Simien Mountains and Northern History

This trip packs in a myriad of history, culture and some of the best scenery in Africa. Explore the palaces of Gondar, the world-famous rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, and the sweeping plateaus of the Simien Mountains. Leave enough time either side to explore the bustling capital city on your way in or out. This trip packs in a myriad of history, culture and some of the best scenery in Africa. Explore the palaces of Gondar, the world-famous rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, and the sweeping plateaus of the Simien Mountains. Leave enough time either side to explore the bustling capital city on your way in or out.
7 Days
$1,821

Simien Mountains and Northern History - 7 - $1,821

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

  • An action-packed 7-day tour introducing you to just some of the wonders found in Ethiopia's north. 
  • Trek the Simien Mountains with knowledgeable local guides. The Simien landscape is staggering, with sheer cliff faces and gorges over 1.5 kilometres deep. The paths you’ll use are shared by the local fauna, so keep a lookout for Gelada Monkeys and Walia Ibex, as well as many other endemic species. 
  • Visit the ancient rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and the crumbling castle ruins of Gondar
  • Explore Addis Ababa, the historic capital city. 

Start from Addis Ababa and end at Addis Ababa

Landmarks visited on Simien Mountains and Northern History

Itinerary

Day 1: The adventure begins

Fly to Addis Ababa where you’ll be picked up and transferred to your hotel. Spend the day exploring Addis. The Italian-built Piazza sits next to famous markets and bustling streets. Nearby the Grand Anwar Mosque and the Ragual Church are worth a visit. Get lost in Mercato, the largest open air market in Africa. If you have time, visit Lucy, the 3.2 million-year-old fossilised skeleton in the National Museum. Her discovery re-wrote the story of human evolution. See the Holy Trinity Cathedral, famed for its copper dome and neo-baroque architecture. It houses the tombs of the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassi, and the British suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst. 

In the evening, head to one of the capital's fantastic cultural restaurants for an introduction to Ethiopian cuisine, and to get to know your tour leaders. 

Overnight: Capital Hotel or similar


Day 2: Explore Lalibela

Take a short flight to Lalibela, known to some as ‘The New Jerusalem’. Lalibela is home to the extraordinary rock-hewn churches, which are famous the world over. Haile Selassi reportedly risked his life to make a solo pilgrimage here during the war with Italy. Discover Biete Medhane Alem (House of the Saviour of the world), believed to be the world’s largest monolithic church before navigating through the system of trenches to arrive at Biete Ghiorgis (House of St. George), the most famous and isolated of all the structures. In the evening head for dinner at one of Ethiopia’s coolest restaurants - Ben Abeba - a crazy structure of concrete walkways and elevated seating areas, with some of the best views of the surrounding mountains and excellent food.

Overnight: Tukul Village Hotel or similar  


Day 3: Explore Gondar

Take an internal flight to Gondar, the old capital of the country. Your first stop will be Debre Berhan Selassie Church, whose heavy and unassuming stone facade hides the colourful frescoes inside. After this you will head to Fasil Gebbi, often called the Royal Enclosure, this was initially founded in 1636 and built by Emperor Fasilides as his home. The buildings span over 70,000 metres of land and include palaces, libraries, lion houses (cages), royal baths, and a women’s vocational school built by Mentewab, the Empress of Ethiopia. Multiple architectural styles and influences jostle for position. The influences include Indian, Portuguese, Moorish and Aksumite. 

Overnight: Goha Hotel or similar 


Day 4: Simien Mountains National Park

A car will pick you up from your hotel in Gondar take you to Debark, the headquarters of the Simien Mountains National Park, known as “The Roof of Africa”. Here you’ll meet with your trek leader and cook who will talk you through all aspects of your upcoming hike. You’ll take a 4×4 some of the way to your first camp at Sankaber, but you will walk the final stretch (approximately 3 hours) in order to acclimatise to the altitude. Ascending to over 3,000m above sea level and with a jagged landscape, you’ll be stunned by the views. You’ll be met with drinks and snacks at the campsite on arrival. All camping gear can be provided, although you should bring your own sleeping bag if possible, and pack plenty of warm clothes - it can be below freezing at night! The food is cooked by candlelight by the camp chef. 

Route: Gondar – Debark - Sankaber (3,200m)

Length of hike: 2-3 hours drive and 3 hours/7km walk


Day 5: Simien Mountains National Park

The first day of proper hiking starts with breakfast, and then a trail along the ridge. This gives you a vantage point and incredible views over the foothills some 800m below. The mountains are known worldwide for their biodiversity. Ethiopia’s placement on the equator makes this mountain range a particularly temperate one. Your guides will point out flora and fauna of note, but regular sightings on this trail are of Gelada Monkeys, Kilspringer and Ibex. From the heights, you can watch birds soar on the thermals below.

A highlight of today’s trek is Genbar Falls, a waterfall over a sobering 500m sheer drop which you’ll view from a vantage point on the opposite side of the ridge. After a break for lunch, you’ll continue onwards to the camp, where there are sensational views and a chance to watch the Gelada Monkeys as they clamber down the vertiginous slopes to their sleeping spots, before another night in a campsite with fabulous views. 

Route: Sankaber (3,200 m) – Geech (3,600m)

Length of hike: 7-8 hours/15km.


Day 6: Imet Gogo (3,925m) 

Set off early today. Your destination is Imet Gogo, a headland with unbelievable 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains. You can see west - back towards Sankaber and Geech - and south-east along a large gorge. This is one of the most staggering views you’ll ever see. You’ll return to Geech and then down through a river valley and up to the road, where you’ll be met by the 4x4 in the early afternoon. After a 1.5-hour drive, you’ll reach Limalimo Lodge, renowned for being one of the best lodges in Ethiopia, where you can shower, rest up and enjoy a comfortable bed, wonderful food and amazing views. 

Length of hike: 5-6 hours/13km

Overnight: Limalimo Lodge


Day 7: Lalibela to Addis Ababa

Today marks the end of your adventure in Ethiopia. Depending on your international flight departure time, catch a 1:10PM or 4:15PM flight back to Addis to connect with your onward international flight, or to spend the night in Addis before returning home the following day. 

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Prices are per person based on 2 people travelling together. Price is guideline only. Price will depend on your final itinerary, group size, accommodation choices, and time of year. 

Includes

  • Domestic flights: from Addis to Lalibela, Lalibela to Gondar and Gondar to Addis.
  • Breakfast only. Full board at Limalimo Lodge. 
  • Airport pick-ups and drop-offs in Lalibela, Gondar and airport pick up in Addis.
  • All accommodation as per the itinerary.
  • Entry fee, city transfer and guide in Addis, Lalibela and Gondar.
  • Road transfers: Gondar to Simien, Simien (Ayna Meda) to Limalimo and Limalimo to Gondar airport.
  • In the Simiens: entry fee, guide, scout, cook, mules and muleteers, camping and cooking gear except sleeping bags.

Excludes

  • International flights and visa fees.
  • Lunches and dinners, unless stated as included above.
  • Activities not mentioned or stated as optional in the itinerary.
  • Fees for photos and video.
  • Other personal expenses, souvenirs, tips and gratuities, etc.

Questions about this Trip?