Simien Mountains

One of Africa’s major highlands, Ethiopia’s Simien mountain massif offers splendid views of the Eritrean plains.

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Trekking in the Simien Mountains

Rising to the highest point in Ethiopia at 4543m, Ras Dejen is also the fourth highest peak in the continent.

The best way to explore this gorgeous corner of Ethiopia is to spend a few days slowly trekking across the plateau, with horses and donkeys for pack animals to help you carry your tents, cooking kit, and food, giving you a truly unique experience. This stripped-back style of living can be refreshing, and a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Occasionally, snow falls on the highest points, and temperatures can drop to below zero to leave an early-morning frost. However, the area also features beautiful grasslands with fescue grasses, as well as heathers, pretty red-hot pokers, and giant lobelia.

Perhaps the highlight of any trip to the Simien mountains is the trek up to see the families of gelada monkeys. There are around 3000 geladas, often found in groups of up to 600, grazing on the edge of precipitous cliffs. For the few lucky ones, the rare Ethiopian wolf may even make an appearance.

The region is also home to the protected Walia ibex, a type of wild goat. Following years of poaching, Walia numbers are slowly increasing. However, there is now growing concern for local populations of leopard, hyena and jackal which are hunted by locals. The Simien mountains are home to around 25,000 people who continuously face conflicts with predators who prey on their livestock.

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Top Reasons To Visit Simien Mountains

Often the best safaris involve looking beyond the obvious highlights. It’s about the exhilarating encounters that will make your heart sing. These are encounters that nobody could ever predict, but that make your safari genuinely unique.

Best Time To Visit The Simien Mountains

Enjoy the stunning views from the Simien mountains between October and March, when the skies are clear and the weather is mild. Timing your visit later in the year means you can enjoy the vivid green landscapes with fresh foliage which follow the rainy season.

The winter brings milder temperatures during the day, providing ideal conditions for trekking and exploring the mountains without facing any extreme rainfall. During the day, the temperatures range from a mild 11°C to a balmy 18°C. However, expect an extreme drop overnight, as the mercury can plummet from -2°C to -10°C, so you will need to wrap up warm while camping.q

Time your visit for the start of the winter season to see the Ethiopian endemic, the ivory-coloured Abyssinian rose which blooms from March to May. This period also gives you the clearest skies, undisturbed by clouds and haze. The further you get into the season, the more likely you’ll come across fog as the weather gets ready for the rainy summer which hits the Simien mountains between June and August.

Best Time To Visit The Simien Mountains

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Simien Mountains (FAQs) NEED TO KNOW

Do I need to be reasonably fit to trek the Simien Mountains?

As with any hike, you need to have a reasonable level of fitness to trek through the Simien Mountains. However, it is completely possible to enjoy the region by car. Regardless of your level of activity, it’s important to remember that you’ll be around 3000m above sea level while in the mountains, meaning the air is much thinner, making it more difficult to breath as normal.

What is the best way to explore the Simien Mountains?

Perhaps the most exciting way to explore the Simien Mountains is to take your time trekking around the mountains and exploring everything the wonderful area has to offer. Your local guide will keep you on track and help you spot any wildlife while telling you more about the animals and their habitats. 

You can choose to stay in one of the lodges in the mountains, giving you a comfortable living space, or you may opt for a more authentic experience and camp out in the wild.

Is it possible to combine a trip to the Simien Mountains with other areas of Ethiopia?

Thanks to its close proximity, many people choose to visit Gonder as well as the Simien Mountains during their trip to Ethiopia. Gonder is about a 2.5 hour drive to the Simien Mountains National Park, and the city is home to castle and palace remains from its time as the capital of Ethiopia. You may also choose to visit the town of Debark, which is found at the foot of the mountains. This area is much smaller with fewer tourists, giving you a more authentic insight into the local way of living and an opportunity to sample delicious local cuisine.

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