The Semien National Park and Simien Mountains in northern Ethiopia, 100 km. north of the historic site Gondar. The Semien Mountains NP was founded in 1969 and covers an area of 220 Km2; Semien Mountains National Park: is registered in 1978 by the UNESCO as one of the World’s Heritage. Like everywhere in Ethiopia is also the Semien Mountains National Park and its natural inhabitants threatened as more and more land for agricultural use by farmers and even the steep mountain slopes are ploughed. This brought the Semien Mountains National Park in 1996 on the UNESCO list are of World Heritage Sites in Danger ". Meanwhile more than 10 years later there is little change about this situation, the farmers still remain parts of the park space. In general, farmers in Ethiopia believes that the land belongs to them, and asks themselves are the animals more improtant than the people? Why should we leave the place which belongs to our anscestors have lived and woked there for many years. Thus, the government don’t dare to put away these people form the National Park. Yet both the government, nature conservation organizations and farmers together should findout a better solution so that something might remain from the Ethiopian majestic landscapes such as the Semien Mountains and their natural inhabitants.
THE LANDSCAPE OF THE SEMien MOUNTAINS
Rosita Forbes In 1925, described the Semien Mountains as "the most wonderful of all landscapes of Abyssinia". Indeed, the views of the jagged ridge, one after the other, are disappearing into a misty distance in all shades of gray and violet, often breathtaking. With a little imagination you in the jagged peaks explore various performances such as kings, knights and castles. It looks like a giant chess game, many thousands of years ago by the gods but abandoned. Here are impressive peaks such Shayno Sefer (3962 m.), Inatye (4070 m.), Bwahit (4430 m.) and the highest peak of Ras Dashen Ethiopia (4533 m.), in the beautiful mountain scenery of the Simien Mountains live Semien native species like the wolf (which is now called Ethiopian Wolf), the Walia Ibex (wild goat with an impressive horns) and Gelada baboon. These monkeys live in large groups and eat grass. Especially the males look great with long "lion mane" and the red spot on their chest. The most spectacular plant in the Semien Mountains, the giant Lobelia whose flowers can be 8 meters high and the Red Hot Poker warm orange colours the slopes.
HIKING AND ACCOMMODATION
The Semien Mountains hikes can be made from 1 to 11 days. Although in some places very simple accommodations, must be long treks camping equipment and cooking utensils are included. This equipment is provided by Yared Tour & Travel, but can also be rented at the Park Headquarters or Semien Park Hotel. You will be accompanied by a local guide and scout when the luggage is carried by mules each with its own supervisor and where you can drive yourself when fatigue strikes. This is the finest way to discover the Semien Mountains and to the fullest and enjoy the impressive scenery. However, if you can not walk long distances, you can reach Semien Mountains NP in a 4WD as there is a road far into the mountains so you drive to various places such as Ras Buyit, Sankaber Chenek and enjoy the beautiful views and make short or long walks according to your ability.
A wonderful place for comfortable sleep in the Semien Mountains in the Semien the lodge. This lodge is located at 3260 m altitude (the highest lodge in Africa) at a place with spectacular views and Gelada baboons playing around your bungalow. In the area there are also plenty of walks and overnight hikes from the lodge on foot or horseback organized. If you want spent more cheaper then there is closer to the Semien lodge the Ethio-Australia Community Hostel, where you can for a few Euros per night sleep in a dormitory. A similar accommodation is in Sankaber. In the twon Debark at the foot of the Semien Mountains, the place where the Semien Mountains NP headquarters is found, there are, some simple but clean budget hotels (Semien Park and Imet Gogo hotel) as a base to serve you for mountain walks. For hikers looking for simplicity and would like to get in touch with the locals, the guide can also find you a place where you can spent the nights with the local people. You are going to sleep on the ground or on a stretched cowhide which might be hard, thus, is therefore advisable if possibly to bring your own own mattress.
Food can best be purchased in Gondar. In Debark the supply is limited. During the trek to the farmers in the Semien Mountains you can buy a goat or chicken, through one of your companions the goat or chicken will be slaughtered. Cooking on wood preferably not because it will speed up deforestation, thus, use rented gas cylinder or oil-stove.
In the Simien Mountains, in the evening and at night is quite cold, especially in the dry season (Nov.-Feb. And May-June) is the temperature difference during the day and night is very high, temperature at night can drop below freezing. Dress properly during the night, socks, sweater and jacket and sleep with a good low-temperature sleeping bag when you are camping. By day the sun shines brightly so do not forget to take with you sunglass with high protection. While in the rainy season (March-April and July-Sept.) expect lots of tropical rainfalls and fog making visibility sometimes very limited, but what the landscape often gives an impressive case with transient passing clouds.
Severe altitude sickness in the Semien Mountains is not really expected but some symptoms such as headache, shortness of breath, poor appetite and exhaustion. It is good to get used to the altitude by the first day (s) not walk too long distances and if possible to take day rest in between.