LUXURY TRAVEL TO THE SIMIEN MOUNTAIN
The deep ravines, craggy peaks and sheer cliffs of northern Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains make this one of Africa’s most spectacular landscapes.
A result of volcanic eruptions millions of years ago, the mountain plateau has been eroded to form cliffs that can drop an eye-watering 1,500m. The Simiens are also home to several peaks that tower above 4,000m including Ras Dejen, Ethiopia’s highest mountain.
The mountains are surrounded by deep valleys and on a good day you can enjoy views that stretch for hundreds of kilometres. As well as the epic vistas, the Simien Mountains are important for the diversity of flora and fauna.
They are home to the endangered Walia ibex, who cling to the impossibly steep cliffs, as well as the gelada baboon, often referred to as the bleeding heart baboon on account of the heart-shaped patch of hairless skin on its chest. If you are lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the elusive Ethiopian wolf.
The Simiens are also a haven for birdwatches with over 180 species flitting through the skies. As you might expect, trekking is a hugely popular activity in the mountains, but however you chose to spend your time here, you can be certain of awe-inspiring panoramas at every turn.
When To Come
In most of the country, the main rainy season runs from June to the end of September, with short rains in March. In the Omo and Mago parks however, in Southern Ethiopia, the seasons are different with the main rains from March to June, and shorter rains in November. With the upgrading of the airports along the historic route (Axum, Lalibela, Gondar and Bahir Dar), it is now possible to visit the north even in the rainy season. For travelers who do not mind waiting out a downpour (usually followed by brilliant sunshine) there are certain rewards — a green countryside full of crops and flowers and the sites largely to yourselves.
Climate and Clothing
Because of elevation, the temperature rarely exceed 25°C (77°F) in most of the country, although in some of the lower lying areas (Awash, Omo and Mago parks) it can get considerably hotter. Pack light clothes for the daytime and jacket or sweater for the evenings, and a good pair of walking shoes even if you are not going trekking-path ways around historic sites is usually uneven and stony. Trekkers in the Simian and Bale Mountains will need warm clothes, waterproofs and 3-4 season sleeping bags. A cultural note: Ethiopians are generally modest dressers and visitors should be sensitive about going underdressed into places of worship. Shoes must always be removed before entering churches and mosques — for getting around sites like Lalibela with its many churches airline socks are very useful.
Temperatures do not change drastically throughout the year, although October to December are slightly colder. There is, however, difference between daytime and night-time temperatures. June to September is the main rainy season, with another short season between February and March.