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Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia (Center on Interactive Map)

Map of Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

Map of Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

Simien Village Children Going to Church?  Dont Forget the Kalishnikov Timkat Celebration Chennek Overlook Chennek Moonset
Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada) - Mom and Baby Walia ibex (Capra walie) - Male Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka) - Female Pied Crow (Corvus albus) Romance Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada) - Adult Male Broad-ringed White-eye (Zosterops poliogastrus)
Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax) - Immature With Head Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus) Rueppells Griffon (Gyps rueppellii) Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) - Female Klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada)
Walia ibex (Capra walie) - Female Moorland Chat (Cercomela sordida) Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada) - Young Male Common Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) - ssp torquata White-backed Tit (Parus leuconotus)

The Simien Mountains are more of a plateau with impressive cliffs to the north of Gondar.


Africa: Egypt and Ethiopia

1/20/2011: From Gondar, we got another 4x4 and driver in order to more easily explore the Simien Mountains. The guidebooks all suggest trekking with mules from Debark, but in reality, given a five day hike, you will spend two of those days hiking through farmland. We cut the trip short by two days, and we drove to the best spots for day hiking. As it turns out, we would need those two days on our return to Egypt.

There is always talk about how this place or that one is "just like the Grand Canyon". I heard this about Copper Canyon in Mexico which was nothing like the Grand Canyon. The Fish River Canyon in Namibia was a little closer if 1/10th the size. If you take the Grand Canyon, dry out the Colorado River, change all the red rock layers into monotone, and then scape every blade of grass from the earth with herds of goats and meager farms on every flat surface, then you will have an approximation of the Simien Mountains. On the other hand, there were probably only 100 tourists in the entire park, and that was during the high season. To be fair, there were some small remnant forests in the area of the campgrounds, and I may have witnessed tree planting near Sankober.

Ok, back to the trip. We arrived near a village that was friendly with our requisite guide after a five hour drive from Gondar. The guide suggested a hike to see... wait for it... yet another Timkat celebration. We walked for about 45 minutes through dust devils and more dust to get to the procession. I was quite surprised to find that the children here had not learned to say "you you you" to foreigners, but we quickly became the center of attention nonetheless. This village seemed really removed from the mainstream, and many of the children had variations of the Mohawk for their haircuts. One thing I liked about this rural celebration was that some of the people were waving AK-47 rifles instead of the sticks that we saw in Gondar.

After watching the festivities for a bit, we were invited into a house for a coffee ceremony. The house was built of sticks and mud, and it seemed that the only items owned by this family were their coffee set and a few used tin cans. Some plastic vegetable oil containers were used to hold water. There were a couple of extremely vicious dogs that were eager to eat us, but our scout chased them off. The coffee, hand-ground and roasted on a fire fueled by goat feces, was actually very good, even without sugar.

Anyway, after breathlessly walking in the high altitude back to the car, we drove to the campsite at Chennek. Chennek was quite scenic with overlooks and a small Juniper forest. I found a herd of Walia Ibex while scanning the hillsides, and in the morning, I was fortunate to be standing in the path of an Ibex as it was chased by a group of tourists, giving me and not them the photo that they were looking for.

The next day, we drove back toward Sankober, and we made a couple hour hike through some of the nicer natural areas there. At Sankober, we shared a pineapple that we had obtained in Dilla, and a few of the guides had never tried pineapple before.

In the morning, we got an early start for our trip to Bahir Dar. We only had a short time to hang out with a group of over 100 Gelada Baboons.

Previous Visit (Gondar: 1/18/2011)
Next Visit (Bahir Dar: 1/23/2011)

Species Recorded (41)

Birds ( 34 )

Old World Tree Warblers ( Phylloscopidae )
Common Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus collybita

Hawks, Eagles, and Kites ( Accipitridae )
Eurasian Griffon - Gyps fulvus
Rueppell's Griffon - Gyps rueppelli
Hooded Vulture - Necrosyrtes monachus

Swans, Geese, and Ducks ( Anatidae )
African Black Duck - Anas sparsa

Kites, Hawks, Eagles, and Allies ( Acciptridae )
Tawny Eagle - Aquila rapax
Augur Buzzard - Buteo augur
Bearded Vulture - Gypaetus barbatus

Falcons and Allies ( Falconidae )
Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus
Eurasian Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus

Pigeons and Doves ( Columbidae )
Speckled Pigeon - Columba guinea

Sunbirds ( Nectariniidae )
Beautiful Sunbird - Cinnyris pulchellus
Tacazze Sunbird - Nectarinia tacazze

Larks ( Alaudidae )
Thekla's Lark - Galerida theklae

Prinias and Apalis ( Cisticolidae )
Ethiopian Cisticola - Cisticola lugubris
Stout Cisticola - Cisticola robustus

White-eyes ( Zosteropidae )
Broad-ringed White-eye - Zosterops poliogastrus

Jays and Crows ( Corvidae )
Pied Crow - Corvus albus
Thick-billed Raven - Corvus crassirostris
Red-billed Chough - Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

Chickadees and Titmice ( Paridae )
White-backed Black-Tit - Melaniparus leuconotus

Old World Warblers and Gnatcatchers ( Sylviidae )
White-rumped Babbler - Turdoides leucopygia

Wheatears ( Muscicapidae )
African Stonechat - Saxicola torquatus

Thrushes and Allies ( Turdidae )
Blue Rock-Thrush - Monticola solitarius
Rueppell's Chat - Myrmecocichla melaena
Rusty-Breasted Wheatear - Oenanthe frenata
Pied Wheatear - Oenanthe pleschanka
Moorland Chat - Pinarochroa sordida
Ethiopian Thrush - Turdus simensis

Wagtails and Pipits ( Motacillidae )
White Wagtail - Motacilla alba

Shrikes ( Laniidae )
Northern Fiscal - Lanius humeralis

Cardueline Finches and Allies ( Fringillidae )
Streaky Seedeater - Crithagra striolata
Brown-rumped Seedeater - Crithagra tristriata

Old World Sparrows ( Passeridae )
Baglafecht Weaver - Ploceus baglafecht




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