- 10 days
About the challenge
The Simien Mountains form one of Africa’s largest mountain ranges and are one of the most spectacular. With many of the peaks rising above 4000m, they make an awesome sight and contain Ethiopia’s highest mountain (and the fourth highest in Africa) Ras Dashen, standing majestically at 4620m. Our trek takes us through the Simien Mountain National Park, an area abundant with flora and fauna, fertile cultivated terraces and vibrant hillside villages. Our ultimate goal is the summit of Ras Dashen - the spectacular 360 degree views from the top will take your breath away. This is a tough and challenging trek but the beauty of the countryside, the diversity of the wildlife and exotic plants, and the friendliness of the local people will be something you will take away with you for a long time to come.
Dates & prices
|Departs||Days||Charity||Availability||Registration fee||Fundraising target||Payment option|
|13 Mar 2015||10||Open challenge||Spaces||£299||+||£3800||Or||£1700||Book now|
|09 Oct 2015||10||Open challenge||Spaces||£299||+||£3800||£1700||Book now|
|11 Mar 2016||10||Open challenge||Spaces||£299||+||£3950||£1750||Book now|
|07 Oct 2016||10||Open challenge||Spaces||£299||+||£3950||£1750||Book now|
Day 1: Leave London Heathrow for Addis Ababa.
Day 2: Addis Ababa – Gonder
We arrive early morning and, after completing formalities, take a short internal flight to Gonder, gateway to the Simien Mountain National Park. After time to freshen up and relax we meet for dinner and an evening briefing before preparing for the start of our trek.
Day 3: Gonder – Buyit Rass – Sankaber (3200m)
Trek approx: 5 hours
After an early breakfast, we drive (approx 3 hours) to the bustling town of Debark, and enter the Simien Mountain National Park. Now on foot, we set off around the cliff face high on the plateau and glimpse the spectacular backdrop of the Simien Mountains for the first time. We are likely to encounter gelada baboons, endemic to Ethiopia, and the noisy wattled ibis. Camp Sankaber (3200m).
Day 4: Sankaber – Geech (3600m)
Trek approx: 6 - 7 hours
After breakfast we head towards Geech abyss and the stunning Jin Bahir Falls. Dropping down to the viewpoint perched on a rocky spur opposite the falls, we enjoy a great view as the Jin Bahir river plunges over the cliff into the 1000m drop below. Leaving the falls, we have a sharp climb to rejoin the road before veering off into the valley and crossing the Jin Bahir River further upstream. The final stage of the day follows well-walked paths through cultivated terraces towards Geech village and our campsite nestled high above the village. Camp Geech 3600m.
Day 5: Geech – Mietgogo – Chenek (3600m)
Trek approx: 9 hours
Leaving camp, we set off on a steady climb across open moorland towards Mietgogo, a rocky outcrop perched high above the canyons. The cliffs drop away 1500m below us, but the 360 degree views of the surrounding area are fabulous! Retracing our steps, we head east and drop down until we are just above the source of the river. We then commence the steady climb to Inatye crest (4090m), following the path over the top and down around the mountain, descending nearly 500m to our campsite. We should be there in time to watch the usually-spectacular sunset over the cliffs around Chenek. Camp Chenek 3600m.
Day 6: Chenek – Ambikwa (3400m)
Trek approx: 8 hours
The cliffs around Chenek are the only known habitat for the walia ibex in the world. The need to protect their environment was the main justification for making this area a protected National Park. Keep your eyes peeled for them as we ascend through the valley from Chenek, skirting around the side of Mount Bwahit. We climb to around 4200m before leaving the confines of the Park and dropping down into the next valley, heading east towards Ambikwa. We drop over 1000m in elevation to the valley bottom before crossing the river and climbing back uphill towards our campsite. Camp Ambikwa 3400m.
Day 7: Ambikwa – Ras Dashen (4620m) – Ambikwa
Trek approx: 10 – 12 hours
Today is the summit of Ras Dashen, the highest mountain in Ethiopia. A steep climb out of the valley takes us over the ridge and into easier flatter terrain as we traverse the ridges around the mountain and pass under spectacular rocky cliff faces. Another steep push finally brings us to the flatter side of Ras Dashen, and round to the bottom of the rocky outcrop just below the summit. A final scramble brings us to the top at 4620m. Awe-inspiring views stretching in every direction will take your breath away, if the altitude hasn’t already! We return to Ambikwa the way we came, with a rigorous descent in the last two hours back to our campsite at Ambikwa (3400m.)
Day 8: Ambikwa – Chenek
Trek approx: 9 hours
Retracing our steps, we climb back towards Chenek, dropping down into the valley to camp, where we can indulge in a few freshly-delivered beers to celebrate our achievement. Tired but elated we enjoy our final night under canvas. Camp Chenek 3600m.
Day 9: Chenek – Gonder
Transfer 5 – 6 hours
We transfer by bus back to Gonder and our awaiting hotel. After checking in there will be an opportunity for a bit of last minute shopping before meeting up in the evening for a well earned celebration meal. Night hotel.
Day 10: Fly to London
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes all accommodation as well as all flights, transfers, camping equipment (other than sleeping bag and mat); all meals except two as specified in the itinerary; National Park entry fees and all other sites visited as part of the itinerary. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, along with a local support crew of porters, guides, cooks and drivers.
It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement if charged by the airline, (capped at £200 by Discover Adventure), two meals as specified, tips for local crew, Ethiopian entry visa or international airport tax. It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites you may wish to visit on your free day. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Ethiopian Airlines, however, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
We camp for 6 nights during the trek in two-man tents; you will be sharing with someone else on your trek. Camp facilities include tables, chairs and dining-tents. The hotels at the beginning and end of the trek are comfortable, clean hotel with private facilities, but please do not expect the same standards as you would in a tourist hotel in the UK!
Breakfasts are included when in hotels, and all meals whilst camping. Two dinners and one lunch are not included when you are in towns. The food is good and there is plenty of it.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size), who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but at Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of local guides, drivers, cooks and porters. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Drivers, cooks and porters do not always speak much English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely. Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.
Vehicles take the group to the start of the trek and pick us up at the end. Porters carry all luggage, food, water and camping equipment.
Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
This is a challenging trek mainly because of the altitude at which we are trekking. It is impossible to predict who will be affected by altitude and how it will affect them. Early symptoms include headaches, nausea, suppression of appetite and general lethargy. Where someone is suffering from more serious symptoms it may be necessary to walk them back down the mountain. Terrain is varied with trekking along well- trodden local paths, steep escarpments, rocky trails and light scrambling in places. Most of the walking is rough underfoot. Vehicles take the group to the start of the trek and pick us up at the end. Mules will carry all the luggage, food, water and camping equipment. You will need a good daypack for items required during the day.
Clothing & Equipment
We are trekking on a remote mountains, where we could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Weather conditions can change quickly on the mountain. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
October – December is the best time to visit the Simien Mountains: it is drier but slightly cooler. June – September is rainy season; when it ends the flowers are spectacular. At other times the weather is equatorial and very pleasant, but nights can be chilly. In the mountains the weather can change frequently and you should be prepared. Altitude has a great effect on temperatures and it will get cooler as you climb higher. It will also be cold at night, sometimes below freezing.
This trek is designed to be challenging for those of good health and fitness, and is achievable for most people provided they train well in advance. We will supply you with a thorough training guide when you have registered. Training for the challenge is all part of the preparation and requires commitment! Without it, you will find the trek less enjoyable – and we want you to have the time of your life!
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport with at least one year to run is essential. A visa is required for entry into Ethiopia and is available at the airport in Addis Ababa on arrival.
We insist that you have had a tetanus injection in the last ten years and highly recommend protection against polio, hepatitis A and typhoid. A yellow fever injection is also required and you may be asked to show your vaccination document on entry. Malaria is not found in Addis Ababa or at the elevations we trek at in the mountains, so we do not recommend protection against malaria unless you are planning to extend your stay in Ethiopia. However you should always contact your GP or travel clinic for the latest information as world health situations do frequently change.
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow trekkers and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.
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The human story
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I completed The Great Wall of China in April 2010. My target to raise was £3,600 but I actually raised a staggering £9210.51 for the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity.