Ethiopian Explorer - Trekking the Simien Mountains
- One of Africa`s best short treks
- Ascent of Ras Deshen and rare wildlife
- Trekking in the Simien Mountains, Ethiopia
- Lalibela`s rock-hewn churches
- Gondar - an `African Camelot`
Ethiopia is a very different destination for a trekking holiday in Africa. Known as 'The Roof of Africa', Ethiopia is a land of surprises, with a wealth of superb trekking and a rich cultural heritage to explore. Ethiopia includes some of the finest mountain scenery in Africa, notably in the Simien Mountains which have been designated a World Heritage Site. This highland area in the northern part of Ethiopia includes many summits over 4000 metres, the highest being Ras Deshen, the fourth highest mountain in Africa. Geographically, the Simien Mountains comprise several major plateaux, which are underlain by basalt lavas thousands of metres thick. It is the erosion of these lavas that has created the dramatic escarpments and freestanding pinnacles which are characteristic of the Simien Mountains range and which are comparable in terms of spectacle to the Grand Canyon. We access this northern region by way of a short internal flight from Addis Ababa to the ancient capital of Gondar. This latter is a wonderful, historically important, city with an unusual collection of 17th century castles and churches. Six days of trekking takes us through a land of natural wonders and of rare wildlife, including the Simien Mountains red fox, the strikingly-maned Gelada baboon and the majestic lammergeier or bearded vulture. Trekking through several villages, notable for their carefully tended farmland and friendly people, our walking reaches its climax at the summit of Ras Deshen (4620m), where the views extend northwards to Eritrea. A 2-day visit to explore Lalibela, with its collection of amazing churches, carved out of solid rock, is a great way to end this exceptional walking adventure holiday to the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia. Providing a variety of completely new experiences, Ethiopia is an adventure travel destination for the trekking connoisseur to explore.
Is this holiday for you?
This trip involves straightforward trekking on good trails which are the paths used by local people as they travel between their villages. We head west to east on the high escarpment of the Simien Mountains. Though overall this trip falls within our GREEN grade there are a number of longer days of 7 to 8 hours and a couple of them include a considerable amount of ascent and/or descent (something of the order of 1000 metres or 3300 feet). The optional ascent of Ras Deshen provides a challenging climb, particularly because of its reasonably high altitude, and the walking day here will be 10 to 12 hours long. The upper part of the climb includes scrambling on loose scree and rock. You will need to ensure you are physically prepared for the trek. You should be comfortable with walking on good trails but with some steep ascents and descents on scree as described, for typically 5 or 6 hours each day, with the occasional longer day, and for several days continuously. The optional ascent of Ras Deshen although a longer day, presents no technical difficulty but trekking at altitudes above 3000m does make greater demands on the body than similar terrain at lower elevations, and even fit and active hikers may find this quite challenging.