​User Reviews – Simien Mountains NP

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Lucas K.   –  
Austria AT
Visited: January 2019 Reviewed: Mar 13, 2019

Email Lucas K.  |  35-50 years of age  |  Experience level: over 5 safaris

Wonderful trek in amazing scenery, with some wildlife thrown into the mix!
Overall rating

I went on a 4-day Simien Trek right after spending 3 days in Gondar for the occasion of Timkat in January 2019. I searched online for recommended guides before arriving and contacted one who had received good feedback. He offered to arrange the trek for 300$. I went along with that, which was a mistake. He pooled me with a group of other independent travelers, guided by someone else (who happened to do a pretty good job, to be fair). Those who shopped for the trek after their arrival to Gondar paid between 200-250$ for the exact same arrangement.

I travel very light and had little in terms of warm clothes. I planned to shop for cheap warm clothes in Gondar before setting out on the trek. This turned out to be quite difficult as most shops were closed throughout the 3-day celebrations. Admittedly, I didn’t try the big market which is a bit far from the center. Perhaps it would have been possible to find something there. I ended up buying a new hoodie in a shop at the Piazza on the morning of our departure, which was a bit pricey. I also looked for a wool hat for the cold nights but couldn’t find any, neither in Gondar nor in Debark.

I was told sleeping bags would be provided for those who would camp instead of sleeping in lodge beds at the camp sites. That proved to be true, but the sleeping bags were mostly damaged, had holes, or non-working zippers. Those of the group who used them sleeping in tents suffered quite badly.

The worst “offense” was certainly not being provided with enough drinking water. Every trekker received 1 liter of water in the morning, and 1 liter in the evening. That’s 2 liters per day to sustain you during days of trekking in warm weather up to 18km (Day 3) at altitude, with significant vertical distance covered. Carrying purification pills is of little use in the dry season as water sources are scarce. Random kids did sell bottles of Coke and sometimes water along the trail (50 Birr per bottle), but that doesn’t excuse the inadequacy of the provisions.

It’s imperative to bring enough warm clothes for the nights. Some trekkers were ill-prepared after the trekking organizers had assured them that they would be “okay” only bringing a sweater or a normal jacket. Blankets were provided in the evenings, but were in short supply.
Food was plentiful and good. Even wine and gin was offered included in the price. Beers were sold at the camp sites for 50 Birr per bottle.
The hiking distance increased incrementally from one day to the next. Day 1 covered 7km (overnight at Sankaber). Day 2 11km (overnight at Gich), Day 3: 18km (overnight at Chennek).

Personally I am glad I decided to go for the 4-day trek all the way to Chennek. The scenery does get better from one day to the next throughout the trek. The last camp at Chennek is arguably the least “spectactular”, but there are plenty of wonderful viewpoints within short walking distance.

There was a big and very uncomfortable discussion about if and how much to tip the scouts/cooks/mule drivers towards the end of the trek. Multiple sources suggest a total of around 1$ per day per staff member is adequate (their salary is around 5-6$ per day). Several trekkers didn’t want to tip at all, or offered as little as 0.25c per person per day. This soured the mood amongst the group significantly, as some argued that the staff had certainly been very accommodating and did more than “standard service” for the group. No idea if or how this issue could be resolved before it comes to that. I did ask my Ethiopian friends in Addis if they felt that tipping was generally appropriate, and they univocally affirmed this.

As far as wildlife goes, I and some others of the group spotted a rare Ethiopian wolf on two separate occasions, as well as Walia Ibex, and of course everyone saw plenty of Gelada monkeys.

Average User Rating

  • 4.5/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Rating Breakdown

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  • 4 star 1
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  • 1 star 0
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