Addis Ababa -> Gondar -> Semien National Park: -> Sankabar Camp -> Geech Camp -> Chenek Camp -> Ambikwa Camp -> Mount Bwahit -> Gondar -> Addis Ababa
The Semien Mountains National Park promises to be a highlight of any trip to Africa, but potential travelers should be aware of the physical challenges of this tour package. Only experienced hikers who have previously done high-altitude climbs over a period of days, who can easily traverse several miles of up and downhill trails, and who understand the requirements of rough camping with minimal amenities should attempt this trip. In addition, any foods that cannot be found in remote African settings (e.g., power bars), must be brought from home. This trip is a shorter version of the one to Ras Dashen and summits Ras Bwahit at 2759 feet (4440 m).
1 Addis Ababa
Arrive in Addis at the Bole International Airport to be met by tour staff for transport to your hotel. Sightseeing in Addis Ababa (e.g., the National Museum, the Ethnological Museum of Ethiopian Studies, and the Holy Trinity Cathedral) is possible, depending on your arrival time.
Overnight in Addis.
2 Addis to Gondar to Semien Mountains National Park
An early morning flight out of Addis (1 hr) gets you to Gondar, followed by a drive into town for food and supplies. Cooks may be hired in Gondar or Debark to prepare your meals at camp. Travel by vehicle from Gondar to Debark (75.6 miles/122 kms/2.5 hrs), to the Semien Mountains National Park office to pick up permits and the guide and guard who must accompany all visiting groups. Camping equipment is available for rent from the National Park office if you do not provide your own. After a short drive to the Sankabar campsite (21.7 miles/35 kms/30 mins), you can take a quick look around before setting up for the first night of camping.
3 Sankabar Camp to Geech Camp
Tour staff will arrange for pack mules and drivers for this part of the trek. One hour into the hike and we will arrive at a viewpoint to see the Jinnbar River Falls. After crossing upriver in the shallows, we ascend for about two hours to reach Geech Camp, which is characterized by giant lobelia trees. The scenery is extraordinary, and herds of endemic Gelada baboons can be seen and heard in the near distance. Camp overnight at an altitude of 11,800 feet (3600 m).
Overnight at Geech Camp.
4 Geech Camp to Imet Gogo to Seha to Quedadit, back to Geech Camp
The first destination on day 4 is Imet Gogo, one of the best views in the Semien Mountains National Park. There you have a 360-degree outlook over the entire park. After a short rest, the next stop is Seha, another spectacular viewpoint. Following a picnic lunch, we continue to the last viewpoint, Quedadit. After a rest, we walk back to the Geech Camp site. This is a very relaxed hike of five to six hours and it offers the opportunity to see the rare Abyssinian wolf, the Walia ibex, and the small klipspringer antelope.
Overnight at Geech Camp.
5 Geech Camp to Chenek Camp
The eight-mile (13 km), eight-hour hike back to Chenek Camp runs through a field of giant lobelia trees. This is where you might spot the Lammergeyer vulture or the thick-billed raven. After a picnic lunch, the trek continues on the edge of the Elate Escarpments (13,200 feet high/4000 m), and offers another breath-taking view of the park. On the descent to Chenek Camp, one can see more baboons and ibex.
Overnight at Chenek Camp.
6 Chenek Camp to Bwahit Ras to Chenek to Gondar
The 3.7 mile (6 km) trek from Chenek Camp to Bwahit Ras and back to Chenek may take over four hours. The summit of Bwahit Ras Peak (4430 m) lies to the southeast of the camp. From the top, you can see a tiny piece of Ras Dashen. About twenty minutes from camp is a good spot to see the Walia ibex
Drive to Gondar via Debark (102 miles/165 km/4hrs). Have dinner at a local restaurant and overnight in Gondar.
Overnight in Gondar.
7 Gondar to Addis Ababa
After breakfast, we take a one-hour flight to Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Tour staff will transport you to your hotel (if you are spending the night) and arrange sightseeing to the Merkato (the largest open-air market in Africa, the St. George Gallery, and various souvenir shops, if desired.
Depart in the evening or remain at the hotel until the next-day flight.