This expedition will take you through this amazing country, from the fertile lowlands and rural communities to the summit of Ras Dejen. We will visit the island Churches of Lake Tana and through remote villages of the Simien region. We will also visit the awesome excavated Churches of Lalibela. Ethiopia is still one of the world’s best kept secrets. Join us on this unbelievable and unforgettable expedition.
Ethiopia remains an enigma to many. It is an ancient land with history going back 3000 years. Its society is rich with colorful culture, of secret societies and centuries old Churches. Ethiopia retains the Julian Calendar of 13 months in a year and is said to be home of the Holy Grail of the Old Testament. The northern and central regions of the country boast some of the most magnificent mountain ranges in all of Africa. In this region alone there are over 20, 4000m peaks. These ancient ranges are dramatic, with enormous gorges being gouged out by torrents of water over the millennia. They are the home of the beautiful lion like Gelada Baboon and the highest peak of Ethiopia, Ras Dejen (4563m).
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SIMIEN TREK ITINERARY
Arrive in Addis Ababa and welcomed by our representative for transfer to Hotel.
After breakfast we head back to the airport for the internal flight to Gondar, the former capital of Ethiopia. On arrival, transfer to the Goha Hotel for lunch. This afternoon we will visit the walled Royal enclosure which contains several well preserved and medieval looking castles, dating from as early as 1650. Gondar is well placed, watered by mountain torrents and sitting at an altitude of 2300 meters. There are views from the city, which extend across the surrounding farmland to Lake Tana, 35kilometers to the south. This is a historic settlement with an atmosphere of mystery. Overnight at the Goha Hotel, which is situated on a hill overlooking the Town.
In the cool of the morning, we will make the 2 to 3 hour drive from Gondar to Debark. This is a small market town at an altitude of 2700 meters close to the boundary of the Simien Mountains National Park. Here, an armed scout-one of the park regulations joins you. Then we drive towards Sankaber where you walk the last couple of hours of the day to your camp for the night.
Today we will meet the muleteers and the trek equipment is loaded on to their mules. Starting out, you descend in the Michwahtis valley and begin the climb up the other side, making a short diversion to see one of the most impressive sights in the Simien Mountains, where the Jinbar River plummets into the Geech Abyss.
The route today takes us along the edge of the escarpment to the promontory and a small peak known as Imetgogo. From here you descend into an open, grassy valley filled with 3 and 4-meter tall giant Lobelias. The Chenek campsite offers superb views across to the opposite escarpment and the prominent peak of Imetgogo.
To reach the village of Ambiquo at the foot of Ras Dejen, you must initially climb up above your camp towards Amba Bhawit (4477m.), the second highest mountain in the range. At 4200m you pass through Bhauit pass. Here, you will also get your first sighting of the Ras Dashen (4620m), the highest point in a wall of cliffs and peaks on the skyline. Crossing the Meshawa River after more than 1000 meters of descent, you climb steeply to the village of Ambiquo, where we will camp for night.
Today’s climb to the highest point in Ethiopia, the summit of Ras Dejen, requires a dawn start. You climb slowly and steadily through giant Lobelia forests, passing the tiny, perched village of Mizma and gaining an area of open pasture where there are herds of cattle and goats with their attendant herdsmen. The triple-summited bulk of Ras Dejen looms above and it is far from obvious which of these is the highest. Finally, after 5 hours of ascent, you reach steeper, rocky ground and a short scramble to the cairned summit. We usually take an hours rest on top to enjoy the views that, in clear weather, extend to North of Ethiopia. A 3 hour descent takes you back to the campsite in Ambiquo.
Rather than retracing your trek to Sankaber (which is the usual Simien Mountains trek) we have chosen to extend the itinerary and make the return towards Gondar through the lowlands, which will give you the chance to see a greater range of the Ethiopian countryside. Descending from your camp at Ambiquo for an hour, you then have an easy 3-hour stroll, heading back westwards to the camping place in Arkwaziye (3600m)
A day of descent, as you head for the village of Makarabia in the region known as Lamo. You are leaving behind the high plateau and your route crosses several major ridges before dropping 1000meters alongside Ansiya River to the rarely visited lowlands. It becomes progressively warmer as you descend to the camp at Loma (2000m)
An easy day, contouring far below the escarpment on a trail, which passes through scrub and stands of palm trees. You have plenty of opportunity to interact with the local people and learn a little about their way of life. Set beneath towering rock pinnacles. The campsite faces across the valley to a circle of mountains with Amba Tsion in the center.
A final short stroll of a little over 2-hours takes you to the market town of Adi Arkai (1700m.). Here you say goodbye to your trek crew, have a look around the bazaar and then board the car for the drive back to Gondar.
DAY 12: Gondar – Lalibela (B,L,D)
In the morning, transfer to Gondar Airport to leave for Lalibela which used to be called Roha until the end of 12th century. Today the little town of Lalibela is home to the remarkably excavated 12th century rock hewn churches. Once you have checked into your hotel we will start visiting the first group (consisting of 6 churches) of churches that symbolizes the New Jerusalem. In the afternoon visit the second group of churches (consisting of 4 churches) and the third group consisting of only one but possibly the most beautiful and monolithic of the all, the church of St. George. It is said to symbolize Noah’s Ark. Overnight in Mountain View Hotel. NB. While entering each church, you are kindly requested to take off shoes and dress modestly. This should be applied to all the churches in Ethiopia.
DAY 13: Lalibela – Addis Ababa (B,L,D)
In the morning drive to the Airport for your flight to Addis Ababa en route, visit the cave church of Na’akuto La’ab. Na’akuto La’ab is the nephew and the successor of king Lalibela. The church is simple but attractive and built under a natural cave. Then flight to Addis. That night we will have a farewell dinner for all.
Transfer to airport for return home End of Expedition!!