26 novembre 2013

Simien Mountains

On our eventful bus ride to Gonder, we met Aussie couple Robert and Liz and amateur ornithologue John from England. Together, we decided to share the cost of a 5 days/4 nights trek to the Simien Mountains. We dealt Effrem at Lodge Fasil who,  despite being in the mist of becoming a new father, was very helpful in setting the expedition for us. On top of a very fair price, he also provided us with discounted rooms at his very neat and upmarket lodge on our return. We highly recommend his services if this post inspires you to trek the Simiens (+251911017991, beffrem@yahoo.com).

The crew included a guide, an armed scout, a cook, an assistant cook and mule men with their animals. The armed scout is compulsory by the Park authority, but is more for show than necessity. There was no signs of trouble or dangerous animals in the mountains. We doubt that our scout even had a bullet in is very vintage riffle!

The Simien Mountains are one of the most beautiful place we have seen on our travels. It is definitely a paradise for trekkers. The jagged peaks rise up above 4000m and provide an ever changing paysage, making the daily walks interesting. The trek itself is not too difficult: the footpath generally rising or descending gradually. Having our tents and gear setup and a cooked meal at the end of each day also contributed to a plaisant experience. We could have hired the men and the gear ourselves at the Park Headquarters in Debark, but without speaking amharic, it would have been quite an adventure in itself.

The wildlife is abundant and very easy to spot. We could sit quietly in the middle of a group of Gelada Baboons or spot Walia Ibex at only a few metres. The prey birds were everywhere, flying closely below or above us, depending on where we stood on the ridges.

The park is not only a natural reserve, it is also cultivated by people. The landscape is a colourful patchwork of fields on the plateaus below the sculptural summits. Our guide organised an impromptu coffee ceremony in one of the villages along the way. We had to contribute a small fee, but we were glad to pay as the family welcome was genuinely sincere and joyful. Their living conditions are incredibly harsh and we are certain that this little income will be put to good use.

For November, the weather was anormally wet and cold. During the bulk of the day, we had nice sunshine but at the end of every day we had a bit of rain. This usually happened after we reached camp, but on the third night we were hit by a hail storm and ended up drenched and cold. Our tent and mattresses were soaked and we had to find shelter at a nearby lodge.

Finally, a bit of advice if you want to visit the Simien Mountains: bring your own sleeping bags, possibly even mattresses and tent. The ones on offer are very old and not warm enough for the weather. Also, you really want to avoid being covered in itchy bed bug bites like Geneviève! I guess that's the drawback of traveling light...

From left to right: Robert, Liz, Effrem, John, David, Geneviève, Tadro and Zenoba.

Walia Ibex

5 commentaires:

tinaliaquebec a dit...

Wow!!! La photo de David sur le bord du précipice est tellement belle que les montagnes ont l'air d'avoir été dessinées par ordinateur (je sais, c'est ironique mais c'est comme çca la technologie, plus vrai que nature).
La photo de la cérémonie de thé pourrait passer dans le National Geographic!!!! Qui l'a prise???
Pis Geneviève, lâche surtout pas les pilules à Malaria, mais tu peux peut-être ajouter d'autres pour des maladies véhiculées par les puces?? (Je pense à la peste, mais il y en a d'autres???) muhahaha
Merci pour les infos sur vos copains.

Krishna Swaminathan a dit...

you ok now???

Martin Delisle a dit...

Sérieusement, votre voyage me semble à couper le souffle. Je ne suis pas très écrivain, mais je vous envie. Profitez-en ma gagne de chanceux!!!!

tinaliaquebec a dit...

Ca fait une éternité depuis le dernier post paradisiaque! Et si on updatait un peu???

Pas a dit...

I cannot believe this......

David is wearing a hat!!! :-)