Summary

Destinations: Africa
  • 14 Days From
    R 44800
  • Trip code: TYES
  • Activity: Walking & Trekking, Point-to-Point, Summits
  • Min age: 16
  • Group size: 5 - 16
Challenging

Trek through the chess pieces of the Gods

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.

On this itinerary we spend an additional day in Gondar to experience Ethiopia’s Timkat Festival which is one of the greatest celebrations on Earth and a great time to visit the country. Please note that this page relates to the ‘The Simien Mountains Trek: Timkat Festival’ departure only.  To view the details for standard itinerary, please go to the ‘The Simien Mountains Trek’ (TYE).

Key information
  • 9 nights wild camping, 4 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
Activities
  • 9 nights wild camping, 4 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

Highlights

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

Dates & Pricing

 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
26 Nov 2018
08 Dec 2018
Guaranteed (Limited Availability)
R 44800
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
25 Feb 2019
09 Mar 2019
Guaranteed (Available)
R 49500
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
07 Oct 2019
19 Oct 2019
Available
R 49500
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
28 Oct 2019
09 Nov 2019
Available
R 49500
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
11 Nov 2019
23 Nov 2019
Available
R 49500
 
Start
Finish
Availability
Price
25 Nov 2019
07 Dec 2019
Available
R 49500

Full Day by Day Itinerary

Day 1 Land Only

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 the Timkat festival (this is where we’ll be enjoying the festival tomorrow so may delay our visit). As today is the eve of Timkat, there will be a colourful procession with singing and chanting parades of all the churches in town and heading the Fasilades bath house. 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. *Goha Hotel or similar*

Day 3

Timkat Festival

Today is the most important day in the Ethiopian Orthodox calendar. We get up early this morning to take part in the Timkat festivities. We join the Ethiopian crowds at Fasilides’ Baths whose water has been blessed by priests and by the side of which the Talbot (replica of the Arc of the Covenant) has spent the night. Young men dive into the water to symbolise the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. Later a procession with singing and chanting parades the Talbot back to the church. The Timkat Festival has been described by some as one of the greatest festivals in the world. *Goha Hotel or similar*

Day 4

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*

Day 5

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*

Day 6

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*

Day 7

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*

Day 8

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*

Day 9

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*

Day 10

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*

Day 11

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*

Day 12

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*

Day 13

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*

Day 14

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.

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)

Food

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.

Trip Notes

Download the detailed trip notes for everything you could possibly want to know about this trip, including detailed itinerary and full kit list.

Map