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Dear Guest Welcome to Ethiopia and welcome to Simien Summit Tours! Your number one trip planner and organizer!

About Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a country which is situated in the East part of the African continent. Once known as Abyssinia. Currently it is a home to approximately 85 million people from as many as 80 different ethnic tribes on a land measuring an area of 1,106,100 square kilometers. Ethiopia is a land of extremes, a land of remote and wild places.  The country embraces the remarkable jaggedly carved Simien Mountains particularly the highest peak Ras Dashen (4620 meters above sea level) also known as 'The Roof of Africa' and some of the lowest, such as the fascinating Danakil Depression (116 meters below sea level). Ethiopia has many rivers; one of the rivers, Blue Nile begins its journey here and crosses 6 other countries to be the longest river in the world.

The largest lake in the country is Lake Tana located in the north of the country in one of the nine regions known as Amhara.

Ethiopian rift valley is part of great East African rift valley system, encompasses 6 lakes in the southern part of the country which are the habitats of birds, mammals/marine life, like hippos and crocodiles.  
Ethiopia also presents one of the most stunning natural environments in Africa. Because of the size of the country, and the great variety of its landscapes and climate, Ethiopia represents all that Africa has to offer.

Welcome to a country with 13 months of sunshine, a country which has a unique calendar , a country which is the cradle of humankind and a country where many travelers  writers agrees on the statment  ' To try to describe Ethiopia would be to belittle it'. No other place on earth is quite like it. That's why we are forced to focus on a single statement that will bring all of us together to the same page 'seeing is believing' Indeed, 'seeing is believing'. So come visit Ethiopia and give your own genuine witness.

Come to Ethiopia to the majestic natural and cultural beauties of highest splendor and make an unforgettable discovery of life time!

About Simien Mountains National Park

Ethiopia is a very different African destination. Known as “The Roof of Africa,” this is a land of surprises, with a wealth of superb trekking and a rich cultural heritage. Ethiopia includes some of the finest mountain scenery in Africa, most notably in the Simien Mountains which have been designated a World Heritage Site. This highland area in the northern part of Ethiopia includes many summits over 4000 meters, the highest being RasDeshen, at 15154 feet/4620 meters, the fourth highest mountain in Africa.

Geographically, the mountains comprise several major plateau, which are underlain by basalt lavas thousands of meters thick. It is the erosion of these lavas that have created the dramatic escarpments and freestanding pinnacles which are characteristic of the range and which are comparable in terms of spectacle to the Grand Canyon.

The Simien: is an area of highland country in the northern part of Ethiopia in the Administrative of North Gondar. Rosita Forbes says, the Simien massif is a “volcanic pile now bounded by gigantic erosional precipices on almost all sides.” In addition to spectacular scenery, the region contains a number of unusual botanical phenomena and some of the rarest animals in the world. The walia ibex has its citadel among the peaks of the Simien;The Simien fox, also very rare, is found nowhere else but in these mountains and in the highlands of southern Ethiopia . The Gelada, a primate which looks like a cross between a baboon and a lion, is another exclusively Ethiopian species which lives in this habitat. Birds which are endemic to Ethiopia are found in the Simien. In 1969, the wildest part of this region was gazetted as a national park.

GEOLOGY: The Simien highlands constitute one of the major mountain massifs in Africa . The region includes many summits above 4,000 meters and culminates in the highest point in Ethiopia ,RasDejen, at 4,620 meters (15,157 feet), the fourth highest mountain in Africa . Its dramatic topography is the result of the erosion of basalt lavas which have been calculated to be nearly 3,000 meters thick. During the Oligocene period of geological history (approximately 40—25 million years ago), volcanic activity of the “Hawaiian type”—i.e., an outpouring of lava like a pot of syrup boiling over, as contrasted to the explosive sort which throws chunks of hot rocks and ash high into the air—spread over a wide area which originally may have covered 15,000 square kilometers or more. The center of the cone lay in the present-day region of the Abba Yared, Selki, and BerochWaha peaks. This lava spread and hardened slowly, forming a profile with gently sloping sides characteristic of Hawaiian-type volcanoes. The rocks beneath the lava were horizontal layers of Mesozoic (more than 70 million years ago) sandstone and limestone which in turn rested on a level Pre-Cambrian (over 600 million years ago) plain. The layers of rock were laid one on top of the other like the pages of a book. Here and there a relative weakness or crack in the massive block opened the way for erosion. During the Pleistocene, when the northern regions of the world were covered with glaciers, most of Africa was drenched in rain. The Simien highlands had both: glaciations on the highest points, with rainfall pelting the rest. The cracks in the bard, resistant basalt, once begun, were widened and deepened by the floods that poured into them. Trenches some 1,500 meters deep (4,000 to 5,000 feet) were cut. The gigantic kings and pawns of Rosita Forbes’ description are the hard cores of volcanic outlets from which the surrounding material has eroded away.

CLIMATE: The Simien region, though it is on the continent of Africa and not far from the equator, has temperatures which sometimes drop below freezing at night. Hail and snow fall on the highest points and the resulting ice may remain for several days. On the other hand, the sun’s rays beat directly down and the rarified atmosphere does not act as an effective filter. Maximum temperatures during the day are about 15° Centigrade (60° Fahrenheit). At night the temperature usually drops to 3°—5°C (35°—40°F). October, November and December are the coldest months, when the temperature is likely to go below freezing. The season of the big rains begins in June and lasts through September.

BOTANY: The visitor to the Simien National Park will pass through three general botanical regions. At the lowest altitude, up to about 2,700—3,000 meters (9,000—10,000 feet), between Debarkand Sankaber, the land has been cultivated and grazed by cattle, sheep and goats. This region was once covered with forests of partly Syzygium and Maesa, partly Janiperus and olive trees, and probably resembled the Menegasha forest near Addis Ababa. Today, little is left of this indigenous vegetation. Above this level and up to 3,600 meters (around 12,000 feet), in ancient times there was a forest of giant heath (Erica arborea) with patches of giant St. John’s worth (Hypericumrevolutum). Today this area has also been deforested, but remnants of the original vegetation can still be seen. Still higher, above 3,600 meters, the mountain grassland begins. The dominant grasses are fescues, Poa, and Danthonia. This region is also graced with the red and yellow flowers of the “red-hot poker” (Kniphofiafoliosa and Kniphofiacomosa) ad silvery straw-flowers, or everlastings (Helichrysum sp.). But by far the most spectacular plant of this region is the giant lobelia, Lobelia rhynchopetalum, with flower stalks up to eight meters high. At the highest altitudes, e.g. on the summits of Buahit and RasDejen, outside the park and beyond the usual tourist route, the vegetation consists mainly of mosses and lichens. And in the lowland valleys, there are extensive forest comprising many species of trees. Mountainous regions in the tropics are usually continuous, connected chains of highland with proximity or contact with temperately or connect with temperate regions. Because of their cool climates they provide suitable habitats for species found in the neighboring temperate zones; thus they are, in a manner of speaking, biological peninsulas. Only Africa provides an exception to this rule. The mountains of Africa are isolated units rather than connected chains, and they have no contact with temperate regions. Approximately twenty-five plant genera are restricted to the east African highland regions. Hageniaabyssinica, the kosso tree, which takes its name of the Amharic word for tapeworm.The flowers and the fruits of this tree are used to as a purge rid the body of tape worm. The giant heath, Erica arborea (Amharic: asta), is one of the few species of the Ethiopian highlands which is fairly widespread. In simien mountains national park it occurs in extensive stands along the escarpment between Sankaber and Mechebey,and along the Dejenber river, as well as scattered in other regions throughout the park. Abyssinian wild rose, Rosa Abyssinica (Amharic: q`age). Rose Abyssinica is the only wild rose native to Africa . Giant St. John’s wort (hypericumquartinianum in the low lands and Hypericumrevoltum), called amidja: in Amharic, belongs to genus of plants which are essentially temperate in character but has a wide distribution through the more elevated tropics. Giant lobelia, Lobelia rhynchopetalum (Amharic: djebera), is an extraordinary plant which belongs to a family found primarily in South America . There are over 200 species of the genus Lobelia, most of them found in the southern hemisphere. Lobelia rhynchopetalum is found only in Ethiopia .

This plant grows vegetative for fifteen or twenty years, then it produces a flower on a massive, woody column some ten meters high. As if exhausted by this achievement, it then dies. For the lobelias, like many of the plants of the African highlands, are more familiar as small herbaceous species a few centimeters high. Giant sphere thistle, Echinopsgiganteum (Amharic: dindero). In Ethiopia and other African highland regions, the Echinops have grown to the proportions of shrubs and even trees. Echinopsgiganteum is found only in Ethiopia .Afrovivellsemiensis: It is the small, fleshy plant known only by its scientific name as mentioned. It is found only in the simian mountains. Its flowers are pink and red like. Red-hot poker(Kniphofia sp.), which is a genus confined to Africa and Arabia . Its tall stalks, bearing red and yellow flowers, are very common in some parts of the park. Clematis (Clematis grandiflora), which bears blossoms, like golden velvet and has fluffy plumes to aid in the dispersal of its seeds. Straw-flowers, or everlastings (Helichrysum sp.) are scattered throughout the park, adding to its beauty and interest.The plants of the Simien may be summed up as being both cosmopolitan and unique, both strange and very beautiful.

MAMMALS:Walia ibex, Capra Walia, is a type of wild goat. But it is found only in Simien Mountain and endemic to Ethiopia. The Walia live on nearly vertical cliff faces and narrow ledges in a restricted area within the SimienMountains . They are seldom found below 2,400 meters (8,000 feet). Both males and females have horns, but those of the males are heavily ridged horns sweeping back over its shoulders. A large male may weigh 120 kilograms (250 pounds) and stand 110 cm. or 43 inches at the shoulder. The Walia tend to move out onto the grassy ledges of the cliffs to feed and sun themselves in mornings and evenings. During the rest of the day they may stay out of Sight under the shrubs, in caves, or underneath rocky overhangs Gelada another mammal unique to Ethiopia is the so called gelada baboon (Amharic: ch’elada), bleeding – heart baboon, or lion monkey (Theropithecusgelad).They live in the Simien Mountains and in a few other highland areas of Ethiopia . They are among the most strictly vegetarian of the primates. Most of the gelada’s day is spent plucking grass and digging for roots and bulbs on which it feeds. The gelada’s other main pastime is termed “grooming”- a characteristics activity of all monkeys and apes- which entails picking through each other’s fur. The activity keeps the fur clean and free of parasites but it also has a social function which seems to give great satisfaction to the participants. “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” seems to be the source of greatest pleasure in the world of monkeys. Grooming is an activity especially for the early morning, just before the geladas begin their day long feeding session and again in the evening before they retire. Geldas are seldom found far from the cliffs. Both sexes of geladas have a heart-shaped patch of bare reddish skin on their chest from which the name “bleeding –heart baboon” is derived. Each adult male has a harem of females- usually three to five. The gelada’s voice must be heard to be believed some of the sounds they make are so nearly human in tone that one wonders if they are speaking in an unfamiliar language. Simien fox or Abyssinian wolf (Simeniasimensis). It is rare in the Simien. It is a member of the dog family, but the only one of its genus; and restricted to Ethiopia . The Amharic name is q’ayq’abaro. Its height is about 60 centimeters (23 inches) at the shoulder. It is almost diurnal, since one of its main sources of food, the African field rat, Arvicanthisabyssinicus, comes above ground only in the daytime. Since the Simien fox does not dig extensively, the inference is that it hunts these rodents during the day and sleeps at night. Other mammals Klipspringers (Oreotragusoreotragus) (Amharic:sass), Grimm’s duikers (Sylvicapragrimmia) (Amharic: midaqua), and bushbuck (Tragelaphusscriptus) (Amharic: dukula) though shy and inconspicuous, may be glimpsed occasionally. They are usually seen running away. Hyaerias (Crocutacrocuta) (Amharic: djib) are reasonably common in the area but are seldom seen. Jackals (canisaureus) (Amharic: q’abaro) are common around the Geech camp. These animals may be distinguished from the Simien fox by their grayish-buff color.

BIRDS: There are many species of birds which include birds of prey and carcass eater. This includes an unusually large number of birds of prey and carrion-eaters. One of the most secular of these is the lammergeyer, or bearded vulture, Gypaetusberbautus(Amharic;ch’ululey). This magnificent bird with the Simien, through it is found also in other parts of Africa, Asia and Europe. Its diet makes it one of nature’s rare phenomena: it eats bone and bone marrow. When an animal dies, the lammergeyer waits until the bones have been picked clean by other scavengers, and then it eats the smaller bones. The bigger bones it carries away to a flat, rocky spot over which it sails like a bomber and drops the bone from a height sufficient to shatter it to bits. When the bone is broken to manageable size, the lammergeyer eats the pieces. The augur buzzard, Buteorufofuscus, it is commonly seen in the national park. Egyptian vulture, Neophronpercnopterus, eggs form a part of the diet of the Egyptian vulture. If the egg is large and difficult to crack, the vulture picks up a stone with its beak and throws it at the egg until the shell cracks. Other large birds which may be seen include the Ruppell’s griffon vulture (Gyps ruppelli), the hooded vulture (Necrosyrtesmonachus), and faced vulture(Torgostracheliotus). In the SimienMountain, there are birds which are endemic to Ethiopia. The most readily observed are the thick-billed raven (CorvusCrassirotstris), the wattled ibis (Bostrychiacarunculata), and the white collared pigeon (Columba albitorques) and many more.

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