• trekking tour ethiopia simien eco tours

Trekking from the Highlands to the Inside of the Earth

A journey for trekking connoisseurs, nature lovers and adventurers, which leads us through the most impressive landscapes of Ethiopia. From one of the deepest and hottest places on earth in the Danakil Depression this trekking trip brings you from Ethiopia's volcanoes with bubbling fumaroles to a diverse highland nature on top of the Roof of Africa. Your climbs lead you higher and higher from destination to destination until you finally reach the highest peak of Ethiopia - Ras Dashen. Special highlight will be a community trekking in the Agame Mountains.

UNDERSTAND OUR ICONS

Sulphur and chlorine steam and bubble from greenish-yellow fumaroles and cover the air. Ferrous water forms red crusts. Conically shaped salt formations with their rings remind one of tree trunks. You are in Dallol in the Danakil depression, 124 m below sea level, mostly hotter than 40° C. A place like not from this world, where you can watch the geology in fast motion. When the sun slowly sets and the longed-for cooling occurs, the camel caravans of the Afar traders, living in these inhospitable lands, loaded with blocks of desert salt, set off on their long journey to the highlands. The Danakil Desert could not be a stronger contrast to the fertile highlands of northern Ethiopia.

In the highlands you trek through the rugged plateaus of the Simien Mountains and experience deep gorges, rugged rocks and wide plateaus. Here you observe the endemic Gelada baboons. Near Lalibela and in the Tigray region the tour leads you on less frequented community treks where you stay with locals. More than half of the income from tourists here goes to the local population, which makes these treks an incomparably authentic experience in the remote mountain landscapes of Ethiopia.

Dates:

  • GR12-01: January 30 to February 19, 2021 (Tour Guide: Christian Sefrin)
  • GR12-02: March 21 to April 10, 2021
  • GR12-03: May 8 to 28, 2021
  • GR12-04: November 7 to 27, 2021
  • GR12-05: December 19, 2021 to January 8, 2022

Tour code: GR12

Operator: Partner of SimienEcoTours

Gallery

Itinerary & In/Exclusions

Day 1

International flight & arrival at Bole Int'l Airport

Flight time: 7 h

International flight from Frankfurt to Addis Ababa, usually a night flight, so that you land in Addis Ababa the next morning.

Meals: on the flight

Accommodation: ---

Day 2

Enjoying the first insights of Ethiopia

Travel time: 2-3 h; km: 50 km

Early in the morning you arrive in Addis Ababa. First you will be transferred to the hotel and have breakfast. Afterwards you can change some cash at a bank before you explore Addis Ababa. You drive up to Entoto Hill at over 3,000 m. There you will visit the Mariyam Church and - if the weather is good - you can enjoy the view of Addis Ababa. Afterwards you visit the National Museum and dive into the rich history of Ethiopia. After lunch you visit the lively Shola market. Afterwards you check in at the hotel and can relax from the night flight or take a walk in the surroundings of the hotel.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Heyday Hotel or similar, Addis Ababa

Day 3

Into the Danakil desert

Flight time: 1.5 h

Travel: 6-7 h; 230 km

You transfer to the airport in Addis Ababa for your domestic flight to Mekelle. The regional capital welcomes you and you have some free time to see the city or get a lunch on arrival. In the afternoon you move on to the Danakil Desert to the campsite in Saba, in the evening sunset on the salt pan of the Karum Salt Lake and afterwards return to the camp for dinner (prepared by your cook) and campfire.

Meals: B/-/D

Accommodation: Camping in Saba, Saba Canyon

Day 4

Enjoy an active volcano

Travel: 2h; km: 80 km,

Hiking: 2-3 h, 2 km (difficulty: easy but hot, altitude difference: ↑50m, ↓50m);

Today you will visit the Dalol volcano. Via the Karum salt lake you will approach this flat volcano, which pushes through the salt crust. Everywhere you look, bright colours shimmer, which seem to come from another planet. Turquoise green acid lakes form everywhere in its crater. Everything is harmonious and peaceful, but you are dancing on an active volcano. The forces of the earth show themselves to you on a flank of the Dalol, where an eruption has formed a gigantic salt canyon. In the afternoon you return to the Saba campsite where you can take a refreshing bath in a small riverbed and your cook will be waiting for you with some food.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Camping in Saba, Saba Canyon

Day 5

Desert trekking in the Saba Canyon

Travel: 4-5 h; 200 km

Hiking: 6-7 h, 15 km (difficulty: moderate, altitude difference: ↑400m, ↓100m); 

The salt caravans use the same resting place tonight and stay among you. Still in the darkness to escape the heat of the day, they leave and move with the dromedary caravans towards Berale. Slowly the steep and barren cliffs light up in the first sunlight. Finally, the valley widens and you meet a road where you are picked up by your vehicles. Finally the journey continues to Gheralta, the so-called "Arizona of Ethiopia".

Meals: B/L/D 

Accommodation: Wukro Lodge or similar, Wukro

Day 6

Exploring the hidden Churches of Tigray

Travel: 2h; km: 50 km; 

Hiking: 3-4 h; 8 km (difficulty: medium/difficult, altitude difference: ↑400m, ↓400m)

In the morning visit of the rock churches of Daniel and Mariam Korkor in the middle of the Gheralta massif, picnic in the shade of mighty fig trees, in the afternoon hike in the flat Papaseti valley (2-3 Std.) over fields, through river beds and villages or the possibility to relax a little in the comfortable lodge.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Wukro Lodge or similar, Wukro

Day 7

Hiking through the beauty of Gheralta Region

Travel: 2 h; 30 km

Hiking: 3 h; 3 km (difficulty: moderate, altitude difference: ↑300m, ↓0m)

In the morning, a leisurely end of the day at the lodge or an optional excursion to the Abuna Yemata Guh Church (plus 20,- € per person). The church is spectacularly situated in a rock. It can only be reached via a daring climbing tour. A head for heights and climbing experience is required. Your tour guide has a climbing harness and a rope to help you.

After lunch at the lodge, the whole group will set off on a 3-day trek in the Agame Mountains. Transfer to the starting point of the lodge tour and ascent to the Shimbreti mountain lodge. Over a narrow fireplace, the view of which from below does not give you any idea of the path you will take. On the top of a beautiful plateau, the staff will be waiting for you with tea and honey bread, and there is still the possibility to walk on the plateau until the sun sets on the horizon. The mountain huts are designed for a maximum of 8 guests, i.e. for larger groups of one part tents. Tents are provided by us.

Meals:  B/L/D 

Accommodation: Hiking hut Shimbreti

Day 8

Experience the real Ethiopia on your trekking

Hiking: 6-7 h; km: 14 km (difficulty: medium, altitude difference: ↑250m, ↓390m)

You hike from Shimbrety down to the rock church Maryam Butsuhan (plus approx. 10,- € per person). On the way there is an impressive tunnel, which was built to allow the inhabitants of the side valleys to visit the rock church. Today you hike mostly in the plateau between the mountain ranges at about 2,400masl. About halfway you have a lunch break, where your luggage is loaded from the donkeys from Shimbrety to the donkeys from Sehata. You continue walking through the plateau and reach Sehata in the afternoon, at the foot of a large table mountain. Depending on the size of the group, tents can be pitched next to the simple guest house. A small village nearby can still be visited in the afternoon to get a glimpse of the daily life of the farmers.

Meals:  B/L/D 

Accommodation: Hiking hut Seheta

Day 9

Another day of community trekking

Hiking: 6-7 h; 14.5 km (difficulty: medium/difficult, altitude difference: ↑760m, ↓500m)

First you hike to the foot of the rock church St. Giyorgis, which you reach via ladders, stairs and rocks (plus approx. 10,- € per person). You then continue steeply up the first cliff step to a church in an olive grove (2,800 m). Here you have your lunch break. You climb further up to Enaf from where you hike over the Agame plateau to the Sagrien Pass. From here there is no hiking trail down to the Agoro Lodge.

Meals: B/L/D 

Accommodation: Agoro Lodge or similar, Adigrat

Day 10

Leaving for the Ethiopian Jerusalem

Flight time: 1 h

Travel: 4 h; 150 km

In the morning transfer to the airport in Axum and domestic flight to Lalibela, lunch box at your own expense on the way, today you will visit the world-famous rock churches (UNESCO World Heritage Site), which are still far away from good roads high up in the Lasta Mountains. Important in the Middle Ages to close off from enem(https://www.cliffedgehotel-lalibela.com)ies, today the mysticism of this city is still alive for this very reason. The city of Lalibela is one of the most important pilgrimage centers for orthodox Christians in Ethiopia and is known for its 800 years old mono- and semi-monolithic rock churches, which were chiseled here in decades of detailed work from top to bottom and from the outside to the inside into the soft tuff stone. The complexes consist on the one hand of churches and on the other hand of old palace complexes. The churches are divided into two groups, so that the oldest group can still be visited today. A labyrinth of different tunnels leads adventurously through this former castle from church to church.

The galactic Ben Abeba Restaurant is an extraterrestrial architecture located on a hill at the edge of the stand with priceless mountain panoramas. You stop in this open-air restaurant at sunset in the evening to enjoy a well-deserved cocktail and a delicious dinner.

Meals: B/-/D 

Accommodation: Cliff Edge Hotel or similar, Lalibela

Day 11

The rock churches of Lalibela & overnight in the mountains

Travel: 1,5h; km: 50 km

Hiking: 1 h; 3 km (Difficulty: easy, altitude difference: ↑200m, ↓100m)

You set off early in the morning with your tour guide to explore the second group of churches, the so-called "Jerusalem of Ethiopia". Here you will find the architectural gems of Lalibela, including the World Saviour Church, the largest rock church in Ethiopia and the iconic St. George's Church, which is carved into the stone in the shape of a cross. Now, in the early hours of the day, you will meet some believers in the complex before more tourists take over.

Independent lunch and some free time in Lalibela, after lunch transfer to the hiking trail and then about 1 hour hike to your eco-lodge with views over the Lasta mountains. Up here you will experience Ethiopian country life and pure nature. The mountain huts are designed for a maximum of 10-11 guests, i.e. for larger groups one part tents. Tents are provided by us.

Meals: B/-/D 

Accommodation: Degosach Eco Lodge or similar, Degosay

Day 12

Summit Day - Zigit Mountain

Hiking: 5-6 h; km: 13.7 km (difficulty: medium, altitude: ↑800m, ↓300m)

Early in the morning you will start a long but not too demanding hike to the double peak Zigit (4.011 m), which belongs to the Abuna Yoseph Massif, one of the highest mountain massif in Ethiopia. The ascent is relatively flat, you hike more through a hilly landscape, but at high altitudes.

On the first few kilometers you will be surprised how busy and cultivated these areas still are. Little by little the villages get lost and the landscape becomes more natural. The farm tracks change into trails through green meadows. A nature reserve near the Zigit River protects the last semi-natural grasslands of the Ethiopian highlands. If you are lucky you will meet the Ethiopian wolf here. 

From the two peaks of the Zigit you have wonderful views into the lowlands. Afterwards you will have a small walk to the gravel road where your car will bring you back to Lalibela.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Cliff Edge Hotel or similar, Lalibela

Day 13

Leaving for the Camelot of Africa

Travel: 3 h; 80 km

Walking: 1 h; 3 km (difficulty: easy, altitude difference: ↑100m, ↓100m)

You will hike back to the road for a short time this morning and meet your vehicle which will take you to the airport in Lalibela. Early lunch in Lalibela with an Ethiopian family, domestic flight to Gondar and transfer to your hotel. Afternoon visit to the Ras Gemb Museum and introduction to the history of the city of Gondar.

Meals: B/L/D 

Accommodation: Goha Hotel or similar, Gondar

Day 14

Sights of Gondar

Travel: 1 h; 20 km

City tour (palace district and moated castle and Debre Birhan Selassie church), you will have  lunch and then in the afternoon on request you will visit one of the children projects being supported by SimienEcoTours called ‘Yenege tesfa’ (https://yenegetesfa.org) means hope for tomorrow , finally time at leisure and delicious dinner at the Four Sisters Restaurant.

Meals: B/-/D

Accommodation: Goha Hotel or similar, Gondar

Day 15

The Roof of Africa - Simien Mountains National Park

Travel: 4 h; 150 km

Hiking: 4-5 h, 12 km (difficulty: medium, altitude difference: ↑200m, ↓500m)

Drive to the Simien Mountain National Park After a short stop in the city of Debark for the formalities you drive on a rough road into the Ayna Meda area at about 3,800 meter above sea level, from where you start your hike in the National Park. At first, you hike through a quite flat area up to the mighty north-eastern flank to the viewpoint Inatye (4,010 masl) and look down to the lowlands that are almost 2,000 meter below you. From Inatye your hiking trail leads along the edge to the campground in Chennek.

Meals: B/L/D 

Accommodation: Camping in Chennek, Simien Mountains National Park

Day 16

Trekking from Chennek to Arkwasiye

Hiking: 6-7 h, 13 km (difficulty: medium/difficult, altitude difference: ↑800m, ↓600m)

From the campsite in Chennek, the trail climbs steeply uphill to an area full of giant Lobelias that can grow up to 6 metres high, and looks back at the north-eastern flank of the Simien massif. The trail alternates with the road leading to the Bwahit Pass. This area is still home to many of the endemic Ethiopian ibex. You reach the Bwahit Pass at 4,100 masl and from here you branch off to the less used paths of the National Park towards Arkwasiye. A path leads past the Berochwoa summit and fields alternate with afro-alpine grasslands. Arkwasiye lies at 3,600 masl and you camp near the small village.

Meals: B/L/D 

Accommodation: Camping in Arkwasiye, Simien Mountains National Park

Day 17

Trekking with views on the St. Yared peaks

Hiking: 7-8 h, 16 km (difficulty: medium/difficult, altitude difference: ↑800m, ↓300m)


Today you will hike in parts of the park where only footpaths lead to. The villages become less and the walks are less crowded with villagers and mules. You will experience great views of the lowlands, the Abba Yared peak (4,400 masl) hike over a ridge and finally reach the base camp of Ras Dejen, Ethiopia's highest mountain, in Mentaber (3,800masl). Even at these altitudes there are still blood-breasted baboons living, which you might see along the way. From here you will start tomorrow's summit storm, the royal stage of your Ethiopia trip!

Meals: B/L/D 

Accommodation: Camping in Mentaber, Simien Mountains National Park

Day 18

Climb the highest peak in Ethiopia

Hiking: 11-12 h, 20km (Difficulty: difficult, altitude difference: ↑800m, ↓800m)

Summit fever! Today you climb the summit of Ras Dejen, the highest mountain in Ethiopia. Before sunrise you start with a hike through the main valley. Closer to the mountain, the path becomes steeper and steeper and climbs amidst huge lobelia plants. The last part of the hike is very challenging for most trekkers, because of the high altitude and an easy climbing spot about 50 meters just before the summit. But all the more rewarding when you reach the highest point of Ethiopia. Here, at an altitude of 4,543 masl, you can enjoy a magnificent view of an impressive landscape.

The descent leads you back on the same path before you take a turn-off at an old defence system from the civil war to Ambiko, your last camp in the Simien Mountains.

Meals: B/L/D 

Accommodation: Camping in Ambiko, Simien Mountains National Park

Day 19

One more day in the nature of the Simiens

Travel: 5-6 h; 180 km

Hiking: 1-2 h, 2-3 km (difficulty: easy, altitude difference: ↑100m, ↓100m)

Slowly the sun bathes the mountain towers in a soft morning light. You are already on a short hike on your last day on the roof of Africa. Finally the car picks you up on the gravel road and takes you back to Gondar to your hotel. With a bit of luck you will meet the wildlife of the Simiens, like the Ethiopian ibex, the red-breasted Gelada baboons or even the shy Ethiopian wolves. A last little picnic in the park. Back in the city you finish this great trip with a feast at the Four Sisters Restaurant and enjoy the last evening. The dancing mad among you can still visit an Ethiopian dance club, where the local shaking dances are performed.

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Goha Hotel or similar, Gondar

Day 20

Your last day in Gondar & Addis Ababa

Flight time: 1 h

Travel: 1-2 h; 30 km

In the morning some time to relax or sightsee; late checkout from the hotel (about 11 am), independent lunch or some free time in Gondar, drive to the airport in Gondar and late afternoon domestic flight to Addis Ababa, dinner and transfer to the airport for the journey home. Possibility to book a day room in Addis Ababa additionally (plus 55,- € in a double room or 45,- € in a single room).

Meals: B/-/D

Accommodation: ---

Day 21

Arrival in Germany

Early morning arrival at your home destination.

Included

Our services included:
  • international flight from/to Frankfurt, Germany and all 4 domestic flights;
  • airport taxes & fees;
  • Rail&Fly train ticket within Germany for airport arrival/departure;
  • all accommodation in double/twin rooms with toilet/shower in hotels or lodges (9x mid-range); exceptions: 2x desert camping under the open sky in a camp bed in the Danakil, 2x hikers' hut with bucket shower and dry toilet in the Agame Mountains and 1x in Lasta Mountains, 4x in a 2-person tent in Simien National Park;
  • all transfers and trips in Ethiopia by private vehicle (minibus & 4x4);
  • luggage transport on mules during the trekking;
  • airport shuttle on arrival in Addis Ababa;
  • Full board (all meals incl. one non-alcoholic drink), except on five days half board (as indicated in the program);
  • all entrance fees for sights, churches, museums and national parks;
    for Simien National Park and Danakil: entrance fees, local guides, scouts and rangers, cook, cooking assistant, cooking and camping equipment (it is recommended to bring your own sleeping bag & camping mat); 
  • for the Agame Mountains: entrance fees, local guides, mules and mule drivers, cook;
  • Police and military protection if required;
  • all tips for meals;
  • local (obligatory) guides in each destination;
  • experienced trekking guide (fluent in German and Amharic);
  • Travel insurance package;
  • all taxes and administrative fees;
  • 24/7 emergency assistance.

Optional

Our optional services:
  • Flight deduction possible; price on request;
  • Flights from/to Vienna: extra charge on request;
  • Single room supplement (incl. single tent supplement (covers 13 nights) € 450.

Excluded

Our services do not include:
  • optional excursion to the Abuna Yemata Guh church (plus € 20 per person);
  • sleeping bag & mattress;
  • visa for Ethiopia (currently € 46);
  • alcoholic beverages;
  • tips;
  • photo and video fees (if applicable);
  • all extras and personal expenses and meals (approx. € 50 to € 70).