The "Simiens", Ethiopia's most famous national park, is between 2000 and 4500 meters high and consists of various plateaus divided by wide river valleys. Located in the northwest of the country, it is a beautiful immaculate nature reserve perfect for hiking. A fixed route along the edges of the valley can easily be arranged. Perhaps not very developed for the spoiled Western tourist, but maybe therefore extra attractive. Besides the natural impressive landscape, there are also plenty of large wild (endangered) animals to spot; the walia ibex, the gelada baboon and the very elusive Ethiopian wolf. All unique in its kind. In addition, there are jackals, badgers, bushbucks and many bird species such as the raven. Since 1978 the park is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
I will advise you to go hiking for at least 4 days to get a picture of the national park. Less days would actually be a bit of a shame. This depends on your fitness, time and interest of course. Debark is the starting point of most tours - you can not take a bus further into the park, even though I have seen a number of buses pass by on the first part of the course. At the information center you can get all information (and prices). Below is a list of prices and options.
Many people hike even more than the above trip – but for instance we spent a lot of time at the people's home (Buyit Ras) and with the baboons. In addition, we both were not fit and certainly wanted to take it easy and enjoy. Further on in the park, the landscape seems to become more and more rugged and the chance of seeing the ibexes increases. The village "Geeech" and "Chenek" seem to have great appeal here. Despite this, we also had a beautiful view.
During the trip:
The bus station is in the middle of the village of Debark along the large (dusty) main road. All important buildings are along this road.
Debark - Gondor: to my knowledge there are two buses a day that drive here from the dusty field (bus station) from Debark. Price is around 20 and 25 Birr and the ride takes about 3.5 hours.
"Kitfo" (raw meat), a local Ethiopian speciality - looks like tartare or unbaked shawarma meat - you can get in the hotel restaurant (see below).
Price: 220 Birr (including shower and toilet)
Phone nr. : 0581 170566
A great hotel with nice, friendly and helpful staff. It is too pricey for what you get but the problem is that the hotel has no competition in the village. There is a restaurant where you can have breakfast and dinner with an English menu. It is a good meeting place (so also watch out for people who want to trickle your money) and the room is fine. Do not expect much from the "hot" shower because I had a tiny warm stream. The bed is clean and free of lice and fleas which is also very nice. It is on the main road near the bus station and the market.
TIP: leave your big backpack here when you go hiking in the mountains - you have to pay for this! They ask 50 Birr a day which is negotiable. Please keep it locked.
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