Trekking in the scenic landscape Simien Mountains really does seem out of this world. A short flight from Addis takes us to the historic city of Gondar, renowned for its castles and churches. As we drive north towards the Simien Mountains the surprisingly green land just gets greener. Monolithic pinnacles and towers emerge out of the ground, backed by cliffs tumbling 1000’s of vertical metres to the verdant valleys below. We trek for ten full days through this protected wilderness, gradually sinking into the primeval rhythms of this serene world. Following the tops of the precipices, we cross plateaux and rivers and after an ascent of RasDashen (4620m), Ethiopia’s highest peak, we descend to lower, warmer levels stopping at some stunningly gorgeous campsites to emerge from the mountains on the north side at Adi Arkay.
During the trek we can expect to see many Gelada Baboons, the endemic Walia Ibex and if we are lucky the rare Simien Fox. A trek through this region will remain vivid in one’s memory for ever as there really is nowhere else in the world with comparable atmosphere and scenery.
Days 1/2Depart UK and arrive Addis the following morning. Transfer to the hotel. In the afternoon you will be given a tour of the city.
Day 3 A short morning flight takes us over the rugged Ethiopian plateau to the historic town of Gondar, famous for its 17th and 18th century castles and churches – truly bizarre sights here in the centre of Africa! A tour around the town will be offered in the afternoon.
Day 4 We drive 100km to the small town of Debark, the hoping off point for the Simien National Park. After completing formalities here we drive further on up into the park to start our trek.We get out first views over the northern escarpment down across the foothills below, a taste of what is to come over the next week. 3 to 4 hours walking.
Day 5 Still following the ridge, it is likely we will encounter endemic wildlife (Gelada Baboons) and plants (Giant Lobelia) this morning. After a couple of hours we arrive at the 500m Junbar waterfall – a favourite location for the abundant Lammergeyer. We then skirt around the top of the waterfall, cross the river, pass through a tiny settlement and ascend to our spacious campsite, home for two nights.7 to 8 hours walking.
Day 6 The day is spent exploring the viewpoints, ridges and highpoints of the escarpment. We aim to ascend Imetgogo (3925m), not only a spectacular viewpoint but a landmark we will be able to look back at virtually every day from now on. 4 to 6 hours walking.
Day 7 Again following the escarpment we pass Imetgogo and drop into a valley full of lobelias. A diagonal ascent through heather takes us to the summit of Inatye (4070m). After a level section along the top we descend steeply to camp among the lobelias at Chenek. 6 to 7 hours walking.
Day 8 A long day. We ascend parallel to the dirt road through dense vegetation where we have our best chance to spot the endemic, endangered and rare Walia Ibex. We cross the Bwuhit Pass (4200m – the enthusiastic can ascend Bwuhit Peak 230m higher) and then make a long descent through the village of ChiroLeba to the Mesha River. A short ascent the other side takes us to Ambiko. 8 to 9 hours walking.
Day 9 Optional ascent of Ethiopia’s highest mountain, RasDashen (4620m). A pre-dawn start is needed for this long ascent which is mostly on good trails. Initially we climb steadily through fields and villages to reach higher pastures as the trails rounds a spur. A few zigzags take us up to the plateau from where we skirt around the back of the summit ridge to make the final ascent (a short scramble onto an exposed ridge) from the east side. Often we will be accompanied by shepherd boys who spend the season up here watching over their precious flocks. After enjoying sweeping views from here, we return to camp the same way to be greeted as heroes by our camp staff when we return. 9 to 11 hours walking.
Day 10 Another long day but with only gentle gradients to contend with. We descend to re-cross the MeshawaRiver, and then head off north across fields and passing scattered houses to the sprawling village of Arkwasiye. We continue through this village, and after another couple of hours descending gently arrive at a spectacular camp perched on top of a ravine at Sona. 8 to 9 hours walking.
Day 11 Don’t miss the sunrise from here – it cuts across the face of Imetgogo where we stood a few days ago. After breakfast we descend 1100m down into the ravine on a good path to reach welcome warm air and a very inviting set of pools in the Ansiya River where we take a long lunch break. Our camp is an easy 90 minute walk further down the valley. 5 hours walking + lunch!
Day 12 We carry on down river, either following the river bed or tracks through the fields to reach another fine lunching and bathing spot where a side stream enters the main river. After lunch it is a hot steep ascent for a couple of hours to reach the village of Hawaza – and a shop!! We are now amongst the rock towers that we looked down on from the escarpment earlier in the trek and our final camp is set on a spur with views that typify the whole aura of the most beautiful place. Take pictures – but rest assured the memories will last forever. 5 to 7 hours walking.
Day 13 A 2 hour walk along a rough road brings us to AdiArkay, a rather grubby town on the Gondar to Aksum ‘highway’. Here we meet our vehicles and return, via Debark back to Gondar. 2 hours walking, 4 hour drive.
Day 14 We fly back to Addis where there is usually time for further exploration before going out for dinner with traditional dancing. After dinner we transfer to the airport to check in for the night flight back to the UK.
Day 15 Arrive back in the UK.
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