Simien Twin Peaks Trekfrom
You will trek through the rarely visited Simien Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and wonderland of nature. Its breath-taking landscapes and wildflowers, and rare wildlife; Gelada Baboons, Walia Ibex and Ethiopian Wolves make it a unique trek.
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Challenging
- Simien Mountain National Park
- Spotting endemic wildlife
- Ancient castles and palaces
Arrival and departure transfers are included, whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you.
Accommodation as listed in the itinerary. Should we need to change hotels, but we will endeavour to keep the same standard.However, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.
You will be escorted throughout by an English-speaking guide. You will also have local English-speaking guides.
As listed within the itinerary (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner).
All entrance fees
A bottle of mineral water every day
Guests are responsible for arranging their own visa. We would recommend that you obtain your visa in advance of your trip using the evisa service.
We don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours
It is important that you have insurance in place prior to arriving in country.
Guide and porterage tips, also local payments for photography
Day 1 - Addis Ababa L/D
On arrival at Bole International Airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. After lunch a city tour will take you to the National Archaeological Museum, to view the 3.6 million-year-old remains of “Lucy”, discovered in 1974, Ethnological Museum at Addis Ababa University and Holy Trinity Cathedral. Drive to the top of Mount Entoto, which rises to an altitude of 10,500 feet for a panoramic view of the metropolis before making your way back to your hotel. Overnight at Swiss Inn Nexus Hotel or similar.
The Ethiopian capital is situated on the southern slopes of central Ethiopia’s Entoto Hills and is the world’s fourth highest capital city with altitudes of 2,350m to more than 2,600m. The city was founded in the 19th century by Emperor Menelik II.
Addis Ababa ”new flower”) or Addis Abeba, also known as Finfinne (”natural spring”), is the capital and largest city of Ethiopia.
As a chartered city, Addis Ababa also serves as the capital city of Oromia. It is where the African Union is headquartered and where its predecessor the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was based. It also hosts the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), as well as various other continental and international organizations. Addis Ababa is therefore often referred to as ”the political capital of Africa” for its historical, diplomatic and political significance for the continent. The city lies a few miles west of the East African Rift which splits Ethiopia into two, through the Nubian Plate and the Somali Plate. The city is populated by people from different regions of Ethiopia.
Day 2 - Gondar B/L/D
Morning flight to Gondar, the so-called Camelot of Africa. Visit the royal enclosure containing six castles, a complex network of connecting tunnels and raised walkways and the fascinating Debre Berhan Selassie Church, one of Ethiopia’s most beautifully painted churches. Overnight at Goha Hotel or similar.
Gondar, once the Ethiopian capital, was home to a number of emperors and warlords, courtiers and kings. The graceful city of Gonder, founded by Emperor Fasilidas, become the capital of the Ethiopian empire around 1635. This settlement, which became Fasilidas principal headquarters, grew into an important town, and remained Ethiopia’s capital, and most popular city, for over two centuries.
The oldest of Gondar’s many imperial structures is the impressive 17th century palace of Emperor Fasilidas. Many other fascinating historical buildings and relics can be seen in the area. Gaze down from the balconies of the many castles and palaces to imagine the intrigue and pageantry that took place back in the 17th and 18th centuries of this great city.
Fasilidas endowed his capital with a sizeable palace, known as the Fasil Gemb, or Fasil building. It was larger and more impressive than any structure in Ethiopia up to that time. Fasilidas, who reputedly constructed many other buildings and bridges in the city, was succeeded by his son, Emperor Yohannes (1667-1682), and later by his grandson, Iyasu1 (1682-1706), both of whom built more palaces in the vicinity of Fasil Gemb. Iyasu’s most lasting achievement was the church of Debre Berhan Selassie, the light of the Trinity, which stands, surrounded by a high wall. The interior is marvellously painted with great scenes from religious history.
Apart from the famous castle in the royal compound, visitors should visit the so-called bathing palace of the Emperor. This two storey crenelated stone structure has a flat roof and two wooden balconies. It is set the middle of a large rectangular bath, reminiscent of a modern swimming-pool, which was traditionally filled with water brought by pipe from the nearby Qaha River. It was intended for the Timket Celebrations which commemorated the Baptism of Christ-a use to which the bath is put to this day.
Timket celebration at Gondar several more palaces were raised by both Yohannes 1 and Iyasu 1. They later built a large two-storey crenelated structure beside that of their grandfather Fasilidas.
The reigns of the first three Gondarie rulers thus witnessed a steady expansion of the city, in the course of which an imperial quarter came into existence.
Gondar is a town of fairy-tale medieval castles and is noted for the design and decoration of its churches, masterpieces, which were constructed from stone in the form of crenelated castles, are of a significant distinctive design.
Flanked by twin mountain streams Gondar retains an atmosphere of antique charm mingled with an aura of mystery. The city was once a vigorous and vital centre of religious learning and art. Painting and music, dance and poetry, together with skilled instructions in these and many other disciplines, thrived for more than two hundred years. Fasilidas and his successors saw their elegant capital as a renaissance of Ethiopian culture and so patronized the arts.
The fascination with painting, mainly expressed through church murals, icons, illuminated manuscripts and scrolls, has remained. Religious themes dominate all but the most recent Ethiopian art.
It is also worth visiting the ruins of the palace and abbey of the redoubtable 18th century Empress Mentewab at Quesquam overlooking Gondar. The royal compound, like that at Gondar proper, contains a number of buildings. The largest was apparently used for receptions and served as headquarters of the garrison.
The palace compound was surrounded by a ’high outer-wall;’ which was about a mile in circumference, with outer precincts all occupied by soldiers, labourers and out-doors servants. Quesquam is wonderful and historic place.
Outside the palace compound, a second important building constructed during Iyasu’s reign is the church of Debre Birhan Selassie (or light of Trinity), which stands on raised ground to the north west of the city. This is the finest of the Gondarine churches, with its ceiling decorated with many winged angels.
In the old days it was surmounted by a gold cross, which is now gone. However, original walls painted from top to bottom with scenes of Biblical lore and medieval history is well preserved. Because of its extensive population, and the considerable patronage offered by both state and church, Gondar emerged as a major handicraft centre. Many of the city’s principal artisans come from minority groups. Falasha (Jewish) craftsmen include blacksmiths, weavers and masons, and their womenfolk are potters. Muslim craftsmen are mainly weavers and tent¬makers, some of whom also served as tent carriers and carpenters.
DAY 3 - Simien Mountains B/L/D
Travel 60 miles to the principal mountain massifs of Africa, the Simien Mountains. On arrival at the headquarters of Simien Mountains National Park, meet our trekking Scout, guide and drive to the SMNP.
After Lunch make a short trek to Sankaber, where we are going to spend the first night. We have a three to four-hour relaxing trek exploring the beauty of this mountain range, which includes several plateaus separated by broad river valleys and a number of peaks that rise above 13,000 feet. The sights are impressive and an excellent chance to see herds of Ethiopian Baboons and a number of birds of prey. Sankaber Campsite or similar
DAY 4 - Trek From Sankaber (3,250m) To Gich (3,600M) B/L/D (5 – 6 HOURS)
The trek to the seasonal and impressive Jinibar waterfall. From there, you climb fairly steeply for an hour to reach the Jinbar valley and head down to the Jinbar River at 3,190m. Have a picnic lunch in these majestic surroundings. On the way, keep an eye open for the rare and graceful lammergeyer, soaring in search of food. After a brief rest at the river ascend gradually on an undulating trail for 2-3 hours to the village of Gich - dotted by the traditional round thatched huts and home to the Muslim community. After the village, the trail then winds its way into the moorland where visitors will experience the highland flora of giant lobelia as you arrive at Gich camp. Overnight Gich Campsite
Jinbar water fall is one of Ethiopia’s tallest waterfalls at 500m high. The 15-minute walk from the roadside to the lookout across the chasm to Jinbar Waterfall is well worth taking. The views are vertiginous and they’re at their best in the rainy season when water cascades down a sheer cliff across the other side of the valley.
DAY 5 - Imetgogo and The Two Peaks Circuit: B/L/D (4 – 5 HOURS)
One of the most scenic and spectacular trails in the park, this route takes you to a viewpoint that rewards you with views of the remarkable shape of the landscape and canyon which are the result of geological upheaval between 60 - 70 million years ago. The first part of the hike is a gentle uphill walk of around 2 hours from Gich to the imetgogo viewpoint (3,926m). You may spot the iconic Ethiopian wolf. Another hour’s walk through the Afroalpine meadow takes you to the Lobelia Valley, which is home to thousands of these giant plants. The trail then brings you to the second viewpoint: Saha (3,785m) with stunning views of the dramatic gorge and rock towers and an ideal spot for lunch. After lunch and before the final ascent towards the camp, another 1-hour trek to the final viewpoint of the day called kedadit (3,760m). After that, a 4 -minute downhill stroll brings to the Gich campsite. Overnight Gich Campsite or similar
The Ethiopian wolf is the rarest canid in the world, and Africa’s most threatened carnivore. The closest living relatives of the Ethiopian wolf are grey wolves and coyotes. The Ethiopian wolf ancestor crossed over from Eurasia during the Pleistocene period less than 100,000 years ago, when sea levels were lower and Africa and the Middle East were connected. At the time, the highlands of Ethiopia were predominately Afroalpine grasslands and heathlands, and these habitats were ideal for many small mammals, particularly grass rats and mole rats. This Afroalpine environment and its abundant rodents drove the Ethiopian wolf evolution morphologically into a specialized rodent hunter with an elongated muzzle, long legs and a distinctive reddish coat, with white markings and a darker tail tip. Male Ethiopian wolves weigh between 14 and 20kg, while the weight of adult females ranges from 11 to 16 kg.
Ethiopian wolves live in packs of between 2 and 18 animals, which share and defend an exclusive territory. Unlike most social carnivores, Ethiopian wolves forage and feed alone during the day. In Simien they are mostly visible foraging or walking early in the morning and late in the afternoon, and occasionally in small groups, greeting or scent marking along their territory boundaries. Dens are only used during the short breeding season by pups and nursing females. The rest of the pack sleeps in the open but helps protect the den from predators and contributes food to the pups.
The Ethiopian wolf is restricted to just six isolated mountaintop areas of the Ethiopian highlands. With a total world population of between 400 to 520 individuals, it is highly endangered. As a result, it is legally protected in the country from any activities that may threaten its survival. Rapidly expanding cattle and crop farming are severe threats, as well as diseases such as rabies and canine distemper transmitted from domestic dogs.
In SMNP, Ethiopian wolves are found above the limit of agriculture and they are somewhat nocturnal and alert to the presence of people. That said, visitors keeping a keen eye in the core wolf areas of the park during the early morning and late afternoon are likely to be rewarded by a sighting of these handsome and rare carnivores.
DAY 6 - Trek From Gich To Chennek (3,600M): B/L/D (7- 8 HOURS)
The trek begins by ascending gradually for about 2 hours through the Afroalpine meadows. before descending to where you’ll have impressive views of the gorge below imetgogo. The trail then winds its way to the lowest point and begins ascending to the peak Inateye (which means beloved mother in Amharic). You ascend fairly steeply at first for an hour and then more gradually for another hour to the highest point of the day at Inateye (4,070m). This area is an outstanding place to view birds, particularly raptors. Many interesting species can be seen here, among which are the tawny eagle, lammergeyer and augur buzzard. Here you have a rewarding view of the ImegGogo summit, Bwhait pass and the surrounding escarpment and mountains. After a brief rest and lunch in this majestic spot, begin your 2-3-hour descent to the camp. About 10-20 minutes before reaching camp stop at Kurbetemetaya to get the final and excellent view of the day’s trek and look for the first sighting of the cliff specialist Walia ibex. Also keep your eyes peeled for geladas. Chenek Campsite or similar.
High Semyen, Ethiopia’s dramatic high mountain terrain is the habitat of the Walia Ibex.
In this scenic splendour, lives the Walia Ibex; here and nowhere else in the world. Forced by man to retreat, the Walia has been driven in its extremity to inhabit the most in accessible cliffs of the Semyen escarpment. The Walia once existed in significant numbers probably several thousands in the highland massif, feeding on the cliff faces and coming up to roam the plateau at rutting time. Large herds wandered unmolested on these chilly heights.
DAY 7 - Drive From Chennek To Gondar B/L/D
The drive provides stunning views of the lowlands below and the escarpment edge to the west. There is a fast running stream about five minutes’ walk south of Chenek camp. Lammergeyers are often seen here. Chenek is probably the best spot in the Simien Mountains for wild life such as Walia Ibex, Bush Buck, Rock Hyrax and Klipspringer. Lunch will be en-route to the village of Walaka where we can meet the Falasha people, who are said to have been ruminants of the ancient Jewish people. We will visit the Synagogue and have the opportunity to buy their handcraft products.
Afternoon flight to Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa. This evening enjoy a “farewell dinner” and coffee ceremony at a famous traditional Ethiopian restaurant. After sampling various national dishes, enjoy an Ethiopian Folkloric show before your transfer to the airport or hotel.
Beta Israel, formerly called Falasha also spelled Felasha, now known to be pejorative, Jews of Ethiopian origin. Their beginnings are obscure and possibly polygenetic. The Beta Israel (meaning House of Israel) themselves claim descent from Menilek I, traditionally the son of the Queen of Sheba (Makeda) and King Solomon. At least some of their ancestors, however, were probably local Agau (Agaw, Agew) peoples in Ethiopia who converted to Judaism in the centuries before and after the start of the Christian Era. Although the early Beta Israel remained largely decentralized and their religious practices varied by locality, they remained faithful to Judaism after the conversion of the powerful Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum to Christianity in the 4th century CE, and thereafter they were persecuted and forced to retreat to the area around Lake Tana, in northern Ethiopia. Coming under increased threat from their Christian neighbours, the disparate Jewish communities became increasingly consolidated in the 14th and 15th centuries, and it was at this time that these communities began to be considered a single distinct “Beta Israel.” Despite Ethiopian Christian attempts to exterminate them in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Beta Israel partly retained their independence until the 17th century, when the emperor Susenyos utterly crushed them and confiscated their lands. Their conditions improved in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, at which time tens of thousands of Beta Israel lived in the region north of Lake Tana. Beta Israel men were traditionally ironsmiths, weavers, and farmers. Beta Israel women were known for their pottery.
The Beta Israel have a Bible and a prayer book written in Geʿez, an ancient Ethiopian language. They have no Talmudic laws, but their preservation of and adherence to Jewish traditions is undeniable. They observe the Sabbath, practice circumcision, have synagogue services led by priests (kohanim) of the village, follow certain dietary laws of Judaism, observe many laws of ritual uncleanness, offer sacrifices on Nisan 14 in the Jewish religious year, and observe some of the major Jewish festivals.
From 1980 to 1992 some 45,000 Beta Israel fled drought- and war-stricken Ethiopia and immigrated to Israel. The number of the Beta Israel remaining in Ethiopia was uncertain, but estimates suggested a few thousand at most. The ongoing absorption of the Beta Israel community into Israeli society was a source of controversy and ethnic tension in subsequent years.