9-Nights Hiking the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia
OFFER ID 1376640
Ethiopia Simien Mountains Private Hiking On this thrilling Ethiopian adventure, discover “the cradle of humanity” and its spectacular wonders carved by nature, history and time-tested tradition. Marvel at the fossilized remains of early hominids in Addis Ababa and trek the rugged ranges of Simien Mountains National Park, spotting unique wildlife along the way such as the Gelada baboon and Simien fox. Take in the majestic castles of Gondar, the former royal capital of Ethiopian Empire, dive deep into medieval past on a tour of Lalibela's magnificent rock-hewn churches, and partake in traditional coffee ceremonies.
Trek lodge to lodge in astonishing Simien Mountains National Park, spotting endemic wildlife
Take in the museum highlights of Addis Ababa, including "Lucy," the world-famous early human
Explore the wondrous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and Yemrehanna Kristos, hidden in a grotto
Internal Airfare: $900 Minimum Age: 15
9 nights from $6,395 per person
Exclusive Amenity: $50 Donation Per Booking Will Be Made on Behalf of Your Clients to One of MT Sobek’s Partnered Foundations
Valid on new bookings deposited now – December 31, 2025 for travel anytime.
Other restrictions may apply. Contact your travel advisor about this Signature Exclusive Amenity.
Day 1 Arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Arrive in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and meet your MT Sobek representative outside the terminal building of Bole International Airport, for transfers to the hotel. This evening, gather for a welcome dinner at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant and enjoy a captivating folklore dance performance. Accommodation: Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa (D)
Day 2 Explore Addis Ababa Cultural touring Today embark on an Addis Ababa city tour, taking in the highlights. Admire the nation's art and archeological treasures at the National Museum, including the famous "Lucy" skeleton, partial fossilized remains of an early hominid. See the Trinity Cathedral Church, built to commemorate Ethiopia's liberation from Italian occupation, and the Ethnological Museum, one of Africa's finest museums set within the former palace of Haile Selassie (the last Emperor of Ethiopia), surrounded by beautiful gardens. Wander through Mercato, the largest open-air market in Africa, with its colorful stalls laden with coffee.The September departure also includes the annual Meskel Festival. Accommodation: Hyatt Regency Addis Ababa (B, L, D)
Day 3 Fly to Gondar & Drive to the Simien Mountains 2-hour 10-minute flight transfer and 3-hour private van transfer Short acclimatizing hike Transfer to the airport for your flight to Gondar and then continue overland into the Simien Mountains National Park. Ethiopia's most popular place for trekking, this spectacular landscape has jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and a dramatic escarpment with views over the rugged lowlands. Check in at the Simien Lodge, and head out for a short hike in search of the endemic gelada baboons. Return to the lodge for dinner and drinks. Accommodation: Simien Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 4 Spot Wildlife on a Scenic Escarpment Trek 3-7 hours/9-10 miles hiking with 1,200’ elevation gain and loss After breakfast, head back out to Simien Mountains National Park for a scenic trek along the escarpment. These mountains are a nature lover's dream, fantastically rich in wildlife, including the iconic red-chested gelada baboon that only exists in Ethiopia. Hiking with these cliff-dwelling monkeys that hang out in large groups is an absolute treat for wildlife lovers. Along the way, explore more of the park's unique flora, fauna and geology. Return to the cozy comforts of Simien Lodge for an evening atop the escarpment. Accommodation: Simien Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 5 Lodge-to-Lodge Trek in Simien Mountains National Park 7-8 hours/9-10 miles hiking with 1,200' elevation gain and loss Today explore the Simien Mountains on an extraordinary lodge-to-lodge trek. With its altitude, varied terrain and weather, the full-day hiking adventure is challenging but the rewards make it worthwhile. Hike above plummeting gorges and in the shadows of towering pinnacles, following routes as old as time. Look out for lammergeier vultures, tawny eagles and thick-billed ravens; the park features over 180 species of bird. Arrive back at the Limalimo Lodge to enjoy dinner by a roaring fire. Accommodation: Limalimo Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 6 Blend Hiking & Yoga in an Acacia Forest 2-3 hours/2-3 miles hiking with 500’ elevation gain and loss Kick off the day with yoga and a hearty breakfast, then set out to explore more of the Simiens with its myriad ecosystems. Dropping off from the escarpment, witness these ecosystems changing from high mountain desert into acacia forest. Enjoy a 2-hour hike through the forest, a prime habitat for birding. In the afternoon, opt for a 30-minute hike to the local community, to learn traditional beer brewing, cooking and coffee making. Or unwind at the lodge, with more yoga, a massage, or simply soaking in the views. Accommodation: Limalimo Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 7 Explore the Castles & Churches of Historic Gondar 3-hour private van transfer Cultural touring After breakfast at the lodge, drive back from the Simien Mountains to Gondar, the former royal capital of the Ethiopian Empire. Have lunch at the traditional Four Seasons Restaurant and set out on a tour of this historic city first founded in 1636 by Emperor Fasilides. Take in the Fasil Ghebbi (Royal Enclosure), with its magnificent castles, and Fasilides Bath, where on January 19 during Timket (Epiphany) hundreds bath to get christened. Visit the 18th-century Debre Birhan Selassie Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its gorgeous sacral art. Accommodation: Gondar Hills Resort (B, L, D)
Day 8 Fly to Lalibela & Visit the Magnificent Yemrehanna Kristos Church 1-hour flight transfer and 30-minute private van transfer Cultural touring Today after breakfast, fly from Gondar to the town of Lalibela. Check in to your hotel, enjoy lunch and head out to the rarely visited Yemrehanna Kristos, one of Ethiopia's best-preserved late Axumite churches. Set inside a large cave on a juniper tree-dotted ridge 42km outside Lalibela, this spectacular church predates the nearby rock-hewn churches of Lalibela by nearly a century. Accommodation: Mezena Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 9 Discover the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela Cultural touring Spend today marveling at the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, the crown jewel among Ethiopia's sights. Ringed by courtyards and trenches and connected via a tangled maze of passages, this series of 11 monolithic churches - a World Heritage Site by UNESCO - was built during the 12th and 13th century. Take in this mind-blowing treasure, including the most famous Church of St George, also known as Bete Giyorgis, carved out of solid volcanic tuff. Enjoy a farewell dinner and coffee ceremony at Ben Abeba Restaurant, known for its Scottish-Ethiopian cuisine and marvelous views. Accommodation: Mezena Lodge (B, D)
Day 10 Fly Back to Addis Ababa & Depart from Ethiopia This morning after breakfast, fly back to Addis Ababa and check in to the day room at a hotel near the airport. Interested in more opportunities to experience Ethiopia's stunning rock-hewn churches? Call us for a three-day extension options to Gheralta.
Addis Ababa is the capital of Ethiopia. It houses the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commissions of Africa, in result it is often referred to as the capital of Africa. The city’s diversity is clearly apparent when noticing the many churches, mosques, and museums. The main attraction is located in the Ethiopian National Museum where you can find the fossilized skeleton of Lucy, the Australopithecine discovered in the 1970s.
Simien National Park
A trek 325 mi/525 km northwest of Addis Ababa in the Simien Mountains is likely to be the high point of a visitor's time in Ethiopia. (The highest peaks top 13,100 ft/4,000 m.) The breathtaking mountain landscape and vegetation provide some of the finest scenery in the country. Many of the animals living in the Simien Mountains exist only in Ethiopia and some exist only in the Simiens. Lammergeyer vultures, whose wingspan reaches up to 10 ft/3 m, are protected by national park rules. Endemic mammals include the Ethiopian wolf (an endangered species), Gelada monkeys (which live in large, grass-eating troops that display little fear of humans) and the goatlike Walia ibex. The Simiens are also home to several endemic plants, including a form of giant lobelia whose hollow seedpod can grow up to 20 ft/6 m high and was often used by soldiers for stashing arms.
The park's headquarters are at Debark, on the main road. Park authorities will provide a guide and an armed scout (in case of poachers) and will arrange for the rental of mules to carry additional food and gear. The guide, scout, trekking permit and mules should cost about US$200 for a week. Visitors can buy supplies and rent camping stoves in Debark, but tents and warm sleeping bags should be carried from home. Take warm clothing as well as protection from the sun and rain. (The rainy season is May-October.) Although only limited food is available in the small towns within the park, the Muslim villagers (who have lived in this mostly Christian region since the 17th century) are happy to supply nonalcoholic barley beer to thirsty hikers.
Founded by Emperor Fasilidas in the 17th century in the shadow of the Simien Mountains 260 mi/420 km northwest of Addis Ababa, Gonder certainly merits a visit. Once the Ethiopian capital, the town has distinctive castles and cathedrals, incorporating medieval European and southern-Arabian influences. Be sure to see the abbeys, the Castle of the King Fasilidas, the Monastery of Kusquam, the House of Kusquam (Queen Mintiwab's palace) and other ruins.
Gonder has dozens of churches, the most important being Debre Birhan Selassie (Trinity of the Mountain of Light), which has an impressive hilltop location. The priest there will explain the story of the many paintings and carvings inside the church. Nearby is a former Falasha (Ethiopian Jew) community. Although all of the Falasha were airlifted to Israel years ago, you can still tour the synagogue and buy some traditional Falasha pottery (made by current residents).
Missing this town would be like going to Egypt and not seeing a pyramid. Lalibela's 11 Orthodox churches are some of the world's greatest architectural marvels, and the town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Each church was carved out of a solid piece of red volcanic rock in the 1100s. The largest, Medhane Alem, measures an incredible 100 ft/30 m long, 77 ft/24 m wide and 37 ft /11 m high. Beta Giorgis (the Church of St. George) is shaped like a cross and surrounded by a 40-ft-/12-m-deep trench. Historians say that the churches were commissioned by King Lalibela, who claimed to have been instructed by God in a dream to build the most beautiful places of worship on Earth. Legend says that the churches were completed in 24 years with the help of angels. The churches have beautifully painted facades, tunnels and a cloth (in the Pillar of Light Church) upon which Christ was said to have leaned when appearing to King Lalibela in a dream. The churches are accessible through carved ravines and eerie subterranean passageways lined with grottoes containing the bones of past clergy.
Built as the king's own "New Jerusalem" 210 mi/340 km north of Addis Ababa, Lalibela strikes many visitors as one of the most sacred, strangely mystical places on Earth, particularly during religious festivals, when pilgrims arrive from around the country. Bet Maryam (the Church of St. Mary), is especially festive on Christmas Eve. Most of the churches still hold weekly services. Our favorite nonreligious experience in Lalibela is the Saturday market, a good place to see Ethiopian villagers trading goats, cows, cloth and vegetables.
Outside Lalibela, a local charity called TESFA works with local communities to offer simple facilities catering to tourists who wish to get off the beaten trail, trek in breathtaking scenery and see the real culture of the highlanders. Centered on Meket Woreda, the local communities manage the enterprises and retain the proceeds from it.
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