Dirty Details – Simien Mountains

 If you’re planning on going to Ethiopia you’ll want to hire a tour company. Tourism is relatively new to Ethiopia, which might be surprising to some since it is so rich with religious and anthropological history, geographical wonders and the many indigenous tribes who still exist today.

However, Ethiopia’s transportation infrastructure is not set up for individual travel. The roads are not great but more so, the complex and beautiful topography means travelling between cities would take up most of your trip’s time.

It is for that reason that most travellers to Ethiopia fly from Addis Ababa to the northern cities of Bahir Dar, Axum, and Lalibela as well as between them. For southern tours Arba Minch is usually the starting point and it’s an hour’s flight from Addis.

YAMA TOURS I had the privilege of working with Tariku, the owner at Yama Tours. I cannot say enough of how great his team is. What sold me was how quickly Tariku responded to my needs and how quickly he put the tour together. His ground staff was professional and knowledgeable and I wouldn’t look any further for a ground handler in both Northern and Southern Ethiopia.

TREKKING TOURS IN THE SIMIEN MOUNTAINS & NORTHERN ETHIOPIA WITH TESFA TOURS If you’re looking for a different experience in the north you might consider community based trekking tours with Tesfa Tours. I didn’t get the opportunity to work with them but I’m told that their main focus is trekking with their guests through stunning scenery as guests of local farming communities who then host you in their specially built local style. Sounds like the real thing to me and my trek in the Simien Mountains was truly breathtaking!

DISCOVER ETHIOPIA BY PRIVATE PLANE WITH WINGS ETHIO TRAVELMany quickly rule out discovering a country by private plane because it would seem too expensive. However, booking your tour with Ethio Wings makes sense because Ethiopia is a country where so many domestic flights are needed. Don’t automatically rule it out, especially if you’re travelling with a small group, are short for time or want to travel in luxury. Captain Abebe, a trained pilot in Toronto, Canada has returned to his roots and caters to those who want to maximize their time on the ground and fly into destinations not as easily accessible by larger commercial planes. Ethio Wings also books tours by land, hotel/flight reservations etc so I would recommend contacting them as well and finding out what works best for you.


My guide in the Simien Mountains, booked by Yama Tours:

Dereje Gebrekidan – dereje05@yahoo.com




Gondar – Simien Mountains – 3 hours by car



Transfer time from Gondar takes approximately 3 hours. The road is paved and an easy drive. The first stop is in a town called Debark located approximately forty-five minutes from the Simien Lodge. In Debark you’ll go into the park office and pay the many fees for your ranger, guide, park fee etc. Fees outlined below.

You may make your own way to Debark or you can have a car/guide accompany you from Gondar. The ranger and guide will come with you into the camp from the camp office.

If you will be camping your cook will also accompany you from Gondar with your supplies.

Simien National Park Fees:

One person x 2 days (guide, ranger, car fee, park fees): 770 birr / $42.97 USD.

Note: Fees for the guide, ranger and car will be shared by the number of people, typically 2-3 per car.

Accommodation Recommendations:

Basically there are two options when it comes to trekking in the Simien Mountains, camping or the Simien Lodge.

Simien Lodge: I was doing a two half-day trek with one overnight at the Simien Lodge. The lodge is basic but charming with hot water, power supplied by solar panels but often no heat due to failing equipment serviced in Italy. It gets cold in the evening but the many blankets and cozy beds make for a wonderful sleep. I was still adjusting to the time change and slept 14 hours.

The food is fantastic and the lodge is beautifully appointed with a wonderful bar/lounge where you can socialize with other guests and discuss our treks. I highly recommend it if you’re not looking to rough it.

You might also want to do a combination of camping and staying at the Simien Lodge for the first night.

Treks can be anywhere from a few hours to 17 days from the Simien Mountains to Lalibela.

Trekking/Camping: I don’t know much about this option although I did run into trekkers on my hike. You’ll want to plan and organize this carefully, I recommend one of the tour companies above, specifically Tesfa Tours, or contact my Simien Park guide, Dereje, who is also well-connected in Gondar.


Pulau Weh Booking Information – Dirty Details

Read here for our account of Pulau Weh diving Read here for our experience in Pulau Weh NOTE: The PDF guide to Pulau Weh (at the end of this document) is the most recent one we could find on the island, from 2008. Times and prices will have likely changed.   Indonesian Travel Visa – […]