Trek the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia 2021
Climb Ethiopia’s highest peak, hike through lowland villages and cross lofty plateaus, eyes peeled for grazing troops of baboons
5 days off work
Up to 15 people
Addis Ababa Airport
Hotel · Wild camping
You'll need to be fit and able to hike all day for the full duration. Although not technical, some days are long and challenging.
Journey through remote villages and past traditional ’tukuls’ as you trek the lowlands of the UNESCO-listed Simien National Park
Descend the dramatic escarpments of the Bhawit Pass, eyes open for the famous Gelada Baboon and elusive Ethiopian wolf
Pass through the deep and remote Ansiya Valley and wild swim in a secret spot along the Ansiya River
Internal flights to and from Gondar
Local, professional, English-speaking guides
2 nights in a hotel and 5 nights camping
All meals included
Both airport transfers to and from Gondar
A mule will carry your overnight luggage on the trek
All camping equipment is provided for the nights in the mountains
All your permits and entry fees are covered and sorted
Flights to and from the meeting point
Tips for your guides
Addis Ababa on Day 1
8am Addis Ababa Airport or later from central Addis (by arrangement with host)
Addis Ababa Airport
6pm on Day 8
Please ensure you book your international flights with Ethiopian Airlines only. If you choose to arrive on a different airline there will be a $160 surcharge to pay. Please see 'Frequently Asked Questions' for more information.
You will be met at the airport at 8am on Day 1 if you arrive that morning. If you arrived the day before, please inform your host who will arrange for you to be collected before the city tour.
Your trip will end at Addis Ababa Airport on Day 8 at approximately 6pm. If you are not flying home that evening and would like a transfer in to town, your host can arrange this if requested.
There are frequent flights to Ethiopia from major airports in the UK and Europe.
Hotel · Twin share
Day 2 – Day 6
Wild camping · Twin share
Hotel · Twin share
What is the food like?
Ethiopian-style eating means rethinking the very way you eat; that's because the foundation of almost every meal in Ethiopia is injera, a one-of-a-kind pancake of near-universal proportions that is used as a utensil first and then eaten last. Plates, bowls, knives and forkes are replaced by 'injera'. Served on top, you can find a vareity of meat or vegetable based dishes that are all scooped up by hand/using the injera. Injera is found easily in Addis Ababa and Gondar.
During the trek, the cooks will provide simple energy filling foods such as pancakes, porridge, eggs and bread for breakfast and sandwich lunchboxes for while trekking. Dinner will likely be rice or pasta dishes with some local flavouring. There will be the chance to try regional fresh fruits throughout and of course, to enjoy a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, an important part of the dining culture.
What is the accommodation like?
You'll stay in the Herfazy Resort, just outside of town. It offers great views across the highlands and is a peaceful spot, away from the busy roads and city centre.
You'll stay in a roomy, two-man tent. There is also a dining tent and basic long drop toilets. The trek is fully supported by your team of mountain guides, cook and camp assistants who set up the camp (before you arrive), take down the tents, and prepare your meals.
For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room and tent can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price . Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).
Welcome to Ethiopia
Arrive in Addis Ababa and meet your local guide who will whisk you off to the capital for a tour of this great city. You'll visit some key sites before heading back to the airport mid afternoon for a short flight to Gondar, the 'Camelot' of Ethiopia.
In the evening there’ll be a group dinner at a local restaurant and the chance to sample some ‘injera’ as you get to know your crew and hear about the adventure ahead.
The Simien National Park
2-3hrs · 6km · 560m up · 170m down
Start the day with a drive to Debark to tick the official paperwork boxes and meet your local team, then get ready for some dramatic landscape as you drive along the famous Limalimo road, an old Italian-built military road teeming with epic switchbacks. Time permitting, you'll stop for a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony - if you're in need of a bit of pep, this will certainly do the job.
Spend a few hours trekking through remote villages and past ‘tukuls’ (traditional cone shaped thatched houses) before arriving at your first campsite, set in the grounds of a local farm with donkeys, with cows and goats as neighbours. Grab a drink and head to the fields for sunset over the mountains.
Wild swimming and coffee
5hrs · 10km · 710m up · 800m down
Journey through the deep and remote Ansiya Valley before reaching a secluded swimming spot. Cool off in the Ansiya River before pausing for a picnic in the village of Hawaza. If you've got time, you can enjoy a post-lunch coffee and rest under the huge Ficus Africana tree.
Follow the trail to tonight's campsite in the village of Mekarabya where you’ll get the opportunity to chat to the locals as you soak up one of the last really warm nights in the balmy lowlands.
Ansiya Valley to Sona
6-7hrs · 13km · 1420m up · 250m down
You’ll start the day with the option to visit a rural water project that your host supports, a great chance to learn a little about water management in these remote areas. Then serious trekking begins... Climb well over 1000m uphill, on a path shared with mules and villagers as you trek out of the Ansiya Valley to Sona.
Once at the campsite you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the high plateaus that you'll be summiting in the next few days. The sunset here is pretty special as the camp is perched on the top of the valley. It can also get very cold at night but the effort of putting the extra layers on is worth it for the clear night skies.
Sona to Mentaber Base Camp
7-8hrs · 20km · 1500m up · 700m down
Wind your way up the Bwahit Pass (4100m). Looking back at the green lowlands, you’ll notice the lack of villages and farming as the landscape gets more barren and challenging.
Get your first sighting of Ras Dashen (4550m), Ethiopia's highest mountain, and if you’re lucky also spot the indigenous Walis Ibex. Mentaber Camp is the base camp for the climb up Ras Dashen. An early night is in order tonight as you prepare for summit day tomorrow.
9-10hrs · 20km · 1350m up · 1350m down
Set off under the stars and begin the trek to the summit of Ras Dashen (4550m). Head up the valley and through the small village of Mizma, climbing steeply upwards towards an impressive amphitheatre made up of three major buttresses of expanded rock, one of which is your goal, Ras Dashen.
Closer to the mountain, the path becomes steeper and weaves through huge lobelia plants. The last part of the hike is demanding for most trekkers, but all the more rewarding when you reach the highest point of Ethiopia. Soak up the panoramic sunrise and revel in the awesome view - on a clear day you can see all the way to Eritrea! Make your way back to Ambiko Camp for the night, relax and give yourself a pat on the back - you did it.
The great baboon descent
7-8hrs · 20km · 1400m up · 950m down
Soak up one last great sunrise before setting off on your final trek on the ‘Roof of Africa’. As you descend, the landscape changes dramatically as you wind through the Afro-alpine ecosystem. Walking along the Enatye escarpments, it's likely you’ll see the Gelada Baboon that the Simien Mountains are famous for. Extra beady eyes may even catch sight of the shy Ethiopian wolf. You'll have a short walk today before hopping into a 4x4 for the drive back to Gondar.
Enjoy your last final dinner with your team and likely a few 'Habesha' beers, you've earned it.
Back to Addis Ababa
2hrs · 4km · 400m up · 400m down
Enjoy some free time to explore Gondar this morning. You might want to visit Gondar's famous highlight, Fasil Ghebbi - a UNESCO cultural world heritage site dating back to the 17th-century. Or simply grab a coffee in the downtown 'piazza', filled with Italian art-deco architecture.
You'll take a later afternoon flight back to Addis Ababa where the trip ends.
All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.
15% Off Outdoor Gear
In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock, Runner's Need, and Cycle Surgery.
- All camping equipment (tent and mattress)
What's available to hire?
- Sleeping bag - can be hired for 20USD from your host. Please bring a sleeping bag liner if hiring a sleeping bag.
What do I need to bring?
- Day pack (35 litres +)
- Soft overnight duffel or rucksack for mules to carry your luggage
- Dry fit t-shirts or tops
- Fleece jacket/lighweight warm layer
- Warm lightweight down jacket or similar
- Hiking trousers or long shorts
- Buff or neck scarf
- Warm hat for evenings
- Lightweight gloves
- Cap for daytime
- Hiking boots (worn-in)
- Hiking socks
- Something to sleep in (merino for colder nights)
- Flip flops or sandals for camp
- Sleeping bag - 3/4 season (down to 0 degrees)
- Copies of passport and travel insurance
- Reusable water bottle x2 - 1 ltr each
- Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to take tissue off the mountain)
- Quickdry towel
- Biodegradable wet-wipes
- Sun protection (headgear, sunscreen, sunglasses)
- Personal first aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
- Power bank or solar charger - there is no electricity in the mountains
Included in the trip are two domestic Ethiopian Airlines flights. These are the only flights that serve the domestic airports and are reduced in price for those who choose to travel with Ethiopia Airlines on their international journey.
If you are not arriving into Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Airlines, the domestic flights included in the trip will be subject to a surcharge of approximately $160 imposed by Ethiopian Airlines. To avoid this surcharge we strongly suggest that you choose to fly with Ethiopian Airlines internationally.
A good level of fitness is needed to enjoy this trip. You won’t need to be super fit, but you should be in good shape and feel comfortable hiking up to 10 hours a day on often challenging terrain. There is no technical knowledge needed however the last push to the summit requires approx. 100m of scrambling.
Some of the trip is at altitude - you are likely to slightly feel the effects of this over 3500m but you will be taking your time to ascend so it is very safe.
Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.
Due to the enormous differences in altitude in the national park, the climate also varies with the altitude. About 75% of the annual rainfall of 1550mm falls during the rainy season between June and September. Temperatures do not really change significantly during the year, but there is a big difference between day and night temperatures.
The coolest months in the highlands are from October to December with day temperatures between 11°C and 18°C and the chance of strong winds. At night, the thermometer sometimes sinks to -2°C to -10°C. In the lowlands it is often very hot at midday with temperatures around 30°C, but at night the frosts stay away and the thermometer barely sinks below 10°C.
Between October and March/April the weather is mostly clear with lots of sunshine.
While trekking you will be supplied with water from nearby springs that has been boiled so it is safe for consumption. You can also add a purification tablet if you would like but it isn't needed.
Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however we suggest allowing approx. $100USD per person.
Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
Sure thing! You will be able to leave anything you don't need at the hotel in Gondar where it will be kept safe for your return post-trek.
We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here
We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book the trip, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!
All of our group adventures are especially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded.
"I cannot recommend this highly enough! The people on the trip were amazing. Easily the best trip I've ever been on!" Charlotte, 2019, Trustpilot.
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Free Date Changes
Free date changes up to 31 days before departure.
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