Simien Mountains – Armed Scouts
by John Downey
Scouts are required just about everywhere in the Ethiopian backcountry. That said, I am not aware of any animal attacks (I came within a meter of a large male Gelada baboon anyway) and insurgents always overwhelm armed guides “protecting” tourists. Endalk, like all park scouts, was issued a weapon and permit from a tourism headquarters in Addis Ababa. Every round is accountable and this is perhaps why every one of them grips his rifle 24/7, eating and sleeping with it. The backcountry is loaded with a plethora of automatic weapons from all corners of the globe; a byproduct of self-funded wars where most of Ethiopia’s arsenal was comprised of captured arms.