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Simien Mountain & Lowlands Trek

An extended 8 day Simien Mountain trek, tracing the dramatic ridge trail from Sankaber to Chenek and then dropping down into the rarely visited lowlands teeming with bird-life and refreshing rivers.

Private Trek Adventure 8 days

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

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Itinerary

Overview

The Simien Mountains in Northern Ethiopia offer some of the finest highland trekking in the world with rare wildlife, vast views and fascinating traditional villages all on view. The Simien Mountains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and treks follow a common trail from park campsites along a dramatic ridge that overlooks mile upon mile of hill country.

This extended 8 day trek includes many of the highlights of the classic 5 day trek, including the 700m drop at Genbar Falls, the 360 degree views at Imiet Gogo and of course plenty of opportunity to catch a glimpse of the native Gelada Baboons and majestic Whallia Ibex. What marks this trek out are the last 3 days heading down into the lowlands away from the crowds. Expect refreshing swims in rivers, rich bird-life and buzzing villages.

Day-by-day

DAY 1: Gondar – Debark – Sankaber Camp (3,200m)
4-5hrs driving, 7km 2/3 hours walking
You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Gonder around 7.30am for the 2 ½ hr drive to Debark in a 4x4. The road is rough and very dusty, but if you haven’t left the built up areas in Ethiopia yet, it is a real eye opener into the life of the rural majority. At Debark you will sign in at the park headquarters, pick up your guide and scout and head up into the mountains (by 4x4). The road continues all the way to the first camp at Sankaber, but you’ll be dropped off on the way for a leisurely three hour acclimatisation hike. The stunning views hit you as soon as you get out of the vehicle as you walk along the ridge. There will be time to stop for a picnic lunch and after a short but demanding climb (at this altitude) to Sankaber you’ll be met as every day on this trek with a tray of fresh coffee, tea and snacks. (L,D)

DAY 2: Sankaber (3,200m) – Geech Camp (3,600m)
Walking 7-8hrs / 15km
After a hearty breakfast, you’ll set off trekking along the ridge with stunning views over the foothills 800m below. For the first two hours the trail passes through low bush of Giant Heather, soda apple, Abyssinian rose, St John’s Wort and Globe thistle. The highlight of the trek from Sankaber to Geech is Genbar Falls, an incredible 500m sheer drop. From the viewpoint opposite, you can watch the falcons, augur buzzard and lammergeier bearded vulture soar on the thermals below. From the Genbar falls, the trail passes drier dustier land, broken by lunch at a somewhat less intimidating and more peaceful waterffall. Klipspringer and bush buck may be seen in the steep rocky and wooded slopes, whilst troops of Gelada Baboons roam the dusty fields for roots. Just before you reach Geech camp site, there is a wonderful opportunity to visit one of the traditional village houses for home roasted coffee and injurra. Geech Camp itself is set on a grassy plateau with stunning sunset views. (B,L,D)

DAY 3: Geech (3,600m) – Imet Gogo (3,926m) – Siha Gorge – Kedar Dit – Geech (3,600m)
Walking 5-6 hrs / 13km
After breakfast you’ll trek for 2 hours along the grass plateau past countless bizarre outsized Giant Lobelia plants. The destination is Imet Gogo, an incredible rocky promontory that grants 360 degree views over the Simien Range. At an altitude of 3,926m you can see West back along the ridge towards Sankaber and Geech and South East across a deep gully towards the tomorrow’s ridge walk to Inatye and Cheneck Camp. The views here are arguably the best in the Simien Mountains and the drop is terrifying. From Imet Gogo, you’ll return to camp via the Siha Gorge for lunch. Afternoon at leisure before heading out for a short optional sunset trek to KedaDit (3760m). Overnight at Geech Camp again. (B,L,D)

DAY 4: Geech (3600m) – Innatye (4070m) - Chennek (3,600m)
Walking 7 hours / 15km
Today is the longest and arguably most spectacular passing close to the ridge most of its length. After breakfast you will head back on the path towards Imet Gogo before detouring SE towards Inatye. The path drops into a forest of Giant Hazel before following the ridge on open grassland. The climb to Inatye (4,070m) rewards with stunning views. Inatye roughly translates as “mamma mia” and the terrifying vertical drop here justly warrants the name! After a picnic lunch the path follows mostly downhill through open grassland and gian lobelia towards Chenek with a number of stunning viewpoints along the way. Chenek camp is superb for wildlife with both Gelada Baboons and Wallia Ibex common here. (B,L,D)

DAY 5: Chennek (3600m) – Sonar (3500m)
After breakfast you will set out from camp for a steady 2 hour climb up to Buahit Pass (4,200m). From the pass there are stunning views over towards Ras Dashen. After a quick half hour descent it is a nice flat walk to Sonar, stopping at the market village of arkawyze for lunch. Sonar Camp is spectacularly situated with stunning sunset views. Overnight at Sonar Camp. 7-8 hours walking

DAY 6: Sonar (3500m) – Mekarbra (2150m)
Setting out from Sonar you soon reach the Incya Valley which you descend for 2-3 hours down to the lowlands. You’ll enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the Incya river where there is a lovely spot for a refreshing swim. After lunch there is a further 2 hour walk along the banks of the river to Mekarbra where you camp in the village. 5-6 hours walking

DAY 7: Merkarbra (2150m) to Mulet (2150m)
The walk today passes along the dry river bed of the Incya River. The bird life is incredible, pin-tailed waders, village indigo, paradise monarchs and tropical bobu are all frequently spotted. Luch at Derkwenth pool, where you can rest and swim. From the pools there is a 2 hour climb to Awazza Village at the foot of the striking Awazza Table Mountain. There will be time for a refreshment stop in the village before a final hours trek up to the last camp at Mulet.

DAY 8: Mulet – Gonder
After breakfast, it is a 3 hour walk to Adi Arkaye, where you’ll be picked up and transferred back to Gonder (5 hour drive).

Accommodation


Guide price is based on recommended accommodations. Alternative accommodations and upgrades are available. Please get in touch or click on 'alternatives' below for alternatives and upgrade options.

Our rating

6/10

Price guide

Price rating 2

- Stunning views
- Back to nature
- Official camp sites
- Good facilities

Details

Getting there

Getting to Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s national airline, Ethiopian Airlines is arguably one of the best in Africa. International services are reliable with good seat pitch, whilst domestic flights are serviced by a brand new fleat of twin props. Ethiopian flies direct from London, Frankfurt, Paris and Rome in Europe. The flight takes around 8 hours. Great deals can be had if you book your international flight direct with Ethiopian with your domestic Ethiopian flights – you will need to call them to get these fairs.

Getting around Ethiopia
Because of the state of the roads, the distances involved and the quality of the alternative (flying) most short term visitors use internal flights in Ethiopia. There are reliable daily flights between most of the stops on the Northern Circuit (Addis, Gondar, Lalibella, Axum, Bahir Dar).

If you have more time, or delight in the joys of overland travel, there are loads of options on the road. Local bus services are super cheap, regular and exceedingly uncomfortable. They’ll certainly give you a story to tell. Alternatively Skybus offer a reliable upmarket coach service from Addis Abbaba to Gonder, Jimma, Bahir Dar, Awassa, Harrer and Dire Dawa. Schedules and prices are available at http://www.skybusethiopia.com/site/schdule.html

Price includes

Transport to and from Gonder in 4wd
Camping equipment including tents, and mattresses (excluding sleeping bags)
Guide and all meals on trek
Park entrance fees

Sleeping bags are not included - you need to bring your own 3 or 4 season sleeping bag
International flights, personal expenses and tips are not included.

When is best?

The Ethiopian Tourist Board proudly promotes their slogan “13 months of sunshine” to anyone who will listen, but they are not far off the mark. The rainy season in the North is in July and August, but whilst that might stop you attempting a multi day trek in the Simien Mountains, it won’t really affect you if you are planning on touring the Northern Historical route. The best time to visit the North is in Autumn, after the rains when the mountains are full of lush green and the views are inimpeded by haze.

The rains in the South are in April, May and October which make the roads in the Lower Omo Valley impassable, so you’ll need to avoid these if you’re planning on an adventure down here.

Is it for me?

Travelling in Ethiopia is by no means easy, but it is vastly rewarding. The challenges are the lack of luxuries (a hot shower in Ethiopia is a rare thing, even in upmarket hotels), the unique cuisine and hassle from hawkers. Having said that it also happens to host one of the most unique cultures in the world with a rich cultural heritage and some of the best trekking in the world. You can’t have everything.

As long as you don’t come expecting to be cosseted and you have travelled previously to places like SE Asia, India and Africa then you’ll no what to expect. The trek itself is challenging but by no means technical or unaccessible. The biggest challenge is the altitude. You’ll start the trek at 3,000m and spend the entirety of the trek between 3000m and 4500m. Altitude problems are rare, but some of the climbs particularly on the first few days are a lot tougher than they would be at lower altitudes. You’ll be well looked after by your guide, cook and scout.

In summary, if you’ve travelled a bit and like walking then this trek is suitable for you – as long as you come with the right attitude!

Most travellers opt for a shorter four or 5 day trek, but if you really want to get off the main trail through the park and have the time this is a beautiful an rewarding alternative.

All treks and tailor-made itineraries are organised on demand for groups of two or more people. For single travelers or those who prefer travelling in a group, we offer several scheduled small group tours, see here.

What customers are saying after travelling with Tourdust

Average Rating

based on 607 reviews

(4.93/5)

  • Our trip to Ethiopia was incredible. I’m so glad I made the last minute decision to go with John, it was unforgettable. Alex in Addis looked after us brilliantly as did Getinet and his crew in the Simien mountains. They were both so passionate about their country and eager to share it’s treasures with us. And what a country! The bustle of the city and then the serene atmosphere of the mountains, great contrast. The landscape in the Simien Mountains was awe inspiring, colossal mountains and drops and great wildlife. Beautiful people.

    Missingjohn thompson reviewing Simien Mountain & Lowlands Trek on 06 May 2014

  • This itinerary gave a fantastic overview of the Simien Mountains – both the scenery and the people. The initial 4 days allowed a real exploration of the high plateau and the latter 4 days gave a great, close up experience of village life as the trek wound its way back to the lowlands.

    The whole experience was excellent.
    Our guide, Melaku Berihun, was well organised and very informative. His English was excellent and he was an interesting companion for our 8 days. His understanding and compassion for many of the people we encountered, and his gentle advice on how to deal with situations where people ask for things, was much appreciated.

    Our cook produced the best food we had eaten in the month we had been in Ethiopia. His evening meals were to be looked forward to and were varied and nutritious as well as tasting great. He had a good-humoured team of young cook assistants whose humour we enjoyed. Our scout was also a delight.

    The standard of the tents and sleeping mats was perfectly adequate although the tents are beginning to get rather ‘tired’. As experienced campers, with our own sleeping bags and additional mats we were perfectly happy.

    The pick up from the airport and transportation to the start of the trek was faultless, as was the return trip.

    All in all, the service we received was first class.

    Your Tourdust Initial Trip Dossier was very comprehensive and we feel it covered all the pre-trip issues well.

    MissingGraham Clarke reviewing Simien Mountain & Lowlands Trek on 19 March 2014

  • Everything went very smoothly and the scenery at this time of year was stunning; very green with lots of flowers in bloom.
    The team who were with us on the trek made it a very memorable trip; the guide Mulat was extremely knowledgeable and always eager to help. Warki the Scout, Alum and Fetalo the cooks and the muleteers were always great company and full of Ethiopian hospitality and all added to the experience and helped us to master some basic Amharic phrases.
    The food throughout the trek was very good and Alum prepared a really varied menu that probably would have been hard to achieve in a modern kitchen never mind in the mountains.
    The trek was definitely the highlight with stunning scenery and amazing wildlife, we were lucky enough to have 2 Ethiopian wolves come into the camp at Chennek and got some really good photos.
    I think the thing that struck us about this trek was that it really felt like an adventure and away from the main tourist routes.
    All 3 hotels we stayed in (Regency, Addis; Fasil Lodge, Gondar; and Mountain View, Lalibela) were very good and all the staff were incredibly helpful. The rooms were spacious, clean and there was plenty of hot water.
    We would definitely score the whole trip as 5 out of 5 and have already been promoting Ethiopia to our friends. We can honestly say that there is nothing that we would have changed.
    If you get the opportunity please pass on our many thanks to the team in Ethiopia.

    MissingRobert Bould reviewing Simien Mountain & Lowlands Trek on 25 October 2013

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Alternative Itineraries

Our itineraries are carefully designed by our experienced travel designers based on years of experience and customer feedback. For a custom itinerary tailored to you, please enquire giving as much detail as possible on your brief.

Classic fully supported 3-5 day trek in the Simien Mountain National Park including transfer to and from Gondar. Guide, cook, porters and scout all included.

Private Trek Adventure 5 days

Adults from $678 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Combines the popular Sankaber - Geech - Chenek section with a challenging ascent of Ras Dashen & descent to the rarely visited lowlands.

Private Trek Adventure 10 days

Adults from $1,315 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Perfect for those short on time, combines the classic 5 day Simiens trek with the cultural highlights of Gondar & Lalibella

Tailor-made Adventure 10 days

Adults from $2,002 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Flights are typically an additional $704 per person economy class from London

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