Ethiopia - Simien Mountains and Tigray

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Simply Simien

* Unique village stays, warm hospitality  * Walk from village to village in the Simien Mountains * Breathtaking views, protected wildlife * Simien Mountains National Park

In the rugged north of Ethiopia, the Simien Mountains boast a landscape unlike any other, with dramatic cliffs and sharp pinnacles intercepted by deep gorges, rivers and waterfalls. Exploring on foot is the adventure of a lifetime, and these treks with your own private guide are quite amazing. Your walking journey visits three village communities where guests are being welcomed for the first time. You stay in simple purpose-built village guest-houses and experience genuine, warm hospitality. With long-standing World Heritage Site status, the Simiens are one of Africa’s most beautiful areas, and home to a wealth of protected wildlife. A visit to the Palaces of Gondar and a stay in a fine mountain lodge for the Simien Mountains National Park complete this great holiday.

 

 

 

A rugged walking journey

The Simien Mountains boast a magnificent landscape: with a series of peaks at over 4,000m, this is Ethiopia’s highest massif, protected by World Heritage and National Park status. For five days you are hosted by the hillside communities, walking between and staying in the villages, situated at over 3,000m. You walk in the company of your own local guide. The walking is rewarding, over rugged, mountainous terrain, but you have plenty of time to rest up to enjoy the sweeping panoramas hills and valleys and to watch the local way of life. New for 2016, this is a unique way to trek in the Simien Mountains.

 

Unchanged for centuries

Immerse yourself in highland village life and get to know the farming communities who retain an almost biblical backdrop to their daily lives. They are a charming, and dignified people and you will have the opportunity to explore their villages, dotted with round thatched 'tukul' homes, and discover their ways and farming traditions.

 

 

First guests in village guesthouses

Khalid Abo guesthouse Simien Mountains

Completed in 2016 the simple, comfortable tukul guest-houses in the charming villages of Taga Mariam, Kalid Abo and Timbala are a new and unique way of visiting the Simiens. Though the villagers are new to tourism, they have worked hard and are really excited about being your hosts and offering you their traditional hospitality. The tukuls have been built by the communities in partnership with Village Ways, with the local people benefiting directly from guests.

 

Protected wildlife

In the National Park and the surrounding hillsides there many opportunities to spot wildlife. Walia ibex graze and caracal cats stalk. Gelada baboons play on the hillsides and the rare Ethiopian wolf hides in the Afro-alpine grass. We include, after the walking trip, a stay in a comfortable lodge on the fringe of the core area of the park, where you enjoy a walk through the dramatic vistas to a spectacular viewpoint. This offers superlative wildlife spotting opportunities.

 

Ancient palaces

Gondar Castle Ethiopia

Your adventure starts and ends in the old city of Gondar, founded by King Fasilides in the 17th Century. Visit Fasilides' castle and pool and discover ancient churches and palaces in this beautiful city.

 


 

 

 

Your Holiday Itinerary

Addis and Gondar

Day 1 Welcome at Bole International Airport, Addis Adaba. Spend the afternoon exploring this fascinating city. Discover Lucy- the oldest human fossil found in Africa- at the National Museum, visit the Ethnographic museum, enjoy views from Entoto mountain or visit one of Addis Ababa's fine churches. Transfer to hotel for overnight stay.

Day 2 Transfer to the domestic airport for an early morning  flight* to Gondar, where you are met and transferred to your hotel, with a full day to see some of the wonderful sights of this ancient city.

Into the Simiens

Day 3 A full day's journey by road takes you through the rugged landscape towards the dramatic Simien Mountains, and through the Simien National Park to the southern fringe. Just after the town of Merkane Berhan, you are met by your guide where your adventure by foot begins. It is a short walk into the Janamora disctrict, to the village of Taga Mariam, the first of the new partner villages, where you stay in the simple, comfortable tukul guesthouse built by the communities.

With the Simien Communities

Day 4 - Day 7

For the next four days you are hosted by the hillside communities. Walk between and stay in the three charming villages - Taga Mariam, Kalid Abo and Timbala, all situated at over 3,000m and with stunning views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Walk in the company of your local guide, on average 4 hours a day, and with two nights in each of the villages choose whether to explore further by foot or immerse yourself in village life. The walking is rewarding, over rugged, mountainous terrain, but you have plenty of time to rest up and enjoy the sweeping panoramas and local way of life.

Back through the National Park to Gondar

Day 8 A short walk takes you from the final village of Timbala to the road.

The drive back through the park allows time to stop and watch the gelada baboons and enjoy a walk either to view the Geech Abyss, where the Jimbar river plunges into a chasm of un-measured depth, or a walk up to a spectacular view point at Imet Gogo and explore Chenek to see the illusive Walia Ibex. Keep your eyes peeled for the even more illusive and high endangered Ethiopian Wolf, as well as caracal, leopards and birds of prey. Your accommodation is in the comfortable Limalimo Lodge on the fringe of the park.

Day 9 From the lodge, return to Gondar in time for your flight to Addis*. You are met at Addis airport for a transfer into town for a relax before returning to the airport for your night flight home.

 

 

Flights

*Internal flights are not included in the price of your holiday, as these are better value if booked at the same time as international flights. We therefore ask guests  to book all flights: international flights from your home city to Addis Ababa and onwards to Gondar. Flights can be booked with Ethiopian Airlines using a multi-city booking, which offers the best value. Our reservations team will be happy to advise you on flights, or if you would prefer that we book your internal flights, this can be arranged for a small admin fee.

All of our suggested itineraries can be extended if you wish to make more of your time in Ethiopia, or shortened if your time is limited. Fashion the holiday to suit you and immerse yourself in the culture of this fascinating land.

 

Extra nights

Extend the holiday with additional nights in the community guesthouses. If you wish to make the most of your time in the National Park, we recommend adding an extra night in Limalimo Lodge. Spend more time visiting the cities, with extra nights in Addis or Gondar.

 

Further add-ons

Choose to explore further afield in Ethiopia with the following options:

Add a day in Bahir Dar at the start of your holiday and explore Lake Tana by boat, visiting the ancient monasteries that line the peninsular.
Replace your return journey to Gondar with a trip to the ancient capital of Axum and a visit to the fascinating rock-churces of Lalibela.
Add on a visit to Tigray for more walking against a stunning backdrop.


Flights


Guests are asked to book all flights: international flights from your home city to Addis Ababa and onwards to Gondar for the outward journey, and from Gondar to to Addis on the return. Flights can be booked with Ethiopian Airlines using a multi-city booking. Multi-city bookings offer the best value way to organise your flights, but if you would prefer that we book your internal flights, this can be arranged for a small admin fee.

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