Trekking in the Simien Mountains National Park



The Simien Mountain National Park is an ideal absorbing landscape for adventurous trekking enthusiasts. Majestic chain of rugged mountains, impressive escarpments, numerous terraces and a unique afro alpine plant and beautiful animal community characterize the Simien Mountains National Park in Ethiopia. The three endemic mammals - Walia ibex, Ethiopian wolf and the Gelada baboon as well as the Bearded Vulture and the Giant Lobelia from plants can be considered as flagship species of the park.

The natural beauty of the park is even enhanced by the high biodiversity due to different altitudinal belts. A characteristic feature of mountain regions is the high variability of different habitats. The mountain ecosystem in Simien are found between 1,500 and 4,500 meters above sea level and the pronounced topography with gorges, crests, precipices, rocks and plains results in a rich mosaic patter of different habitats. Click here to read more about the Simien Mountains National Park.

Duration: 12 Days / 11 Nights (By Air and Car)
Destinations: The main target destination of this tour is the Simien Mountains National Park – inscribed by UNESCO as the World Heritage Site of an exotic natural beauty with unique wildlife and breathtaking views.

Day 1: On arrival in Addis Ababa, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. Please note that this is an arrival day, so you may arrive at any time. If you arrive early, an optional visit to the Highlights city tour of Addis Ababa can be arranged that will include the National Museum, Merkato (Africa’s largest open air market), Ethnographic Museum or The Holy Trinity Cathedral. A pre-departure meeting is held at a convenient time in the hotel. Hotel

Day 2: This morning we will be transferred to the Airport for a flight to Gondar. Whilst in Gondar, we will take an excursion to visit the Castles of Gondar and Fasilladas Bath. In 1632 Emporer Fasiladas made Gondar his capital and it remained Ethiopia’s capital for over 200 years. With its many castles and churches, Gondar is often referred to as Ethiopia’s Camelot and has always been of major importance on the historical trading routes. We explore the Royal Enclosure (a World Heritage Site) – a 70,000 square meter compound containing palaces, banquet halls, a chancellery and library, stables, lion cages and even Turkish steam baths! The nearby Fasiladas Bath is a large sunken pool that is still used for important religious festivals today such as Timkat, where priests bless the masses in a re-enactment of Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan. Debre Birehan Silassie Church is famous for its stunning religious paintings. Hotel

Day 3: Leaving Gondar, we take a three-hour drive north to Debark, the base town for all excursions into the Simien Mountains. This park combines endemic wildlife species, superb scenery and traditional village life. After registering into the park, we drive the short distance to Buyit Ras and the official park gates. We enter the national park and begin our trek as we make our way to our first campsite within the park - Sankaber. The path from Buyit Ras to the national park runs along the northern escarpment and covers approximately 6 kilometres (two to three hours). We will most certainly encounter troops of endemic gelada baboons in the mountains. These baboons, only found in Ethiopia, are often referred to as the 'bleeding heart baboon' or the 'lion monkey'. Their shaggy coat gives them a lion-like appearance, whilst their chest has a marking similar to a red heart or patch. The gelada baboon does not have natural enemies and hence can be found in good numbers and are also quite easy to approach. The highly endangered Ethiopian wolf (currently numbering only about 40 members) is the baboon's only predator. Sankaber Camp is situated at an altitude of 3240 meters on an impressive spur between the northern escarpment and the Southern Wazla ravine. Camping at Sankaber

Day 4: The path from Sankaber to Geech stretches approximately 10 kilometers (six to seven hours walking). The initial stages of this path lead through extensive areas of highland grasslands and heather forests. Along the way we enjoy impressive views of the escarpment with one of the best scenes being Jinbar Wenz Waterfall, which plummets down the Geech Abyss. After descending down to the Jinbar Wenz River, a short ascent takes us up to Geech village. Stopping at Geech village, you will be invited into one of the local houses for a typical Ethiopian traditional coffee ceremony. The nearby campsite has great views of the mountains and is surrounded by giant lobelia plants. Camping at Geech

Day 5: Today, we will have a morning walk from Geech to the viewpoint at Imet Gogo and the summits of Saha and Kedadit. On this walk, we enjoy unforgettable views of the most impressive parts of the escarpment, as well as look out for various types of birds. The walia ibex can sometimes be seen on the slopes of the ravine, from vantage points near the peaks. The Imet Gogo summit (3926ms) is the best known observation point in the Simien Mountains, as it offers spectacular views in all directions. Kedadit summit (3760ms) and Saha summit (3785ms) also offer incredible views, with Saha offering a particularly good view of the deep gorge that leads down through the escarpment. Camping at Geech

Day 6: Early in the morning, we start trekking to Chenek, which covers approximately 12 kilometers (six to seven hours), following a path along the escarpment edge. Just before arriving into Chenek, we encounter the Kurbet Metaya viewpoint at 4070 meters. This viewpoint is actually a gap in the precipitous cliff, which reveals impressive views of the steep mountain faces to the west and the lowlands areas on the left. Chenek campsite is spectacularly located in a beautiful valley at the foot of Bwahit Peak. Strategically placed benches allow us to rest and take in the expansive views back toward Imet Gogo, which is most striking at dawn and at dusk. A large troop of gelada baboons are commonly seen here and walia ibex are also often spotted on the rocky edges of the escarpment edges. Gelada baboons and walia ibex are both endemic to Ethiopia. Walia ibex is actually a mountain goat that lives on the steep slopes and grassy ledges of the escarpment. It is one of the most endangered mammals in the world. Camping at Chenek

Day 7:Today we trek from Chenek to Ambiko for about 10 hours. From Chenek at 3650 metres, the path to Ambiko campsite crosses over the Bwahit Pass. Leaving Chenek we are faced with a two-hour ascent to the top of the pass at 4200 metres, where we enjoy views that open up to the east over Mesheha Valley to the Dashen mountain range. Looking back we find ourselves under the cover of the impressive rock formations of Imet Gogo. From Bwahit Pass, the path leads steeply down and across the Mesheha Valley. Here we notice an increase in temperature as we descend down to the Mesheha River at 2800 meters, before climbing slightly to reach Ambiko campsite at an altitude of 3100 meters. Camping at Ambiko

Day 8: Today we conquer the summit of Ras Dashen at 4620 meters asl. We have to trek 16 kilometers (ten to eleven hours)! The path winds its way over eight kilometers and ascends up 1400 meters 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 meters. From there it flattens out, as it traverses ridges in the shadow of Ras Dashen. Just below Dashen Pass at around 4250 meters, 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 peak of Ras Dashen, You will be tremendously impressed by the far ranging views which span more than 10,000 square kilometers. Returning from the summit, we retrace our steps along the same path back to our campsite. Camping at Ambiko

Day 9: Still continuing our trekking, we head back down to the Mesheha River (2800 meters asl). Our destination tonight is Arkwasiye, which is situated at an altitude of 3600 meters and located on the northern reach of the Mesheha Wenz River. A great day to appreciate the abundance of afro alpine plant species and the views of the Simien Mountains. Camping at Arkwasiye
Day 10: Today is our final trekking day in the mesmerizing Simien Mountains. From Arkwasiye, we return back to Chenek. We complete a loop by following the path until we reach its junction with the earlier main path at Bwahit Pass. Here we descend down to Chenek or take a detour and enjoy a summit circuit of Bwahit (4430m asl). If we summit Bwahit, we will be rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Camping at Chenek

Day 11: Just to say goodbye and leave the Simien Mountains National Park, we drive from Chenek to Sankaber and then back to Debark, which will take us about three hours. We stop at Debark to finalize all trekking formalities before continuing 120 kilometers back to Gondar, where we check into our hotel and enjoy a welcome shower. In the afternoon, some optional sightseeing or at leisure simply relaxing in the beautiful gardens of the hotel and absorbing the sensational views of Gondar. Hotel

Day 12: Gondar - Addis Ababa
Today, we fly back to Addis Ababa. After some sightseeing and Shopping, you will have a walking tour of Addis Ababa city around selected areas. This will give you an overview of the street life, the colorful mix of cultures, the combination of the past and the present, the sophisticated and the plain, the peoples’ ways of conduct and more. In the evening, you will be our guests for a farewell banquet at a traditional restaurant, which will be accompanied with folkloric music and dances. After the cultural evening, you will be transferred to the airport for departure based on the schedule.