• Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Ultimate Guide to Hiking the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia

By |March 26th, 2017|
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The Simien Mountains National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a rugged and remote chain of mountains that stretches across northern Ethiopia. The tallest peak in the Simien Mountains is Ras Deshen reaching above 4,500 meters and the second highest peak is Kidis Yared reaching a close 4,453 meters. These tall peaks make for a dramatic and breathtaking backdrop no matter how long you choose to hike in the park.

With its jaw dropping views of wild landscapes and wild flowers to its rare wildlife containing Gelada Baboons, Wallia Ibex and Ethiopian Wolves, the Simien Mountains is a rarely visited wonderland of nature. All of those attributes combined are what make this place one of the best hiking destinations in the world and rightfully so has earned hiking in the Simien Mountains a spot on our Top 100 Travel Adventures list.

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Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Intro to Hiking in the Simien Mountains

While it is certainly tempting, you cannot hike independently in the Simien Mountains National Park, you must hike with a certified guide and also a licensed gunman at all times. Due to the increasing fragility of the region, there are lots of rules that come with a visit to this park and hefty fines are issued if not obeyed. Don’t worry, we’ve listed all the rules and regulations at the end of this guide so you can be prepared.

Hikes range from 2-14 days depending on your skill level and the time of year you visit. Due to time limitations, we spent 2 days hiking in the Simien Mountains National Park with an overnight at the Sankaber Camp. How many hours you walk in a day is really up to you.

There are trailheads 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. It really depends on your skill level but you can hike trails from 6-8 hours per day with a steady pace.  We did a complete trailhead start to finish for a 7-hour hike on the first day and then ended up doing a partial of 4 hours on the second day due to varying skill levels in our group.

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Simien Mountains Ethiopia

When is the best time to hike in the Simien Mountains? The drier season is between October and May, after the rainy season. It is possible to hike in rainy season and this season has its own attractions. The plant life is particularly lush and it is the time of colorful flowering vegetation. During June, July and August afternoon showers occur pretty much every day, but this should not keep you away as the weather is warm and the rain usually sets in after midday, which leaves enough time for trekking.

Something worth noting: This is not a place for inexperienced hikers. The rocky hillside paths take you up towering peaks and down into deep valleys. Hiking in the Simien Mountains can be strenuous and challenging, not only is it a safety concern if you lack the fitness to hike the trails but your group will not appreciate you holding them back from seeing more of the mountains and wildlife.

Be sure to hike within your level of fitness, we ran across many hikers that bit off more than they could chew. Doing so can make for an unpleasant hike for you and your group since you must hike with a guide and gunman.Your guides will assess you before your start of the hike and you need to be completely honest about your fitness and skills. Do not think you can take on more than you are physically capable of doing, you’ll be miserable and the guide will not be happy.

Are the Simien Mountains safe? Safety has been an issue in the Simien Mountains National Park in the past. Locals are being forced by the government to relocate from their homes that have been in the National Park for generations. As a result, there have been occurrences of crime to foreign hikers but it is not something that is prevalent or something that happens often. We did not run into any issues, everyone was friendly, willing to help and eager to sell us trinkets.

Check out ==> Why You Should Go Backpacking In Ethiopia

Simien Mountains Ethiopia

How to Get to the Simien Mountains

The closest airport to the Simien Mountains National Park is in the city of Gondar. It is well worth flying into the area early and spending some time in Gondar before you start hiking. You can stock up on supplies here and take in some very unique sights, including Camelot styled castles right in the center of town.

Alternatively, you can also fly into the capital of Addis Ababa, Axum or Lalibela and hop on a bus to Gondar. While taking the bus from any of these cities will be considerably cheaper than flying, something worth noting is that land travel in Ethiopia can be painfully slow. They lack the infrastructure and many of the roads are in disrepair making travel very slow going.

Once you reach Gondar, you have a couple different options for traversing the 95km to the frontier town of Debark. You can join an organized tour either booked in advance or arranged through your accommodation, hire a private driver or take the local bus.  The drive takes 2 hours no matter how you shake it.

You can not visit Ethiopia without visiting Lalibela.

Debark Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Every Simien Mountains Hike Starts Here

The starting point for any visit to the Simien Mountains National Park is the National Park Office in Debark. This is the implementing institution for management, conservation measures and rehabilitation activities in the Park. The Park Office is the first place and only place to go to for permits, information, travel preparation and any other form of support for visitors to the National Park. It is here that the required entrance permit can be purchased and an official SMNP Scout contracted. The National Park Office is located on the main road in Debark at the southern part of the town.

The address of the Park Office is: P.O. Box 13, Debark, Gondar

Open 8:30am to 5pm Monday – Friday and 8:30am to 12pm on Saturday

While many people just pop into the office for permits and leave, we found Debark to be quite charming. There are many street markets where you can stock up on supplies for you hike, keep in mind nothing too fancy but good staples like bread, crackers, cookies, sweets, water and soda. Go for a walk before heading out to hike, the locals are particularly nice in this town and it’s a great place to get the feel for a rural Ethiopian town.

Hotels we Recommend in Gondar

Goha Hotel **** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

L-Shape Hotel **** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

AG Hotel Gondar **** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Sycamore Pension **** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Florida International Hotel **** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor

Find Accommodation in Gondar: Read reviews and check prices for hotels in Gondar at TripAdvisor or AirBnB. (Book today at AirBnB and get $40 off!)

Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Simien Lodge to Sankaber Trail

With permits in hand and having stocked up on supplies in Debark, it was time to head into the park and start hiking. Located 6km inside the Simien Mountains National Park gate is the illustrious Simien Lodge. Some people opt to visit the mountains, basing themselves at this lodge for several days and hiking various parts of the trail with van pickup and drop off. This is a great option if you enjoy a comfy place to put your feet up each night.

Read reviews and check prices ===> Simien Lodge

Right after the entrance to the Simien Lodge is the start of all trails in the park. We were a bit surprised when the driver stopped the van in the middle of the road and told us to get out, we would start hiking from there. Apparently, this is the trailhead for the Simien Lodge to Sankaber trail. Looking around, we didn’t see any designated hiking paths but it became clear that we’d follow the road for a short ways before leaving the road and heading down a small hill covered in tall grass.

This wasn’t concerning to us because we had a guide, but it took us some time before we found the beaten trail. I don’t think we would have easily found this had we been starting this trail section on our own. It didn’t help that within minutes of leaving the road we came across our first group of Gelada Baboons.

Galada Baboons Simien Mountains Ethiopia

This took us all by surprise as we were literally surrounded by hundreds of them. If we had started further up the trail, we would have missed them. While it was exciting to see them and our small group of 6 took some time to photograph them, we didn’t spend too much time knowing we had a solid 6+ hours of hiking ahead of us before we would arrive at Sankaber to make camp. [More on the Gelada Baboons later]

The Simien Lodge to Sankaber trail took us through spongy grass and tree lined trails before giving way to deep valley cliffs and amazing vistas. Once you reach this area, the trail follows the curvature of the cliffs, meaning the trails winds around including some steep ascents and descents.  All along the route are lookouts where you can pose on the cliff edge, sit on rocks or just take in the views. The scenery, well, it looks like a fake screensaver on your at home computer.

We hiked the trail with the views over our left shoulder. Over our right shoulder was typically a steep incline of thick grass and trees. Due to how picturesque it was, we would hike for a stretch then make a photo stop. This afforded ample time for recovery and rest but did make the hike last longer. Honestly though, how often in your life are you going to visit the Simien Mountains? It’s worth taking the extra stops and soaking in the scene. It’s a really unique part of the world that we have yet to find another spot that compares to it.

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Lammergeyers Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Besides seeing the Gelada Baboons several times, we spotted them 3 times on this trail in large numbers, we had the pleasure of having some giant black birds join us for lunch.  When not soaring above the valley, these guys are looking for anything they can scavenge. Officially called Lammergeyers, they are large bearded vultures and their diet consists mainly of bone marrow. Apparently, this requires them to drop big bones from the sky onto stones to expose the nutritious marrow. We did not get to see any feeding but they seemed awfully interested in our lunches.

Lucky for us, we had beautiful weather with bright blue skies and a comfortable temperature. Our guide led the way down the trail, pointing things out to us and answering questions about the park as we hiked. He was as excited to showcase his country to us, as we were to explore it. We highly recommend hiring a guide, a) so you don’t get lost but b) because it will enrich your experience.

Always bringing up the back of the group was our required gunman. While we inquired from many different angles, we couldn’t get a clear answer on if we needed him to protect us from animals or people. Food for thought.

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Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Simien Lodge to Sankaber Trail Notes:

Once we located the beaten path at the trailhead, the path was easy to follow. While there is no signage, the trail is beaten. The trail itself, while not strenuous in entirety, does have some challenging portions and several areas with a good amount of incline. You need to be well hydrated and properly fueled to complete this portion of the trail with a smile on your face, despite the amazing views.

There is nowhere to buy food on this trail or when you get to Sankaber, you must pack your own or have your guide arrange for meal preparation at the Sankaber Hut.  We packed a simple lunch from Debark, a variety of snacks and 4 liters of water (each) to get us through the 2 days of hiking.

In terms of how crowded this trail is, while we spent the first 4 hours without seeing any other hikers, the last part of the trail was shockingly busy with other hikers. It became clear that many groups had bussed to a spot on the trail closer to Sankaber to only cover a shorter distance that day. This was, at times, frustrating because the walking paths are narrow.

Altitude is another consideration your should be prepared for. While this isn’t the Himalayas, you will still be affected by altitude while hiking in the Simien Mountains. Debark starts at 2700 meters and by the time you finish hiking from the Simien Lodge to the Sankaber camp, you’ll find yourself climbing to and sleeping at 3200 meters.

Tips for dealing with altitude: Stay hydrated, stay fueled and take breaks when you feel tired.

Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Our night at Sankaber Camp

After our long, 7 hour day of hiking, we were happy to reach the first camp in the Simien Mountains National park known as the Sankaber Camp. There are two options for this camp, you can either book into the hut or you can camp out. Both options share a very rustic drop toilet and there is no running water. The Sankaber camp is pretty basic, no matter how you use it.

The key is remembering that you are in a National Park and your expectations should match that. Since we were hiking in for 2 days and had a nice group size, our entire group filled one of the brick buildings and setting up camp for the night was smooth and easy.  The huts did provide a bed with mattress and blankets, but they left much to be desired and clearly had never been washed. We were happy we had brought our own sleeping bags.

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Simien Mountains Ethiopia

As the sun set, our guides helped to prepare a meal over the camp fire. We started with popcorn, beer and spent some time singing around the fire until dinner was ready. Dinner was simple, cooked pasta with red sauce and vegetables. The night was simple and we definitely needed a head torch for anything we wanted to view after dark. There was no power in the rustic bathroom and the trail to it was mostly covered in bush.

We were thankful, again, that we had brought our sleeping bags because even during the nicest time of year, it gets really cold in the Simien Mountains at night. We both slept in our jackets to keep warm and keep our muscles from getting too stiff.  We slept peacefully knowing that our guide and gunman, who refused to join us inside, were sleeping right outside our door.

Click to see all of the different tours Viator and TourRadar run’s in Ethiopia.

Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Sankaber to Gich Trail

Waking to an early alarm, we were greeted by a very brisk morning with heavy dew on the ground. Breakfast was simple and full of carbs to provide the fuel we would need for our hike that day. Our day hiking the Sankaber to Gich trail would start on foot from the hut.

This part of the trail starts off with a steep climb up from the hut before leveling off into pleasant hiking for a short amount of time. After that, this part of the trail is challenging. It has steep grades on incline that last for long stretches and there were several people in our group that were not fit enough for this kind of hiking.

After a solid 2 hours of hiking, we reached the head of the entrance to the Jinbar Waterfall. This is an optional part of the trail that you can choose to bypass or complete the return hike to the lookout before continuing on the trail. Our group opted for the diversion and we set off chasing waterfalls in the Simien Mountains.

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Simien Mountains Ethiopia

This diversion is tough. It is steep and the trail, while beaten, is not maintained. You have to pass down into a valley on a path where there are loose rocks and we found ourselves having to grab nearby trees to stabilize as we climbed down. Once reaching the bottom, we had to cross a small creek then climb back up onto a rocky hill side where the trail and trees gave way to massive boulders and sweeping vistas. They call this reaching the bottom of the Kaba Fen.

At this point, you have to traverse a very steep, open faced and narrow- about the width of your hips- boulder bridge to the other side of a deep canyon trench to reach the viewpoint. If you get vertigo or have trouble balancing do not attempt to cross this bridge. There are no hand rails and the footing is uneven.

Once on the viewpoint, there are no guard rails and the footing is uneven. Be sure to have your feet planted before taking photos or you could trip and fall.  One of the people in our group was eager to pose for a photo and slipped near the edge. Everyone gasped as he quickly scrambled back to his feet, it was a close one.

Simien Mountains Ethiopia

We spent some time taking photos at the Jinbar Waterfall before taking almost an hour to hike back up the steep valley wall to the trail. When we reached the top of the valley we were treated to a huge troupe of Gelada Baboons grazing in a field. Seriously, it was one of the most amazing wildlife sights we have ever seen. Our small group wandered through them, many of us sitting in the grass to take photos and just observe them. None of them cared and we enjoyed the quiet moment with nature.

Hiking up a little farther, the trail meets the road and we were informed by our guide that our van would be meeting us there to take us back to Debark for lunch and then returning to Gondar. While we were disappointed by this, we had planned a full day of hiking with a late return, we understood that the upcoming trail was well outside the fitness level of some in the group.

Regardless, we got 5 hours in on the trail that day, saw a stunning waterfall and literally walked amongst an endemic species. You really can’t beat that.

Simien Mountains Ethiopia Divergent Travelers

Our Thoughts

The Simien Mountains are stunning and a real treat for anyone that loves nature. Personally, we loved the trails and found our fitness levels were up to the challenge of the trails we hiked. I have no doubt we could have spent 4-5 days hiking the trails and had an enjoyable time.

The guides and gunman we had (even the others we met on the trail) were personable, kind and very passionate about the mountains. They knew the area, the trails and had the knowledge necessary to make advised decisions about safety to the hikers under their care.

Will we do it again? Sure we will. You’d be hard pressed to keep us out of Debark and the Simien Mountains when we find ourselves in Ethiopia again.

Gelada Baboons Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Gelada Baboon Wildlife Viewing

I’d be lying if I said this isn’t one of the main reasons that people want to visit this part of the world. Endemic to the Simien Mountains alone, Gelada Baboons are very likely to steal the show while you are out hiking. Unlike other primates, these guys tend to keep to themselves, spending their days scavenging the tender blades of grass that are emerging from the soil. You can literally walk amongst them and they will barely notice you, so intent on their finds.

This was very strange for us because our monkey encounters around the world have been nothing short of ‘be on your guard and carry a monkey stick’ (anything long that can be used to deter monkey from snatching your stuff or biting you). I have to admit, this was a very pleasant surprise and allowed us ample time to photograph them and enjoy their presence.

Click to see all of the different tours Viator and TourRadar run’s in Ethiopia.

Gelada Baboons Simien Mountains Ethiopia

What are Geladas? Geladas, also known as the Bleeding Heart Baboon, are large primates that have long brown hair. They look like a 1980’s hairband member and have a large heart shaped area of exposed skin on their chest that changes colors based on their mood.

Geladas are found in the high grassland of the deep gorges of the central Ethiopian Plateau. The Simien Mountains is the only place in the world where you can see Geladas in the wild. They live in elevations from 1800 –4400 meters above sea level. They are gentle by nature and really do not care about anything besides gorging themselves on the rich grassy hillsides.

Gelada Baboons Simien Mountains Ethiopia

What to do when you come across Geladas while hiking: Don’t be scared, they are gentle creatures. Just find a good place to sit, you want to be low to the ground because if you’re standing up they will not come close. Find a good area with nice green grass and stay still. They will move in right beside you while they are eating.

Never approach them in large groups or in a rapid, fast moving way. Never try to touch or pet them, they can bite. Also, never stare them directly in the eyes, this is communicated as a direct threat and will cause an attack.  They are wild animals. Just sit still, quiet and they will go around you like nothing is happening.

Don’t leave home without your Lonely Planet Ethiopia, Djibouti & Somaliland (Travel Guide)

Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Simien Mountains Hiking Facts

Strength Level: Medium to High

Hiking Length: Day Hikes, 2-14 day hikes

Path Type: Dirt and Rocky with up and down hills.

Lodging Type: Simien Lodge, Camping or Huts

Best Time To Hike: You can hike all year around but for the best wildlife, flowers and green landscapes are from September to November

Group Sizes: 4-10 people, it’s also possible to hire a private guide

Park Fees per 24 hours: Foreign Tourists Over 12 years- 90 Birr, Under 12 years- 10 Birr

Vehicle Fees per 24 hours: Foreign Tourists Under 12 seats- 20 Birr, Over 12 seats- 40 Birr

Camping Fees per 24 hours: Foreign Tourist Tent Up to 4 people- 40 Birr, Over 4 people- 60 Birr

Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Important Rules & Regulations of the National Park

  • All trips to the park must be escorted by a trained Park administration scout. Instructions given by the official representative of the National Park must be strictly follow.
  • Disturbing wildlife or carrying out any activity that might disturb or destroy their natural habitat is strictly forbidden in the Park (hunting, chasing away, excessive noise, specific sporting activities such as paragliding or mountain-biking).
  • Any activity that destroys or removes plants or flowers is prohibited. The same applies to destruction and removal of trees. At the official campsites, it is possible to buy firewood from the Park staff [Eucalyptus]. To stop the progressive deforestation of the remaining Erica forests, the purchase and use thereof has been declared punishable by law.
  • Entering the Park with domestic animals [e.g. dogs] is not permitted.
  • Do not leave litter behind on a trek. Park scouts have started to dig rubbish dumps, thus making appropriate disposal possible. Your scout will know the latest regulations. Beyond this, don’t be afraid to pick up any trash you come across left by other hikers on the trail or in camp….
  • Camping and overnight stays are only allowed in designated areas at the regular camping sites.
  • Any fires outside the officially designated camp areas are strictly forbidden. Special attention is necessary when smoking, as this can cause grass and bush fires.
  • A high degree of respect towards the resident population, their traditional values and their lifestyle is required. This implies absolute respect for private propriety and a certain restraint when taking photos.
  • Please be aware of the possible long-term consequences of handing out medicine and gifts [particularly sweets] to the local population.

Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Simien Mountains Packing List

You are not going to be able to buy much once you are in Ethiopia. We recommend buying everything in advance to save you time, frustration and money. Check out these great outdoor suppliers that will have anything you will need for your hiking adventure. They have great prices and quick shipping. Backcountry, Moosejaw Outdoors, Sierra Trading Post and Bass Pro Shops.

Good hiking shoes, the paths are rocky and unstable at times. We use and like: Keen Sandals, Crocs waterproof shoes and Merrel hiking shoes.

Hiking poles are great for the unstable paths. We use and like: Foxelli Trekking Poles – Collapsible Lightweight

Lots of water and purification tablets for refilling from natural sources.

Water Bottle, Fill up right out of the tap or even out of rivers with Lifestraw Go Water Bottle with Integrated 1,000 Liter Lifestraw Filter

First-aid Kit  or Med kit stocked up with foot aides, pain meds, altitude sickness pills and stomach pills.

Camping equipment: Sleeping bags and a pillow. A blanket is also nice for the cold nights next to the fire. towels, tents, headlamp and toilet paper. Baby wipes are also useful for a quick bird bath, so you can feel like new, especially if you’re doing a multi-day hike. You can get a killer price on all of that gear at: Backcountry, Moosejaw Outdoors, Sierra Trading Post and Bass Pro Shops.

Bring a pullover and rain jacket for the morning and late afternoon.

Do not forget your sunblock.

Mosquito Repellent- we have put together some of the best kinds of mosquito repellent to buy for your hiking adventure.

Long hat and buff to cover your face from the sun and wind. ( Buff’s are the best for all adventures.)

Quick Drying Towel

Waterproof Backpack

Waterproof Bags for Camera/Phone/Etc.

Do not expect to get cell phone service while hiking in the Simien Mountains.

Sunglasses are a must. We like and use: Costa Polarized Sunglasses and Suncloud Polarized Sunglasses.

Day Bag (We love our PackSafe Venturesafe X30 backpack because it locks up 100%) You carry your daypack for all of your daily needs. As the main luggage is transported by the pack animals and will only be open/unpacked when you get to camp. You can hire a pack animal at the start of the Sankaber camp if you are continuing into the park. They range in price depending on the time of year and the size of your group.

Don’t forget your camera- GoPro and video camera. Charge everything before your hike, there’s no power on the Simien Mountains. Bring a power hub for charging batteries if you’re hiking for more than a couple days and camping.

GoPro Hero 5 Black

GoPro Karma Grip

10-25″ Telescoping Pole (Selfie Stick)

GoPro Karma Drone

Camera (We carry the Canon 6d DSLR camera with Canon 24-105L lens)

Camera Rain Cover

Sony FDR-AX53 Video Camera

4 in 1 USB charging cable for your phone or tablet.(To keep everything charged)

Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Arranging a Hiking Trip in the Simien Mountains

As we’ve mentioned previously, there are a couple different ways you can arrange a hiking trip in the Simien Mountains. It all depends on you and how you want your trip to be.

Book with a company in advance: Many large tour companies offer Simien Mountain hiking options on their Ethiopia itineraries. This is the most popular way that people come to hike in this special place. Be sure that you select an itinerary that gives you at least 2 days, many of these will stay at the Simien Lodge and drive you out to various trailheads for day hikes

Book from a hotel in Gondar: No matter where you are staying, your hotel/hostel/guesthouse in Gondar can arrange a small group or private hiking trip in the Simien Mountains. Prices are going to be pretty fixed, because of park costs, but we do recommend shopping around first to get an idea on price. This is how our group arranged our trip.

Arrange it independently in Debark: Take the local bus or hire a driver to take you to Debark. Stop in at the National Park office to buy your permits and you will be assigned a guide and gunman for your hiking trip.

All guides, cooks and horseman are assigned by the park office. No matter how you arrange your hiking trip- through a big tour company, in Gondar or on your own, you will be hiking with registered, knowledgeable guides that will be able to speak English.

Under no circumstances should you attempt to visit the Simien Mountains National Park without a guide. Not only is this illegal but it is unsafe.

Recommended Hiking tours in the Simien Mountains

We have found some of the best tour operators that run hiking adventures in the Simien Mountains. Click to see all of the different tours Viator and TourRadar run’s in Ethiopia.

TourRadar – The Simien Mountains Trek. Start and end in London! With the hiking & trekking tour The Simien Mountains Trek, you have a 13 day tour package taking you through London, England and 5 other destinations. The Simien Mountains Trek includes accommodation in a hotel as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more.

TourRadar – The Simien Mountains Trek: Timkat Festival. Start and end in Addis Ababa! With the hiking & trekking tour The Simien Mountains Trek: Timkat Festival, you have a 14 day tour package taking you through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and 8 other destinations in Ethiopia. The Simien Mountains Trek: Timkat Festival includes accommodation as well as an expert guide, transport.

Viator – 11-Day Historic Tour through Northern Ethiopia from Addis Ababa. The core of the country’s tourist industry is formed by the well-defined ‘historical circuit’ through northern Ethiopia. It is probably no exaggeration to say that 90% of travelers to Ethiopia base the bulk of their itinerary around this circuit, and rightly so. There is nothing in sub-Saharan Africa that prepares the visitor for the wealth of historical and cultural treasures, both ancient and living, contained in northern Ethiopia.

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Simien Mountains Ethiopia

Other Top 100 Travel Adventures You Need To Read About

The World’s Top 100 Travel Adventures
Serengeti Safari Experience in Africa | Nile River Felucca Trip in Egypt | Gorilla Trekking in Africa
White Water Rafting the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe | Bush Camping in the Okavango Delta in Botswana
Great White Shark Cage Diving in South Africa | Horseback Riding in Dingle, Ireland
Camel Trekking and Camping in the Sahara Desert Morocco | Diving Sipadan Island
Sea Safari from Coron to El Nido | Visiting Qomolangma- The Mighty Mount Everest | Hiking the Great Wall of China
Orangutan Trekking | Scuba Diving the Great Barrier Reef | Off Roading and Bush Camping on Fraser Island
The Tongariro Crossing is the Best Hike in New Zealand | 5 Days of Hiking in Patagonia – Basecamps Trek

Resources for Planning Your Trip to Ethiopia

Visa Required for US citizens: You must obtain a visa for Ethiopia prior to your visit. The visa needs to be obtained from your home country. Application can be found online and must be printed and mailed per provided instructions to the Washington DC Ethiopia embassy. Process takes generally 2 weeks.

Recommended Guide Books For Ethiopia: Lonely Planet Africa (Travel Guide)

Find Accommodation in Gondar: Read reviews and check prices for hotels in Gondar at TripAdvisor or AirBnB. (Book today at AirBnB and get $40 off!)

Search for Flights: We use Skyscanner to search for and book a majority of our flights.

Travel Insurance: We use for Allianz for travel insurance and have since our first trip to Mexico in 2003. They’ve been there for us on our adventures – and many friends and readers – multiple times over! If you want to book with Allianz Travel Insurance, simply use this link to get their travel insurance!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you click on the link and make a purchase, we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!


  1. Theresa Torp May 1, 2018 at 3:39 AM - Reply

    Ps. At what time of year did you visit? I’ve seen pictures from dry season, when there is almost no water in the waterfall. I’m planning to go in september – but wan’t to make sure that the waterfall is just as beautiful as in you photos 🙂

    • Lina Stock May 6, 2018 at 2:39 PM - Reply

      Hi Theresa! Glad you are considering a trip to the Simien Mountains, it is a very beautiful place to trek and explore. We were there at the beginning of October. Hope that helps with you planning. Cheers!

  2. Theresa Torp May 1, 2018 at 3:30 AM - Reply

    Do you have any pictures of the narrow bridge you are talking about? We’re both experienced hikers, but your description of this bridge sounds a bit dangerous? Would love to see some pictures before we go 🙂 Thank you for this very helpful blog post!

    • Lina Stock June 22, 2018 at 10:11 PM - Reply

      Hi Theresa! I don’t have any photos of that bridge handy but I think you will manage okay! I won’t lie, it’s not the safest thing you could be doing, there is no handrail or guard, but if you are sure of yourself it won’t be an issue. Everyone in our group made it across both times without incident. Have fun! Ethiopia is an incredible place.

  3. Clemens March 11, 2018 at 8:05 AM - Reply

    Wow, we habe been to Ethiopia twice but never made it to the Simien Mountains. It’s on our list I can say.

    • Lina Stock March 11, 2018 at 9:15 AM - Reply

      It’s one of the best places to hike in the World! Def go back so you can experience the endemic Gelada baboons.

  4. Harpreet December 11, 2017 at 9:43 AM - Reply

    This is amazing! Thank you for taking the time to write out such a detailed post. My husband and I are off to Ethiopia next week and this post has helped me mentally prepare for the hikes that we have ahead of us!

    • Lina Stock December 11, 2017 at 8:30 PM - Reply

      Great to hear! You are in for such a treat, it is SO beautiful in the Simien Mountains! Enjoy and safe travels.

  5. Lucien April 9, 2017 at 1:38 PM - Reply

    Great job! A lot of thought went into this blog. Very helpful information, and quite timely. I can only imagine these highlands as a magnate and a refuge for the stressed out denizens of the concrete jungles of the West and elsewhere, even if for a short time. And thank you UNESCO!

    The Simien Mountains themselves are out of this world. In comments, many visitors opine that it is the most beautiful and hypnotic mountain range on the planet. Looking at the pictures, I cannot argue. If the Creator were to build her palace on this earth, I doubt she would think twice.

    I read a banner headline on a Turkish news outlet a couple of years ago, which summarizes what they thought of the beauty of the host country. It said, simply, “The First Land Where God First Put His Foot on Earth!” It says it all. Now, how on earth did we in the West end up with a debased perception of this land? As a widely consulted travel guide book noted, the perception says everything about the West, but nothing about Ethiopia. Well said.

  6. Andreas Moser March 26, 2017 at 8:50 PM - Reply

    Wow! Beautiful, but scary steep cliffs.

    • Lina March 27, 2017 at 8:32 AM - Reply

      The Simien Mountains are insanely beautiful but yes, very steep cliffs all around you when hiking!

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