Overview – Simien Mountains NP

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of many Bradt guidebooks to African destinations, including the guide to Ethiopia.

Philip is a renowned Africa expert and author of the Bradt guidebook to Ethiopia.

Philip is the author of the Bradt guidebook to Ethiopia.

Imagine being surrounded by a few hundred gelada monkeys feeding, grooming and squabbling in the dramatic mountain setting of Simien Mountains National Park, referred to as the Roof of Africa. To experience this thrilling primate encounter, you can drive along an all-weather road through the heart of this scenic park, or opt for a multiday trek to 4,533m (14,872 ft) Ras Dashen, Ethiopia’s highest peak.

Best Time to Go September to December (Beautiful scenery)
High Season October to April (Lodges are busy)
Size 220km² / 85mi²
Altitude 1,900-4,533m / 6,234-14,872ft

Pros & Cons

  • Spectacular mountain scenery
  • Home to several Ethiopian endemics
  • Excellent birding
  • Relatively easy to get to
  • Great hiking destination with Ethiopia’s highest peak
  • Limited variety of wildlife
  • Parts of the park are degraded due to human encroachment

Simien Mountains NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

The acrobatic Walia ibex is restricted to the Simien Mountains, and watching a small herd run up and down the vertical cliffs is likely to give you goose bumps. Gelada monkeys, on the other hand, are most often found feeding on the grassy plateau in herds of up to 1,000 individuals. Spending a couple of hours following a community is an incredible experience.

Scenery

The Simien Mountains comprise a vast plateau of ancient volcanic rock incised with sheer, rugged ravines, and towered over by more than a dozen individual peaks topping 4,000m/13,123ft. The Afro-alpine moorland is characterized by striking vegetation, such as giant lobelia plants and everlasting flowers. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see Ethiopia’s highest point and Africa’s fifth-highest mountain, Ras Dashen.

Weather & Climate

In Simien Mountains NP temperatures are remarkably uniform throughout the year. There is, however, a big variation between daytime and nighttime (sometimes described as ‘summer every day and winter every night’). Daytime temperatures average at 18°C/64°F and nighttime temperatures at 6°C/43°F. There is a distinct Dry season (October to April) and Wet season (May to September), which peaks in July and August.

Best Time to Visit

Simien Mountains NP is great to visit throughout the year, except in July and August, which see more than half the year’s rainfall. Wildlife can be spotted at any time, but the scenery is at its best from September through to December, just after the rains. September is particularly lovely as it is when wildflowers bloom. Hiking conditions are excellent throughout the Dry season from October to April.

Want to Visit Simien Mountains NP?

Simien Mountains NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Africa’s Grand Canyon
4/5

The Simien Mountains National Park is one of the most popular destinations for hiking in the country, with dramatic landscapes of precipices and gorges, spindly rock spires, deep ravines and soaring mountains. Indeed, it’s home to Ras...

Latest User Review
climbhigh1001  –  
Canada CA
Reviewed: Jan 14, 2020
Considering I had excellent weather, it was an absolutely fantastic trek!
4/5

The trek I completed began about 7 or 8 km west of Sankabar and took a total of 6 days, my furthest point from the start being the summit of Ras Dashen, the highest point in Ethiopia. My trek took place in December and for all 6 days, the...

Full Review