Jamma Canyon Tour & Northern Explorer
SimienEcoTours with Ride the Rift, a collaboration of 3 experienced tour operators organizing trekking, cycling, and running tours and events, takes you to the North of Ethiopia, including a biking adventure to the ‘Jamma Canyon’ exploring plateaus, canyons, and gorges. There are different packages available and you can simply choose which of those you'd like to book.
The following 2 packages can be booked singularly or combined. For more details check the document here.
1) Northern Explorer Trek - 10 to 20 October 2022
A tour taking you to some of the most memorable places for tourists in Ethiopia: Lalibela where you will explore the town’s labyrinth of churches, the Meket Highlands where you will trek in the stunning scenery and rub shoulders with local farmers, the majestic Simien Mountains, Gondar, and its romantic castles, and the Wof Washa forest along the Great African Rift Valley escarpment.
2) Jamma Canyon Tour - 21 to 24 October 2022
This Outdoor Adventure Weekend allows you to enjoy some spectacular cycling, running, and walking in the awe-inspiring Jamma Gorge. The widespread gorge system is a land of canyons. You will be astounded by the sheer cliffs and waterfalls of this mighty river gorge. Home to large troops of Gelada baboons and numerous raptors you will also have a chance to enjoy some superb wildlife as you ride, run and walk in these stunning surroundings.
- GR17-01: October 10 to 24, 2022
Tour code: GR17
Operator: SimienEcoTours & Ride the Rift partners
Itinerary & In/Exclusions
NoteShorter options available
Depending on which packages you book the itinerary and price will vary. Click here for all options and details.
Day 1Arrival and flight from Addis Ababa to Lalibela
Flight time: 1 h
After your arrival in Addis Ababa you will take the connecting flight to the holy city of Lalibela. You will be welcomed by your guide at Lalibela airport and transferred to your hotel. Take a short time to refresh yourself after your journey and perhaps take lunch in your hotel. Afterwards, head out for the afternoon with your guide to see the first set of the churches of this extraordinary place. You might like to head down to see the sunset and enjoy dinner at Ben Abeba, with its extraordinary architecture and wonderful mountain views. If you have the energy you might like to visit a famous ‘house’ serving Tej honey wine run by Askalach who(makes the best Tej with traditional Azmari musicians
Accommodation: Tabor Hotel, Lalibela
Day 2After the churches reach the highlands above Lalibela
Hiking: 3-4 hrs.
Wake up early and explore the remaining set of churches - more atmospheric in the early morning.
Around 10:30am meet your trekking guide and drive south to the Meket Plateau from where your community trekking to Mequat Mariam will start. Trek to the Meskal Mikael lunch stop (45min walk) where the community will serve you a of local fare: local enjara (a sour pancake made from local grains notably teff) and vegetarian stews, washed down with a traditional cup of hand roasted & ground, freshly brewed coffee. Soft drinks, water and beer are for sale.
The trek on to Mequat takes about 3h30m - along the plateau with wonderful views of the gorges to the south. You will reach Mequat Mariam at the end of the day, and be served a snack with tea, while dinner is prepared (probably stew with rice & vegetables). The tukuls (thatched round cottages) are set on a promontory of the Meket plateau with staggering views to the west and south. A small troop of Gelada Baboons patrol the escarpment, and a troop of Vervet monkeys sometimes come up for a visit. Lammergeyers, vultures, buzzards, kites, ravens and many other birds soar over the site.
Mequat Mariam boasts a 'rock bar', a smooth sheltered ledge that is warmed by the afternoon sun and invites guests to sit with a sundown drink a watch the golden glow at the end of the day turn red as the sun sets over Mount Guna.
Accommodation: Meket Mariam Community Guesthouse, Alt 2,800m, Meket
Day 3Back to the road and drive across spectacular landscapes to Gondar
After breakfast, you start your 3hr walk out to Werkhaye Mariam following well beaten trails through the landscape, passing the local school and through villages. At Werkhaye the local community provides lunch as yesterday, before you head to the car and drive to Gondar. The drive along the escarpment that forms the watershed between the Nile and Tekeze rivers takes you through breathtaking mountainous landscapes with drop offs and volcanic plugs, before you descend into the Lake Tana basin. Head north over the mountains (more strange plugs) before you approach the imperial city of Gondar.
Accommodation: Inn of the Four Sisters, Gondar
Day 4After the castles drive to the famous Simien Mountains
Hiking: 3 hrs., 8 km
Wake up early to breakfast before your tour of Gondar, sometimes called the Camelot of Africa, because of the old castles built here by former emperors. First walk around the corner from your lodge to see the castles - each emperor built his own in park-like grounds where you can escape from the present day and go back to the Ethiopian 17th century. There are stables for horses when dignitaries came for feasts and much more. Afterwards, head down into town to the ceremonial baths that the first Emperor Fasidias built to celebrate Timkat (which commemorates Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan river.) Take a quick lunch - before heading to the Simien Mountains National Park.
You will stop in the town of Debark where the park HQ is for coffee- before driving into the park. We will drop you off to trek the last few kilometers to Sankaber camp (2,800 m). This area has some of the most lush vegetation and is the best area to see bushbuck and klipspringer. Dinner will be from our camp kitchen.
Accommodation: Camp Sankaber, Simien Mountains NP Camp
Day 5Full day trekking from Sankaber to Geech
Hiking: 6-7 hours, 13 km, 1000 m ascent, 700 m descent
Trekking day from Sankaber to Geech. Your gear will be loaded onto mules while you head out of camp to hike along the northern ridge of the Sankober plateau before descending to one of the parks most impressive viewpoints to see the Jinbar waterfalls cascade into the Geech Abyss as a thin ribbon of water, with vultures circling on the thermals. From here, you climb up along the road and turn off to go down to the Jinbar river itself. This soon after the rains it might be a little deep crossing - but refreshing for your feet! You ascend out of the river by passing the former village of Geech (now resettled in Debark) and continue to your camp at 3,600 m. In the evening you have the possibility to climb Mt. Kedadit just north of the camp and experience an unforgettable sunset.
Accommodation: Camp Geech, Simien Mountains NP
Day 6Hike in the national park from Geech to Chennek
Hiking: Hike 7-8 hours, 17 km, 900 m ascent, 900 m descent
Trek Geech to Chennek. The path leads over the Geech plateau to Imet Gogo, a rocky promontory at 3,926meters that juts out above the lowlands with one of Ethiopia’s most dramatic views - spires and pinnacles of rock thrust up from the lowlands, and the edge of the highlands can be seen twisting away to the south like the edge of a cake that has been cut away with a knife. After enjoying this view, you head down to crossing the upper Jinbar valley and up through a giant heather forest (Erica Arboreal) to the highest peak around - Inatye (4,010 m) for a picnic lunch. From here it is a dramatic trail that often clings to the escarpment edge (those with a fear of heights can keep a distance) as it winds down to join the road that links Sankober and Chenek. A few more hundred meters uphill takes you to the campground in Chennek (3,600 m). This campsite is probably the most dramatic of them all - if you walk down to the scout huts at the front of the camp you can enjoy the staggering views both at sunset and sunrise.
Accommodation: Camp chennek, Simien Mountains NP
Day 7Leave the national park for the return to Gondar
For those who like to bag a peak - you can make an early start and climb Bwahit this morning. There is an excellent chance to see the rare Walia Ibex on the north eastern flanks of the mountain. The peak is at 4,430 meters - and after Ras Dashen and its 2 immediate neighbours on the other side of the chasm before you - it is the next highest peak in Ethiopia. On a fine day the views are very impressive. Hurry back down to meet your vehicle to Gondar. The cooks will have prepared a picnic lunch for you. You will drop your team in Debark and carry on to Gondar.
Dinner at Four Sisters Restaurant is a nice spot to end your day.
Accommodation: Inn of the Four Sisters, Gondar
Day 8Market day, then fly back to the capital
Flight time: 1:10 h
After breakfast head down the road to visit Debre Berhan Selassie Church, with its splendid paintings covering the walls and ceiling of this lovely church. It was the only survivor of the Mahdi invasion in the late 19th Century. Gondars market is the biggest in the region with sellers that trade all the way to Sudan. Not far from your hotel it is worth a visit. Take a quick lunch - before heading to Gondar airport for your domestic flight to Addis. We will pick you at the domestic airport and transfer to your city hotel for the night.
Accommodation: Caravan Hotel, Addis Ababa
Day 9Hike into the green forests od Wof Washa
Travel: 4h, 130 km
Hiking: 3-4 h
This morning head east out of Addis, gradually going higher to the town of Debre Berhan (130km) where we can stop for coffee and perhaps some brunch before driving the 42km to Ankober. If you prefer you could have a quick local lunch here before trekking along the 12-14km to Lik Marefya following the little used track, with lovely views down into the Rift Valley and along to the forest.
In the evening you should hear the chorus of ‘roaring’ from the colobus monkeys. It is a sound you will not easily forget. They do a repeat show in the morning too.
Accommodation: Lik Marefia Guesthouse, Alt. 2,500, Wof Washa
Day 10Discover flora and fauna of one of the biggest forests in central Ethiopia
Hiking: 6-7 h
After a simple breakfast head up into the Olive and Podocarpus forest and cross the ridge to the north of the guesthouse. Head down into the Mescha valley following a trail that clings to the side of the forested escarpment. Somewhere along here sit down and enjoy a simple picnic lunch. As you head north there are more villages, until you pass Mescha village with its school and market. It was market day this morning, but by the afternoon most marketeers will have finished. Never the less you will see many people along the trail returning from the market. In the village there are simple shops in case you forgot something. From here continue around the top of the valley to the guesthouses tucked under the forest, more Juniper here. Another chance here to listen to the Colobus monkeys. Listen out well, you might hear leopards cough too. There is a surprising amount of wildlife in the forest here.
Accommodation: Mescha Guesthouse, Alt. 2,800m, Wof Washa
Day 11Back to the town to get ready for the next adventure
Hiking: 4 h
This morning you can do a short early morning walk in the forest around the guesthouse before heading up through the forest passing several cattle camp clearings. As you climb you will see the forest switch more to higher altitude vegetation, with Giant Lobelia and Giant Erica as you get higher up. After a while the trail becomes a switch back up the stepper slopes to emerge at the plateau top around the Gosh Meda guesthouse. Enjoy your simple picnic lunch here. Its a lovely - mostly flat - 5km walk from here around the escarpment and through a patch of woodland along a good trail to join the road and meet your transport to Debre Berhan at the trail head we call Kura Mariam.
45 minutes later you will be checking into the Getva hotel in Debre Berhan.
Debris Berhan is a fast growing city. It is not that attractive and at just under 2,800m it is quite cold at night. The hotel is clean and has good food, and makes an ideal overnight stop before continuing your adventure tomorrow.
Accommodation: Getva Hotel, Alt. 2,800, Debre Birhan
Day 12Join the ride the Ride the Rift group for some camping adventures
Today the Ride the Rift adventure begins. There will be cycling opportunities along the way to Deneba, where we will stop for lunch or a coffee. Then we'll reach the first campsite close to Lemi, where some other participants will join us. Late afternoon activities include cycling around to the edge of the escarpment to get the views at sunset, runners and hikers will have similar opportunities.
Accommodation: Ride the Rift camp, Lemi
Day 13Cycling and hiking routes of different levels are awaiting for you
Today the advanced cycling group will cycle to Lemi and head down the new road towards Alem Ketema. We will drop down some 400m in around 9km, before turning off onto a gravel road that more or less follows the contours, giving us an opportunity to ride another 10km out to get great views of the Debre Libanos gorge. Before heading back to the Alem Ketema road to get transport back to camp. There will be options for hikers and runners and easier cycling for those not keen on the long ride. Picnic lunch and snacks.
Accommodation: Ride the Rift camp, Lemi
Day 14Hike or bike to the next campsite along spectacular escarpments
Today the advanced riders will get the option to ride to the new camp near Enewari. It's around 45-50km mostly on the flat with mix of surfaces - packed soil, gravel roads, a bit of asphalt, and some bumpy stretches. Others will get shorter options for a ride that goes around this extraordinarily beautiful gorge, crossing a waterfall and on to the campsite. Great runs and treks too.
Accommodation: Ride the Rift camp, Inewari
Day 15Visit one of the holiest monasteries in the North Shoa zone
Today the whole group will make their way to Zena Markos monastery. It’s a great cycle ride from camp to the monastery - cross country, and on gravel and dirt roads. Runners and walkers will get dropped in Enawari and walk/run to the monastery. After a visit and lunch there we will be driving back to Addis Ababa.
IncludedOur services include:
For the Northern Explorer Trek ($ 1,790):
- two domestic flights in Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines in tourist class (Addis Ababa - Lalibela, Gondar - Addis Ababa) (extra fee of 180 USD if the international flight is not performed with Ethiopian Airlines);
- 5x hotel accommodation in double/twin rooms with private toilet/shower in hotels or lodges, 3x accommodation in community guesthouses on the Meket Plateau & Wof Washa Forest, 3 camping nights in tents for 2 persons in Simien National Park;
- supplement for single room/tent (only applicable in camps, hotels/lodges, but not during community trekking) 190 USD;
- all transfers and travels in Ethiopia with private car;
- all breakfasts, other meals as per itinerary (1 drink per meal included, alcoholic drinks excluded);
- all entrance fees and permissions at tourist attractions, churches, museums and national parks;
- for the trekkings: entrance and camping fees, guide, scouts and rangers, mules/dromedaries and mulemen, cook, cooking assistant, cooking and camping equipment (it's recommended to bring your own sleeping bag);
- all persons for safety and security (when mandatory);
- all (mandatory) local guides in the single destinations;
- 24/7 emergency assistance;
- 4 experienced tour guides (1 for Lalibela churches, 1 for community trekking in Meket, 1 for Gondar & SMNP, 1 for Wof Washa community trekking) (fluently English & Amharic speaking).
For the Jamma Canyon Tour ($ 490):
- 3 camping nights in tents for 2 persons incl. rental tent & mattress; single tent supplement 25 USD;
- all transfers and travels with private vehicles;
- transport for bikes (from/to Addis & during the rides);
- all meals as per itinerary (incl. water, coffee/tea, alcoholic drinks excluded);
- refreshments & sandwiches for the rides & other activities;
- guides for rides and hiking;
- first aid support;
- technician support.
** Please bring water purification kit - we try not to use water in plastic bottles - this will save you expense too!
OptionalOur optional services:
For both packages:
- supplement for single tent/room 215 USD;
- good quality mountain bikes can be rented for the whole tour for 55 USD.
- city tour in Addis Ababa incl. guide and private minivan 110 USD per group (excl. entrances and meals).
- additional overnight in Addis Ababa at Caravan Hotel (incl. airport shuttle, room & breakfast) 60 USD per person/night/single room;
- additional overnight in Addis Ababa at Caravan Hotel (incl. airport shuttle, room & breakfast) 40 USD per person/night/twin room;
ExcludedOur services do not include:
For both packages:
- international flights;
- COVID tests or other requirements linked to COVID travel measures;
- travel insurance;
- visa for Ethiopia (currently US$ 82);
- lunch & dinner as per itinerary;
- sleeping bag;
- fee for horse-riding or other not mentioned activities;
- alcoholic drinks;
- photo and video fees (if any);
all extras and personal expenditures.
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