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Wildlife Tour on the Roof of Africa: Simien Mountains National Park — 6 Days

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  • Trip Type Wildlife
  • Tour Code GHET-N05
  • Private Journey
  • 6 Days
  • The Simien Mountains present the most dramatic mountain scenery in Africa.  In addition to the breathtaking scenery and hiking opportunities, this park is a haven to many endemic species of wildlife and flora, including the Gelada Baboon, Walia Ibex, the sacred animal for ancient Ethiopians, the rare Ethiopian Wolf and many endemic bird specious.

The Simien Mountains present the most dramatic mountain scenery in Africa: Great volcanic plugs, formed some 40 million years ago and eroded over the ages into fantastic crags, pinnacles, and flat-topped mountains. The "chess pieces of the gods", as one writer described them, tower over precipitous gorges, river valleys, and plains stretching all the way to Eritrea. There are many peaks over 4000 meters. 

This tour goes through landscapes of deep gorges and striking rock towers. In addition to having breathtaking scenery and ample hiking opportunities, this park is also a haven to many endemic species of wildlife and flora, including the Gelada Baboon; the Walia Ibex, the sacred animal of the ancient Ethiopians; the rare Ethiopian Wolf; and many endemic bird species. The park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.

Trip Highlights

  • Go on a unique wildlife tour amidst the spectacular Simien Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Watch the Gelada Baboon, the last surviving species of ancient grazing primates.
  • Spot the magnificent Walia Ibex, which is only found in the Simien Mountains.
  • Enjoy unmatched endemic bird watching.
  • Spot the last surviving African wolf, the Ethiopian Red Wolf.
  • Visit the ancient city of Gondar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Enjoy a city tour of Addis Ababa.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Addis Ababa  

Arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Welcome to Ethiopia! Upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD), you will be welcomed by your tour guide and driven to the Jupiter Hotel (4-star). 

Addis Ababa, founded in 1886 by Menelik II, is situated at 2,500 meters (8000 ft.) above sea level. It is the 5th highest capital city in the world. The city enjoys an excellent climate year-round, with an average temperature of 25C (77F). With a multiethnic population of over 5 million, Addis Ababa is a pleasant city with wide avenues of jacarandas, interesting museums, and one of the largest open-air markets in Africa, known as the "Mercato".

Overnight: Jupiter Hotel, Addis Ababa

Day 2: Addis Ababa, Gondar, Sankaber

Early in the morning, transfer to Addis Ababa airport for the 50-minute flight to Gondar. 

Upon arrival at Gondar airport, we will meet our driver for the drive to the Simien Mountains National Park.

Driving from Gondar up to Simien Mountains National Park, you will be amazed by the spectacular scenery that awaits you at the top of the massif. The rolling grassy plateau comes to an abrupt stop, and sheer cliffs plunge almost vertically for 1,000m (3280 ft.) to the plains below. The massif itself has been sculpted by 30 million years of upthrust and erosion into a wonderland of jagged ridges, pinnacles, and strangely cropped conical mountains, so that looking out over the heart-stopping precipice you feel you might just be at the edge of the world.

After checking into the Simien Lodge and having lunch there, we will relax a bit and get ready for the afternoon photo shoot of the Gelada "bleeding heart" Baboon’ around Sankaber.

Overnight: Simien Lodge, Buyit Ras (3200 m)

Day 3: Sankaber, Gelada Baboon Territory

In the morning, we will drive/walk around Sankaber. This is the territory of Gelada Baboon, where we find them in great numbers as they come out to graze on the plains of Sankaber. The endemic Gelada Baboon is the last surviving species of ancient grazing primates that were once numerous. Geladas spend most of their day sitting and plucking and munching on grasses. They have fatty rear ends, much like human buttocks, which seem well adapted to this activity.

Theropithecus Gelada live in small family units of one male and three to six females. Though males are larger and more colorful, females dominate Gelada societies. When an aging male begins to decline, the females in his family decide when he will be replaced by a younger rival — though the male will do all he can do to drive off such competition. Gelada family units often combine to form large foraging bands of 30 to 350 animals.

We will spend the morning photographing the Gelada Baboon around the plains and further down the hills. In the afternoon, we will walk around the lodge in different locations for more opportunities to photograph the Gelada Baboon in the late afternoon light.

Overnight: Simien Lodge, Buyit Ras (3200 m)

Day 4: Cheneck, Walia Ibex territory

Today, we will rise early in the morning with the sun and drive to Cheneck through Sankaber and other beautiful parts of the park. This will give you a unique opportunity to photograph the Gelada Baboon and other endemic wildlife as they graze and hunt around the plains in the beautiful morning sun.

Around Cheneck, you will also have a chance to photograph the endemic Mountain Nyala in some of the most spectacular parts of the park. After spending the morning exploring around Checnk, we will drive back to the lodge. Late in the afternoon, we will go out around Cheneck and surrounding area to spend more time among the Geladas with the golden light of late afternoon.

Overnight: Simien Lodge, Buyit Ras (3200 m)

Day 5: Buit Ras, Gondar

Drive from Buit Ras to Gondar with stops in some picturesque places. After checking into Goha Hotel and having lunch there, we will have a city tour of Gondar. Founded by Emperor Fasiledas around 1635, Gondar is famous for its many medieval castles and the design and decoration of its churches — in particular, Debre Birhan Selassie, which represents a masterpiece of unique the Ethiopian school of traditional art.

Today you will visit the Royal Enclosure, a walled compound having six different castles built starting from 17th century by different kings who ruled in different times; the pool of King Fasiledas, which still serves as a baptismal pool during Ethiopian Epiphany; and the famous Debre Birhan Selassie adorned with brilliant frescos inside.

Overnight: Goha Hotel, Gondar

Day 6: Gondar, Addis Ababa, End of tour

In the morning, transfer to Gondar airport for the flight to Addis Ababa. For the rest of the day you will have a city tour of Addis Ababa which includes the National Museum, the Mercato, the Piassa, and other parts of the city.

After checking into the hotel, we will drive to the National Museum to meet your ancestor Lucy. The National Museum  is one of the best museums in Ethiopia. Archeological exhibits include the 3.2-million-year-old fossil of Lucy (or Dinkinesh — ‘thou art wonderful’ — in the native language), a hominoid woman of the species Australopithecus Afarensis. The discovery of Lucy’s fossil in 1974 forced a complete rethink of human genealogy, proving that our ancestors were walking 2.5 million years earlier than had been supposed. The National Museum also contains many wonderful artifacts dating back to the pre-Axumite civilization.

After our visit to the museum, we will continue our city tour of Addis Ababa with the Mercato, the largest open-air market in Africa, other part of the city including the Piassa, and Churchill Avenue for souvenir shopping.

In the evening, there will be a special Ethiopian farewell dinner party with a traditional buffet and local drinks. There will also be a live cultural dance show of the different ethnic groups living in the country. The perfect way to end the trip! After the farewell dinner, transfer to Addis Ababa Airport for the flight back home. End of the tour.

 

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