Simien Mountains: Sankaber - Gich - Chennek
This trek explores some of the most striking features of the Simien Mountains National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site that is home to one of the largest mountain ranges in Africa. The trek follows an extensive network of trails used by the local people to travel between the villages on the lower slopes or to reach the high pastures. The quality of these trails and diversity of flora and wildlife make this a rewarding experience for trekkers and natural history enthusiasts alike.
An early start from Gondar takes us along a good gravel road to the park headquarters in Debark (100 km, 3 hours by 4x4), where we obtain permits and meet our knowledgeable local guide and scout. We drive (1 hour by 4x4) into the National Park before starting our first day introductory walk. This is an easy hike along the northern edge of the escarpment with impressive views over the foothills and plains of northern Ethiopia. You will encounter gelada baboons along this hike, and will be welcomed to Sankaber campsite with tea and coffee, where your camp will be prepared in advance of your arrival.
After a hearty breakfast we follow the northern escarpment eastward, before descending a little into the Kaba valley. We then climb to reach Gich Abyss and continue over a narrow ridge to a cliff, which reveals a spectacular view of the abyss and Simien foothills to the north. To the east we have striking views of a large waterfall, where the Jinbar River plunges 500m into the abyss. Two hours further on, we break for lunch on the banks of the Jinbar River. From the valley, we ascend through gelada baboon-filled fields of barley to reach the idyllic village of Gich. From Gich village it is a short walk to Gich camp, perched dramatically above the village and an excellent place to spot lammergeyer, black kite and thick-billed raven. After a relaxing afternoon (optionally punctuated by a coffee ceremony), we take a short hike to Kedadit (3,760m) to enjoy the sunset and gorgeous shaded landscapes down the cliffs of the escarpment, before returning to camp for a freshly prepared dinner.
From Gich camp we pass endless fields of giant lobelia before the high pasture gives way to the towering cliffs of Imet-Gogo (3,926m). (An optional extended route from Gich camp to Imet-Gogo meets the escarpment further north, at the gelada baboon-covered, 3,785m-high viewpoint of Saha, before following the precipitous cliffs southwards up to Imet-Gogo.) Time spent at Imet-Gogo is rewarded by superb views over the mountain valleys below and the strikingly-shaped domes in the distance. We then descend into the Jinbar River Valley; the contrasting view of Imet-Gogo and the volcanic landscape from here gives the impression that vast chunks of the mountains have been blown-away. We climb from the valley to the summit of Inatye (4,070m), a spectacularly scenic spot for lunch. After lunch we descend for about two hours along a steep trail to reach Chennek. We arrive at Chennek camp in plenty of time to appreciate the spectacular views in all directions, and to spot Walia ibex grazing close to the edge of the escarpment and sometimes skirting the edges of the campsite. The day concludes with a well-deserved dinner served in gratifyingly generous proportions.
Chennek to Buhawit
This will be a round trip. The concluding day of our visit to the Simien National Park features a morning climb from Chennek camp to the second highest peak in the Simien Mountains, Buwahit (4,430m). During the climb to the summit we will spot a variety of animals including Walia ibex and, if we are lucky, a rare sighting of another mammal endemic to Ethiopia, the Simien fox, and be rewarded by scenic views into the verdant valley extending westwards beyond Chennek camp and, in a vivid contrast, the striking view to the east as far as Ras-Dejen (4,543m), the highest mountain peak in Ethiopia. We return to Chennek camp for lunch, and the afternoon begins with a scenic drive through the National Park to return us, first, to Debark before continuing on to reach Gondar in the late afternoon/early evening.
Make your own itinerary
North Expeditions specialises in tailor-made tours, and we would be happy to discuss variations to the routes and alternative schedules to meet the interests of our guests. Please do not hesitate to contact us for bookings or inquiries.