9-Day Trek into the Most Rugged Landscape in Africa - The Simien Mountains
- Challenge yourself to trek to the highest peak in Ethiopia, Ras Dashen in the Simien Mountains. This journey will take you through some of the most unique and remote paths of any such mountaineering adventure.
- Marvel at the rugged peaks and valleys throughout your journey. The Simien Mountains have one of the most dramatic landscapes in the entire continent of Africa. The mountains were described by Homer as the “playground (or chess pieces) of the gods,” because of the sculpted rock formations and deep canyons.
- The Simien Mountains are home to exotic, diverse plants and wildlife. You will encounter globally threatened species that inhabit the region, including the Walia ibex, the Gelada baboon, and the Ethopian fox.
Day 1: Arrive in Addis Ababa
Today, individuals will arrive into Addis Ababa and will have private transfers to the Hyatt Regency. In the evening, gather together for the first time for a Welcome Dinner to kick off your trek.
Day 2: Sightseeing in Addis Ababa & Fly to Gondar
Before embarking on your expedition, your group will explore Addis Ababa in the morning and get a glimpse into Ethiopian culture and history. The country is home to more than 80 ethnic groups. Throughout the trek, you will mainly encounter the Amhara people and culture who inhabit the northwest highlands of Ethiopia. So today, while you are in the country’s capital, you will have the opportunity to learn about Ethiopia’s rich history that makes up this diverse landscape.
Photo Credit: Erik Hathaway
In the afternoon, fly to Gondar, in northern Ethiopia. Settle into the Zobel Resort Hotel to rest up before leaving for the trek the next day.
Day 3: Explore Gondar & Begin Trek
In the morning, visit the ancient Emperor-built castles and medieval architecture of Gondar, unlike anything in Africa. After lunch, drive for about 2 hours to Debark, the headquarters of the Simien Mountains National Park at 2,800m (9,186 feet). After entering the park, you'll drive for another two hours before hitting the trail at Waruba at 3,300m (10,827 feet). You will hike for about one hour to Sankaber, stopping at viewpoints along the way.
Campsite at Sankaber:
Elevation Gain : 950 m/ 3,116 feet
Trekking time: 1 hour
Day 4: Sankaber to Geech
The trek today starts with a stroll through the Erica Heather forest. Along the route, keep your eyes open to spot the elusive and elegant Klipspringer (a small antelope). You may also come across troops of Gelada Baboons.
After 2-3 hours, you will reach a viewpoint where you can see the impressive Jinibar waterfall that plummets into the Geech Abyss. From there, climb steeply for an hour to reach the Jinbar valley. Then, head down to the Jinbar River at 3,190m (10,466 feet) and enjoy a picnic lunch.
After a brief rest at the river, ascend gradually for 2-3 hours to the village of Geech, dotted by traditional round thatched huts. You may have the chance to meet some local Amhara people while in the village.
The trail then winds its way into the moorland which is covered with Giant Lobelia before reaching Geech Camp.
Campsite at Geech:
Elevation Gain: 350m (1,148 feet)
Trekking Time: 5-6 hours
Day 5: Geech to Cheneck
The trek begins by ascending gradually for about 2 hours through Afroalpine meadow. Then, you will descend to where you’ll have impressive views of the Emetgogo Gorge below. The trail winds its way down to the lowest point of the day and then begins ascending again to the peak of Enateye, the highest point of the day at 4,070m (13,353 feet). This area is an outstanding place to view birds, particularly raptors. Look for the Tawny Eagle, Lammergeyer, and Augur Buzzards. You will also get a spectacular view of the Emetgogo summit, Bwhait Pass, and the surrounding mountains.
After a brief rest and lunch, begin your 2-3 hour descent to Cheneck camp. About 10-20 minutes before reaching the camp, stop at Kurbetemetaya and look for Walia Ibex, a mountain goat endemic to the Simien Mountains.
Campsite at Cheneck:
Elevation Gain: 470 (1,542 feet)
Elevation Loss: 470 (1,542 feet)
Trekking Time : 7-8 hours
Day 6: Cheneck to Ambiko
In the morning, begin the tough 3-hour ascent to the top of the Bwhait pass (4,200m or 13,780 feet). The nearby Bwhait peak at 4,430 m (14,534 feet) is the second highest point in the park and offers magnificent views. To the east across the vast valley of the Mesha River, you can see the bulk of Ras Dashen, Ethiopia's highest peak. From the viewpoint north of Bwahit, the path drops steeply. Hike downhill for about 3 hours to the village of Chiroleba at 3,400m (11,155 feet).
After lunch, follow a stream bed through a rocky gorge to finally reach the Mesha River. Across the river, the path climbs sharply up the east side of the valley to reach the village of Ambiko.
Campsite at Ambiko:
Elevation Gain: 1,000m (3,280 feet)
Elevation Loss: 800m (2,624 feet)
Trekking Time : 8-9 hours
Day 7: Trek from Ambiko to Ras Dashen and back to Ambiko
The day begins before sunrise to give you ample time for trekking. The first 2-3 hours follows a rocky trail. The trail then starts to ascend more steeply for another hour. From here to the summit, it will take about 2 hours of trekking through Afroalpine meadows and moorland where you'll be surrounded by everlasting flowers (helichrysum). The trail to the summit is obvious and easy until you make that final scramble to the top of Mount Ras Dashen at 4,553m (14,938 feet).
Having enjoyed the excitement of being at Ethiopia’s highest and Africa’s fourth highest peak, have a rewarding lunch and then trek down for 4-5 hours back to Ambiko.
Campsite at Ambiko:
Elevation Gain: 733m (2,404 feet)
Elevation Loss: 733m (2,404 feet)
Trekking Time: 10-12 hours (Ascent = 6-7 hours / Descent = 4-5 hours)
Day 8: Trek from Ambiko to Chiroleba, drive to Gondar
In the morning hike down to Chiroleba where you will meet your vehicle for the drive to Zobel Resort Hotel in Gondar. Come together this evening for one final meal together as you celebrate your challenging adventure trekking the Simien Mountains.
Zobel Resort Hotel:
Elevation Gain: 800m (2,624 feet)
Elevation Loss: 1,340m (4,396 feet)
Trekking Time: 2-3 hours
Driving Time: 5-6 hours
Day 9: Return to Addis Ababa & International Departures
After breakfast in Gondar, you will fly to Addis Ababa where you will have the opportunity for additional sightseeing in the city before your international departure departing this evening. Or perhaps you would like to stay a few more nights in Ethiopia and explore other parts of the country.