The Simien Mountains offer some of the most stunning trekking in the whole of Africa. The National Park boasts truly incredible mountain scenery and is teeming with endemic wildlife. Sightings of Gelada Baboons are virtually guaranteed and seeing the Wallia Ibex or elusive Ethiopian Wolf framed against the dramatic scenery is something else. We are the leading provider of high quality treks in the Simien Mountains and pride ourselves on the quality of our guiding team and cooks.
Our most popular trek is the classic five day trek from Sankaber to Geech to Chennek Camps. A lovely addition is to extend with three days heading down into the lowlands. Those confident of their fitness and we have a hankering for high peaks might consider including Ras Dashen on their trek, but please note, this involves two additional long and arduous days with inferior scenery and wildlife to that found on the other routes. We recently hosted Wall Street Journal journalist Jemima Sissons on a four day Simien Mountain Trek, read her take here.
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Extended 8 day trek in the Simien Mountains following the classic Sankaber - Chenek route then down to the Lowlands.
Private Trek Adventure 8 days
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Our trip was excellent. Thank you! We were particularly impressed with the way it all worked seamlessly: someone was at each arrival point to meet us (or Alex was on the end of the phone to tell us what to do) or there was a phone message at Reception for when to expect someone.
The Jerusalem Hotel in Lalibela is not the same standard as Tukul Villages but it was OK for one night & we had plenty of warning. Lalibela at Christmas is pretty manic: full to bursting!
I must say that Alex looked after us well. He came to see us in Gondar to make sure everything was in place for the Simiens Trek & that we knew what to expect. When we got back after it, there he was again! Small but highly-valued pieces of customer care, evident again when he spoke to drivers while we were travelling.
All the staff who worked with us were of high quality, especially drivers and guides. Two who stood out were Younus, our driver both times we were in Addis Ababa, who we felt went beyond the call of duty & made our time there enjoyable - our last evening when waiting for a 2 a.m. flight could have been a drag, was in fact absolutely fine because of his suggestions (the Via Via cafe for dinner & then Mama's Kitchen for some music) and company.
The Simiens Trek was outstanding. Spectacular scenery, challenging at times, full of interest. Key to making it so was Dereje Gedamu who is a wonderful guide: we felt privileged to have him. he was ably assisted by the other staff & when our first, excellent chef had to leave at short notice to visit his mother in hospital, a replacement was found immediately (at Chenek!) who fed us to the same high standard. It was all a great experience that we will be talking about for a long time.
We were all pleased to have selected the 8 day option (& were not at all jealous of the peak-baggers heading for Ras Dashen). The second half of the trek was a good contrast to the high altitude section in the National Park's heartland as we descended through more intensively cultivated and populated areas, down steeply to the river and then back up past wonderful rock formations towards Mulit and out to the road at Adi Arkaye. It was full of interest and we were pleased to be pretty much on our own, rather than with the crowds at Geech & Chenek.
By comparison, the TESFA trek was rather tame, although an interesting comparison to see a more pastoral landscape and less remote villages. We had another good guide & enjoyed the lunch & evening stops, and the "loos with a view".
Pleased as we were that we had opted to drive from Bahir Dar to Lalibela, we had mixed feelings about driving the rough Gashena-Lalibela road three times - the starting and finishing points for the TESFA trek were just beyond Gashena. In 3 years when the road is complete this point may become academic, but meanwhile - if anyone else wants to do the same thing - it would be better for them to drive from Bahir Dar to Gashena, meet the TESFA crew there, do the trek & then continue to Lalibela. I am sure that TESFA could look after any extra baggage that people did not want on the trek.
One other point about the TESFA trek: we were not aware that there are several grades offered. I think we did the easiest and might well have preferred something more challenging so perhaps you could clarify the options available.
Only one other critical comment: we were underwhelmed by the Mayleko Lodge near Gondar airport. It was indeed welcome to have somewhere peaceful to return to after the trek, the rooms are nice & a couple of us enjoyed a "refreshing" swim, but on the other hand the restaurant was pretty mediocre and slow: we might have preferred to be out in the town.
Apart from that it was all good! A glimpse of Addis and another of Gondar; trekking with some R&R in Bahir Dar with its different scenery and history, ending with the religious fervour at Lalibela. A great holiday.
Gordon P reviewing Simien Mountains Trek & Northern Highlights on 09 February 2016
We had an excellent, stretching , fascinating mix of history (sites) , tough trekking , and wonderful views .. From the many treks that I have done to places including Nepal , Italy , Croatia , Crete , Myanmar , Japan I would judge that it would be very difficult to beat the 7 days that we had in the Simien Mountains .. Tigrai was spectacular for those willing to climb to all the churches. ( there’s a challenge for you to suggest the next adventure !).
Our guide Abebe was really excellent ( fit, engaging, knowledgeable and with a good sense of fun/humour ) and I would not hesitate in recommending him, the quality of the tents was excellent except that there were only 3 two man tents which were much roomier than the singles. We saw very few other people which was perhaps just as well in view of the loo situation at the camp sites. The food was reasonable .. in fact too much pasta and not enough rice. We certainly needed the heavier sleeping bags as it was very cold the first two nights out.
On the negative side .. the long drop loos at Geech were frankly a disgrace .. you could not stand in there for all the crap around and the smell ( even in the freezing evening ) .. surely they should be cleaned every morning / evening. The result is people are crapping in other places round the site .. not nice ! There was no water for washing at Geech ! At the Chennek camp the long drops were only marginally better but there were two dribbly very cold showers at least ! If the tourist board want to encourage tourism clean loos is the absolute must.
The trekking times were generally accurate which was a change as in most other treks that I have been on they are 25% overestimated. Our final 11 hour day was tough but perfectly achievable for fit walkers. I am glad we did not break it into two tranches … we had time to stop for a swim/wash in the river/pools and it was fantastic to spend two days at Geralti Lodge before our return. Addis is a bit of a disappointment but it was certainly worth spending a couple of hours walking the Mercato ( although you have to be very careful not to lose the guide !). I thought Axum was disappointing by comparison with Gonder and Lalibela and not really worth going to.
That’s about it .. I would certainly recommend Tourdust !! Thank you , James
James L reviewing Classic Northern Circuit & Simien Mountains Trek on 10 February 2015
We had a wonderful 2 week trip to Ethiopia - we found the country very different from other places that we've been, and also found Ethiopia very different from what we'd imagined it would be. The wildlife and birds we saw were incredible, the mountains and views nothing short of spectacular. We found different parts of the country varied hugely - both in landscape, climate and wildlife - which made the trip hugely varied. The travel arrangements (internal flights included) all worked perfectly - and our guides, drivers and cooks were all professional, friendly and keen to help make our trip as enjoyable as possible. As a vegetarian, I really enjoyed the variety of food (the local beers and wines were great too!), and we found all the hotels we stayed in very comfortable. In particular, the Kuriftu spa was a lovely treat after having spent 5 days in the Simiens trekking. We probably tried to fit too much into our 2 week trip, and were feeling a bit tired by the time we came home, but we would certainly have no hesitations in recommending both Ethiopia and Tourdust to anyone!
Natalie N reviewing Simien Mountains Trek & Northern Highlights on 27 November 2014