The Simien mountain is one of the major highlands of Africa, rising to the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dashen (4620m), which is the fourth highest peak in the continent. Although Simien is in Africa and not too far from the equator, snow and ice appear on the highest points and night temperatures often fall below zero.
The national park has three general botanical regions. The higher lands are mountain grasslands with fescue grasses as well as heathers, splendid Red Hot Pokers and Giant Lobelia. The park was created primarily to protect the Walia Ibex, and over 1000 are said to live in the park. Also in the park are families of the unique Gelada Baboon with its scarlet ‘bleeding heart on its chest’, and the rare Simien fox. The Simien fox, although named after the mountains is rarely seen by the visitor. Over 50 species of birds have been reported in the Simien mountains.
Access to the park of the Simien mountain is from Debark, 101km from Gondar, where riding and pack animals may be hired. This should be arranged in advance through your local tour operator or the Office of the Wildlife Conservation Department.