Simien Mountains Trekking - Trip Report
Replies: 3 - Last Post: Jan 21, 2013 7:05 PM Last Post By: Kali737
Dec 9, 2012 3:07 AM
Simien Mountains Trekking - Trip ReportSIMIEN REPORT
I thought I'd do a trip report in the hope it can be helpful to others trying to plan their Simien mountains trek
I travelled in October and there were four tourists plus all the staff – guide, scout, cook, cook's assistant (not on our payroll), 2 mule guys (2 mules), extra guy to carry excess 15kg baggage.
Our guide, Teshager, was great and really added to the enjoyment of the trek. He's been guiding for many years but is still so enthusiastic and has a great love of the mountains to go along with his interest in and knowledge of all the birds, animals and plants. I highly recommend him. At the moment he doesn't have a website (but will soon) but his contact details are:
name: Teshager Berihun
mobile: +251 91873 1621
He can organise your entire trek for you, all the staff, food, route etc. He does treks from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, including one route all the way to Mekele. He’s reliable at replying to emails but if he’s out on the mountain it might take him a few days to get back to you.
I absolutely loved the trek. I’ve trekked in quite a few different countries but this was my favourite all round trekking experience. The Simiens have everything: wildlife, local culture and breathtaking scenery at every turn.
Gondar to Debark to just past Simien Lodge driving, then trekking to Sankabar camp, 3250m
We drove from Gondar in a 4x4, stopped in Debark to register at the park office and pick up our trekking guide, Teshegar, and our scout, Gasho. A little way past Simien Lodge we got out of the vehicle, had lunch and began our trek. We made our way leisurely along the trail, stopping lots of times to soak up the views and marvel at the closeness of the first baboon troop we encountered. Apparently the baboons on this part of the mountain are very habituated to people as they often have researchers sitting among them.
The scenery was reminiscent of, but different to, the Grand Canyon. We hiked up and down for two hours till we reached Sankabar around 5pm.
There were about ten other tents at the camp and we were next to the kitchen. There are two toilet blocks, I only saw one and was pleasantly surprised as I half expected some festival-type nightmare but it wasn't smelly or dirty at all. There are also plenty of bushes if you don't feel like the walk all the way to the toilet.
One of the huge thick billed ravens stole our new bar of soap when it was sitting out next to our bowl of water so keep an eye out for them.
Time hiking: 2 hours
Wildlife: gelaba baboons; birds: alpine chat, thick billed raven, auger buzzard, white backed black tit
Sankabar to Gich 3600m via Jinbar River 2850m
Departed camp at 0830, right away there were more spectacular views. There was one other big group on the trail and we passed then but mostly it was just the four of us, our guide and scout. We passed occasional children selling little woven baskets - mobile gift shops as we called them. I bought a couple not because I really liked them but just to give some income to the local families. Of course I was worried that by buying stuff from children I might be encouraging the parents to send them out selling rather than send them to school but apparently the families can't afford to send all the children to school, some simply have to work to help support the family, be it through selling stuff to tourists or by minding the animals.
The nice thing about the mountains was that we saw almost no begging and there was no hassle at all from the children. Only twice in five days did I hear a child ask for something.
We stopped for a while to look at a very high (about 500m) waterfall. It wasn't so big at this time of year but it was a lovely spot and take in the view. We continued onwards then descended to the banks of the Jinbar river to stop for lunch. If you like goats be sure to keep hold of your orange and banana peel to feed the goats you'll pass along the trail. I love goats so really enjoyed doing this.
From the river the trail headed upwards through fields planted with crops and in time reached Geech village. Teshagar had mentioned it can sometimes be possible to go inside one of the tukuls that the locals live in and we were keen to do that so he easily arranged that at the village. It was really interesting to see inside. Be sure to keep your torch in your day pack if you plan to do this as it's very dark in there. The tukul we visited was home to a family of seven and their animals. The family sleep together on a raised platform above the animals. The intention being that the breath from the animals will keep them warm during the very cold nights.
The mother showed us how she ground barley by hand and then roasted and ground up some beans to serve us coffee. She also roasted wheat for a tasty snack for us. It was smoky work and did make us wonder what it does to people's health being around that so much of their lives. By the end of our visit the whole family was there: mum, dad, 3 young children and a baby which had been strapped to the mother's back the whole time but which we didn't notice at first – as I said, it's dark in there!
We each contributed 25 birr to the family for their time and hospitality. Money well spent.
About 20 minutes after leaving the village we reached Geech camp. This is very different to Sankabar: flat, very exposed, windy and cold. And not a bush in sight so no option but to trek down the hill a bit to the toilet block.
Hiking time: around 6 hours or so
Wildlife: gelada baboons; birds: lammergeyers, black headed siskin, red wing starling, sunbird, thick billed raven
Geech to Imet Gogo 3926m to Geech
We started late as it was a short day today so departed camp at 0910. Walked up a gentle slope, not too many very steep bits. Reached Imet Gogo at 1110. Spectacular! 360 degree view of the stunning landscape which looked as though the canyons and mountains stretched forever, to the ends of the earth.
We stayed for 40 minutes taking in the view but clouds started to roll in so we headed off to Saha view point which we reached 50 minutes later. The cook's assistant was waiting there for us with our lunch. We didn't get much of a view at Saha as it was cloudy all around us so we just ate lunch and headed back downhill. There was a third viewpoint about 30 minutes from the camp but it was too cloudy to be worth going so we went straight back to camp. It then rained (heavily) and hailed for two hours so we just sat it out in our tents.
Dinner tonight was a bit special, the cook looked the part in his chef’s white outfit and we had some Goudar red wine. Very civilised for 3600m!
Wildlife: 1 gelada baboon; birds: auger buzzard, wattled ibis, peregrine falcon, thick billed raven, lammergeyers
Geech to Chenek 3600m via Elate escarpment 4070m
Depart camp 0800 and follow the same route as yesterday but veering off before it heads up to Imet Gogo and take a different route from there. Stopped for lunch at 1130 at a viewpoint at 4070m. After lunch we descended and walk straight through a large troop of about 100 baboons. These were less habituated to people but were very entertaining to watch. They were very active, lots of running around, chasing each other and screeching. We saw more ‘mobile gift shops’ on the way and as usual, no hassle from the children. We all had a go at trying to crack the rope whip a child we came across was carrying. We tourists were all pretty useless, Gasho our scout was great and the loud cracks he made reverberated around the hills.
Today’s hike was simply a case of one amazing view after another, I still couldn’t believe just how beautiful this area is.
We had a funny experience after reaching camp. Our cook had made some chips (fries) and was carrying them out to us on a plate when a bird swooped down and grabbed a bunch of them. I looked up just in time to see this kite heading towards my head at an alarming speed and I quickly ducked. The bird came from behind the cook, grabbed some of the chips and knocked a load more on the floor. The cook admirably kept hold of the plate so we could eat the remaining chips. It really was a comical moment and everybody who saw it couldn’t stop laughing.
A very large troop of baboons came down off a nearby hill on their way to the cliffs for the night. They came straight through the camp and stopped there for a while to eat. Of course everybody rushed to get cameras and the baboons simply ignored the people and carried on eating, wandering very close to people.
A large male walia ibex was spotted grazing next to camp. We watched him for a while and then followed when he wandered over the cliff to join four females. It was great to finally see one and much closer than we ever expected.
We heard the Simien fox (aka Ethiopian wolf) in the evening but didn’t seem them.
Wildlife: gelada baboons, walia ibex; birds: forgot to write down the birds for this day!
Chenek to Bwahit Peak 4430m and return
What a fantastic start to the day! We again heard Ethiopian wolves and saw around 25 walia ibex and some baboons right beside camp: grazing, lounging on rocks and mock fighting. The ibex are magnificent creatures! We had to drag ourselves away to head out towards Bwahit Peak, the highest point of our trek. This hike was unrelentingly upwards the whole way, along the cliff edge with more fabulous views. We were all suitably impressed with the three mountain bikers we saw cycling up the road. It was steep and at high altitude, hats off to them for their fitness and grit. We reached the summit after two and a half hours and stayed there for a while enjoying the views and the achievement. There was a guy up there selling beer which would have been a nice idea if I wasn’t a bit too cold to drink a cold beer!
The descent from the summit back to Chenek took 1 hour and 15 minutes. Again, there were 25-30 ibex grazing right beside camp and another troop of baboons came through camp.
The drive back to Gondar took almost five hours (two hours Chenek to Debark), this includes time spent stopped at Debark for a quick bit of shopping and to change a tyre on the 4x4.
Jan 21, 2013 9:52 AM
Your trip sounds great. One question: did you fly into Gondar? You then drove from Gondar in a 4x4? Whose car was this? I am confused about transport into the mountains. Any car/transport tip you have would be great! Thanks!
Jan 21, 2013 7:03 PM
2Hi Kriege, we flew Addis to Bahar Dar and spent a couple of days there and then took a public minibus to Gondar. The castles in Gondar are great, it's worth spending a bit of time there.
Our trek started and ended in Gondar so we were picked up in a pre-arranged 4x4, it was all part of the package and it was certainly worth it. Especially at the end of the trek when you just want to get back to Gondar and relax rather than spend a good part of a day getting their by public transport (another group that didn't have their own 4x4 got back to Gondar about 5 hours later than us).
Jan 21, 2013 7:05 PM
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