It is fair to say being kept awake all night while listening to religious proselytizing by an Orthodox Ethiopian via a megaphone is not ideal preparation for a 2 day hike in the Simien mountains. Yet here I was at 2am, 3am, 4am and then 6am awake and struggling to sleep because it was hard to sleep. I believe it was a special day in their calendar and this went from 9pm Saturday night til 9am Sunday.
The Simien mountains are about 3 hrs north of Gondar and are basically spectacular at every turn. We were originally planning a 1 day trip, but given a change in flights and some good sales work we ended up on a 2 day trip. It turned out to be worth it.
We arrived just after lunch and were given a lunch pack and ready to start the hike. Claire and I asked if we could shorten the hike a little in some way and the van drove to within 2 hrs hike of the camp instead of 4 hrs hike. We had a scout with a rifle to keep us safe. Every 15 minutes or so we would come to another amazing viewpoint. The walk was fairly flat with short downhill and uphill sections but at 3200m it would take your breath away.
We arrived at the very basic campsite and I just chilled while I waited for the rest of the group to show up and then promptly ask me if I saw the Baboons. No I hadn’t seen the Baboons. I did manage to see a few species on antelope though, but no Baboons. Our group of 5 settled in for some tea and popcorn cooked on the camp stove by our cook. Then before long dinner was ready and it was a full three-course dinner with soup, spaghetti, vegetables and fried banana dumplings. After some warming up by the fire, I went and tried to sleep in my 6ft square tent. Coincidentally I’m 6ft tall, but the proselytizing was replaced with the cold and general lack of comfort.
I arose at 6am to make a mad dash to the toilet, but instead came across a small family of bushbok. A smallish type of antelope. Still, it wasn’t a baboon. I had a delicious omelette and coffee for breakfast (our camp cook got a good tip) and we were off to find a waterfall. We reached the first viewpoint and the views were outstanding as usual. We continued on around a bit to find Baboons, perched on the rocks below our previous viewing point! So I was somewhat excited, but I know these baboons come out and roam the grasslands in large groups.
We eventually made it to the waterfall, albeit across a valley, but still impressive to see. We then walked back up to the road to catch the bus back to Gondar. Some were continuing on for another night and day but I wasn’t ready to walk at over 4000m. We squeezed into a van and headed along the gravel road bumping around until, boom, baboons were everywhere. We asked to stop because I think we were the only walkers not to see the baboons roam round. We didn’t get long but at least we got to see them up close.