Simien Mountain National Park – Day 58

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Africa » Ethiopia
November 10th 2007
Published: November 14th 2007
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We survived the night and awoke to a cloudless dawn with wonderful views down a vast chasm of a valley to our south. We were joined at breakfast by a group of White Naped Ravens who clearly were used to being fed at that spot! We obliged - a little - which was most entertaining! We packed up and were off deeper into the park and higher into the mountains, with our scout and his rifle in attendance. The road wound up ever higher and we passed great prarie-like areas of wheat and barley growing, almost ready for harvest. To the North the spectacular escarpment became ever more spectacular.

The only problem we experienced was that at each of the best vantage points to view this wonder there were crowds of local kids who surrounded us trying to sell us their locally made handicrafts - little woven trinkets and hats. Our scout came into his own on these occasions and emerged to shoo them away. On one occasion we did not stop at a particular point so one of the kids threw a stone at Jeremy’s car, hitting the window without any damage. The scout was out like a rat out of a trap and threatened to shoot the now petrified culprit. He was not discouraged in his actions and we had no trouble there on our return later in the day!!

By now we were well over 11,000 ft and our cars were running out of puff a bit. We also reached the height were the giant lobelias and acres of red hot pokers grew, and these only enhanced the scenery through which we drove. At 13,500 ft we called it a day - the road was getting ever steeper and rough and we felt there would be little to gain by struggling further towards the end of the road. We wanted to find the ibex too. Our scout came up trumps and found a small herd for us - by looking over a frighteningly precipitous drop to where the small family group were perched on a grassy ledge. Also viewed from the same vantage were a couple of klipspringers, such nimble little animals. This spot was truly magical, with the animals and the vast great vista of lower Ethiopia to the north over the ragged cliffs of the escarpment. We reluctantly tore ourselves away as we wanted to get back to Gondar - no way were we going to spend another night in the cold mountains with the prospect once again of rain at sundown.

Our descent was just as spectacular, we enjoyed the same views but now in the afternoon light rather than the morning. We encountered 2 troops of the baboons particular to this park. They have very long hair, red patches on their chests (the males) and they eat grass. We found one troop on the edge of a settlement where the local children seemed to mingle with the animals without any concern on either side - the baboons were in fact relatively tame. The males had an almost lion like posture.

On reaching Dabark we returned the scout to the HQ and made a dash for Gondar to a place we knew which was relatively comfortable. When we arrived at the guest house they were fully booked - had they known we would return they would have kept space for us. However they directed us to a similar establishment where we had 3 rooms, more comfy than the first place, and the 3 cars were jammed into the small courtyard. I feel that the staff there were amused at our antics of cooking our evening meal in the public eye of the courtyard. But what the hell, bedbugs and all!

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