The Simien Mountains Trek Trip Notes

Embark on a challenging but spectacular trek through Ethiopia's Simien Mountains. Stay in remote villages, conquer the country's highest peak and spot its endemic species of wildlife.

    • 13
    • YZXE
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $3,230
      CAD $3,230
      AUD $3,230
      EUR €2,295
      GBP £1,699
      NZD $3,735
      ZAR R30,580
      CHF FR2,750
    • Walking
    • Original
Print Version
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2015
The Simien Mountains Trek
Trip code: YZXE
Validity: 01 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2017
Table of Contents
StyleWe also recommendMeals
ThemesCulture shock rating Transport
MapPhysical ratingJoining point
ItineraryGroup sizeFinish point
Also available to purchaseAccommodationEmergency funds
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
The Simien Mountains Trek
Day 1 Addis Ababa
Teanastellen! Welcome to Ethiopia.
Your trip normally begins at the hotel in the morning of day 1. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the final joining instructions - sent approximately two weeks before departure. These instructions will also include information about where and what time to meet the group.
Referred to more commonly as "Addis", Addis Ababa lies amongst wooded hills at an altitude of about 2300 metres, giving it a pleasant climate. Addis has many sights to offer visitors. Get a fascinating glimpse into Ethiopia's many tribal groups at the Ethnological Museum, see the stunning fossil collection at the National Museum, and don't miss the chaotic bustle of the Merkato (local market). All manner of arts and crafts can be found in the souvenir shops on Churchill Avenue.
In the afternoon we will take a sightseeing tour that takes us to the Ethnographic Museum and the Church of the Trinity, where Haile Selassie's remains now lie.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
Included Activities
  • Addis Ababa - Guided tour
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Fly to Gondar
Today we have a spectacular flight to Gonder. From the air you can see the extraordinary nature of the Ethiopian plateau, cut again and again by immensely deep gorges. Our hotel in Gonder is up on a cliff top with wonderful views overlooking the town.
The historic city of Gonder is known as the city of castles and palaces. This was once the capital of Ethiopia in the reign of King Fasilidas who built the first castle. Successive kings added their own castles to the complex. On the outskirts of the town there is also Fasilidas' Bath, which is an interesting building standing in an artificial pool which is still filled for occasional religious ceremonies. At the Debre Berhan Sellassie Church we can see the famous ceiling which is painted with hundreds of faces of angels and hear about the church's fascinating yet violent history.
Optional Activities
  • Castle Complex and Fasilidas' Bath - Free
  • Church of Debre Berhan Sellassie - Free
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Debark
We travel by road the 105 kilometres to the small town of Debark, the nearest town to the Simien National Park. There is a little time to explore the area while the guides prepare the equipment and mules for the trek. From Debark, walking largely uphill, the landscape suddenly opens onto a picturesque valley dotted with mud huts, horses and livestock. We walk to Buyit Ras and camp close to the edge of the escarpment. There are spectacular views across the range from here.
Walking time: approx 4 hours
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Day 4 Trek to Geech via Jinbar Waterfall.
Walking near small settlements and villages you will have fine views across the lowlands and the Simien plateau. You will pass Sankabar before continuing to Geech. En route you will see a stunning waterfall; cascading through a hole in the rock, it falls 500 metres to the bottom of the gorge and is particularly impressive after the rainy season (by Christmas the waterfall may not be visible). The last two hours of the day involve a steep climb up to your campsite, where you'll stay for two nights.
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Day 5 Day walk to Imetgogo.
A spectacular day - in the morning you will walk to Imet Gogo. Situated at the end of a long ridge, which disappears on either side to the lowlands below, there are outstanding views of the gorge and mountain range and it is easy to understand why the striking formations have been described as 'the chess pieces of the Gods'.
You should get your first glimpse of Ras Dashen from here and you will see your route for the coming days clearly. If you haven't already encountered them, there is a good chance of seeing the indigenous Gelada, also known as the 'bleeding heart' baboon or Lion monkey here. The Gelada is in fact neither baboon nor monkey but the last remaining species of a branch of high altitude, grass eating primates that have all but vanished.
You will return to the same camp and enjoy an afternoon at rest.
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Day 6 Trek to Chennek via Enatyie Escarpment.
Heading in the same direction as yesterday, we soon branch off to reach the edge of the escarpment which we follow to the top, Inatye (4,070 m). The dramatic views continue all the way down to our camp at Chennek.
Walking time: approx 7 hours
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Day 7 Trek to Ambiko with ascent of Bwuhit.
You will have a memorable but hard day's trekking of ascents and descents today, as you make your way from Chenek to Ambiko. You should see birds like the Crowned Scraper Thrush, Siskins, Falcons and Kestrel. Today also presents your best chance to see the rare and endangered walia ibex, a species that can only be found in the Simien National Park.
From Chenek you will climb to a pass at 4,200m and from here the fit and energetic may like to continue on a further hour up to the summit of Bwuhit at 4,430m. Otherwise from the pass you will have a big drop down to the Meshah River at 2850m, via the village of Chiro Leba, where you may be able to visit the school and small clinic (if open). From the river you will ascend 350m to your camp, where you will spend two nights at Ambiko.
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Day 8 Ascent of Ras Dashen.
Today is a summit day involving a trek of 16 kilometres (ten to eleven hours). The path winds its way over eight kilometres and ascends up 1400 metres to Ras Dashen. It begins by climbing steeply through barley fields and fallow land before clearing the vegetation zone and reaching mountain steppe, at around 3700 metres.
From there it flattens out, as it traverses ridges in the shadow of Ras Dashen. Just below Dashen Pass at around 4250 metres, an impressive moraine can be seen. A moraine is an accumulation of glacial debris (soil and rock) which occurs in formerly glaciated regions. This moraine was formed 20,000 to 14,000 years ago in the last Ice Age, when the Simien Mountain tops had small ice caps.
The final stretch to the summit involves an exciting climb and scramble up and over large boulders, before reaching the summit. From the top of Ras Dashen at an altitude of 4543 metres, you will be sure to be mesmerised by the far ranging views that span more than 10,000 square kilometres. To the west the steep faces of peaks in the national park are visible, whilst the Tekeze Valley is visible to the north and the east.
Returning from the summit you will retrace your steps along the same path back to your camp at Ambiko. This campsite, situated on the banks of a stream and amidst a small village, is a project of the local church and donations for the facilities are gratefully accepted.
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Day 9 Trek to Sona via Arkwasiye.
Another challenging day, although not as difficult as the previous one! From Ambiko we trek to the superbly positioned camp at Sona. After plenty of ups and downs we might be able to stop for some local coffee in the small village of Arquaziye before continuing for another hour and half to our camping site at Sona.
Walking time: approx 10 hours.
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Day 10 Descend to Ansiya Wenz River and on to Lamo Camp.
A much easier day today as we descend into the lowlands. Our day begins with a 1,100 metre descent into the Ansiya Valley where we have a relaxed lunch break. We then move on to our camp near the village of Mekarebya. This is an excellent day for seeing birds and there are very good views up to the Simien Mountains and the areas we have recently trekked.
Walking time: approx 5 hours
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Day 11 Continue to Mulit Camp.
From our camp we drop 350 metres to where we have another long, idyllic lunch break. The final two hours of the day involve a hot 400 metre ascent to our final campsite at Mulit, which has fantastic views on all sides.
Walking time: approx 5 hours
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Day 12 Short walk to Adi Arkay; drive to Gondar.
Our final day's walking takes us to Adi Arkay from where we drive, via Debark, to Gonder (approx 6 hours), for a much deserved wash and rest.
Walking time: approx 2.5 hours
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 13 Fly to Addis
Depending on flight times there may be time to relax and explore Gonder before we fly back to Addis, where the trip ends in the evening. If you plan to depart today we recommend that you book your flight for no earlier than late evening.
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • YZXE Single Supplement (YZXE)
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  • Lost Tribes of Ethiopia (YOKL)
Culture shock rating

At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
Physical rating

Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The majority of activities included on this trip will be challenging. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy your holiday.
Group size
Maximum of 18 travellers per group.
Camping (with basic facilities) (9 nts), Hotel (3 nts)
12 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 9 Dinners
4x4, Minibus, Plane
Joining point
Ghion Hotel
Ras Desta Damtew St Stadium around Meskel Square
Addis Ababa
Phone: +251 115 513 222
Finish point
Ghion Hotel
Ras Desta Damtew St Stadium around Meskel Square
Addis Ababa
Phone: +251 115 513 222
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.