Ras Dashen at a glance
Ras Dashen, also known as Ras Dejen, is the crown jewel of the Simien Mountains National Park.
Summiting this Goliath is no easy task, but local guides and scouts can help you traverse the most accessible trails.
The full Ras Dashen hike can take up to 12 hours; 7 hours up and 5 hours down.
Surprisingly, the trail follows relatively even terrain for the majority of the hike. There are some steeper gradients, but the difficulty is in the duration and ever-increasing altitude.
How to hike Ras Dashen
Ras Dashen is on the eastern escarpment of the park, away from the main ridge that sees the majority of visitors.
To access Ras Dashen, you have to camp out in the mountains, most commonly at the base camp of Ambiko (although there are more rugged routes for those who really want to get out into the sticks).
Most visitors who tackle Ras Dashen first spent 2 or 3 nights camping on the primary escarpment to get acclimatised and see all the best viewpoints before heading over to Ras Dashen.
Most travellers who are trekking in the Simien Mountains stick to the primary escarpment, and spend 2-3 nights in the mountains. If you want to summit Ras Dashen, you'll need at least 2 extra days, sometimes longer depending on your fitness and the route you choose.
The trail to the summit
Wisps of smoke appear, drifting above the trail, an indication a rest is near. Each stop is a welcome break, and a chance to refuel.
Wandering local merchants who live in the park sell food and drink along the path, these mountains are their home so don't expect to see them out of breath.
The views all around are staggering, and the ascent climb is gentle enough to allow you to enjoy the views and talk to your guides, rather than focusing exclusively on the path ahead.
As the trail ends, there is a steep section up a craggy rock face that leads out on to the summit of Ras Dashen. High above clouds, you are now the at a higher altitude than anyone in the country - there's a reason the Simiens are known as the Roof of Africa.
The return journey
There are a few options for descending Ras Dashen.
If your legs are up for it, you can backtrack down the way you came, and enjoy more of the stunning Simien Mountains scenery.
Weary eyed travellers can take advantage of a fleet of minibuses and cars parked only a short walk away from the peak that will drive you down to Dilibza. From here, a high-altitude road (4,200 metres) intersects the park and leads travellers back down to Debark.
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