Trip Code: ZET 014
Mode of Transportation: Air and Surface (4WD)
Tour Type : Semien Mountains Trekking

Length: 11 days / 10 nights
Group Size: 1- 20 Participants
Dates: Any date departure

Grade: Adventure touring
Pace: Approximately 2.5-12 hours walking per day (Semien Mountains)
Terrain: High altitude; including steep, rocky terrain (Semien Mountains)

Trek Through the Chess Pieces of the God — Semien Mountains NP. -11d days


Semeien Mountains Trekking -11 days

The Simien highlands of northern Ethiopia form one of the major mountain massifs in Africa. A highlight is the ascent to the summit of Ras Dashen – Ethiopia’s highest peak and the fifth highest on the continent. As we trek through this isolated region we admire the spectacular scenery of rocky plateaus, spires, mesas and deep gorges.

  • Simien Mountains: trek one of Africa’s most spectacular and least visited mountain ranges in Africa.
  • Ras Dashen: climb Ethiopia’s highest peak at 4620m.
  • Camping: enjoy wild camping in stunning locations.
  • Gondar: discover the medieval Fasilidas Castle and Debre Berhan Church.

The Simien Mountains in Ethiopia offer superb highland trekking, with far reaching views, rare wildlife and an incredible local culture. This 11 day trek initially follows the main route from Sankaber to Chenek that most shorter treks take. This section follows a dramatic highland ridge and offers some of the best views in the region. After reaching Chenek it is a tough 2 day trek to the summit of Ras Dashen (Ethiopia’s highest mountain at 4620m). Very few visitors to the park then continue onto the lowlands, but this final section of the trail is a real treat, very much off the beaten path with some wonderful swimming spots and fantastic birfdlife.

All treks and tailor-made itineraries are organised on demand for groups of two or more people. For single travelers or those who prefer travelling in a group, we offer several scheduled small group tours


4-5hrs driving, 7km 2/3 hours walking

Today you take a short, but scenic flight to Gondar, located on the high plateau just north of Lake Tana. The town of Gondar was the imperial capital of Ethiopia for 200 years. You drive to Debark, the village base for hiking in the Simien Mountains. 2 ½ hr drive to Debark by 4×4. The road is rough, but if you haven’t left the built up areas in Ethiopia yet, it is a real eye opener into the life of the rural majority. At Debark you will sign in at the park headquarters, pick up your guide and scout and head up into the mountains (by 4×4). The road continues all the way to the first camp at Sankaber, but you’ll be dropped off on the way for a leisurely three hour acclimatisation hike. The stunning views hit you as soon as you get out of the vehicle as you walk along the ridge. There will be time to stop for a picnic lunch and after a short but demanding climb (at this altitude) to Sankaber you’ll be met as every day on this trek with a tray of fresh coffee, tea and snacks.

Meals B/L/D

Overnight: Camping

DAY 2: SANKABER (3,200M) — GEECH CAMP (3,600M) -(Walking 7-8hrs / 15km )

After a hearty breakfast, you’ll set off trekking along the ridge with stunning views over the foothills 800m below. For the first two hours the trail passes through low bush of Giant Heather, soda apple, Abyssinian rose, St John’s Wort and Globe thistle. The highlight of the trek from Sankaber to Geech is Genbar Falls, an incredible 500m sheer drop. From the viewpoint opposite, you can watch the falcons, augur buzzard and lammergeier bearded vulture soar on the thermals below. From the Genbar falls, the trail passes drier dustier land, broken by lunch at a somewhat less intimidating and more peaceful waterffall. Klipspringer and bush buck may be seen in the steep rocky and wooded slopes, whilst troops of Gelada Baboons roam the dusty fields for roots. Just before you reach Geech camp site, there is a wonderful opportunity to visit one of the traditional village houses for home roasted coffee and injurra. Geech Camp itself is set on a grassy plateau with stunning sunset views.

Meals B/L/D

Overnight: Camping


Walking 5-6 hrs / 13km

After breakfast you’ll trek for 2 hours along the grass plateau past countless bizarre outsized Giant Lobelia plants. The destination is Imet Gogo, an incredible rocky promontory that grants 360 degree views over the Simien Range. At an altitude of 3,926m you can see West back along the ridge towards Sankaber and Geech and South East across a deep gully towards the tomorrow’s ridge walk to Inatye and Cheneck Camp. The views here are arguably the best in the Simien Mountains and the drop is terrifying. From Imet Gogo, you’ll return to camp via the Siha Gorge for lunch. Afternoon at leisure before heading out for a short optional sunset trek to KedaDit (3760m).


Meals B/L/D

Overnight: Camping

DAY 4: INNATYE (4070M) - CHENNEK (3,600M) -(Walking 7 hours / 15km )

Today is the longest and arguably most spectacular passing close to the ridge most of its length. After breakfast you will head back on the path towards Imet Gogo before detouring SE towards Inatye. The path drops into a forest of Giant Hazel before following the ridge on open grassland. The climb to Inatye (4,070m) rewards with stunning views. Inatye roughly translates as “mamma mia” and the terrifying vertical drop here justly warrants the name! After a picnic lunch the path follows mostly downhill through open grassland and gian lobelia towards Chenek with a number of stunning viewpoints along the way. Chenek camp is superb for wildlife with both Gelada Baboons and Wallia Ibex common here.

Meals B/L/D

Overnight: Camping

DAY 5: AMBIKO (3200M) —(Walking 10 hours )

This is the longest day of the trek, with up to 10 hours of trekking. After breakfast you will set out from camp for a steady 2 hour climb up to Buahit Pass (4,200m). From the pass there are stunning views over towards Ras Dashen. From the pass, the path leads down across the Meseha Valley crossing the river at 2,750m before climbing back up to the Ambiko Campsite at 3,200m.

Meals B/L/D

Overnight: Camping

DAY 6: AMBIKO (3200M) — RAS DASHEN SUMMIT (4620M) — AMBIKO (3200M)

Walking 8 hours

Today is summit day, with a long climb of over 1200m and a brutal series of false peaks. After five hours of climbing you finally reach the steeper rocky ground leading up to the summit cairn. There is plenty of time to enjoy the expansive views from the highest mountain in Ethiopia before returning the same way to Ambiko

Meals B/L/D

Overnight: Camping

DAY 7: AMBIKO (3200M) — SONAR (3500M) -(Walking 9 hours )

Another long day that takes you back from Ambiko down to the Meseha River at 2,750m, before ascending again to the small village of Arkwazye. From Arkwazye it is down again to the wonderfully situated campsite at Sonar, which has fantastic views over the first section of the trek.

Meals B/L/D

Overnight: Camping

DAY 8: SONAR (3500M) TO MEKAREBYA (2150M) -(Walking 5-6 hours)

Setting out from Sonar you soon reach the Incya Valley which you descend for 2-3 hours down to the lowlands. You’ll enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the Incya river where there is a lovely spot for a refreshing swim. After lunch there is a further 2 hour walk along the banks of the river to Mekarbra where you camp in the village.

Meals B/L/D

Overnight: Camping


The walk today passes along the dry river bed of the Incya River. The bird life is incredible, pin-tailed waders, village indigo, paradise monarchs and tropical bobu are all frequently spotted. Luch at Derkwenth pool, where you can rest and swim. From the pools there is a 2 hour climb to Awazza Villgae at the foot of the striking Awazza Table Mountain. There will be time for a refreshment stop in the village before a final hours trek up to the last camp at Mulet.

Meals B/L/D

Overnight: Camping


After breakfast, it is a 3 hour walk to Adi Arkaye, where you’ll be picked up and transferred back to Gonder (5 hour drive).

Meals B/L/D

Overnight: Hotel


In the morning you will vist the ancient city of Gondar. Surrounded by fertile plains Gondar, the first capital city of the Ethiopian empire, stands tall. Here castles dominate the skyline;they are so numerous that the city is often described as the ‘Camelot of Africa’. Castle walls abound but it is the contrast with European influence that makes this city so unforgettable, seeming in parts more European than African. Visit the castle complex, the baths of Fasilidas and the church of Debre Berhan.

Late afternoon, transfer out to the airport and fly to Addis Ababa. Depend on your arrival; you will have a short time shopping in a Grand Market called Merkato. After a fare well dinner party in a traditional restaurant & folklore house, you will be transferred to the Airport. End of the tour!!


  • Please note: This tour may precede or follow any other Ethiopian tours offered by Zagwe Ethiopia Tour.
  • This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirement.


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Date and Availability = All the year This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirement and itinerary can be adjusted according to your time, budget and interest. Price: , if you want quotation or any other tour information about this trip we are very happy to help. Request a quote

suit your requirement and itinerary can be adjusted

Trip Notes:

January and September departures are scheduled to take advantage of local festivals, Timkat,Gena  ,and Meskel respectively

Equipped with the best vehicles and driver Guide / upon request you will be escorted by expert guides /you are immersed in the ancient history, cultures, natural habitats and spiritually of this captivating country and its people. This itinerary can easily be modified as a custom trip and if your travel dates are  flexible we recommend visiting Ethiopia in conjunction with the colorful Timkat( epiphany ) and Gena( x-mass)  festivals January 19 and 7 respectively .

Essential information

Getting around Ethiopia: -Because of the state of the roads, the distances involved and the quality of the alternative (flying) most short term visitors use internal flights in Ethiopia. There are reliable daily flights between most of the stops on the Northern Circuit (Addis, Gondar, Lalibella, Axum, Bahir Dar).

If you have more time, or delight in the joys of overland travel, we can provide you vehicles (4WD, minibus and coaster bus )

When is best: The Ethiopian Tourist Board proudly promotes their slogan “13 months of sunshine” to anyone who will listen, but they are not far off the mark. The rainy season in the North is in July and August, but whilst that might stop you attempting a multi day trek in the Simien Mountains, it won’t really affect you if you are planning on touring the Northern Historical route. The best time to visit the North is in Autumn, after the rains when the mountains are full of lush green and the views are in impeded by haze.

When to go –September – June

Wild Camping & Hotels :On trek you’ll be camping in the offical park camp sites at Sankaber, Geech and Chenek. The sites are in beautiful spots and have been built sympathetically with seated drop toilets set well away from the camping area. The facilities are cleaned and tidied every day. You will be sleeping in 2 men tents (you can share or have a tent to yourself) and the crew will erect and take down your tent each day (as well as carrying your gear to the next camp-site). Overnight temperatures are cold at altitudes over 3,000m, so bring a 4 season sleeping bag. Tents will be erected by local staff members, who will also cook and wash up.

All of our group tours are planned and operated on a twin-share basis at standard hotel.

Eating & drinking:- 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. you will have a private cook for your trek who will provide breakfast, packed lunch, tea and dinner each day. The food is great, and given most Westerners aversion to the Ethiopian stapleInjurra, mostly of the Western variety. Expect bread and pancakes / eggs for breakfast, filling sandwiches for lunch, herbal teas, fantastic coffee and popcorn at the end of a long days trekking and then a massive meal to end the day with soup starter and a hearty main with plenty of veg to finish.

Transport to and from the Simien Mountains is in a 4wd vehicle. The drive to the mountains from Gonder is not the most comfortable in the world, it is dry, dusty and very bumpy.

You’ll be accompanied by an English speaking guide, chef and scout. Scout’s are complusory and carry rifles. It is worth noting that the guns are not really there for protection but are a cultural remnant of the role the scouts once played in protecting the area from bandits

Preparing for your trip

Climate :-Ethiopia is generally pleasant and warm, but varies with altitude. The long rains usually arrive mid- June to early September. After the rains, the highlands of northern Ethiopia are usually green and thus particularly scenic. The temperature all year round rarely falls below 18°C. Night-time temperatures in the mountains can be cold and can drop below freezing at higher altitude. There is a strong risk of sunburn at high altitude in Ethiopia.

Maximum Altitude on Trek (m) :- 4620

Trekking Details :- Trek for 10 days for an average of 7 to 9 hours walking each day, mostly above 3000m. Maximum altitude is the summit of RasDashen, 4620 m. Mules carry all food, luggage and equipment. We have graded this trek as challenging.

Altitude Description:-In the Simien Mountains trekking is strenuous with 6-8 hrs a day walking on average, at altitudes of 3,000- 4,500m, though there are some longer days (including the ascent of RasDashen, 4,620m). There is very little flat walking involved. Your Guide will ensure that during your stay in the mountains you acclimatise enough before an ascent of RasDashen. At altitude you will find yourself moving slower than usual, but this gives an excellent opportunity to admire the spectacular views.

Please note this trip goes to an altitude where there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), a common and usually harmless condition caused by reduced air pressure and a lower concentration of oxygen. Whilst the itinerary has been specifically designed to allow your body to acclimatise gradually, the speed of onset and severity – as well as the height at which AMS develops can vary greatly between individuals; being physically fit affords no special protection. If symptoms occur while on tour you must let your Guide know immediately.


Sleeping Bag As you do not carry it yourself this may be down or synthetic, but it must be 4-season (temperature -8°C to -5°C). A cotton liner helps to keep your bag clean.

Sleeping Mat Regular sleeping mats will be provided but if you would prefer an inflatable thermarest style you will need to bring your own.

Walking poles are recommended.

Water Bottlem, water along the trail must never be considered as drinkable. Take at least a 2 liters personal water bottle, preferably insulated.

Energy snacks, including chocolate and sweets, are also recommended whilst on trek.

Sunglasses/Snow Goggles A good pair of sunglasses are essential for protection against UV rays and glare at high altitudes.

Sun Hat, High Factor Sun Cream/Block & Lip Salve Choose a high factor suncream (Factor 15 or more) to protect your skin against the sun at high altitudes. A combination sunblock/ lipsalve is ideal for facial protection.

Torch/Batteries/Bulb A small torch is essential for finding things at night. Often a head torch is useful for the early ascent to the summit. Remember to bring some spare batteries.

Toiletries Keep heavy cosmetics to a minimum. Essentials are toothbrush/paste, soap (preferably biodegradable), small towel. Wet wipes are great for a quick clean up, so bring a pack of those.


Walking Boots

Probably the trickiest part of all. We strongly recommend walking in good boots. Trainers, or shoes of a similar ilk simply do not give the ankle support afforded by a decent pair of boots. Many people now trek in the lighter weight Goretex or leather boots They have the advantage that they take little breaking in. The slightly heavier traditional leather walking boots are also good. Avoid the types often found in high street shoe shops which are simply cheap trainers with a higher canvas side sewn on – they give little support and will probably not last the trek. Above all, your boots must be well broken in and comfortable.

Trainers or Trekking sandals

Useful around the villages and when travelling.



It is best to wear a pair of liner socks under a pair of fairly thick loop stitch socks. This helps to protect your feet against blisters. Avoid nylon socks, they are abrasive, don’t breathe well and can cause blisters.


After sunset, temperatures can fall below freezing. A very warm jacket is the most convenient way of keeping warm when the temperature drops.


Breathable waterproofs made from material such as Goretex not only protects against rain and wind but also stops you from overheating. They breathe and avoid condensation that you will experience from nylon waterproofs.

Long Trousers

For everyday walking, light cotton trousers are the most suitable. Jeans are not recommended as they are often difficult to walk in over longer distances and become cumbersome when wet.

Thick jumper/fleece jacket

A thick jumper or fleece jacket is necessary as nights can be very cold at altitude. Make sure that yourwaterproof jacket is loose enough to wear over your sweater or fleece.

Track suit

Comfortable around the villages and much more practical (and warmer) to sleep in than pyjamas. Alternatively, thermal underwear is good.


Shorts can be very comfortable to walk in but you must carry long trousers with you in case you get either sunburned or cold. Follow your tour leaders advice on local sensitivities to wearing shorts during the trek.


Especially useful in the morning and in the evening at higher altitudes. Also bring a scarf to cover your face from the dust during the day and a warm hat/balaclava.


There will be swimming opportunities during the trek

Luggage: On Tour

A kitbag/barrel bag carried by mules on trek, a stuff-sack to store surplus belongings while on trek and a daysac. Pack mules are used to carry equipment, food and most personal gear. Pack heavy/dense items into your kitbag.

Trek Kit Bag

Before leaving Gondar there is plenty of time to re-sort luggage into what you need on trek and what can be left in Gondar. Think about what you are taking on trek (remember your sleeping bag) and then think how big your kit bag needs to be. A nylon or canvas bag with a zip along the top is also suitable. Whatever you choose, it must be strong, as porters are not very gentle with baggage. Soft luggage is preferable! Framed rucksacks are unsuitable. The weight limit for the bag and its contents is 15kg but you will probably find that you do not need this much. Please note there are occasional opportunities to hand wash clothing whilst on the trek.

Small Rucksack/Daysac

During the course of a trekking day, you do not have access to the luggage that is being carried for you by the porters. In any mountain region the weather can change rapidly and you must be equipped for this eventuality. Your daysac should, therefore, be large enough to carry the following: waterproofs, sweater, long trousers (if walking in shorts), warm hat and gloves, sun hat, sun cream, water bottle (at least 2litre), tissues and your packed lunch. Most people normally find that this adds up to about 2 to 3kg. Camera equipment can be heavy so think carefully when deciding what to take. Other optional items in a daysac might be binoculars, a diary or a book to read at lunch time. It is usually more comfortable to carry a slightly larger pack that is not full than to carry a small pack that is overfull or with ‘bits’ tied on the outside. Something between 20 and 25 litres capacity is probably the most suitable. A shoulder bag is not a practical alternative.

Plastic Bags


Fitness – You don’t need to be especially fit to join the trips , but there will be stairs to climb, hills to walk and sites to explore, so you’ll enjoy it more if you have a reasonable level of fitness.


Small Group Size: On our this tour , we believe it is imperative to keep the group sizes small. Most trips are limited to an average maximum of 20 travellers, thus giving you more access to fragile cultures, better opportunities to interact with local people, and the knowledge you are making less of an impact while there.

Private groups: The adventures featured in our itinerary are just a starting point for many of our private group travellers. Working closely with our Groups Department we can organize custom designed itineraries for groups of friends, clubs, charity’s, schools or even work colleagues. Our team will assist you with all aspects of your private group adventure from itinerary design to group flights. For group traveller pledge considerable discount.

Customized tours: On request, this tour can be customized for small groups.

Proceeding / additional days: It’s no problem to add days before or after the expedition and we’ll book these for you. If you bring more time, you could do day trips from Addis or take an extension tour

Group booking discount: If at least 5 people together book this trip, 6% discount is given.

Please remember that all Zagwe Ethiopia tour prices mean NO hidden extras, NO local payments.

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