The Simien mountains

The Simien mountains

The Semiens are remarkable as being one of the few spots in Africa where snow regularly falls. First mentioned in the Monumentum Adulitanum of the 4th century AD (which described them as “inaccessible mountains covered with snow” and where soldiers walked up to their knees in snow), the presence of snow was undeniably witnessed by the 17th century Jesuit priest Jerónimo Lobo. Although the later traveler James Bruce claims that he had never witnessed snow in the Semien Mountains, the 19th century explorer Henry Salt not only recorded that he saw snow there (on 9 April 1814), but explained the reason for Bruce’s failure to see snow in these mountains — Bruce had ventured no further than the foothills into the Semiens

Semien Mountains at NASA Earth Observatory

The Semien Mountains are the highest parts of the Ethiopian Plateau (more than 2,000 meters; or 6,560 feet). They are surrounded by a steep, ragged escarpment (step), with dramatic vertical cliffs, pinnacles, and rock spires. Included in the range is the highest point in Ethiopia, Ras Dashen at 4,533 meters (14,926 feet). The plateau and surrounding areas are made up of basalt rock from massive, flood-like eruptions of lava; these flood basalts are probably more than 3,000 meters thick.

Above photo: wikipedia commons

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