Trekking in the Simiens
Trekking in the Simien mountains has been the main activity for a long time. Once up on the escarpment, it is possible to walk through forests and over grassland for hundreds of miles. A trek to the summit of Ras Daschen normally takes about 6 days. Other more modest treks go to Imet Gogo, Bwahit and the camp sites of Geech, Sankabur and Chennuk.
The scenery starts to get interesting around Simien Lodge, some 22km from Debarak. The walk from Debarak to the escaprment edge is generally uphill through farmland and this is not so interesting. But the lodge is situated at the beginning of the escarpment where the whole scenery opens out with magnificent views for hundred of kilometres. This is actually where the predator animal activity really starts. The gelada sleep on the cliff edges at night and predators such as hyena and leopard roam the cliff edges. Wolves have been spotted near the lodge in the past but generally they live around the Chennuk area.
There is a strict rota for guides and scouts to the Simien Mountains at the park entrance. Simien Lodge does not get involved with any hiring of guides and scouts and this must be organised at the park office in Debarak. But it is very easy and does not need to be organised from abroad. Once you arrive at the park office then everything falls into place. You will be assigned a scout and then if you need other staff such as cooks then they are immediately on hand. It is not adviseable to book in Gonder or elsewhere. Beware of touts and only reserve at the park entrance where you will receive a genuine ticket to enter the park.
Simien Lodge - equipment hire
We have about ten Giant brand mountain bikes for hire.
Although it is essential to buy a pass to enter the park at Debark, good camping equipment is available at the lodge. Sometimes the equipment hired in the towns is of poor quality. We have the latest automatic tents and sleeping bags rated to -5. (French alpine quality from Decathlon)
The Simiens are without doubt the most spectacular mountains scenery in Africa. Trekking in the Simiens is a must for anyone who likes spectacular views. Some of the cliffs drop vertically for over a mile, justifying the description of "Africa's Grand Canyon".
The climb to Ras Daschen summit
Climbing to the summit of Ras Daschen at 4600m should be within the scope of most fit people who have spent some time already in Ethiopia to acclimatise. This is because most of the highlands are over 2000 metres. Many people who have climbed Kilimanjaro think that Ras Daschen will be 'a walk in the park' by comparison. Not so. The final 100 metres to the summit requires some rock climbing experience and for tired legs this is not so easy. In addition, the climb back up Bwahit (4200m) after several days of serious trekking is often too much for some people. Fatigue is cumulative and trekkers who are not sure that they can get back should not attempt this mountain. There are no rescue facilities on the east side of Bwahit.
Of interest; Children on the slopes of Ras Daschen are very poor. Sometimes they keep the sheep for weeks on end, away from their families.
Current snow report on Ras Daschen http://www.snow-forecast.com/countries/Ethiopia/resorts
The route from Bwahit it takes about 5 hours to descend to the Mersheba river via the village of Chiroleba. The river is not passable in the rainy season. From the river it takes about two hours to climb to the base camp. The climb to the summit normally starts at 4am. As with most mountains, the cloud can become thick and stormy in the afternoons so it is best to ascend and descend before late afternoon. The summit is normally reached by 9am. If some of the route is not so interesting then the summit is spectacular and there is often snow or ice. The views are magnificent. Simien Wolves can often be seen right up to the summit.
The picture shows two of the mountain children on the slopes of Ras Daschen. Many of these children sleep in caves and look after the goats day and night. They often go ten days without seeing their other family members.
Several extreme sports have recently been practiced in the Simiens with the approval of EWCA, the park authority. Canyonning, mountaineering, base jumping to name a few.
Prices for treks and transport
Park entrance fees (Approximate exchange rate US$ = 11birr,€ = 15 birr)
|Per 48hrs||Entrance fee|
|Ethiopian Adult||20 birr|
|Ethiopian child||20 birr||10 birr > 12yrs|
|Foreign resident||50 birr|
|Foreign child resident||50 birr||10 birr > 12yrs|
|Foreign non resident||90 birr|
|Foreign child non resident||90 birr||10 birr > 12yrs|
Nigist Towers, 2nd floor, Kazanchis Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Addis Office: +251 11 5524758
Lodge: +251 582 310741
La Clarine, 38840 St Lattier France
Phone: +33 476643078