Hiking the Simien Mountains, Ethiopia by

Journal Notes

Ever since a brief layover in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the highlands (and food) in the horn of Africa have intrigued me. A few years after that initial layover, I managed to swing a 2-week trip through the country – where I bee-lined it up to the Simien Mountains. I was drawn to the promise of sheer cliffs, stunning landscapes, the elusive Simien Wolf and of course, the Gelada Baboons. I had also heard that the region was relatively untouched by hikers which is always appealing.

Upon reaching the base town of Gondor, we set off to find gear and food for a 5-day hike. At first glance, I thought we wouldn’t be able to hike at all. Gondor is a small town with no visible ‘outfitting shop’ for unprepared hikers. I wandered into a shop hoping to find some peanut butter for sustenance and was quickly outfitted with all the gear, loaned from the shop owner’s friend of a friend. After an afternoon of running house to house, we were relatively prepared.

At the foot of the mountains, park authorities introduced us to our mandatory scout and mules that would guide us through the trails. In the spirit of keeping things cheap, we had opted out of hiring a cook and a guide (… the lack of a cook I would later regret). With that, our team of four set off.

We spent the next 5 days hiking along ancient footpaths throughout the spectacular mountains. We would come across enormous troupes of Gelada Baboons who, in my opinion, look like the mafia of the primate kingdom. We were lucky enough to spy two wolves – a rare feat considering these animals prefer to stay hidden. The park is also home to numerous villages, which have degraded some of the landscape through herding and overgrazing. However, they will invite you in for a traditional Ethiopian coffee service if interested.

We cut our trip short after learning that the final two days of our 5 day hike would be spent walking on a dusty road back to the base – rather than through the foot trails. It sounded demoralizing, since a public bus drives this road at least once a day. We hopped on the bus (for a steep foreigner price) and spent the final days of the trip feasting on injeera and various stews.

This hike is amongst my favourites on the continent! The entire hike cost roughly 200 per person - and the larger your group the cheaper the price!

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