ethiopia galeda baboons simien mountains

Ethiopia: From Ancient Rock Churches to the Simien Mountains

A Cultural, Wildlife, and Hiking Adventure with Dawit Yehualashet

Trip Level

The trip is Level 3+, moderate, according to our trip grading system. This is a rugged trip at moderate to high altitude, with time spent in some very remote regions. Participants should be fit, healthy, and have no mobility restrictions. Medical facilities on the trip will be far away and often non-existent. Trip members must be prepared for walking rocky trails, a full-day boat ride in Lake Tana, and some long days of rugged travel by 4WD vehicle. Accommodations in the countryside are basic but welcoming.

Days 3, 4, and 5: Hikes of 2-4 hours will be offered in Simien Mountains National Park with our Trip Leader and a park guide. The park ranges in altitude from 10,000 feet to 14,800 feet, and our lodge is set at 10,800 feet. People can experience minor effects of altitude above 8,000’, including shortness of breath, headaches, and fatigue. Most people adjust to the altitude within a day or less. Major reactions and altitude sickness are unlikely at these elevations, but please inform the Trip Leader immediately if you begin to feel any stronger reactions, such as nausea, dizziness, or vomiting. Drink plenty of water, as the dry air can exacerbate headaches, and bring aspirin along. Diamox and other medications should not be necessary at these elevations, but discuss them with your doctor if you have had difficulties at altitude in the past. Nights will be cold in the mountains, so be sure to bring insulating layers, a hat, and gloves for the evenings.

You carry only a daypack on the hikes, but there will be rocky trails with some steep ascents and descents. Hiking poles are strongly recommended. Nights will be cold at this altitude—we will have extra blankets for our nights at the lodge, but do pack warm clothes. 

Please be aware that at altitudes above 8,000 feet, you may feel shortness of breath or other symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and loss of appetite. In most cases, the symptoms are temporary and usually abate as acclimatization occurs. It is crucial that you inform your Trip Leader immediately of any symptoms or discomfort, however minor, so that the Trip Leader can help you and monitor the situation.

Because of the altitude, we also recommend you make a special effort to be in good physical condition. Daily brisk walking and/or regular hiking (or using a stair-climbing machine at your gym) are excellent preparatory exercises. You should wear sturdy, well-broken-in hiking boots for maximum comfort on the trail. Trails and duration and choice of hikes will depend on trail and weather conditions at the time.

About Travel in Ethiopia:

Accommodations at the Sheraton in Addis are excellent, as is the food at that international-standard hotel. The Limolino Lodge in Simien Mountains National Park is a simple but well-run accommodation in a stunning and remote location.

In Bahir Dar, Gondar, Axum, and Lalibela, we stay in “best available” hotels (although guest rooms have private bathrooms, you must occasionally expect cold-water showers!), and our meals will be simple and may lack variety due to the limited resources in the countryside. Ethiopia has some good beers, but the local wines are not distinguished. You may want to bring your favorite alcoholic beverage from a duty-free shop. Electricity in hotels in rural areas can be intermittent and sometimes generators are operated only during certain hours of the day.

Road travel in rural Ethiopia is very challenging. Our vehicles may break down or get flat tires on the rough roads, and that can delay the trip. We use vans, but they may not compare favorably with the vehicles you may be familiar with from safari countries such as Botswana and Kenya. While we are on our rural road journeys, there are no organized toilet facilities available. We will make “pit stops” from time to time so trip members can get out of the vehicle and find a private spot behind a bush.

In Ethiopia, air schedules can often be altered and new government regulations are implemented suddenly. We ask that you bring flexibility and a spirit of adventure to this unique journey, and take pleasure in the knowledge that you will be visiting a fascinating country.

Our trip is designed so that anyone in good physical condition can participate. We encourage you to make an effort to get in good physical condition with exercise beyond your normal routine.

Weather

Ethiopian weather varies greatly according to elevation. In October in the northern highland cities of Lalibela (8,500’), Gondar (6,998’), Axum (6,991’), the average high is 74F and the average low is 50F. Precipitation should be minimal in October, but there can be occasional showers or mist. In the Simien Mountains, we will be at an altitude of 10,000 feet, so be prepared for lower daytime temperatures and nighttime temperatures that are cool to very cold (be sure to pack warm layers).

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.