Trekking the Simien Mountains: Inside Ethiopia’s dying World Heritage Site

Simien Mountains National Park
Simien Mountains National Park. Source: The Independent

In the busy market town of Wossen, an entourage of around 100 curious children followed us past small roadside shacks selling everything from garish blankets to vegetables and jelly sandals. Jostling to be at the front of the throng, some wanted to stroke my arms, puzzled by my freckles; one little boy burst into tears when he saw me. “I think you might be the first blonde woman they’ve seen,” my guide explained.

There were plenty of “firsts” on this new trek in northern Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains. Aptly described by Homer as “chess pieces of the gods,” the Simiens are majestic: a vast cauldron of deep ravines and gorges, towering pinnacles and rock spires, and fascinating wildlife found nowhere else on Earth. (…)

But the Simiens is struggling. Granted World Heritage Site status in 1978, by 1996 it had joined the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. Poor infrastructure, human encroachment and habitat destruction are increasing the fragility of this magical landscape.

This is an excerpt from an article originally published on The Independent.

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