The Simien Mountains National Park is located in the Gondar Zone of the Amhara Region in the northern territories of the Republic of Ethiopia. It is about 120 km north-east of Gondar in Begemder Province which is the nearest town in the area.
The Outstanding central Universal Value of the park is made up of four locations including the Masarerya, Limalimo, the Ras Dejen Mountain and Silki-Kidis Yared area. Their interlinking corridors are free of human settlement and cultivation which serve as a key support to the living species in the park. The park is estimated to be covering some 220 km² of land in totality.
The park was officially commissioned in the late 1960s but was added to the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) tentative list in 1978 and is now regarded as one of the most important global significance for biodiversity conservation sites.
The mountains are bounded by deep valleys to the north, east and south, and offer vast vistas over the rugged-canyon like lowlands below. The spectacular scenery of the Mountains is comparable to the Colorado’s Grand Canyon. (The Grand Canyon is a National Park in the United States of America located in the State of Arizona).
The spectacular landscape was believed to have been formed by massive water erosion over millions of years back which have resulted in the creation of serrated mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 m and the northern cliff wall extends for some 35 km. It is therefore not surprising that the Ras Dashan area is the highest point in Ethiopia. The famous pinnacles – the sharp spires that rise abruptly from the surrounding land are said to be volcanic necks. The volcanic necks are the solidified lava and the last remnant of ancient volcanoes in the world.
Geographically, Ethiopia is a country of elevated plateaus which raise the various tablelands and mountains that constitute the Ethiopian Highlands, beautifying the countryside of the country.
The park is said to be part of the Afroalpine Centre of Plant Diversity and the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot in the East African region.
Wildlife experts say the park is home to globally threatened species including the famous and mysterious iconic Walia ibex which is some kind of a wild mountain goat found nowhere else in the world, the Gelada baboon and the Ethiopian wolf. Other interesting mammal species include the Anubis baboon, Hamadryas baboon, klipspringer, and golden jackal.
Various species of birds too are found in the area and it forms part of the larger Endemic birds’ area of the Central Ethiopian Highlands.
The mountains are home to 5 small mammal species and 16 bird species endemic to Eritrea and Ethiopia as well as an important population of the rare lammergeyer which is also a spectacular vulture species. The park’s richness in species and habitats is a result of its great altitudinal, topographic and climatic diversity, which have shaped its Afromontane and Afroalpine ecosystems.
Looking across the gigantic mountains is so amazing and looking down the vast countryside with numerous rolling down mountain hills folding valleys and escarpments together with rustic agricultural fields from the top of the gigantic simien is comparable to looking down planet earth from another planet.
The boundaries of the park include key areas essential for maintaining and sustaining the scenic values of the area to be able to serve as a very good habitat for the various living species living in the park.
Authorities of the park have improved and increased the ecotourism facilities without impairing the park’s natural scenic values and beauty. This move by the authorities has greatly increased the ability of the park to create additional revenue for the country. The park attracts a lot of tourist all year around from all over the world.
With the abundance of creviced basalt rock, the park serves as an ideal water catchment area, replenished by two wet seasons and the Mayshasha River which weaves its way north to south through the national park.
The park is a place of dramatic and remote beauty, steep in its rifts and far from the chatter of the man-made world in short spectacular. The cliffs, the baboon, the walia ibex, the Ethiopian wolves and everything are marvelous and they are worth seeing.
Reaching the area from the national capital, Addis Ababa is not difficult. Luxury buses are available to transport visitors to the nearest town of Gondar and with 4×4 vehicles or Land Rovers, the park is easily reached. Guesthouses, rest houses and hotels are available at a moderate cost for visitors and tourists to use. Park guards are also available to take tourists to tour around the park.
Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa Tourism News