No matter how you look at them, the Simien Mountains will leave you speechless. For trekkers, the lack of words will be the result of their lungs screaming after slogging up s scree slop at 4200m. For animals lovers, it will be the trepidation of sitting among a group of 100 gelada baboons that zips their vocabulary. For everyone with heartbeat, it will simply be standing atop a panoramic precipice and looking out over the Abyssinian abyss that takes their breath away. This adventurous trek takes you into the very heart of the highlands of Ethiopia. The Simien Mountains dominate and divide the country into distinctly contrasting highland and lowland regions. With over 20 peaks towering to heights above 4000 meters, this massif can rightfully lay claim to be the 'Roof Of Africa', even though at 4543 meters its highest point, Ras Dashen, is only the fourth highest peak on the African continent. The national park is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site and is characterized by gentle highland ridges that end abruptly with 1000 to 2000 meter drops down the ravine from the top of the escarpment. The precipitous cliffs and deep canyons provide a feast for the eyes and the natural lookout points enable us to enjoy views as far away as 100 kilometers over the lowland valleys.
The following Debark-to-Chenek trek is the classic five day route. The times have been estimated in consultation with our local guides, but times vary from person to person and also depend on whether exact route are followed.
Sankaber can be reached in a single day, but many trekkers prefer to (or, if they arrive from Gondar that day, must ) break at Buyit Ras, where there’s an abundance of gelada monkeys.
The road will take you straight to Sankaber, but the scenic route along the escarpment isn’t to be missed. There are particularly good views between Michibi and Sankaber. From Sankaber to Geech is between four and five hours’ walk.
Geech to Chenek via could take about five to six hours. Take in Imet Gogo, around 5km northeast of Geech. The promontory, at 3926m, affords some of the most spectacular views of the Simien Mountains. It adds about 1 ½ hours one way. To make a day trip of it, you could also visit the viewpoints at Saha Kedadit (2.5km, 30 minutes) and then return to Geech Camp. Head directly south and back across the Jinbar River to where you will meet the dirt road that leads Chenek. Chenek is probably the best spot in the Simien Mountains for wildlife. A short walk away often brings you to a herd of walia Ibex and near Chenek is Korbeta Metia a stunning spot where lammergeyers are often seen.
If you can spare more time, the ever-tempting summit of Mt Bwahit (4430m) lies to the southest of Chenek camp.
For return journey you can either retrace your footsteps (Sankaber is seven to eight hours away from from Chenek), though most people just hike back along the road.
Heading on from Chenek, the first day takes you along a track leading eastward and then southeward up towards a good viewpoint on the eastern escarpment north of Mt Bwahit. To the east, across the vast valley of the Mesheba River, you can see the bulk of Ras Dashen.
Most trekkers stay two nights at Ambikya and go up to the summit of Ras Dashen on the day in between. It is a good idea to start at first light. At Ras Dashen there are three distinct points, and much discussion about whichis the true summit. The total walk from Ambikwa to reach the highest summitis about five to six hours.
Most trekkers return from Ambikwa to Debark (77km; three days) along the same route to Chenek and then follow the road to Sankaber.
One alterntive is to trek from Ambikwa to Arkwasiye, northest of Chenek, taking in the nearby peaks of Beroch Wuha(4272m) Silki (4420m). From arkwasiye to Adi Arkay will take two to three days of strenuous walking. The toal route from Ambikwa to Adi Arkay is about is about 65km (three to five days)
It’s only a two-hour dry-season drive to Chenek, which leaves lots of time for strolling, taking photos, and lounging with gelada monkeysat various spots along the way.
During the rainy season the narrow Jinbar Waterfall, estimated to drop 500m, is almost mandatory stop. It’s unsigned 4km after Sankaber down a short (15 minutes) muddy trail.
The six- or seven-hour roundtrip walk from the road near Ambaras to the amazing Imet Gogo. Viewpoint would be a popular day trip.
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