Nestled in the heart of the Ethiopian Highlands, the Simien Mountains National Park contains some of Africa’s most dramatic scenery. Over millennia the land has been eroded away leaving a jagged maze of cliffs and gorges home to 25,000 people.

The park was established in 1969 and made a UNESCO world heritage site in 1978 and is home to a number of animal species found nowhere else, including the Ethiopian wolf and the walia ibex. The park is also home to a large population of gelada baboons and bearded vultures. For more
information on the history of the park and current conservation challenges please see

Daily life in these mountains has remained essentially unchanged since the area was first inhabited around two thousand years ago. Living in houses built of mud and thatch and cooking over a central wood fire entire families eat, sleep and die alongside one another and their animals.

The people living within the national park living mainly by subsistence agriculture but many also own sheep and goats. Most often it is the children that are responsible for these livestock and take them up into the mountains to find the best grazing.

The steep, rocky land is cultivated in a manner not seen in Europe since the Bronze Age; wooden ploughs are drawn by livestock, crops hand cut with knives and carried home for storage. It’s not surprising, therefore, that life expectancy in the mountains is around fifty years with maternal mortality among the highest in the world.

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