Blogs from Simien Mountains, Amhara Region, Ethiopia, Africa

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Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Simien Mountains June 27th 2014

I still have a lot more to write about this, but here is a rough draft with lots of photos: Spending some time in the Simien Mountains was a top priority for me in Ethiopia, as it was the first thing a fellow traveler had told me about the country a few years ago. Unfortunately, late June is the beginning of the rainy season, so it wasn't the best time to go. Our group endured thunderstorms throughout the day, limited views of the mountains, and several river crossings, the last of which made it impossible to summit Ras Dashen. Below is a description of the five day trek to summit Ras Dashen. I highly recommend Bradt's Guide to Ethiopia for details and more description, but it pretty much follows what we did. Also, url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tsWnTFX4Ig&feature=youtu.be&list=PLEvjtUTFZP3Aym0Z1olXFsI9cBITZVzFfhere is a ... read more
Guards
Group with guide
Waterfall into Chasm

Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Simien Mountains July 15th 2013

Greetings from Gondar, Ethiopia! It's been almost two weeks since I started my trip in this beautiful country. So far, I have had an amazing time, with a nice few days in Addis Ababa, four relaxing days by Lake Tana at the outstanding Ghion budget hotel (ignore what the Bradt guidebook says about it being dirty and run-down), and a couple of days exploring the African Camelot of Gondar. Definite highlights so far have been the food, the extremely hospitable people and the cultural shows in Addis and Bahir Dar. I was lucky enough to be in Bahir Dar the night of the university graduation and the local cultural club put on a special dancing show for the festivities. Having never seen Ethiopian dancing before, this was pretty incredible! The most impressive dance of the evening ... read more
Addis-Ababa cultural show
Railway Worker's Bar in Addis-Ababa
On Lake Tana

Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Simien Mountains November 4th 2012

4th Nov ’12 Gondar to Debark and the Simien Mountains We spent the morning driving to Debark, with a stop at a viewpoint across the Simien Mountains and it was a spectacular sight – all these different sized and shaped peaks stretching off to the horizon. Tomorrow we are going to be driving right through them and at this moment in time I just can’t figure out how! We carried on passing small villages of huts surrounding greens on which cattle were grazing, young children were carrying babies on their backs and women were walking along bent double under huge piles of firewood on their backs. We arrived in Debark, a town which is expanding as more hotels are being built to meet the Faranji demand for access to the Simien Mountains National Park. The road ... read more
Photo stop on way to Debark
Photo stop on way to Debark
Village green

Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Simien Mountains March 8th 2012

We spent a couple of days in Gonder trying to figure out the best way to do a trek in the Simien Mountains. After speaking to a couple of tour operators, we decided the best option was to head to Debark and organise it ourselves there. The extra days in Gonder gave us a chance to meet up with some other people we had met over the past few weeks and we had one good night out, where we went out to one of the local clubs. I tasted some tej that night, which is their local honey liquer and fairly potent. We were up at 5.30 a.m. to get the bus to Debark. This left at around 6.30 a.m. and after just the one breakdown, arrived 4 and half hours later. We were quickly harassed ... read more
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Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Simien Mountains October 21st 2011

Not feeling very recovered, we’re up early to reverse our trip back to Chirro Leba in the vain hope the notes of this trip might be correct that there might be an option to catch lift on a 4x4 back to Chennek and thus avoid ascending the long ridge we descended the day before yesterday. It’s a slow start out of camp for the weary legs and RL is struggling on the descents (though still, somehow, remains cheery enough). Both knees are suffering now and that lost strap might’ve been useful at this point. I recall some of my worst descents with bad tendons and am impressed by how little her obviously painful knees are denting her spirits. Once on the ascent to Chirro Leba, the going is a bit easier (if much hotter and made ... read more

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Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Simien Mountains October 20th 2011

Not much sleep achieved before the early morning call. A brief breakfast and we’re off into the darkness. But the three of us soon switch off our head torches as the moon is providing enough light to walk by. Three hours in the moonlight and the sun begins to shed its yellow beams onto to the high escarpment behind us. The hiking has been mostly on the road here which is always disappointing for a summit attempt. Nature has shown the folly of this road already though. Carved into the hillside, the road exposes fragile rock and earth and, at many points along its length, the road is impassable due to landslides. Impassable by vehicle that is, easily passable by foot. Icy puddles provide entertainment along the way until the sun reaches us an hour or ... read more
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Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Simien Mountains October 19th 2011

One of our American friends has woken with serious digestive issues so a hasty search around the camp for the right anti-biotics is under way by the time we rise. Various drugs are located (some might even help) but their trip is over – they will be heading back today. We march on back up to the next lump of escarpment and hike over its craggy ridge to reveal more fantastic views and the first sight of our route up Ras Dashen. It’s a thousand-metre drop in altitude down the river in the valley between us and the Ras Dashen range and then it’s another thousand-metre ascent to reach the summit. A long, grinding descent leads to the corrugated-iron clad village of Chirro Leba. A tourist-priced cold drink is in order at the wee “hotel” DJ ... read more
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Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Simien Mountains October 18th 2011

Rough night’s sleep leads to a creaky start but, all things considered, the aging body is feeling quite willing. Today we trek on to our first summit – the jutting promontory of Imet Gogo. Allegedly, the views from here surpass the ones from Ras Dashen’s summit. We happily meander along the rolling hills until we reach the beginning of the high rocky outcrops and the first of the truly stunning views of the park below. A countless series of peaks stretches as far as the eye can see. Reminiscent of grand canyon scenes but pock-marked with agriculture and really impressively green. I sit for a while with DJ and PC until RL and JW catch up. We drop our packs (PC stays behind with them) and head for the summit. A couple of short awkward scrambles ... read more
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Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Simien Mountains October 17th 2011

Rise to a welcome breakfast and hand on the second portion of omelette to some American friends (they work with RL and are here purely by coincidence) whose cook, after some misunderstanding, was left behind in Debark. DJ eventually manages to work out that their cook is on the way. We set off for a day’s hike – 6 hours or so at a steady pace. We rise onto the escarpment of the park and follow it to sit above the Geech Abyss with its impressive waterfall cascading a good five hundred feet or more into the bottomless abyss (there is a bottom of course, it just can’t be seen from our craggy vantage point). We scramble up an eroded hillside to meet the dirt road that is now used by all the local villagers and ... read more
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Africa » Ethiopia » Amhara Region » Simien Mountains October 16th 2011

Early start delivers us to the domestic terminal for what’s promised to be an early and short flight to Gondar. Soon becomes obvious the flight will be going via Axum and is leaving half an hour later than scheduled. The flight actually leaves an hour and a half late and then sits at the tiny airfield in Axum for nearly an hour, meaning we arrive about three hours late in Gondar. In the confusion of Gondar, we collect our cook (KB). The drive from Gondar to Debark is appalling. The Ethiopian government are borrowing money they have no way of repaying to pay Chinese construction firms to build a whole series of roads in this area but the one to Gondar is very much still “under construction”. This seems to involve much in the way of ... read more
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