Trekking in Simien mountains is our specialty. Below you can read about the different excursions. They depart from Gondar (or if you prefer from Debark).
Why do trekking in Simien Mountains
The Simien Mountains in Ethiopia are simply put, one of the best trekking destinations in the world. Jaw dropping views, wall to wall sunshine, generous hospitality and rare wildlife combine to make for an unforgettable trek. The Simien Mountains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting rare populations of wallia ibex, gelada baboon and Ethiopian Wolf, alongside a rich and diverse flora and birdlife.
When to go trekking in Simien Mountains
Tekking in the Simien Mountains is possible at any time of year, however some times are better than others. If you can choose, always opt for September to November. After the summer rains, the landscape is vivid green, the paths are less dusty and the far reaching views undisturbed by haze. December through April is perfectly fine, with loads of sunshine, you are just going to struggle to get picture perfect shots with the hazy views. The rains fall in June, July and August, which tends to stop most visitors, although interestingly enough this time of the year is very popular with the Spanish.
Thanks to the altitude, the temperatures tend to be comfortably warm and sunny in the day with plenty of breeze to keep things cool and cold at night. It is always wise to bring a good three or four season sleeping bag. The locals will always be able to provide something, but you can guarantee it won’t be as warm or clean as your own.
It does tend to get very busy in ethiopia (with hotels booking up and pricing higher rates) during the wonderful religious festivals so if you aren’t interested in these you might want to time your trip to Ethiopia to avoid Jan 19-20 (Timkat), Sep 27-28 (Meskel) and Christmas.
Early morning we will drive along a good asphalt road from Gondar to
the park headquarters in Debark, the 100 km journey will take around
two hours. At the headquarters we will arrange our permits to the park
and pick up our scout. Then keep driving for another 30-40 minutes
until the Hike starts along mountain trails enjoying the endless
vistas as your guide explains the unique flora of this elevated
region. You will also cross paths with a troop of the Gelada baboon, a
unique species indigenous to Ethiopia and the Simien Mountains. Return
to Gondar for overnight.
Services to be provided
Transportation in and out
Entrance fees for the park
Scout or Park ranger
Lunch pack and water
What You should know in advance:
Altitude and its side effectTrekking in the Simien Mountains could be challenging as most people come to trek from around the sea level. Besides, if not sufficiently acclimatized, travellers may suffer from altitude sickness due to a low oxygen level. However, there is always a possibility to choose shorter trekking days and hours and enjoy your holidays to the full.
I always remind my clients that altitude sickness is more likely to affect you when you are trek over 3000 meters above sea level; typical symptoms of altitude sickness are headaches, loss of appetite, breathlessness due to thin air, vomiting, dizziness, and sleeplessness.
Travellers with permanent health problems such as blood pressure, asthma, diabetes etc. should seek some advice from their doctor. Ethiopia’s health service system may not be as good as in your native country to help you to alleviate the problem you might face. So, I strongly recommend you to consult your doctor before your departure.
I personally recommend to bring some medical kits with some useful medicine such as Diamox, aspirin and Paracetamol that help people to mitigate altitude sickness, to stop headache and related sickness problems respectively.
Trekking in the Simian Mountains includes long walking hours every single day as camping sites are far away from each other. Therefore you need to be in a good situation for the trek; it is advisable to get some training before starting the trek.
What to bringWe offer mules and horses as means of transportation for our clients during their trek in the mountains. Sometimes people bring unnecessary things they don’t use at all during their holidays . And also, bear in mind that you should let us know if you have any fragile objects in your bag so that we avoid causing unintentional damage.
The temperature in the Simien Mountains is quite similar except during rainy season.
From the beginning of December to the end of January, the temperature drops from -3 up to -5 during the night; as a result, we recommend you to bring at least three season sleeping bags, gloves, long jacket and some warm clothes mainly for the night time. On the contrary the temperature during the day at this time of the year is quite high and it reaches up to +25 and I also advise you to apply sun protection lotion as the sun is very strong.
The temperature during a rainy season is the other way round. It gets cold during the day because of the rain and fog, whereas during the night it gets warmer as clouds keep the temperature higher. Light and waterproof materials are recommended at this time of the year since rain is highly expected.
Spending moneyThere are few ATMs in Ethiopia where you can withdraw money using your debit/credit cards, but it is always advisable to bring cash from home for emergency in case the machines did not work.
We ask our clients not to hand out money to children as it may have a huge negative long term effect on the tourism sector; nevertheless it is possible to donate money to local institutions such as schools and clinics. For instance I have set up a school project in Geech village (at the heart of the national park) to ensure children receive education and give them a chance of a better life. This is one of the examples where you could spend money on.
Holidays in EthiopiaJanuary 7: Orthodox Christmas Day
January 19: Feast of Epiphany Timket
February 2: Feast of the Sacrifice Eid-ul-Adha
March 2: Battle of Adowa
April 12: Orthodox Easter Monday
April 25: Coptic Good Friday
May 2: Mulud Mulud
May 5: Patriots' Day
May 28: End of Military Regime
September 11: Ethiopian New Year/Coptic New Year
September 27: Finding of the True Cross
November 14: End of Ramadan Eid-al-Fitr
some more info about simien
The Simien Mountains are one of the prominent highlands of Africa rising to the highest point of Ethiopia - Ras Dashen (4543m), which is believed to be the fourth highest peak in Africa. Though the Simien Mountains are not far from the equator, snow and ice might appear on the highest point and temperatures sometimes drop to zero or below.
The national park has three main botanical regions: the higher lands are mountain grass lands with fescue grass as well as heather trees, splendid red hot pokers (only seen from August to the end of September) and Giant Lobelia.
The park was primarily established to rescue the Walia Ibex, a species of wild goat. Some 1000 of them are said to be still living in the park and their population size is growing thanks to appropriate conservation. They are the only ones in the world and Simien Mountains NP is the only place where you could find them. Also in the park you could see a number of unique Gelada Baboons with a “bleeding heart” on the chest; and the rare simian fox can also be seen there. Over 50 species of birds have been found in the Simien Mountains.
People settled many years ago in the park and they still live there doing many different activities such as farming, animal breading and mixed farming. It is believed that they settled there in the 16th century and their origin is in the South Arabia.The traditional and cultural way of living of the local people is one of the attractions of the national park. Both Christians and Muslims live peacefully in the park and they share everything they have during public holidays as well as wedding and funeral ceremonies. This is the way they express their mutual understanding and co-existence.
As confirmed by most of our clients, the park is a wonderful place for those committed to do real trek. Apart from the wildlife experience, the Simien Mountains provide some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. That is probably the reason UNESCO considers it a world heritage site. It is easily accessible from the historic towns of Gondar and Axum. You can also see a number of bird species, even though it is not as rich as in the south of the country.