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EthiopiaHiking Simien National Park and Northern classics

  • Adventure
This tour looks like the classic historical northern route. In fact, this tour combines the highlights of Northern Ethiopia including the UNESCO World Heritages at Lalibela, Gondar, Axum and the naturally spectacular Gheralta region. But the tour offers much more than this. You gonna explore extensively the Simien Mountains climbing from the lofty plateaus with splendid views down to its inhabited...

This tour looks like the classic historical northern route. In fact, this tour combines the highlights of Northern Ethiopia including the UNESCO World Heritages at Lalibela, Gondar, Axum and the naturally spectacular Gheralta region. But the tour offers much more than this. You gonna explore extensively the Simien Mountains climbing from the lofty plateaus with splendid views down to its inhabited lowlands where you going to mix up with the locals. Overnights are spent in wisely selected and mainly beautifully located mid-range to high-range hotels and lodges and during the trek in campsites. Upgrades to more atmospheric lodges in some destinations are possible and highlighted in the itinerary.

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Trip highlights
  • Local cuisine
    Local cuisine
  • Local culture
    Local culture
  • Nature observation
    Nature observation
  • Sightseeing
  • Walking and trekking
    Walking and trekking

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Day 1: Addis Ababa - ​arrival

After your arrival & immigration, you will meet with your guide at the airport and you will be transferred to your hotel/lodge for some refreshment. Depending on your arrival time your guide will go on a city tour through Ethiopia’s vibrant and lively capital. In the National Museum, you can discover the cradle of mankind where the skeleton of “Lucy” is kept. Entoto Mountain with its Eucalyptus forest is a nice short escape out of town to see Mariyam Church and Menelik Palace, the place where the Emperors resided. Others might enjoy one of the city’s weekly markets. You can choose your itinerary with your guide.

Addis Ababa
Zeist Lodge (Addis Ababa)

Day 2: Addis Ababa, Lalibela

A domestic flight will bring you to the holy city of Lalibela (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Its 12th century eleven rock-hewn churches are truly mysterious as they are chiselled out of solid rock. Legends claim this miracle as the work of angels. You arrive at Lalibela town in the morning for your check in at the hotel.

Today you are entering the heart of the holy city. On your guided personal tour you walk though the labyrinths of trenches and tunnels to discover the eleven rock churches of Lalibela. Beta Medane Alem (“Church of the World Saviour”) and Beta Gyorgis (“St. Geogre Church”) are architectural masterpieces counting among the biggest rock churches in Ethiopia. Beta Mariam (“Church of St. Mary”) with its beautiful painted interior and its frescoes is not less impressive as the churches of the southern cluster which used to be an old fortress with narrow confusing pathways. You will have the day to discover these churches in its details before your sunset dinner will be with splendid views in the Lasta Mountains.

Sora Lodge (Lalibela)

Day 3: Lalibela, Gondar

Today you will fly to the ancient capital of Gondar. Gondar’s 17th century castles are listed as UNESCO World Heritage. You will visit the Royal enclosure with its 5 palaces. The late afternoon sun puts them in a good light on your guided tour through the compound. In the evening you will have a good traditional dinner in one of the local restaurants. Who feels like dancing is welcome to visit one of the bars around town where the Ethiopian shoulder dance (‘eskista’) is pretty famous.

Inn of the Four Sisters (Gonder)

Day 4: Gondar, Simien Mountains National Park

: In the morning you visit the Debre Birhan Selassie Church (Church of the Holy Trinity) which interior is beautifully decorated with 17th-century religious paintings. Truly one of Ethiopia’s most beautiful churches. You continue through the Ethiopian highlands to the gate of the Simien National Park. In Debark, a small town with about 30,000 inhabitants at 2,800m altitude, some formalities need to be done in the administration offices of the park (SimienEcoTours will do this). There is the possibility to visit the hospital or a school for disabled children. Overnight in a hotel or lodge.

Tsehay Zeleke Hotel (Simien)

Day 5: Trekking in Simien Mountains National Park

The National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site was established to protect endemic animals such as the Walia Ibex Capricorn, Ethiopian Wolf, Blood-breasted Baboons and several bird species such as the Thick billed Raven and the Bearded Vulture. The roof of Africa is also home to the highest mountain in Ethiopia - Ras Dashen, at 4,550 metres. On easy walks you will discover changing and overwhelming landscapes, endless views and rugged cliffs at striking vantage points. You will also get to know the already rare afro-alpine flora with juniper, St. John's wort and heather, Kniepofia, tree heather species and the Kosso tree.

Today we drive to the Sankaber camp (3,250m). We get a first impressive view over the dramatic mountain range. Here we meet the Gelada monkeys, a docile baboon species, which gather up to 100 animals and spend most of the time nibbling on grass and roots. During the entire trekking, a kitchen team provides for our physical well-being and we are accompanied by a local guide and park ranger, while donkeys and mules carry our heavy luggage.

From Sankaber the path leads through an area with vegetation such as bushes and giant heather trees. Like on a cliff, we look down on a gigantic waterfall, while various birds are circling in the thermic of the gorge, including vultures and buzzards. Above the former village of Geech (3,600m) we install our tent camp. In the evening we can climb another half an hour to a splendid viewpoint and watch the sun disappear fiery red in the haze on the horizon.

Geech Camp (Simien)

Day 6: Trekking in Simien Mountains National Park

First, the hike leads us up to Mount Imet Gogo (3,926m). The path is lined with giant lobelias, which grow up to 10m high here and stretch their antennae-shaped flower candles far into the sky. Once a lot of these plants were cut down, and only with strict regulations by the national park administration the stock could recover. From Imet Gogo, the trail goes first over the 4,000m peak Inatye (4,070m) and then down to our second camp Chennek (3,650m). Overnight in tent.

Chenek Campment (Simien)

Day 7: Trekking in Simien Mountains National Park

Today we may see the endangered Walia Ibex. At a stop on the Bwahit Pass (4,200m) we enjoy the wide view over the Ethiopian mountains and then descend to Sona (3,500m). There, as well as alternatively below the village at 3,200m altitude is a nice campground. Overnight in tent.


Day 8: Trekking in Simien Mountains National Park

The first part of today’s trek leads slightly more than 1,000 meters steeply down to the river Ansiya. Here we take lunch in the shade of the trees and can swim and wash ourselves in the river. In the afternoon we walk in about 2 hours to the Camp Mekarebya (1,900m), where SimienEcoTours financed the construction of a water well for the village people. Overnight in tent.


Day 9: Trekking in Simien Mountains National Park

Again we walk down to the river Ansiya and then turn into a side valley. A beautiful small lake invites you to take a bath again, then we ascend to the village of Hawaza before continuing straight to our last camp in the village of Mulit (2,000m). Last night in the tent.


Day 10: Simien Mountains National Park, Axum

After just 2-3 hours of easy walk, we reach Adi Arkay. It is located along the main road to Axum and so we are back in civilization. The vehicle is already waiting for us and we drive to the city of Axum in the afternoon. Dinner at a restaurant and overnight in the hotel.

Yared Zema ()

Day 11: Axum, Gheralta

Today you will visit the ancient capital of the legendary Axumite Empire (1st century BC to 9th century AD). Axum was once a very rich and powerful city at the crossroads of important ancient trade routes in a fertile and forested region. Today it conveys a rather rural image, it is dry, hot and dusty. However, its sights are listed as UNESCO World Heritage and among the main attractions of Ethiopia, with many archaeological secrets still waiting to be explored. You will visit the ruins and monuments of the Axumite Empire with its stelae which served as graves of the ancient kings. The adjoining archaeological museum displays an extensive collection of artefacts from the graves under the stelae.
In the afternoon, you leave Axum eastwards and pass the Adua Mountains.

The journey continues along narrow serpentines with deep valleys. The typical rectangular stone houses of the Tigray are omnipresent along the way. In the afternoon, you will reach the picturesque Gheralta region near the village of Hawzen, with fantastic views of the sandstone massifs rising out of the flat landscape. It is the perfect relaxing closing of your trip in one of the best lodges of the country.

Gheralta Lodge (Gheralta)

Day 12: Gheralta, Addis Ababa

On a short drive through epic landscapes you will be transferred to the airport in Mekelle. On your way lies the well sorted archeological museum of Wukro which will give you an overview of the pre-axumite times in Ethiopia (7th century to 1st century BC) as well as beautiful rock-hewn churches of the region that you can visit. A domestic flight will take you then back to the capital of Addis Ababa. After a nice traditional farewell dinner you will either spend another night at your hotel/lodge in Addis for tomorrows return flight or if your flight leaves already in the night you can enjoy the comfort of a day use room until your driver will transfer you to the airport.

Gheralta, Addis Ababa
Zeist Lodge (Addis Ababa)

Day 13: Return Flight Home

Transfer from your hotel to the airport! 

We hope you enjoyed your stay, next time!

Addis Ababa

Addis AbabaLalibelaGonderSimienAxumGheralta

Price details

This tour idea is fully customizable

The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.

Included in the price:

  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast
  • In-trip ground transportation
  • Activities according to your customized trip
  • Airport transfers
  • 24/7 local agency support
  • Trip creation with an expert local agent

Not included in the price:

  • Arrival and departure flights
  • Meals and beverages not indicated
  • Personal expenses
  • Service gratuities
  • Visa fees
  • Travel insurance
Book your flights to Ethiopia
International flights are not included in this trip. Thanks to our partnership with Option Way, you can take advantage of booking your flights directly with your local agent.
Check out the many benefits:
  • Competitive rates
  • All-inclusive prices with no hidden fees
  • Your local agent Marco, in Ethiopia, will inform you of any changes to your flights
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