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
5 days off work
Apr, Oct, Nov
Up to 15 people
Gondar Airport (GDQ)
Hotel · Campsite
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
Local, professional, English-speaking guides
2 nights in a hotel and 6 nights camping
Breakfasts throughout and all meals while trekking
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
Some meals as described
Tips for your guides
Gondar Airport (GDQ) Ethiopia
Anytime on Day 1
Gondar Airport (GDQ) Ethiopia
Anytime on Day 9
You'll be picked up on arrival and dropped off on departure.
There are frequent flights to Ethiopia from major airports in the UK and Europe.
Hotel · Twin share
Campsite · Twin share
Day 3 – Day 7
Campsite · 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 a comfortable hotel in the central downtown area. The exact hotel you stay in will be confirmed nearer the time based on group size and availability, but all are chosen for their excellent reputation, location and welcoming service.
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
Check in, explore the city and engage in a spot of friendly haggling at the local market. You might also want to visit Gondar's famous highlight, Fasil Ghebbi - a UNESCO cultural world heritage site dating back to the 17th-century.
In the evening there’ll be an optional 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 only cows and goats as neighbours.
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 Ambiko 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.
Ambiko Camp is the base camp for the climb up Ras Dashen and is right next to the church, so it’s very likely you’ll see the priests arriving in their white robes for service. 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
Head back to the Bhawit Pass. For anyone game enough there's the option of climbing Ras Bwahit (4430m).
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.
Head for tonight's destination, Chennek campsite. There’s even a ‘pub’ across the road and an ice cold hand water pump to wash in.
Back to Gondar
2hrs · 4km · 400m up · 400m down
Soak up one last great sunrise before setting off on your final trek on the ‘roof of Africa’.
You'll then descend for a few hours to a gravel road where you’ll be collected and transferred back to Gondar.
If you’ve chosen to do the Danakil Depression extension you’ll have the chance to freshen up at the hotel (time dependent) before hopping on a flight back to Addis Ababa for round two of your Ethiopian adventure.
The hotel is situated downtown so you’ll have a short transfer to the airport in time for your return flight home.
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
- Headtorch or torch
- Reusable water bottle x1 ltr
- Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry out)
- Quickdry towel
- Biodegradable wet-wipes
- Sun protection (headgear, sunscreen, sunglasses)
- Insect repellant
- Personal first aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
- Power bank or solar charger - there is no electricity in the mountains
Would you like to extend your stay to join our incredible Danakil Depression Expedition? If so, please let your host know that you are doing both trips. At the end of the trekking trip, you will be transferred to the airport (on Day 8) to fly from Gondar to Addis Ababa. You will spend the night here and the expedition will start the next day.
You will need to book both trips separately and there will also be an extra charge applied for the flight from Gondar to Addis Ababa and for the flight from Addis Ababa to Mekele to start the expedition.
If you are doing both trips, you will need to fly into Gondar and out of Mekele where the trips start and end. It might work out more cost-effective to book your international flights in and out of Addis Ababa and the domestic flights separately.
Airport transfers are included for all flights that arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 9. Just let your host know your flights and they will ensure you are met upon arrival.
If you have a long connection in Addis Ababa, your host can organise a city tour for you from the airport with a guide and a driver. Please inform your host if you would like to organise this.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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