The Horn of Africa, which is composed of Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea, is a diverse region marked by deserts, geological depressions, arid and semi-arid grasslands and scattered mountain ranges. Bisected by the Rift Valley along its north to south axis, the landscape often rises in ancient massifs to fall away dramatically in rugged escarpments. Among the Horn of Africa's most impressive mountain regions are Ethiopia's Simien Mountains and Bale Mountains and Somalia's Cal Madow.
One of the most impressive highland regions in all of Africa, the Simien Mountains Massif is the highest in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia's tallest peak, Ras Dashen, is on its western end. Travelers must embark on Simien treks from the town of Debark on the eastern end of the protected park area, stopping at several campsites and lodges. The trails leads to either the breathtaking Geech abyss, Ras Dashen or a number of other viewpoints along the edge of the giant massif overlooking the grassy hills and farmland of northern Ethiopia. Passing troops of gelada baboons, walia Ibex, dramatic gorges, cliffs, streams, eroded farmland and small villages along the way, a trek in the Simien Mountains is unforgettable.
Rising out of the farmland of southern Ethiopia, the Bale Mountains are made up of a giant volcanic escarpment pockmarked with ancient gorges and cut by mountain rivers, streams and waterfalls. The mountains contain Ethiopia's second largest peak in Tullu Deemtu. The largest Afro-alpine area on the entire continent, the Bale Mountains are also characterized by forests of juniper, heather moorlands and alpine meadows and lakes. Aside from scenic walking trips, travelers to the Bale Mountains can enjoy horseback riding, bird-watching and wildlife viewing. In addition to olive baboons, grivet monkeys and the black and white colobus monkeys, visitors might see some of Ethiopia's mammals in the park, such as the mountain nyala and the semien fox. Treks and tours must pass through park headquarters at Dinsho.
Cal Madow and the Karkaar Mountains
Cal Madow and the Karkaar Mountains are mountain ranges along the northern rim of the Horn of Africa in northeast Somalia. Cal Madow lies just to the east of the Karkaar Mountains. Cal Madow contains the highest point in Somalia and receives the country's highest amount of rainfall. Tourist destinations because of their dramatic escarpments, limestone and gypsum faces, striking greenery above the arid coastal plain and near bird's-eye views of the Gulf of Aden, these mountain regions have been virtually off-limits to travelers since the late 1980s because of security concerns.
Article Written By Anthon Jackson
Anthon Jackson is a writer and photographer. Since obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Middle Eastern studies in 2008, he has authored travel guides for the likes of Rough Guides, A-Z World Travels and Adventure Journey while his work has also been featured by such publications as "GEOspecial," "Reader's Digest," Lonely Planet and National Geographic Traveler.