The highlands of Ethiopia were formed from volcanic eruptions 70 to 5 million years ago that deposited a thick layer of basalt (volcanic rock) up to 3,000m deep in some places. During the Pleistocene period (2.6 million – 11,700 years ago) the highlands were glaciated and some areas were still glaciated up to 10,000 years ago.
Today, the area is characterized by steep cliffs and jagged peaks. The area's diverse topography includes several high plateaus surrounded by gigantic eroded abysses dotted with the three highest peaks: the Big Zigit (4,080m), the Small Zigit (4,035m) and the Rim Gedel or Abune Yospeh peak (4,284m) which is the third highest peak in the country.
Photos: Lluis Dantart, CRBA
The area's diverse topography includes mountain chains cross cut by gorges and valleys that offer breathtaking views. From the starting point of the trek, valleys dissect the age-old agrarian landscape. Then the landscape gives a way to an open, flat and moderately grazed mosaic of grass steppe. The first section of ACCA has a rugged topography with dotted peaks with large crags surrounded by gorges and very steep slopes, where rocky blocks and stones are scattered all over.
Rim Gedel or Abune Yoseph peak dramatically divides the steep northern slopes and the plains. The western part is dominated by large, vertical cliffs and very steep slopes. There are several streams traversing the area.