- Highlands to Lowlands Trek Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
- Length: 7 Days. Distance: ~73 km
- Lowest Elevation: 1900 m
- Highest Elevation: 4200 m.
Day 1: Buit Ras town (3150) to Sankaber camp (3240 m). Length: 4 hours. Distance: ~12 km. You will pick up your guide and scout in Debark town, then drive ~10km and get dropped off inside of Simien National Park. It is a relatively easy day trekking along the escarpment with awesome views into the lowlands for most of the way to Sankaber camp. This is a really nice camp and has two campers huts to cook in and plenty of camping space.
Visit the nearby Gelada Baboon researchers who live across the road from camp for some interesting facts about the Geladas (for example: they aren’t actually baboons). If the sun is still shining, take a cold (the coldest you’ll ever take) shower that boasts some of the best views of any shower in the world. Spend the evening sharing cultures and stories while getting to know your guide, scout, and mule man. Camp out with the Gelada Baboons and Thick-billed Ravens that frequent camp.
Day 2: Sankaber camp (3240 m) to Geech camp (3600 m). Length: ~6 hours. Distance: ~10 km. As you sip on coffee while the sun floods Sankaber camp in the morning, look around for where your scouts slept. More often than not they spend the night around the fire telling stories and laughing at the cold. (Be sure to buy wood at camp even if you don’t necessarily want a fire – your scouts do!) Today’s trek starts off spectacularly with the escarpment next to you from the beginning.
Climb up a rock and balance your way to a very worthy lookout spot. Jinbar Waterfall gushes (Sept-Oct) over the cliff and far down the escarpment. The wise birds of the Simiens seem to appreciate this spot as much as trekkers and can be spotted soaring on air-currents above and below your vantage point. Trek up to the road from here and across a small river while keeping your eyes open for Gelada Baboons, Klipspringer, and a variety of birds.
The trail will take you through the small village of Geech where you will be offered coffee ceremonies and the chance to buy chickens and goats or for the less adventurous eggs and bread. Geech camp is one of the coldest nights you’ll spend in the Simien Mountains, however the sunset makes it so worth it. Beer and soft drinks are usually available for purchase at a scouts hut nearby camp. You can spend an optional acclimatization day here with day-hike opportunities abundant.
Day 3: Geech camp (3600 m) to Chenek camp (3620 m). Length: ~7.5 hours. Distance: ~12km. Today is an epic trek – within the first hour or so you’ll be on top of Imet Gogo (3926m). This summit offers some of the best views in the Simien Mountains and beats the view from Ras Dashen any day of the year. It’s a fun scramble to the top of this mountain and a great place to have a morning snack as the Thick-billed Ravens land nearby with neck cocked and one eye on your prized Snickers bar.
You’ll head down into a valley and then up-up-up to the Northeastern escarpment which is a good place to get some pictures with the Giant Lobelia. By late afternoon you’ll descend to Chenek camp. Look out for Walia Ibex on the cliffs nearby camp and sometimes they’ll come all the way into camp for a drink in the stream. Eat a well deserved hot dinner prepared by our chef, drink a couple of beers and enjoy a beautiful sunset over the Simien Mountains.
Day 4: Chenek camp (3620 m) to Sona camp(2600 m) via Arkwasiye village. Length: ~7 hours. Distance: ~11 km. Lowest point: 2600 m. Highest point: 4200 m. In order to get through the escarpment and into the lowlands, you’ll have to hike to the highest point of the trek – Bawhit Pass (4200 m). The pass is an hours hike up above Chenek camp towards Bawhit Mt. This is one of your best chances on the entire trek to see the elusive Ethiopian Wolf. More common in this area are large groups of Walia Ibex and Gelada baboons feeding together.
The largest male Ibex will likely be perched on a rocky outlook, watching over both the Walia and Geladas. Once through the pass, the trail winds down towards the village of Arkwaisye. Here you’ll take a much needed rest while the locals prepare a traditional coffee ceremony which involves roasting and grinding the beans. It is Ethiopian custom to have three rounds of coffee and by the end you will be re-energized and ready to finish the trek to Sona camp.
Day 5: Sona camp (2600 m) to Mekarebya camp (1950 m). Length: ~6 hours. Distance: ~12km. You’ll loop back beneath the escarpment and have epic views from a much different perspective. This area of the National Park is rarely visited by tourists and few have seen the massive rock faces from this vantage point. You’ll trek down to Mekarebya camp with impressive views of Imet Gogo 2 thousand meters above you!
Day 6: Mekarebya camp (1950 m) to Mulit camp (1900 m). Length: ~6 hours. Distance: ~12km. Today you’ll trek North to Mulit camp which is the lowest camp of the entire trek. Cross over Anisya River and it’s relatively easy trekking into camp. The highlight of today will be in the evening as the locals join you for a party & bonfire. Learn the “Eskista” which is a traditional Ethiopian dance. Keep your eye out for the children who are shy at first but simply can’t resist the chance to let loose and show off their impressive shoulder-shaking skills. At this small village in the remote part of the Simiens, you’ll experience the amazing culture and camaraderie of the Ethiopian people.
Day 7: Mulit camp (1900 m) to Adi Arkay (Vehicle to Gondar). Length: ~2 hours. Distance: ~5 km. Say goodbye to your new friends, and finish the trek to Adi Arkay which is a small town on the main road connecting Debark-Axum. Your vehicle will be waiting for you and can drive you back to Gondar where you can shower, put on fresh clothes, and share stories over a cold beer.
Also see tour packages in:
Africa Ethiopia Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking National Parks