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A Beginner’s Guide on How to Trek Ethiopia’s Semien Mountains

An exotic setting with unique wildlife and jaw-dropping views of the amazing landscape below, the Simien Mountains National Park is a remote and rugged chain of mountains that stretch across northern Ethiopia. Among its main attraction is the deep, canyon-style gorges filled with various natural sights. The escarpment forms small elevations that offer splendid natal lookout points in some places. The picture-perfect views from the observation points at Imet Gogo and Gidr Got in the center of the park offer unrivaled panoramas along the high plateau and down to the lowland.

Ras Deshen is the tallest peak in the Simien Mountains reaching above 4,500 meters with the Kidis Yared peak coming in at a close second with a height of over 4,450 meters. The breath-taking view of the wild landscapes and flowers, its rare wildlife containing Gelada baboons, Walia Ibex, and Ethiopian wolves, to the human population living in the area all add up to make the Simien Mountains one of the best hiking destinations in the world.


Hiking in the Simien Mountains as a Beginner

While it is tempting to do this spectacular Ethiopia trek up the Simien Mountains on your own, you are required to hike with a certified guide and also a licensed gunman. There are lots of rules that come with a visit to the park and if violated, hefty fines are issued. Hikes mostly range from 2-14 days depending on your agility, skill level, and the time of the year you visit. There are trailheads available that will set you up for the complete hike route, but it is also possible to start mid-trail for a shorter amount of walk time.


Best time to visit the Simien Mountains

The dry season which is between October and May is the ideal time to trek up the Simien Mountains. It is still possible to hike during the rainy season, which has its fair share of attractions like colorful flowering vegetation and lush plant life. However, the trail might get slippery and muddy, especially after heavy rainfall. Though afternoon showers occur pretty much every day during June, July, and August, this should not keep you away as the weather is warm and the rain usually sets in after mid-day which leaves enough time for your trek.


How to get to the Simien Mountains

The closest airport to the Simien Mountain is in the city of Gondar. You can fly into the area early and spend some time in Gondar before you go hiking in the Simien Mountains. Alternatively, you could also hop onto a bus heading to Gondar from Axum or Lalibela. While taking the bus from any of these cities is considerably cheaper than flying, the lack of infrastructure and bad roads makes the trip very slow going.

You could either join an organized tour and book in advance, arrange through your accommodation, take a local bus or hire a private driver. The drive takes approximately 2 hours. The National Park office in Debark is the starting point for any visit to the Simien Mountains National Park. it is the only place to go for permits, information, travel preparation, and any other form of support for visitors to the National Park.


Simien Mountain Trekking Routes

From Debark: this part from the National Park usually runs along the northern escarpment over a distance of approximately 3 kilometers. A trek to Sankaber camp and back to Debark normally lasts 3-4 days.

Through the National Park: From Sankbar Camp through Gich Camp to Chennek Camp: A trek from Debark to Chennek camp and back would normally take at least 6 days. A path leads from Sankaher where visitors will enjoy the most mind-blowing parts of the escarpment and find extensive areas of highland grasslands and heather forests.

From the National Park (Chennek camp) to the highest summit (Ras Dejen): A trek from Debark to the highest summit in Ethiopia and back would take at least 9-10 days.


Simien Mountain Packing List

Buying everything in advance will help you save time and money. To conquer this climb, you’ll need good hiking shoes, hiking poles, lots of water and purification tablets, and first aid kits. You’ll also need to get camping equipment such as sleeping bags and pillows, blankets, towels, tents, headlamps and toilet paper. Do not forget your sunblock, mosquito repellent, long hats and buff to cover your face from the sun and winds. Sunglasses, waterproof backpack, waterproof bags for your gadgets ( camera, mobile phones, tablets, and a power hub for charging batteries).


Ready for this Spectacular Trek in Ethiopia?

The Simien Mountain is a must-see. Its natural beauty has always filled visitors from Ethiopia and tourists with awe. Get in touch with us today to discuss your Ethiopian travel itinerary and how we can include a hike up the Simien Mountains.