The Simien Mountain Trek is one of the most popular trekking destinations in Ethiopia. This is due to the stunning natural surroundings offered by the mountains as well as the location of the treks in the SImien National Park, the largest National Park in Ethiopia.
The trek starts in a small town named Debark which borders on the main gate to the park. We drove quite a way into the park before starting our first (and shortest) day of walking.After being dropped off, we and our guides enjoyed a short afternoon walk to our first campsite. The views were breathtaking, and from then on they only got more and more awe inspiring.
After arriving at camp we ate a delicious meal prepared by our cook, Mohamed. The first course of every dinner on the trek was a delicious soup of either lentils, barley or tomatoes with some fresh home baked bread. This daily ritual really helps to keep morale and spirits up – at some points all any of us could talk about was how much we wanted to tuck into a bowl of soup!
What many people may not expect of the Simien Mountains is that it is really cold at times, and as you climb higher this only gets more evident. Mohamed’s soup became the warm beacon at the end of a long day of cold which all of us were aiming for.
From here on in our days consisted of climbing ever higher into the mountains as we passed through each camp – with the views and scenery getting more and more amazing as we progressed. As you climb higher into the Simien Mountain Range towards our ultimate goal of summiting the 4th highest peak in Africa, Mount Ras Dejen, you are exposed to some of the most amazing views the “Roof of Africa” has to offer with 500m waterfalls, massive rock faces and cliffs carved out of the earth by an ancient volcano, to villages which have developed in the higher reaches of the mountains.
Along the way we were lucky enough to spot all of Ethiopia’s iconic animals such as the Walia Ibex, Gelada Baboon, Ethiopian Wolf and the amazing Lammergeier Bearded Vulture which drops bones from dizzying heights to break them open for the marrow within. However, as the scenery improves each day, the difficulty of the trek increases with steeper trails, less oxygen and longer distances between each camp as you travel higher into the mountains. It is compulsory to trek with a scout and a guide when trekking the Simien. The guides and scout really make a huge difference as they know the best routes to take as well as when to stop for a break if everyone is looking a bit drained. They also add an element of local culture to the walk, which you otherwise would not be exposed to if you were walking unguided.
That being said it’s very important to make sure you acclimatize to the altitude when trekking the simien. As a result of this we would climb to the highest point of the day by around lunch time and then descend a few hundred meters to our camp for the night to make sure the the lack of oxygen was not too much for our bodies to handle. In the same vein, when the walking gets tough it’s best just to take it slow and relax and try to enjoy yourself rather than trying to set a blazing pace and being buggered the next day – after all – the next day will have less oxygen than today so it will be even more difficult to recover from all the strain.
To book your trip to Ethiopia, contact Simien Eco Tours, http://simienecotours.com/