TOURS - Ethiopia

"simiens" mountains np


The "Simiens", Ethiopia's most famous national park, is between 2000 and 4500 meters high and consists of various plateaus divided by wide river valleys. Located in the northwest of the country, it is a beautiful immaculate nature reserve perfect for hiking. A fixed route along the edges of the valley can easily be arranged. Perhaps not very developed for the spoiled Western tourist, but maybe therefore extra attractive. Besides the natural impressive landscape, there are also plenty of large wild (endangered) animals to spot; the walia ibex, the gelada baboon and the very elusive Ethiopian wolf. All unique in its kind. In addition, there are jackals, badgers, bushbucks and many bird species such as the raven. Since 1978 the park is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

tours in the park

I will advise you to go hiking for at least 4 days to get a picture of the national park. Less days would actually be a bit of a shame. This depends on your fitness, time and interest of course. Debark is the starting point of most tours - you can not take a bus further into the park, even though I have seen a number of buses pass by on the first part of the course. At the information center you can get all information (and prices). Below is a list of prices and options. 


  • Entrance park (mandatory): 90 Birr per day; 
  • Scout / guard (mandatory): 75 Birr per day; 
  • Cook + cookware (recommended): 120 Birr per day;
  • Carrier: 60 Birr per day; 
  • Camping gear (compulsory): 30 Birr per day; 
  • Tip: 10%?.


  1. Day 1: Debark - Buyit Ras (you can camp here or sleep in the house) - here is the troop of Gelada baboons to be seen; 
  2. Day 2: Buyit Ras - Sankaber (here is a big camp where many tourists crowded);
  3. Day 3: Sankaber - Buyit Ras;
  4. Day 4: Buyit Ras – Debark.  


Many people hike even more than the above trip – but for instance we spent a lot of time at the people's home (Buyit Ras) and with the baboons. In addition, we both were not fit and certainly wanted to take it easy and enjoy. Further on in the park, the landscape seems to become more and more rugged and the chance of seeing the ibexes increases. The village "Geeech" and "Chenek" seem to have great appeal here. Despite this, we also had a beautiful view.


In Debark:
  • Watch your stuff and yourself in Debark - the people could be pretty aggressive towards tourists; I also heard tourists got stolen in Debark;
  • People will come to you immediately when you arrive in Debark - do not try to get entangled in his network and agree immediately. Write prices down and request information and then check in at the information center. Every day there are groups of tourists in the park so do not be afraid that you can not go with them;
  • The information office is on the main dusty road; definitely go there for objective information about going to the National Park "Simiens";
  • All your food and drink (you can get a cup of tea) you have to buy in Debark
  • Bring your own tent, sleeping bag, etc. so you do not have to rent it (if you do have to rent you get very big and bulky stuff - and you will also have to rent a carrier);
  • Join the guide and the shopping guys when they do the shopping - firstly you can keep an eye on the boys and choose items that you like - they often take too much with you (a waste of the weight) and your money;
  • Find a buddy to walk alongside your cook, carrier and scout - cozy and together you stand stronger and it’s more enjoyable. 


During the trip:

  • You walk on dusty roads and certainly on the first day it is a whole tour to descend the plateau and climb up on the other side; it is also at least at 2000 meters altitude . Do not take too much hay on your fork (not too far, and do not lift too heavily) - try to enjoy;
  • Try to arrive in Sankaber as soon as possible - here it can be very crowded with tourists and you want to have a good place to eat (in a kind of covered wooden hut) and to sleep (you want to sleep well);
  • Do not give ridiculously high tips - they get wages that are not a lot, but do not spoil them too much to drive other backpackers at terrible costs and avoid disappointments among the boys. By throwing money, the style of people working there also changes very much in greed.
  • Pack your tip in an envelope or in a gift. 

tips & advice (2012)

The bus station is in the middle of the village of Debark along the large (dusty) main road. All important buildings are along this road.


Debark - Gondor: to my knowledge there are two buses a day that drive here from the dusty field (bus station) from Debark. Price is around 20 and 25 Birr and the ride takes about 3.5 hours.

"Kitfo" (raw meat), a local Ethiopian speciality - looks like tartare or unbaked shawarma meat - you can get in the hotel restaurant (see below).

  • Name: Hotel "Giant Lobelia Hotel" (Debark)

Price: 220 Birr (including shower and toilet)

Phone nr. : 0581 170566




A great hotel with nice, friendly and helpful staff. It is too pricey for what you get but the problem is that the hotel has no competition in the village. There is a restaurant where you can have breakfast and dinner with an English menu. It is a good meeting place (so also watch out for people who want to trickle your money) and the room is fine. Do not expect much from the "hot" shower because I had a tiny warm stream. The bed is clean and free of lice and fleas which is also very nice. It is on the main road near the bus station and the market.


TIP: leave your big backpack here when you go hiking in the mountains - you have to pay for this! They ask 50 Birr a day which is negotiable. Please keep it locked.

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