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Congo

A trekker’s paradise

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Simien Mountains

Land

  • Quick Facts:

    Area

    40,878 hectares (157 sq. mi.)

  • Key Landmarks

    Simien Mountains National

    Park Blue Nile River

    Tekeze River Ras

    Dashen Mountain


Overview

Located in Ethiopia’s North-Central highlands, the Simien Mountains’ Afroalpine landscape offers stunningly beautiful views of a plateau that drops down into gorges and rises up into mountains. The landscape boasts a diversity of endemic wildlife, including the gelada baboon, the walia ibex and the endangered Ethiopian wolf. Founded in 1969, the Simien Mountains National Park (SMNP) was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is Ethiopia’s most visited protected area.

Tags: East Africa, Ethiopia

Challenges

Missed opportunities for local income generation.

While the Simien Mountains lack neither gorgeous views nor awe-inspiring wildlife, the absence of effective mechanisms for leveraging tourism opportunities as ways to benefit communities has left the fate of this ecosystem hanging in the balance. 

Poor infrastructure, a lack of available accommodations and inadequate waste management systems distract from visitors’ ability to appreciate the surrounding natural beauty. Additionally, subpar management has resulted in the overcrowding of certain areas during peak tourism seasons, while other trekking routes remain tragically under utilized.

A need for uniform training.

The caliber of available guides in the national park is as diverse as the wildlife their patrons come to see. Although there are certainly some veteran guides with a wealth of knowledge about the park’s diverse flora and fauna, many of their newer colleagues have not had the opportunity to complete proper training. English language skills, first aid capacity and abilities to tailor experiences to customer needs vary widely, which can serve as a deterrent for potential tourists.

Solutions

Our solutions to increase community income from sustainable tourism in the Simien Mountains landscape:

  • Overhaul existing infrastructure.

    With the support of Village Ways Partnership Ltd, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is implementing a well-researched plan to bolster eco-tourism facilities, providing alternative livelihood opportunities for locals and encouraging the protection of the surrounding environment. These efforts include updating locally owned accommodations and developing a network of community-owned and-operated guesthouses along under-utilized trekking routes.

  • Provide guides with necessary training.

    AWF conducted training for 70 Simien Mountains National Park guides, enabling them to become knowledgeable, safe and conservation-minded park ambassadors. Participants were taught essential skills for ensuring customer safety and satisfaction, including basic first aid, field knowledge, park background and how to tailor an experience to customer needs.

Projects

Explore some of our related projects.

  • Simien Mountains Cultural Tourism
    Optimizing tourism revenue to support local communities

    Communities need help balancing their needs and the needs of their environment.

    Ethiopia’s highlands are among the most densely populated agricultural areas in Africa. Agriculture is...

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    All Projects

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