In the cool of the morning, we will make the 2 to 3 hour drive from Gondar to Debark. This is a small market town at an altitude of 2700 meters close to the boundary of the Simien Mountains National Park. Here, an armed scout-one of the park regulations joins you. Then we drive towards Sankaber where you walk the last couple of 2 hours of the day to your camp for the night.
Today we will meet the muleteers and the trek equipment is loaded on to their mules. Starting out, you descend in the Michwahtis valley and begin the climb up the other side, making a short diversion to see one of the most impressive sights in the Simien Mountains, where the Jinbar River plummets into the Geech Abyss.
The route today takes us along the edge of the escarpment to the promontory and a small peak known as Imet gogo. From here you descend into an open, grassy valley filled with 3 and 4-meter tall giant Lobelias. The Chenek campsite offers superb views across to the opposite escarpment and the prominent peak of Imet gogo.
To reach the village of Ambiquo at the foot of Ras Dashen, you must initially climb up above your camp towards Amba Bhawit (4477m.), the second highest mountain in the range. At 4200m you pass through Bhauit pass. Here, you will also get your first sighting of the Ras Dashen (4620m), the highest point in a wall of cliffs and peaks on the skyline. Crossing the Mesheha River after more than 1000 meters of descent, you climb steeply to the village of Ambiquo, where we will camp for night.
Today’s climb to the highest point in Ethiopia, the summit of Ras Dashen, requires a dawn start. You climb slowly and steadily through giant Lobelia forests, passing the tiny, perched village of Mizma and gaining an area of open pasture where there are herds of cattle and goats with their attendant herdsmen. The triple-summited bulk of Ras Dashen looms above and it is far from obvious which of these is the highest. Finally, after 5 hours of ascent, you reach steeper, rocky ground and a short scramble to the cairned summit. We usually take an hours rest on top to enjoy the views that, in clear weather, extend to North of Ethiopia. A 3 hour descent takes you back to the campsite in Ambiquo.
Rather than retracing your trek to Sankaber (which is the usual Simien Mountains trek) we have chosen to extend the itinerary and make the return towards Gondar through the lowlands, which will give you the chance to see a greater range of the Ethiopian countryside. Descending from your camp at Ambiquo for an hour, you then have an easy 3-hour stroll, heading back westwards to the camping place in Arkwaziye (3600m.).
A day of descent, as you head for the village of Makarabia in the region known as Lamo. You are leaving behind the high plateau and your route crosses several major ridges before dropping 1000meters alongside Ansiya River to the rarely visited lowlands. It becomes progressively warmer as you descend to the camp at Loma (2000m).
An easy day, contouring far below the escarpment on a trail, which passes through scrub and stands of palm trees. You have plenty of opportunity to interact with the local people and learn a little about their way of life. Set beneath towering rock pinnacles. The campsite faces across the valley to a circle of mountains with Amba Tsion in the center.
A final short stroll of a little over 2-hours takes you to the market town of Adi Arkay (1700m). Here you say goodbye to your trek crew, have a look around the bazaar and then board the car for the drive back to Gonder.
The Simien Mountains are best to be trekked between October and May.