Most people visit the awe inspiring Simien Mountains for the scenic views and to go hiking.
But the Simien Mountains are also famous for their wildlife, especially the friendly gelada baboons which can be seen all year round.
Many people go for 2-3 days to the Simien Mountains.
But it is also easy to do a day trip from the nearby city of Gondar or Debark. With all the wet and cloudy weather a day trip was the option that was taken to get a taste for the place.
Hiking in The Simien Mountains
The weather on the drive to the park entrance seemed promising, with the sun shining and scenic views.
Upon arrival after a few hours drive trying to avoid the animals being herded along the roads, you arrive at the uninspiring gateway town of debark to pick up a guide and scout.
The scout is needed to protect against wild animals, and maybe aggressive villagers within the park. But all people seemed friendly enough.
After a 30 minutes drive ascending higher into the mountains to the park entrance you suddenly find yourself up in the clouds and the visibility became less than 20 metres.
With another 30 minutes or so driving, and heavy rain starting, the possibility of any proper view of the Simien Mountains disappeared.
Hopping out of the car to take a walk in the misty and muddy terrain we soon gave up and decided to take refuge in a nearby lodge at 3200 metres altitude, to try and wait out the rain.
All hope went away of any view to be had.
But not all was lost on the trip as the rain subsides a little.
The mist is still all around, but a decision is made to drive in the car for a while further into the mountains and see what happens.
Soon enough the guide stops the car after hearing the sound of gelada monkeys, and we exit to hike a little down the side of the mountain.
What we discover next is something you would never forget. Appearing through the mist a large group of around 50 gelada baboons makes its way into the open.
Hiking With Gelada Baboons in The Simien Mountains
Further down the mountain the sounds of more baboons could be heard.
Baboons generally have a bad reputation of being cheeky and aggressive, but not the geladas, they are very friendly and sociable.
It’s an experience that you wouldn’t forget as they wander around you jumping and talking to each other with gawks and grunts.
The young ones cheekily play while the adults pick through each others skin to remove fleas.
As they slowly move along further down the mountain you can hike behind them into the mist. Time freezes as you become lost in the moment.
You can get within 2-3 metres and sit among them and observe. Watching these fascinating animals one becomes in awe of nature at it’s most raw.
Spending two hours following, sitting among them, then following again, as they disappear in and out of the mist like a dream, one soon forgets about the Simien Mountains themselves.
Of course seeing the mountains would have been good, but with all the mist around it added to the whole atmosphere of the place, and you would be glad to have the same.
Time soon passes quickly, and with the rain starting again, and dark approaching, it’s time to leave and head back down through the clouds and back to reality.
It’s an unforgettable trip to see the baboons of the Simien Mountains. Most people visit to see the mountains, but the highlight for me was hiking with the gelada baboons in the mist.
How to hike in The Simien Mountains
If you want to visit yourself for hiking the best time is around October just after the rainy season, as well as other parts of the year.
During July – August at the peak of the rains there is a lot of cloud, muddy paths, and rain, making for a harder hike and no guarantee of views.
But you can visit anytime of year to visit the gelada monkeys, and with 15,000 of them around ,and taking a good guide, you have a high chance of seeing them.
Head to Gondar from Addis Ababa to arrange a trip. Prices vary between tour companies but an average of 800-1000 birr per person for a day visit in a four wheeled drive seems normal.
Bargain hard as there is no fixed price.
For 2 nights camping in the park, with cook and guide, is around 1500 birr a person. Try to join a group to get the cheapest price.
Take a look at this post for a much more detailed guide to hiking the Simien Mountains in all conditions.
Read my post about the Castles of Gondar which are in the same region.
And my travel guide to Ethiopia.
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