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Ethiopia: Simien Mountains

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Simien Mountains | Ethiopia | Africa

[Visited: October 2006]

We were very excited when our car drove into Simien Mountains National Park. After travelling around Ethiopia on buses, we felt an urgent need to be in nature and to find some peace of mind. At Sankabar Camp, we disembarked, left our luggage, and started walking with our guide and scout. The guide was so bad at English that we sent him back to Sankabar. We soon reached the edge of the escarpment, from where we had a dizzying sight to the lower plains lying some 1,000 metres below us. This was the result of massive erosion over a long time; we continued walking right on the edge with spectacular views down below.

Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Gelada baboon chewing grass and showing off his teeth

When we reached an outcrop of rocks, we had a superb view over a very tall waterfall below: Jinbar falls are over 500 metres high. As the sun came through, a narrow rainbow showed just over the water. The place was truly magical, as we had a free view all around, and big birds like eagles, lammergeyers and large-billed ravens were circling around, above and below us in great numbers. We had an easy walk through the valley of a stream to Geech village, through countryside covered by wheat and barley, and camped at the camp just beyond the village. After a freezing cold night and a lot of trouble with the cook, we set off for Imet Gogo in the morning. After some scrambling up rocks, we reached this almost 4,000 metre high spot from where we could see spectacular limestone mountains standing in the landscape below us like enormous pieces of chess (it has been said the ancient gods used to play chess here, sitting on the giant clouds over the Simien Mountains), but also towards Ras Dashen, the highest peak of the Simien Mountains and Ethiopia. Clouds started moving in to the valleys below us.

Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Jinbar waterfall in the Simien Mountainsq

As we crossed a valley and walked higher along the edge of the escarpment, the clouds had reached the edge of the mountains, and started leaking over it. The last stretch to Chennek Camp was progressively foggy, and rain started to fall when we arrived. It never stopped until the next morning, and our tent proved less waterproof than promised: we were soaked and cold to the bones. At the edge of the escarpment we saw a group of the endemic gelada baboons, as well as one ibex, and a fantastic view over the landscape deep below us. Walking back to Sankabar made us warm again, and it offered some more of the scenery and tranquillity we had been looking for. The dark clouds above us gave the landscape an extra dimension, it was like we were walking on top of the world. Even though, it surprised us to see ... snow at the other side of the valley at Geech Camp. Back at Sankabar, we found out that the car we paid for was not there - while the trip to the Simiens had been extremely beautiful, the organization had proven to be exceptionally bad, several persons unreliable, and many of them dangerously and immorally committed to extracting as much money as possible from visitors. Nevertheless, after the bad taste melted away, the images of unique mountains and a great walk prevailed.

Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Dark clouds looming over the road from Chennek to Sankabar
Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Eagle flying over the landscape near Jinbar waterfall
Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Gelada baboons grazing on the edge of the mountains near Chennek Camp
Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Barley and clouds near Geech Camp
Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Geech village perched on a hill of the Simien Mountains
Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Looking down to the landscape below from Imet Gogo
Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Edge of the escarpment seen from Imet Gogo
Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): View from the edge of the escarpment near Chennek Camp
Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Argin village seen from the road to Sankabar
Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Edge of the mountains covered by dark clouds
Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Scout leading the way to Geech Camp through the fog
Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Lobelia plants are a common sight in the landscape of the Simiens
Picture of Simien Mountains (Ethiopia): Fog creeping over the edge of the escarpment near Chennek Camp

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