The Simien Mountains Trek

13 days
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3 045 €
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Trip code: 
TYE
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Point-to-point
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

Trek through Ethiopia's dramatic Simien Mountains.

The dramatic skyline of peaks and jagged volcanic plugs which tower over the highland plateaux of the Simien Mountains compete with rugged gorges and deep gullies to form what is, arguably, the most awe-inspiring landscape in Africa. As we trek through this distant mountain range we pass small hamlets where villagers eke out an existence from the limited arable land. We may come across large troops of Gelada baboons foraging on the escarpment; and, with luck, spot Walia ibex and Ethiopian wolves. In January we have a special Timkat Festival departure (TYES) which is one day longer, please see the trip notes for more details.

Highlights

  • Castles of Gondar
  • Trekking through dramatic scenery
  • Endemic flora & fauna
  • Remote mountain communities
  • Led by an experienced Ethiopian guide and a UK trekking leader

Key information

  • 9 nights wild camping, 3 nights standard hotels with en suite facilities
  • 10 days point-to-point walking with full porterage
  • Good fitness required
  • Altitude maximum 4543m, average 3300m
  • Harar and Lalibela extensions available
  • Special Timkat Festival Departure in January (one day longer)

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 9 lunches, 9 dinners
  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 420 22 20
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

10

Pace:

Approximately 2.5-12 hours walking per day

Terrain:

High altitude; including steep, rocky terrain

Day by day breakdown
Day 39.0km/5.0miles
Day 412.0km/7.0miles
Day 510.0km/6.0miles
Day 613.0km/8.0miles
Day 717.0km/10.0miles
Day 821.0km/13.0miles
Day 921.0km/13.0miles
Day 1010.0km/6.0miles
Day 1117.0km/10.0miles
Day 127.0km/4.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive Addis Ababa; half-day city tour.

    The group flight arrives in the morning. Please note that if you are being picked up at the airport (either on the group transfer or private transfer) you will have to exit the terminal to find our representative with the Exodus board. You may see people with signs inside the terminal but they are generally people with special permission such as the UN, Government or hotels with desks inside the terminal. In the afternoon we go on a sightseeing tour that takes us to the Ethnographic Museum and the Church of the Trinity where Haile Selassies' remains now lie.
    Ghion Hotel or similar

  • Day 2

    Fly to Gondar; tour castles and Debre Birhan Selassie church.

    We have a spectacular flight to Gondar. From the air we see the extraordinary nature of the Ethiopian plateau, cut again and again by immensely deep gorges. Gondar was once the capital of Ethiopia and in the afternoon we visit the castles, which were built in the 17th and 18th centuries by several generations of Ethiopia's kings. Nearby is the Debre Birhan Selassie church with its sensational angelic ceiling, and the bathhouse of Fasil at which thousands of Ethiopians celebrate Timkat festival every January. Our hotel is up on a cliff top with wonderful views overlooking the town. Depending on time we will also visit the centre of The Kindu Trust, a local charity which Exodus supports.

    (On the Timkat Festival departure in January we spend a full extra day in Gondar to experience the festival. We join the Ethiopian crowds at Fasilides’ Baths whose water has been blessed by priests. Young men dive into the water to symbolise the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. The festival has been described as one of the greatest shows on Earth.)
    Goha Hotel or similar

  • Day 3

    Drive to Debark; start trekking to Sankaber Camp.

    We travel by road the 105 kilometres to the small town of Debark, the nearest town to the Simien National Park. There is a little time to explore the area while the guides prepare the equipment and mules for the trek.

    From Debark the landscape suddenly opens onto a picturesque valley dotted with mud huts, horses and livestock. We start our walk at Buyit Ras, entrance to the park, and head towards Sankaber where we have our first night’s camp. There are spectacular views across the range from here. 3 hours walking, 9kms.
    Sankaber Camp or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Trek to Geech via Jinbar Waterfall.

    Walking near small settlements and villages we have fine views across the lowlands and the Simien plateau as we continue our trek heading towards Geech (3,600m). En route we see a stunning waterfall; cascading through a hole in the rock, it falls 500 metres to the bottom of the gorge and is particularly impressive after the rainy season (by Christmas the waterfall may not be visible). The last 2 hours of the day involve a steep climb up to our campsite, where we stay for two nights. 7 hours walking, 12 kms.
    Geech Camp or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Day walk to Imetgogo.

    A spectacular day - in the morning we walk to Imetgogo (3,926m). Situated at the end of a long ridge, which disappears on either side to the lowlands below, there are outstanding views of the gorge and mountain range and it is easy to understand why the striking formations have been described as 'the chess pieces of the Gods'. We should get our first glimpse of Ras Dashen from here and we can see clearly our route for the coming days. If we haven't already encountered them, there is a good chance of seeing the indigenous Gelada, also known as the 'bleeding heart' baboon or Lion monkey. The Gelada is in fact neither baboon nor monkey but the last remaining species of a branch of high altitude, grass eating primates that have all but vanished. We return to the same camp and enjoy an afternoon at rest. 4 hours walking, 10kms, ascent 325m, descent 325m.
    Geech Camp or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Trek to Chennek via Enatyie Escarpment.

    Another wonderful walk - heading in the same direction as yesterday we soon branch off to reach the edge of the escarpment which we follow to the top, Inatye (4070m). The dramatic views continue all the way down to our camp at Chennek. 7 hours walking, 13kms, ascent 650m, descent 570m.
    Chenneck camp or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Trek to Ambiko; ascend Bwuhit.

    A memorable but hard day's trekking of ascents and descents as we make our way from Chennek to Ambiko. We should see birds like the Ground Scraper Thrush, Siskins, Falcons and Kestrel. Today is also our best chance of seeing the rare and endangered Walia Ibex, a species that can only be found in the Simien National Park. From Chennek we climb to a pass at 4,200m and from here the fit and energetic may like to continue on a further hour up to the summit of Bwuhit at 4,430m. Otherwise from the pass we have a big drop down to the Meshah River at 2850m, via the village of Chiro Leba, where we may be able to visit the school and small clinic (if open). From the river we ascend 350m to our camp, where we spend 2 nights at Ambiko. 10 hours walking, 17km, ascent 1105m, descent 1570m.
    Ambiko Camp or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Ascent of Ras Dashen, highest point in Ethiopia.

    We ascend Ras Dashen before returning to Ambiko. This day is the longest day of the trek. It may take up to twelve hours climbing 1350m to the summit. Ras Dashen has 3 peaks and we climb to the middle highest peak - the roof of Ethiopia. Our efforts are rewarded with incredible views from the summit. 12 hours walking, 21km, ascent 1345m, descent 1345m.
    Ambiko Camp or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Trek to Sona via Arkwasiye.

    Another challenging day, although not as difficult as the previous one! From Ambiko we trek to the superbly positioned camp at Sona. After plenty of ups and downs we might be able to stop for some local coffee in the small village of Arquaziye before continuing for another hour and half to our camping site at Sona. 10 hours walking, 21kms, ascent 965m, descent 1055.
    Sona Camp or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Descend to Ansiya Wenz River and on to Lamo Camp.

    A much easier day! We descend into the lowlands. Our day begins with a 1,100m descent into the Ansiya valley, where we have a relaxed lunch break. We then move onto our camp, near the village of Mekarebya. This is an excellent day for seeing birds and there are very good views up to the Simien Mountains. We can look back with pride upon the areas we have recently trekked. 5 hours walking time, 10kms, ascent 65m, descent 1120m.
    Mekarebya Camp or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Continue to Mulit Camp.

    From our camp we drop 350m, to where we have another long idyllic lunch spot. The final 2 hours of the day involve a hot 400m of ascent, to our final campsite at Mulit. Here we are completely surrounded by fantastic views all around us. 5 hours walking, 17kms, ascent 515m, descent 425m.
    Mulit Camp or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Short walk to Adi Arkay where the trek finishes; drive to Gondar.

    Our final day's walking takes us to Adi Arkay from where we drive, via Debark to Gondar (approx 6 hours driving), for a much deserved wash and rest! 2.5 hours walking, 7kms, ascent 50m, descent 440m.
    Goha Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Fly to Addis Ababa; evening depart.

    Depending on flight times there may be time to relax and explore Gondar before we fly back to Addis. On our return to Addis day rooms will be provided for clients on the late flight, departing after midnight on day 14 (day 15 ex London). The trip ends in the evening in Addis

    (please note the January Timkat Festival departure is one day longer as we spend 2 nights in Gondar before the trek).

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Post-trip Extensions

Harar

Standing on the eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley, Harar's location gives wonderful views of the surrounding country, with the vast Danakil desert to the north, the fertile Harar Mountains to the west, and the cattle‐rich Ogaden Plains to the south. Here we discover a uniquely different Ethiopia in this sacred Muslim city of mosques, minarets and markets. It is a centre of Muslim learning, a city which once struck its own local currency and a place that still has its own unique language; long regarded by the outside world as a city of mystery and romance.

Please ask for prices.

 

Extension Day 1 - Overnight in Addis Ababa.

Main tour ends in Addis Ababa. Free time to relax.

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Extension Day 2 - Fly from Addis Ababa to Dire Dawa and transfer to Harar.

Founded in the early 12th century, the great walls surrounding Harar were built in the 1600s to keep out powerful neighbouring hostile groups. Harar remained an important centre of Muslim learning and trade throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Once an important centre of Islamic scholarship, the city was for many years closed to Christians and early explorers were forced to enter in disguise and at their own peril. We start our exploration with a guided tour of Harar to see the mosques and interesting old architecture of the town, including the old city wall and the house of the French poet Rimbaud. Harar is home to one of the stranger sights that you're likely to see in your journey through Ethiopia. Every night, a local man goes to the outskirts of the city and calls the hyenas from the surrounding area. This practice apparently dates from the 1950s, but was based on an older tradition was first started to discourage the hyenas from stealing local livestock. As the hyenas approach, the hyena man holds out pieces of meat to them, either in his hands or sometimes between his teeth, which the hyenas then take from him. This is a practice that is handed down from generation to generation and only one person fills the role at any one time. This evening you may wish to go and witness this bizarre ritual.

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Extension Day 3 – Harar.

A full day in Harar to explore the city to see the mosques and interesting old architecture of the town, including the old city wall and the house of the French poet Rimbaud, Harari Museums, Shrines & Tombs, New & Old Markets and traditional Adare houses. Our guide will be with you and ask him to take you where you want to see or visit.

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Extension Day 4 - Return to Addis.

Transfer back to Dire Dawa for the flight to Addis Ababa, you will have access to a day‐use room in Addis Ababa before returning to the airport for your flight home.

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Please note that if you are flying with Ethiopian Airlines you will probably have to spend an extra night in Addis Ababa and catch a day‐flight (on Extension Day 5) due the flight schedules.

 

This extension can also be done pre‐tour.

Lalibela

Extension Day 1 – Fly from Gondar to Lalibela.

Leaving the group in Gondar you fly to Lalibela and visit the first cluster of rock‐hewn churches in the afternoon. These churches are Ethiopia's top attraction. The churches are mostly cut from solid rock, and therefore have the appearance of being underground. The most famous church is Bete Giorgis (St George, patron saint of Ethiopia), carved in the form of a Greek cross. It is exceptionally well preserved and visually almost flawless. The churches are quite dark inside, with little artificial light, and in some cases limited natural light. In each one there is a resident priest, who is usually happy to put on richly embroidered vestments and pose for a photo with his crosses, ancient bibles and sunglasses (due to constant camera flashes!).

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Extension Day 2 – Lalibela.

In the morning we enjoy an adventurous mule journey to visit Ashetan Maryam (St Mary), built on a ridge with excellent views over the surrounding countryside. The trip takes approximately 5 hours (round trip) and will start early to avoid the heat. We will ride the mules up the mountain for approximately an hour and then hike the rest of the way up the mountain to the church. After visiting the church we then walk back down to the village on slippery mountain paths. This is a tough walk and is optional. If you choose not to do the walk there is plenty to do in Lalibela: There is the opportunity to walk into the town and visit some of the many shops or relax in a Tej café and sample the local fermented honey drink. In the afternoon we visit another cluster of churches that include the churches of Bete Gabriel and Rafael, Merkorous, Emanuel and Abba Libanos. Bete Emanuel is the best in this group and exceptionally carved with unique Axumite building features, such as the indentations on the walls, symbols of the multi‐storey building taken from the stelae of Axum, monkey heads and false windows. The rest of the day is spent absorbing the atmosphere of this extraordinary town with its Tukul or round houses. Made as two storey buildings, they are unusual in Africa.

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Extension Day 3 - Return to Addis.

Fly back to Addis Ababa where you will have access to a day‐use room before returning to the airport for your flight home.

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Please note that if you are flying with Ethiopian Airlines you will probably have to spend an extra night in Addis Ababa and catch a day‐flight (on Extension Day 4) due the flight schedules.

 

This extension can also be done pre‐tour.

Essential Info

Visas

Ethiopia

All nationalities require a visa for Ethiopia which can be obtained before departure (at a cost of GBP26) or on arrival (at a cost of USD50 - be prepared to queue for a while). Please note that the Ethiopian government may change their visa on arrival policy at very short notice so make sure to check the latest advice. A certificate of Yellow Fever vaccination maybe required in order to obtain your visa, for instance if you're travelling from a country at risk of Yellow Fever transmission - please check with the embassy for the latest advice.

Vaccinations

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements for this trip. Recommended vaccinations for this trip are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever.

Malaria prophylaxis is essential on this trip, and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take.

Malaria exists in all areas of Ethiopia below 1800m and although we shall be spending a very short time at low altitudes, it is recommended that you take the appropriate prophylactic throughout the trip.

Bilharzia is known to occur in some of the lakes or rivers visited on this itinerary, we therefore advise all to take advice from your guide or leader locally before venturing for a swim.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 9 lunches, 9 dinners.

Hotel meals are generally good although they can lack variety. Local dishes tend to be very good if you like hot, spicy food although milder versions can be requested. Local food is traditionally eaten with the hands. The sour bread known as injera is used as a scoop for the casserole dishes known as wat. All food on trek is cooked for you and, although local produce can be a bit limited in the mountains, it is usually of a high standard. Vegetarians can be catered for, though you may find the diet somewhat limited. Clients who have specialist dietary requirements must contact us to discuss if they can be accommodated. Ethiopia is a poor country and they are not familiar with gluten or lactose free diets.

Please note that you should not drink the tap water in Ethiopia. In urban areas we suggest drinking bottled water.  During the trek the water is taken from wells and streams and boiled/purified before drinking.

We also suggest that you bring snack food as this can be difficult to obtain outside of Addis Ababa.

Weather

It is likely to be sunny most of the time on all departures. Most of Ethiopia is high, so although the sun is powerful, the temperature is usually very pleasant. There is, however, the risk of sunburn at high altitude, so it is essential you ensure you are adequately protected. Nights are generally cool to cold, depending on altitude and frosts are possible overnight in the mountains, when the night temperature could drop to 0ºC and exceptionally to -5ºC. Daytime temperatures seldom rise above 25ºC except at lower altitudes.

Adidis Ababa

Is this trip for you?

This is a strenuous trek with several days spent close to or above 4,000 metres. There are a number of long days including the optional ascent of Ras Dashen (at 4,543m it is the highest mountain in Ethiopia and this involves 1,300m of ascent and descent in one day). There is a lot of ascent and descent on many of the days and some fairly exposed rough trails. We do not suggest that you attempt this trek unless you are confident of your ability. The total cumulative amount of ascent is 6,500m, and the descent is 7,650m. There are 10 days walking with full porterage, and the trip is graded 5 (this is at the tougher end of the grade 5 scale though). Good health and fitness are important and you should take regular exercise before travelling on this trip. On the October departures there is the possibility of some river crossings. The trails in the Simien Mountains are generally well marked and the landmarks are distinctive. We will be walking for about 6-7 hours a day (although on 4 days as much as 10-12 hours) and the terrain can be quite tough in places. Much of the trek is in remote areas. If you suffer from vertigo, you may want to carefully consider this trip before booking. There are steep drops in the Simien Mountains, which is what makes the scenery so spectacular. There is never an occasion when you need walk close to the edge of the cliffs so if you are happy to stand back you should not be discomforted in any way.

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference:
http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Call for general departures:
020 420 22 20
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Wild Camping & Hotels

You will spend 9 nights wild camping and 3 nights in standard hotels. Tents will be erected by local staff members, who will also cook and wash up. Limited single accommodation is available and we can arrange extra accommodation before or after the trip. 

Single accommodation (available on request).

Call for general departures:
020 420 22 20
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
020 420 22 20
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

African sunset

From the volcanic slopes of Kilimanjaro to the highland plateaux of the Simien Mountains, Exodus has cultivated an ar

Exodus has been specialising in offering incredible, life-changing moments to our travellers for over 40 years; now,

  • Reviewed November 2017
    Stephen Bowman

    Simien Mountain Bimble.......

    Overall a very good trek. Yes, some of the days are a little hard but then it says that in the trip notes so read them! Great views and wildlife and a, mostly, great support team and leaders. Only reason I've not given this trek an "Excellent" rating is due to the group of very annoying scouts that apparently all trek groups must have whilst in the Simiens. They feel obliged to walk six inches behind you and interfere frequently when not required. Some verbal encouragement keeps them out of your hair for a while but they'll soon forget! Not irritating enough for me to suggest going elsewhere for your trek, but I'd suggest that both the Brit and local leader brief them to stick to "scouting" and route finding and that Europeans like our personal space! (And if we want to run down a 1000m decent then that's just fine even if not wise!)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Quite a few I guess, seeing the wolves & monkeys/baboons/what-ever- they-are?, summit day, Suzies favorite view point......

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both where great, Messi, our local guide/leader and Suzi, who I believe has only just started out with Exodus :-) Both, having done it all before, solve problems before they occur, have tons of local knowledge, (plus Suzi has been everywhere so is good source of ideas for the next trek).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Things have changed since the trip notes were written. Cash is easy to get until you hit the wilderness and yes, you do need local currency. Snacks don't need to be brought from UK by the bucket load; firstly you are pretty well fed including snacks during the day, secondly there is access to "supermarkets" on route to the park so you can get certain snacks there. Not the best choice I grant you. You can get you kit washed twice during the trek, the crew do a good job. And no, there aren't many rivers to wash in! One basically and a rather nasty one if you wish when you camp for two nights in a village. Rely on the wet-wipes!
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Irene Neilson

    Great trek in an amazing country

    This trip is a great mixture of culture and trekking. Time in Addis at the Ethnographic museum and the experience of the Debtre Birhan Selassie church in Gondor highlights the deep richness of the culture and history of Ethiopia. It is a fascinating country so desperately underestimated by the outside world. The trek itself, particularly along the Enatyie Escarpment is full of great views and unusual rock formations. In some parts there is an overwhelming feeling of isolation and timelessness. The antics of the Gelada Baboons only adds to the enjoyment.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Although an extension, and therefore technically not part of the trek, it has to be our time at the monolithic rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and journeying there by donkey to the mountain monastery as worshippers in white robes trekked to the service on the hillside and the chants from the service drifted towards us. It was a surreal and very magical experience. On the trek itself there were many magical moments as the scenery was so outstanding - maybe particularly in the late afternoon when the descending sun would cause the rock formations to glow and the sound of the masinko being played with real talent at our last camp in the mountains. We were also fortunate enough to see two Ethiopian wolves and an Ibex during the trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Messi was good - dealt with everything very competently and created a good team spirit.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Its worth spending time exploring the history of Ethiopia before going on the trip. Utube has several interesting documentaries. If you can, extend your stay to include at least Lalibela. See "Lalibela, Wonder of Ethiopia' by Jacques Mercier and Claude Lepage and "Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia" by Maria and Joseph Friedlander. The latter book also has a section on Gondor and useful explanations of the paintings of the Debre Berhan Selassie church

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Any spare gear is greatly appreciated. We took a bag of spare gear/clothes with us which we were able to give to Messi at Gondor pre-trip. There is a large public swimming pool beside the hotel in Addis -you get a permit (free) from the front desk of the hotel which you show at the gate to the pool. You need a swimming cap and a lock for the lockers. Its best to change into a swimsuit at the hotel else it's a case of finding a bush by the pool. Good smallish pool at Gondor with great views of the escarpment. Wifi at both hotels but no signal on the trip.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    David Anderson

    A world class trek in a cultural haven

    The Simien mountains is a world class trek - not too challenging, but challenging enough for most able hillwalkers - the three toughest days are days 5, 6 and 7 - our group was strong and we managed them well within daylight with a couple of hours to spare. Ethiopia is unusual for most African countries, as it has many archeological/ historical sites - Gondor (part of this trip), Lalibela, Axium and Bahir Dar, all worth a visit.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Simien mountains did not disappoint - each of the ten days were different, and each day was peppered with stunning unforgettable views. The remoter sections away from the highway were the best, with the local people at their most friendly. Summit day on Ethiopia's highest mountain Rasdashen, was a high point in all senses of the words. An unexpected pleasure was how good the coffee was - everywhere. The 3 day extension to Lalibela was well worth doing (bit pricey though) - the visit to the mountain monastery and the 8 rock churches in the town, each hewn from one piece of rock, all dating back nearly 1000 years are incredible [more stunning than Petra for me].

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Messi was first class - and the team he lead was excellent. A lot of effort was put into to ensure our safety and well being - no-one fell ill on the trip. The cook was amazing - the food on the trip was probably the best I have ever had over more than 20 similar Exodus trips.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack as light as possible - wear and gift old clothes/equipment at end of trip. Don't overdo the snacks - biscuits/nuts are always on offer. The sun is unrelenting - high factor lip balm a must.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Apart from a few pre-teen children pickpockets outside the hotel in Addis, the country is incredibly safe and in this respect reminded me of walking around Asia rather than Africa.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    Venkatadri Seshadri

    Excellent Adventure

    This trip takes you off the beaten path into the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia. It is a national park with a single road going through it providing a connection to the outside world for the 2,000 families still living in the villages there. The trek takes you through the high-, mid- and low-lands with terrific and varied scenery. You will see plenty of Geladas (up close) and if you're lucky, also the Walia Ibex and Ethiopian Wolf. The trip is long (140+ kms and 10 days) and the hiking is quite tough. I would rate this trip to be more like a "6" rather than a "5" due to the distance traveled and the steep ascents and descents with difficult footing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking through the troop of Geladas on the very first day. There were literally hundreds of them in that group and you can get very close to them before they get nervous and bounce away.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mesi is an outstanding guide. He is very knowledgeable and makes sure everyone is taken care of.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1. Take money (Birr) into the park with you so that you can buy soft drinks on the trail from the kids who sell them (you'll need the fluids and the sugar), and also so that you can buy drinks (beer and soft drinks) from the camp sites. You can also buy souvenirs from the villagers as you pass through the villages. 2. Bring plenty of high energy snacks, especially snacks with lots of sugar in it. 3. Bring plenty of water purification tablets. You'll need to carry 3L of water per day with you. 4. The sun is VERY bright - prepare accordingly. The temperature fluctuates greatly from day to night and from highlands to lowlands. In the highlands, the temperature will drop below freezing at night. It will get up over 30C during the day in the lowlands.
  • Reviewed March 2016
    James Ross

    Memorable trekking over 'Ethiopian flat'

    A gentle 2 day cultural introduction to Ethiopia via the museums, churches and castles before some serious trekking in the mountains, or as out guide called it - Ethiopian flat! A well thought out trekking itinerary, with a few easy days to begin with to help us get used to altitude. Tougher days followed but everyone coped and the support from our guide, Messi, and the local crew was excellent. For our efforts we were rewarded with fantastic views over the mountains, including a good sunset, and a 4000m peak or two (optional). Also some great chances to see the local plant and wildlife.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many. I loved all the Mountains and the 4 Sisters Restaurant in Gondar but the school visit was special. The children had so little equipment compared to what we're used to but they were so enthusiastic and friendly. The tip I learnt is bring pens but also bring balloons.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Messi was excellent. Leading from the front but happy to fall back to help out those at the back of the group. Had plenty of information on Ethiopia and the area we were trekking in and always seemed happy to educate us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It's quite a tough trek but get fit before you go, hydrate when your there, and pack to cope with the basic camp facilities (lots of wet wipes, and loo roll) and you'll love it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The group I travelled with was just as important as the itinerary and support staff in making the holiday as memorable as it was. A superb experience.
  • Reviewed March 2015
    Claire Edwards

    Beautiful Ethiopia

    Those epic views come at a price - lots of steep ascents and descents - but The Simiens are achingly beautiful and worth the effort.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I have so many memories. Mesi made us all keep quiet for 5 mins so we could take in the view on day 2 and it was quite overwhelming. The shower at Chenek camp wouldn't work so Liz and Mesi poured freezing cold water over us as we squealed, amidst much laughter. Being surrounded by kids wanting to practice their English. Having my hair braided (and subsequently losing a handful!!!) by a little girl who was fascinated by blonde hair. The list is endless.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Mesi and Liz made the holiday for us. We could not have asked for more attentive, fun and knowledgeable guides. Half of our group had an ailment of some kind and Liz took care of every one brilliantly while Mesi managed the local crew impeccably.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a tough trek. We had very long ascents and descents, which are difficult at altitude. The crew were so patient and supportive but be prepared for this. One person in the group had a reaction to doxycycline - photosensitivity which meant she had to be blind-folded and make use of Vanessa the ambulance mule. A few of us didn't bother with anti-malarials. There is a risk-benefit that needs to be discussed with a healthcare professional prior to travel. Buy double the wet wipes you think you need, it is very dusty in the dry season. Don't under-estimate the sun. The temperature is pleasant much of the time but you need a lot of protection. Take rehydrating salts to flavour the water and replace sweat. Dioralyte tastes horrible! Some campsites need 2 chlorine tabs per litre so budget for this Take moisturiser. I didn't bother and ended up all dried up like a raisin! If you have space in your bag, take kit that you are happy to donate to the crew at the end of the week I didn't need most of my snacks as the guides always had biscuits, nuts etc, although some of the men were glad of extra. The food is excellent. Chef produces wonders every day….but most of us wished that two sheep hadn't been slaughtered because this meant lamb on 4 nights out of 9 and we didn't really want it. Some groups might love this but if not, tell the guides early in the week.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There were a number of moments on trek that I wished I had booked a beach holiday because my knees hurt so much, but it was a truly wonderful experience. The crew didn't just do their jobs, they looked after us. Be warned, Ethiopia will get under your skin!
  • Reviewed February 2015
    NEIL MUNRO

    Simien trek

    The website describes this trek as at the harder end of challenging and I think that is absolutely spot on. It is also totally worthwhile with the astounding scenery, remarkable wild life and smiling locals.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Obviously getting to the top of Ras Dashen gave a real sense of achievement but it would have been a great trip even without that bonus. I hadnt expected so much contact with the locals and the enthusiasm of the children was totally infectious; And I certainly had never imagined that a large group of Gelada baboons would walk through our group as though we werent there!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The Sara/ Messi duo was unbeatable. With Messi I had total confidence in everything he did while Sara was the most efficient/ enthusiastic/ caring guide I have ever had the privilege of trekking with.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for extremes of temperature. On two of the camp sites the temperature came down to zero in the tent (and was obviously much colder outside). But during the day the sun was also stronger and hotter than I had anticipated - in spite of the altitude I walked in shorts and short sleeved shirts almost every day. And dont feel the difficulties are over once you have completed the three very long days (including ras dashen)! Personally the hardest and most nerve racking day for me was the subsequent long descent on quite difficult paths from the Highlands to the Lowlands - a day described in the Trip Notes as 'much easier'. I suspect I had let my concentration slip - not a good idea!
  • Reviewed January 2015
    Norman Maudsley

    Simen Mountains Ethiopia - 10days Camping

    Just back from a seriously good trekking & camping holiday taking in the Simen Mountains in Northern Ethiopian. Filled all my expectation of a cultural trekking holiday. To enjoy the trek you must be physically fit and used to a multy day regime with early starts hot days and possibly cold nights for this Challenging graded holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The fantastic changing views of the mountains as we travelled around the area, together with the wildlife and flora.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sarah was 100% committed to the group going away from the experience fully satisfied, nothing was too much trouble for her, where she got the endless energy to multy task amazed me.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You are going to be away from mass tourism, in wild country, away from the comforts of home, accept this and take home with you some excellent memories to amaze your friends and family.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go for it now before these wild places become full of tourist hotels and fully surfaced roads, enjoy the present conditions and take yourself back to nature.
  • Reviewed December 2014
    Jonathan Bayley

    A fantastic and varied trek

    There is a great variety offered on this trek. Our November departure started in grazing land where we climbed to see some stunning views of the mountains. After the Ras Dashen ascent the landscape and vegetation changed to be more arid before dropping into the Lush and hot lowlands. As well as the walking and stunning views we had chance to see a great deal of wildlife (wolves, Ibex, Gelada and a good variety of birds). The start was on the tourist trail, we often shared with other groups and were in site of the "road". However, once we dropped into the lowlands we got a great feeling of being off the beaten track and a good chance to interact with the locals as we were camping on the outskirts of the various villages.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The welcoming atmosphere from staff and locals along with a stunning natural environment - not photo will ever do justice to the views.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leaders were excellent. Our local guide was knowledgeable and keen to share information on wildlife, nature and people. Our Exodus guide was great at organising and making sure things ran smoothly as well as providing practical help with trekking and giving an foreigners input.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You need to treat all water so plan appropriately with filters or tablets. In several places you need to add double tablets so they can run out fast. We were treating around 3L of water per day while trekking. It may be useful to have 3x1L bottles not just 2 as refills were not available on all days. You may get away without river crossing shoes. We did as the water was low and we crossed in bare feet. After some rain you may not be so lucky. When it rains it pours and got cold, don't expect hot weather all the time. The nights can be very cold. Most of our group had light weight down jackets or thick fleeces. We had frosts on the higher campsites overnight. As with all trips of this type there is a chance of getting ill. Some of our group had mild stomach upsets and a well stocked first aid kit makes things more manageable. Come prepared with patience if you get the visa on arrival. It took us 3 hours to get the stamp. It is frustrating but then most of our group were in the same queue. Expect equally tedious processes every time you go through the airport. Do some research on what to do in Addis on your return. It is not the most interesting of cities for tourists and a bit of research may mean you get more out of the free day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This area will become increasingly popular over the coming years. Already camps are becoming more established and busy. The road is being built right into the mountains. For now it is relatively unspoilt but that will not last.
  • Reviewed December 2014
    Elizabeth De Lannoy

    Simian Mountain Trek

    The Simian Mountain trek conjures up images of hot dry mountains and dusty valleys but the reality is far from just this: Rugged mountain tops silhouetted against steel grey skies, lush green pasture leading to tall stands of eucalyptus and acacia. The trek is really a trip of two halves, the first involving scenery much as you might find in an exaggerated version of the English / Welsh uplands with unpredictable weather to match! The wild camping isn't a 'wild' as you might expect with established toilet blocks available in most and usually a flat pitch. Passing Gich the scenery changes to the dramatic spiky peaks and escarpments familiar to anyone who has Googled the trek beforehand! The weather also changes to arid and hot with a number of challenging ascents! Camp food was excellent and the guides first class. Book this if you are looking for a trek to somewhere where tourists are a novelty and life hasn't changed in eons for most of the rural community.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visiting a rural school that has been part funded by Exodus.

Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Private Adventures 

Not found the date you’re looking for? We can organise this itinerary as a Private Adventure – just click on the tab above the list of dates and prices, let us know your preferred dates of travel and how many people are travelling, and we’ll do the rest!

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