Adventures / Summit Fever

Trek the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia

Climb Ethiopia’s highest peak, hike through lowland villages and cross lofty plateaus, eyes peeled for grazing troops of baboons

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Trip Ref #10106

Adventures / Summit Fever

Trek the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia

Climb Ethiopia’s highest peak, hike through lowland villages and cross lofty plateaus, eyes peeled for grazing troops of baboons

DURATION

7 nights

LOCATION

Ethiopia

ANNUAL LEAVE

5 days off work

SEASON

October-April

GROUP SIZE

Up to 15 people

MEETING POINT

Addis Ababa Airport

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Wild camping

DIFFICULTY

Challenging

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

All our reviews are verified

We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

Rachel, January 2020

All in all, a fabulous trip with a lovely group of people, not only fellow MBA-ers but the local support staff who did their utmost to ensure we had an amazing time. The first days were relatively easy through lush green lowlands with incredible rock formations before the distances gradually increased and we climbed higher and deeper into the heart of the Simiens. Highlights included climbing Ras Dashen - a long day with a very early start but well worth it - and watching Gelada monkeys and Walia Ibex happily grazing together on the mountainside near to our final camp. We camped in villages along the way so we were able to meet some local people and observe their way of life, which was quite humbling, but it was also fun to chat with local children who were keen to show off their English. Our guide Yirga was highly experienced and knowledgable about local fauna and flora, culture and history, and always upbeat which helped to keep us motivated. Although most of us also went on to do the Danakil Depression trip, in the end, I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to the rest of the group as it was such a special experience!

Sarah, January 2020

This was a brilliant trip in a breathtaking setting, with a really good group of like-minded people. Our guide, Yirga, was so knowledgeable, friendly and helpful, and it was so interesting to learn more about Ethiopian culture. The hiking was a good level of difficulty and of course, the views were spectacular - overall an excellent week!

Robbie, January 2020

I can’t recommend the Simien Mountains trek highly enough! From the lush, green surroundings of the lower altitudes to the otherworldliness as you push up to 4000m and beyond, this really is some of the most stunning scenery you will ever experience. We were on a tailor-made route, well off the beaten track, so we only came across other hikers once during the entire week, which was a huge bonus. The hiking was challenging but never overwhelming and there was plenty of delicious food waiting every evening, cooked by the wonderful team accompanying us throughout. Our guide Yirga was friendly, funny and informative and we really couldn’t have wished for a better host. All of this, together with a great group of fellow travelers, made for a truly special experience. For anyone wondering whether or not to take the plunge, go for it – you won’t regret it!

Laura, January 2020

This is the way to get inside Ethiopia; an adventure through and through in a country that has so much to offer. The trip surpassed my expectations with a challenging trek (uphill and downhill; multi-terrain; temperature; distance) alongside the rewards of incredible scenery, closeups of baboons, and experiencing Ethiopian culture. The slick operation (e.g tent setup, food prep, hot water bottles on extremely cold nights) by the local host meant we didn't have to think about anything else except enjoying the adventure. Food was tasty and different every day (the carb overload was actually well-received as we burnt so much energy every day). Even if you think this might be a bit out of your comfort zone - I recommend it. You won't regret it.

Emily, January 2020

I am so pleased that I decided to join the Simien mountain trek in January. Our guide Yirga was extremely helpful and knowledgeable and the team of scouts looked after us really well at camp and during the treks. I appreciated the hot water bottles at the higher altitudes! The food was tasty and varied and kept us fuelled for challenging walks. Two of the days were particularly long but we were all able to go at our own pace and enjoy the incredible scenery. The group got on really well and I am already looking at another MBA trip for later this year.

Included

Internal Flights

Internal flights to and from Gondar

Guides

Local, professional, English-speaking guides

Accommodation

2 nights in a hotel and 5 nights camping

Meals

All meals included

Transfers

Both airport transfers to and from Gondar

Porterage

A mule will carry your overnight luggage on the trek

Equipment

All camping equipment is provided for the nights in the mountains

Permits

All your permits and entry fees are covered and sorted

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Tips for your guides

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Addis Ababa on Day 1

8am Addis Ababa Airport or later from central Addis (by arrangement with host)

Ends

Addis Ababa Airport

6pm on Day 8

Transfers

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.

Travel options

There are frequent flights to Ethiopia from major airports in the UK and Europe.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 6

Wild camping · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

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.

Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request on your passenger info form.

What is the accommodation like?

Gondar

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.

Simien Mountains

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.

Upgrades

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).

Day 1

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.

Day 2

The Simien National Park

Hiking

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.

Day 3

Wild swimming and coffee

Hiking

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.

Day 4

Ansiya Valley to Sona

Hiking

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.

Day 5

Sona to Mentaber Base Camp

Hiking

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.

Day 6

Summit day

Hiking

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.

Day 7

The great baboon descent

Hiking

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.

Day 8

Back to Addis Ababa

Hiking

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.

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 and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • 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)
  • Swimwear
  • Flip flops or sandals for camp
  • Sleeping bag - 3/4 season (down to 0 degrees)
  • Passport
  • Copies of passport and travel insurance
  • Headtorch
  • 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)
  • Earplugs
  • Personal first aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Power bank or solar charger - there is no electricity in the mountains

Single Room in Addis

Payable Before Departure

Single Room in Addis

Twin/Double Room in Addis

Payable Before Departure

Twin/Double Room in Addis

Optional Private Room and Tent Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room and Tent Upgrade

Airport transfer to/from Addis Airport

Payable Before Departure

Airport transfer to/from Addis Airport

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 304kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

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.

When you trek in the mountains, there's always the risk of getting altitude sickness, regardless of how old, young, fit or unfit you are. We would expect most trekkers to feel some mild symptoms of altitude sickness (headache, sleeplessness, heavy breathing) when over 3500m. Our guides are trained to identify the symptoms of altitude sickness so if any more serious symptoms are noted, there is a strict procedure regarding extra care or a rapid descent if needed. All of our trips have been designed with altitude best practice in mind so acclimatisation days have been built in and our experienced guides follow advice to ‘walk high and sleep low’.

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 recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

For current advice about travelling in Ethiopia, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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