Ethiopian wolf. Birders know it as the most best place in the world to see the mighty lammergeyer, which is regularly observed soaring overhead ,displaying its 2-meter wingspan.The 412km2 Simien Mountains National Park is also ,unsurprisingly ,Ethiopia’s premier trekking and walking destination.
Hiking and trekking
The best way to see the simien mountains is in foot for these with limited time ,it is possible to drive along to he all -weather road running east from Buyit Ras to Chennek and exit the car for short walks ,or to do the 3-4hour round hike from Ayna meda to Imet Gogo.several overnight hikes are available.the 3-day hike connecting Sankaber ,Gich ,Imet Gogo and Ayna meda is recommended to those whose main interest is endemic wildlife such as geladas and Walia ibex. For peak -baggers, the more easterly hike to summit Ras Dejen, the country’s highest point ,could be undertaken as a 5days hike but a longer hike starting at Sankaber is recommended to acclimatise to the high altitudes it is possible to cover all hiking routes on mule back (no prior riding experience required ).A pack mule is strongly recommended to carry camping and other gear.
Did you know ?
The Walia ibex was held sacred by pre-Aksumite culture of the northern Ethiopia and is depicted on several 2,500-plus year old artefacts unearthed at Yeah and other sites of similar vintage.
The gelada is something of a living fossil :the only surviving member of a once wide -ranging Africa genus of grazing monkeys ancestral both to baboons and to the drills of the Western rainforest.
The lammergeyer is the only bird specialized in feeding on bone marrow,which comprise up to 90 percent of it’s diet, and is often obtained by dropping bones from great heights to break them open.
The Jewish kingdom of Beta Israel thrived in the simien area for several centuries prior to it’s conquest by Emperor Susenyos in 1627.
Geology and vegetation
The basaltic bedrock of the Simien Mountains comprise a vast done was uplifted as a result of tectonic activity, 75million years ago, to form a sheer escarpment rising above the plains to its north and east.Glacial activity and rain have since moulded the escarpment into a series of jagged pinnacles and buttresses overlooking countless massive canyons carved by rivers.most of the 412km2 area stands above 2000m and it includes more than a dozen peaks topping the 4000m mark.the afromontane vegetation includes more than 1200 plant species, of which three are endemic to the park. Above 3,700m, the dominant vegetation type is open grassland punctuated by spectacular giant lobelias that stand up to 10m high. Giant Heather trees and other ericaceous plants are the main vegetation type between the 3,000m and 3,700m contour.afromontane forest and juniper woodland naturally occur at lower altitude ,but this vegetation type has greatly reduced.
The Simien Mountains from the last remaining stronghold of the endemic Walia ibex, the only goat indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa. Associated with narrow cliff ledges, the ibex is absolutely unmistakable due to it’s massive decurved horns.it came seriously close to extinction in the 1960s, when the population dropped below 200,but a ban on hunting has seen it climb back to 1,200 in recent years.the park supports 20 percent of the global population of 250,000 gelada baboons, an Ethiopia endemic rendered unmistakable by the male’s flowing lion -lile mane and heart -shaped red chest patch.unique among living primates in that it needs predominantly on grass, the gelada has a complex harem-based social structure ,and groups if several hundred commonly seen by hikers. The Ethiopian wolf is less common here than it is a bale, but a population of around 50 individuals still makes the Simien Mountains the second-most important sanctuary for this endangered endemic.The wolf is occasionally seen east of Gich camp,but is rare further west. Other large mammal species includes Anubis baboon ,Hamadryas baboon, grivet monkey, Menelik’s bushbuck ,Klipspringer ,common jackal,spotted hyena and leopard.
Simien Mountains National Park is one of northern Ethiopia’s key birding sites, with a checklist of 180 species that includes five Ethiopian endemics and an other 12 shared only with Eritrea. Many of these endemics are woodland grassland -associated endemics such as Ankober serin ,black -headed siskin and thick-billed raven ,as well as the cliff -loving Ruppell’s black chat and white-winged cliff chat.
However ,the simien’s true avian star is not an orange throat and crest.
The Simien Mountains are thought to support the world’s largest population of this year -threatened species,which is also known as the bearded vulture,and there is no better place in the world for close -up sightings -whether it is soaring effortlessly above the cliffs or raiding tourist camps.
You will most certainly encounter troops of the endemic Gelada Baboons and see them up-close. You may also see common jackal, klipspringer and more. There are a lot of birds such as Thickbilled Raven, Augar Buzard, Black Kites, Lammergayer and different plant species such as Abyssinian Rose, Erica Arboria tree, Ephorbia Species, St. Johns Worttree(Hypercumrevoltum) and so on.
You will have an early breakfast and your first visit in Addis Ababa will be the Nationa l Museum (pre historic, cultural, archaeological attractions), Ethnographic Museum of Addis Ababa University (culture, dressing style, traditional practices of over 80 ethnic groups, and collection of traditional musical instruments). Lunch at Lucy Restaurant. Your visit also comprises tourist attraction sites like Emperor Minelik’s Palace, St. Raguel’s Church (after a drive to Entoto Mountain – 3000 meter above sea level), Merkato, (the largest open market in Africa).In the evening, we will host you at one of the best traditional restaurants of Addis where you can see the folk dances of the Ethiopian people and taste Ethiopian variety of meals. Stay overnight hotel Lobelia Addis Ababa
After breakfast, you will drive to Bahir Dar (564 Km from Addis). En route, you will visit Debre Libanos Monastery (founded in the 13th century by priest Tekla Haimanot, today one of Ethiopia’s most renowned saints) & the museum. After 100km from Debre Libanos Monastery the road dropping more than 1000m, gradually winds down to the bottom of the Blue Nile Gorge, which is comparable in scale to American’s Grand Canyon cited to be the largest canyon in Africa. You will stop for lunch at Debre Markos. Then you will arrive in Bahir Dar (late afternoon). You will check into a hotel. You will have dinner, rest & spend the night there. Overnight stay in Vistana Bahir Dar.
Visit Island Monasteries and visit Blue Nile Falls You will have an early breakfast and drive to Lake Tana, take a boat ride where you will visit to the medieval period island monasteries (beautiful mural paintings, religious books & sacred) on Lake Tana such as: Kibran Gabriel (only for men), Entos and on the Zegien peninsula visit Ura Kidan Mehiret, Azuwa Mariam, Mahal Giorgis.
After lunch, you will drive (some 30 Km) and visit to the Blue Nile Falls. In the evening, you will have dinner and stay the night at the hotel. Overnight stay in Vistana hotel Bahir Dar.
Early in the evening, you will visit ‘AzmariBet’ at Traditional Music Houses after which You will be driven to Gondar (185 Km) right after breakfast. Then you will check into a hotel and after a brief break, you will have lunch.
Then, you will visit to the Royal Castles & the Bath of Emperor Fasiledes (the bath is filled with water for the important Timkat
(epiphany) ceremony once a year. You will continue your visit to Debre Birhan Selassie Church (Trinity at the Mount of Light), the Castle of Empress Mintewab, and Kuskwam Complex which is a royal compound by the empress mentewab you will have dinner at the hotel and stay there for the night. Overnight stay in Ag hotel
You will have breakfast & drive to Debark (100 Km from Gonder) finish formalities at the Head Quarter of the park at Debarq and continue to drive another 20km then make a short walk/trek and spend the day visiting the Simien Mountains National Park (registered by UNISCO as a world heritage site, with endemic & mammals, birds, natural vegetation, & wonderful landscape). Late in afternoon drive back to Debarq for overnight stay or stay in Jeramba Hotel at Debarq.
Right after breakfast, an early morning drive will take you to Axum (270 Km from Debark) through the Simien Mountains & magnificent topography & scenery, the Limalimo Gorge, Tekeze Valley. You will arrive in Axum late in the afternoon. You will check into a hotel and take a break. Dinner will be at the hotel. Overnight stay in Consular or Berhana hotel.
You will have breakfast and will visit all day to the Steale of Axum, the Inscription of Ezana, Queen Sheba’s Palace, the famous St. Mary of Zion Church, ruins of ancient palaces (built until 4th century A.D.), with lunch break in between then outside Axum you can visit also the tombs of Kings Kaleb & Gebre Meskel dating to 6th century. In the evening, you will get back to the hotel and spend the night there.
Overnight stay in Consular or Berhana hotel.
at monastery is only accessible by climbing a rope which hangs down from a After breakfast, you will be driven to Hawizen (250 Km from Axum). On the way you can visit Ethiopia’s earliest known capital city of Yeha which is considered as the birthplace of the country’s earliest civilization. Its single most remarkable antiquity is the well-preserved walls of the 12m-high stone temple of the moon that is thought t0 be over 2500 years old.
Another possible excursion is to Debre Damo monastery (only accessible for men). The Debre Damo Monastery is built on the flat- topped mountain of Debre Damo. The perpendicular rock, an adventure in itself! Overnight stay in Hawizen lodge.
you will visit some of the most beautiful medieval churches on impressive viewpoints such as: Abuna Yemata Guh, Debre Maryam Korkor or Abreha WeAtsheba church, all situated near to the road between Mekele and Hawzien. It requires climbing a steep mountain to reach these churches so good walking/mountain shoes are recommendable. Lunch at Hawizen lodge. Then drive to Mekelle. You will arrive in Axum late in the afternoon. You will check into a hotel and take a break. Dinner will be at the hotel. Overnight stay in Axum Hotel or sabean international Hotel
After breakfast, you will be driven to Lalibela (470 Km from Mekele) through the Ambalage Chain of Mountains. Your arrival in Lalibela will be late in the afternoon. You will check into a hotel, have dinner and spend the night
Right after breakfast, an early morning drive will take you to historical churches around Lalibela like the Hill Church of Asheton Mariam (on the back of a mule or on foot), Yimerhane Kirsotos, Nakute LeAb or Genete Maryam. Overnight stay in Tukul Village hotel.
Right after breakfast, an early morning drive will take you to historical churches around Lalibela like the Hill Church of Asheton Mariam (on the back of a mule or on foot), Yimerhane Kirsotos, Nakute LeAb or Genete Maryam. Overnight stay in Tukul Village hotel
An early morning drive after breakfast will take you to Kombolcha (335 Km). En route visit Hayk Estifanos Monastery (45 Km before Kombolcha, famous for its variety of bird life near the town of Hayk). Later, you will drive to Kombolcha & upon arrival, you will check into a hotel & stay the night there. Overnight stay in Sunny Side hotel.
After breakfast, you will be driven back to Addis Ababa (375 Km). You will arrive in Addis Ababa late afternoon where you will do some shopping for souvenirs. Finally you will be taken to a farewell dinner depending on your scheduled flight; you will be transferred out to Bole International Airport for return flight back home.