Largest national park.spectacular landscape
Forget Kilimanjaro, the Simien Mountains have greater claim to be the roof of Africa. Whether trekking with rare Gelada Baboons, Walia Ibex and Ethiopian wolves, or getting your thrills from terrifying vertical views, the Simien Mountains have it all up their sleeves. The Simiens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and rightly so. Set amidst a vast mountain range that resembles a landscape you might expect to see in the Grand Canyon, the Simien National Park sits haughtily above at 3,500m+ offering a dramatic ridge with incredible views every step of the way.
You’d be hard pressed to find another trek with more views per km anywhere in the world. The trail follows the course of the ridge offering breathtaking view after breathtaking view. Highlights include the terrifying 700m drop of the Genbar Falls, the raised promontory of Imet Gogo with 360 degree views and summiting Buahit at 4,430m. Its hard to take your eyes off the drop, but the wildlife makes its best effort to divert you. Large troops of colourful gelada baboon roam the park, whilst the rare Wallia Ibex with its incredibly long curved horns .
We will meet you in the morning at Gonder Airport or your hotel in Gonder. Drive to the first camp (Sankaber) via Debark (the small town); you will be rewarded with very impressive views of the low land areas to the north and west; you will very likely encounter troops of the endemic gelada baboons. The gelada baboon, only found in Ethiopia, is often referred to as the bleeding heart baboon or the lion monkey because their coat is shaggy resembling a lion whilst their chest has a marked red heart or patch. The gelada baboon can be found in good numbers and is quite easy to approach. Sankaber camp is situated at an altitude of 3250 meters on an impressive view point between the northern escarpment and the southern wazla. Before you arrive at the camp you have about 2hrs walk.
From Sankaber Camp the path to Geech Camp will stretch for approximately ten kilometers.(5-6hrs). The initial stages of this path leads through extensive areas of highland grasslands and heather forests. This path offers some of the most impressive views of the escarpement. One of the best views is of the Jinbar Wenz waterfall which plummets down the Geech Abyss. After descending down to the Jinbar Wenz River a short ascent remains to Geech village. In this area, cultivation is done in a two-year cycle. One side of the valley is planted whilst the other side lies fallow. You will notice extensive soil erosion in this area as a result of the combination of such factors as slope steepness, cultivation, overgrazing, erosive rainfall and limited land resources. We pause in Geech village as we are invited into one of the local houses for a coffee ceremony. Here you will participate in this very important social tradition of Ethiopia as well as gain an insight into the traditional lifestyle. Just above Geech village is the campsite which will serve as your base for two nights. The campsite has great views of the mountains and is characterized by giant Lobelia plants. These plants can grow up to 10 meters in height and may live for as long as twenty years, at which point they first flower before dying.
Walk from Geech to Imet Gogo, Saha and Kedatit.These three places are perhaps the most spectacular places in the simien mountains. The time taken to complete this hike is about 5-6hrs and then back to Geech Camp and overnight here.
The trek from Geech to Chenek covers approximately twelve kilometres (six to seven hours), following a path along the escarpment edge. Just before arriving into Chenek you will encounter the Kurbet Metaya viewpoint at 4070 metres – this viewpoint is actually a gap in the precipitous cliff – which reveals impressive views of the steep mountain faces to the west and the lowlands areas to the left. The tightly clustered houses (tukuls) that form the village of Dihwara , tucked below a cliff, are also visible from this viewpoint. Chenek campsite is spectacularly located in a beautiful valley at the foot of theBwahit Peak. Strategically placed benches allow for the opportunity to take in the expansive views back toward Imet Gogo, especially beautiful in both the dawn and dusk light. A large troop of gelada baboons are common here and Walia Ibex are also often seen on the rocky escarpment edges here.
Today is the longest trekking day so far, consisting of a total of about ten hours. From Chenek camp, 3650 metres, the path to Ambiquo campsite crosses through B wahit Pass. Leaving Chenek you will be faced with a two-hour ascent to the top of B wahit Pass at 4200 metres. From the top of the pass views open up to the east over Mesheha Valley to the Dashen mountain range. Looking back the impressive rock formations of Imet Gogo loom large. FromBwahit Pass the path leads steeply down and across the Mesheha Valley. Here you will notice an increase in temperature as you descend down to the Mesheha River at 2800 metres before climbing slightly to reach Ambiquo campsite at an altitude of 3100 metres.
Today is summit day involving a trek of sixteen kilometres (ten to eleven hours)! The path will wind its way over eight kilometres and ascending over 1400 metres to Ras Dashen. To begin the path climbs steeply through barley fields and fallow land before clearing the vegetation zone and reaching mountain steppe at around 3700 metres . From there the path flattens out as it traverses ridges in the shadow of Ras Dashen. Just below Dashen Pass, at around 4250 meters, an impressive moraine can be distinguished. A moraine is material transported by a glacier and then deposited. This moraine was formed 20,000 – 14,000 years ago in the last ice age when the Simien Mountain tops had small ice caps. The final stretch to the summit involves an exciting climb / scramble up and over large boulders to the summit. From atop the summit of Ras Dashen, 4543 meters, you will be mesmerized by the far-ranging view which spans more than ten thousand square kilometres. On the west the steep faces of peaks in the National Park are visible whilst to the north and east the Tekeze valley is visible. From the summit you will need to return along the same path to return to your camp at Ambiko. This campsite, situated along the banks of a stream and amidst a small village, is a project of the local church and a donation for the facilities is gratefully accepted.
Walk from Ambiko to Chenek via the same way. It takes about seven to eight hours walking; stay the night in Chenek camp site.
Drive from Chenek to Gonder via Debark, about five hours driving…
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Chewua Sefere, Gondar Town
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