A trekking venture in the Simien Mountains National Park (SMNP) is bound to become one of the highlights of any trip to Ethiopia. To make sure that everything will run smoothly, planning ahead and organisation are essential. Most preparations can he carried out in the town of Debark. There are basic prerequisites for all, e.g. good health and the physical ability to adapt to heights between 2000 and 4500 m asl. Beyond this, a trip to the Simien Mountains can be arranged according to individual tastes. An inexhaustible range of possible journeys is available, each of which is worth being discovered.
When should one visit the Simien Mountains?
A visit to the Simien Mountains can be undertaken at any time of the year except perhaps during the rainy season, which lasts from June to mid-September. During this season, a total of 1000 to 1600 liters of rain per square meter may considerably hamper trekking activities. Muddy tracks represent a major impediment to an otherwise unproblematic trip. Moreover, up to 50 liters of precipitation per square meter per day (on average once a year) can make rivers become dangerous torrents.
Where to stay in Debark
Two hotels in Debark cater explicitly to foreign tourism: Hotel Simien and Hotel Simien Park. While both are found in the center of the town, the latter provides some extra luxury such as hot showers and a souvenir shop. In the unlikely case that all the rooms in these two hotels are booked, several additional small pensions exist in town. They normally cater to the needs of local traders who come for the weekly Saturday market.
Simien Mountains National Park Office
The starting point for any visit to the Simien Mountains National Park is the National Park Office in Debark. This is the implementing institution for management, conservation measures and rehabilitation activities in the Park. The Park Office is the first place to go to for permits, information, travel preparation and any other form of support for visitors to the National Park. It is here that the required entrance permit can be purchased, and an official SMNP Scout contracted. The National Park Office is located on the main road in Debark. in the southern part of the town.
The address of the Park Office is:
- Simien Mountains National Park Office
- P.O. Box 13
- Debark, Gondar
- Telephone / Telefax: ++251 8 11 34 82
All visitors to the Park must show an official entrance permit on entering the Park near Buyit Ras. This entrance permit is issued at the National Park Office upon payment of an entrance fee. The price depends on the number of days that visitors plan to spend in the National Park. A list with the most recent entrance prices, as well as the prices for many other services, can be found on the notice board at the National Park Office in Debark.
Please nonce that no entrance permits are issued at the official Park entrance in Buyit Ras!