Simien Mountains, 2-6 days

The Simien Mountains is without doubt the most popular place for serious trekking in Ethiopia. It is very accessible by car as well which makes it possible to lengthen or shorten your trekking as you want. The itinerary below leads us to the summit of Ras Dashen, the highest point of Ethiopia. We give indications where and how you can adjust the number of days.

The day before the trekking starts we arrive in Debark and make ourselves ready. According to your preferences and available time we might proceed to the Simien Lodge or go out for a first night camping at Sankaber. If time is available we can even start our trekking towards Sankaber or make an short walk around the lodge.

We will be accompanied by a local guide, scout(s), mules and their handlers to carry luggage and supplies and a chef to prepare the meals. If you want you can also use a mule to ride.

Day 1 Sankaber (3250 m) - Gich (3600 m)

The first serious day of trekking starts from the beautiful situated campsite of Sankaber. When we stayed overnight in Debark we first have to drive little over an hour to reach the camp. Today's trek covers a distance of approximately 10 km an takes us around 6 hours straight walking. Right from the beginning the trek follows the spectacular escarpment. We will encounter gelada baboons, foraging in big groups, at the fields. A stunning viewpoint at the Jinbar Falls is reached after clambering a few rocks. This waterfall plunges several hundred meter down the escarpment in the abyss. At the end of the day we pass through the welcoming village of Gich where the local people prepare a well deserved coffee for us. Our camp for the night is not far from the village.

(Gich is a good place to add an extra day, several day walks are available, including to the spectacular Imet Gogo)

Day 2 Gich - Chennek (3620 m)

This is probably the most spectacular stage of the whole trekking, offering stunning views all the way. Today we walk for almost 8 hours to cover 12 km, including a short detour to Imet Gogo (3925 m). This summit offers the most exciting views. The majestically lammergeyer might soar the skies in front of us and the endemic thick billed raven will be present. On our way to Chennek we pass some other major peaks (Inataye reaching 4070 meter) and a deep valley. Chennek is abundant with the giant lobelia and the best place to spot the endemic and endangered walia ibex. Not seldom they walk into the camp. 

(From Chennek you can drive out to Debark in about 2 hours)

Day 3 Chennek - Ambiko (3200 m)

Today is for sure the most challenging day. First we hike up the Bwahit Pass (4200 m) and later we will reach the bottom of the valley of the Mesheha River (2800 m) before we reach Ambiko. The 14 km we cover today will take at least 7 hours walking. Weather permitting we will be rewarded with at least the first glimpse of Ras Dashen (4533 m). Around Bwahit is an excellent area to find the Ethiopian wolf. Our chef will prepare another great meal with very limited means and like the other evenings we lit a campfire to keep us warm. But we will sleep early as we start tomorrow well before sunrise.

Day 4 Ambiko

The roof of Ethiopia is the goal for the day. Ras Dashen (4533 m) is roughly a mere 5 hours/ 8 km away, its all the way up to the top. The view from to top might not be as stunning as at other places in Simien (Imet Gogo) but you made it! Yes! Walking back to Ambiko takes about 3,5 hours.

Day 5 Ambiko - Chennek

With the reward you bagged the summit we are heading back into known area. There are several ways to do it. The easiest way is to walk about 4 hours to the village of Chiro Leba where a 4WD vehicle can pick you and drive you out to Debark (or even Gondar the same day). But you came to enjoy the Simien Mountains, right? Then this day we continue to Chennek and pitch our tents again in between the giant lobelia's.

Day 6 Chennek - Sankaber/ Simien Lodge/ Debark

We take a new path to reach our departure camp of Sankaber. It takes around 7 hours to cover the roughly 20 km. At the end of the day you can choose to enjoy another night under de stars at Sankaber or indulge in the luxury of the Simien Lodge. Alternatively we can drive you out to Debark.

This is the end of the hiking program in the Simien Mountains, tomorrow you can continue your journey through fascinating Ethiopia.

What our customers say

 
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Testimonials

We are very proud to inform you what our clients say about us. Some testimonials are received by email, others are published on Tripadvisor or Facebook.

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Cyril and Clement, 3 days Awash National Park, August '15 on Facebook and Tripadvisor:

Wonderful tour to Awash national park! Many thanks to Boundless Ethiopia for its perfect organisation!

Hi there ! Well there is just nothing to be added to the above. Boundless organized us a tailor made fantastic tour at a good price and Hans & Esayas were just great ! Cheers. Clement

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Abigail (UK), 4 days Bale Mountains, July '15 on Facebook and Tripadvisor:

I booked a Bale Mountain tour with Hans and the logistics were handled in a swift and friendly manner. Unfortunately disaster struck and I had to travel back to the UK before I could take my tour. Hans is currently going out of his way to arrange a partial reimbursement, even though he doesn't have to, which is absolutely the sign of an an excellent and caring tour company. I highly recommend Boundless to you. Don't hesitate to book.

I wanted to leave a review for Hans and Boundless but I could only find this thread. I highly recommend Boundless. There are lots of tour operators running from Addis Ababa, of very varying quality. Save yourself time and effort and trust Boundless. You're in safe Hans!

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John, Kate and Emma (GB), 14 days northern Ethiopia, March '15 on Tripadvisor:

My husband and I were planning a trip to Ethiopia with our adult daughter. Looking around for someone to advise us we noticed that Hans of Boundless Ethiopia, www.boundlessethiopia.com had been recommended by other Tripadvisor travellers. Concluding an excellent, trouble free 12 days in Northern Ethiopia organised by Hans, we appreciated those recommendations. Hans suggested an excellent itinerary, supplied careful, considerate drivers and knowledgeable guides and made all hotel and sightseeing arrangements. Everything went smoothly and Hans even met us at the hotel at the conclusion of our holiday to see if we had suggestions or comments. Boundless Ethiopia is a company which really cares about service and we were so pleased we used them.

I would also like to add my recommendation for Hans and Boundless Ethiopia. I traveled to Ethiopia with my parents in March 2015 and we spent two fantastic weeks exploring the Northern Circuit, bolting on an extra day in the Simien Mountains and two extra days trekking around Lalibela. As the reviewers above attest, Hans was incredibly helpful when organising the trip, and was happy to shuffle around the itinerary and hotel bookings several times to suit our needs. Our driver, Isaias, was a great companion on our trip - he was generally quite quiet, but very knowledgeable when asked. The local guides which we met at the different sites along the trip were also very impressive on the whole. Hans worked hard to ensure our trip went smoothly and was very keen to hear our feedback. We would certainly choose Boundless Ethiopia for a return trip to Ethiopia.

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Martin and Marijke (BE), 15 days Northern Ethiopia, January '15 by email:

Hierbij wensen U hartelijk te bedanken voor de prachtige reis waarvan we in Januari 2015 hebben kunnen genieten. Zowel de flexibiliteit en creativiteit bij  het samenstellen van het programma, de perfecte organisatie ( drivers en gidsen)van de 15 daagse trip in het Noorden van het land en Harar ( een absolute aanrader), het persoonlijk contact met u beiden bij aankomst en vertrek, kunnen ons enkel doen besluiten dat Boundless Ethiopia een echte aanrader is voor het organiseren van een reis  naar Ethioipia.

Gavin (HK), 8 days Addis Ababa, Axum and Lalibela, August '14 on Tripadvisor:

We are a group of 3 persons from Hong Kong, just return from a one-week trip in Ethiopia. It is so helpful for Hans, the owner of Boundless Ethiopia Tour, to plan our trip before coming to Ethiopia. We visited Addis Ababa, Axum and Lalibella. The visit to both places are special interests to us. When in Axum, we have a chance to participate in the Maryam Tsion Procession which started early in the morning (5 a.m.)l. The guide gave us a very good explanation everything regarding the procession. We are so impressed by the devotion of the people in Axum in the ceremony.
Our visit to Lalibella is impressive. Our guide, Memekia, has a profound knowledge in the history and development of rock-hewn churches in Lalibella. Together with his warm hospitality, the trip is unforgettable!
For those thinking of visiting Ethiopia by themselves, Boundless Ethiopia Tours is highly recommended. The fees charged was reasonable and worth every dollars. Arrangements are within our expectation, and all the guides and drivers are not only friendly, but professional. It is especially kind for Hans to have dinner with us during our first night stay in Addis Ababa. He explained everything to us with patience and gave us a general understanding of the country.
Ethiopia is a great place to visit!

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Thanasis (GR), 7 days Omo Valley, August  '14 on Tripadvisor in response to Natalie:

Thank you Londongal77 for your comment here since that it was the initial step for a Fantastic Trip in the heart of OMO Valley with ...Boundless Ethiopia! With this message I want to confirm and reboost all your comments about them.
Also I would like to comment that only Hans understood my needs (although I have communicated about 10 different agencies) about a Budget Tour due to the fact that we were only me and my wife participating on this and the cost of a 4x4 is not small for 2 pax only .All the others coudn't really downgrade from the Lodge Level at any of their services.
Closing I want to wish Hans a Good Luck and to say that one day I will be back with Boundless to cover the North Part that remained unexplored to me.
All the Best!

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Nick (USA) 9 days Lalibela, Hudad and Tigray, February '14 by email:

I highly recommend booking your next tour to Ethiopia through Boundless Ethiopia! I worked with Hans to create a personalized 9 day itinerary that in my mind was the perfect combination of trekking and sightseeing.
Before I booked, I asked Hans dozens of questions. I found him to be knowledgeable, thoughtful and responsiveness. I especially appreciated that Hans met with me in person the day before the tour began in order to review the itinerary and provide advice. On the last day he met me in person at the airport so that I would have a chance to give feedback. It is clear he is dedicated to ensuring his customers have a wonderful experience.     
The tour itself was fantastic, primarily because Hans works with great local guides who are professional and service-oriented. Highlights of the itinerary included my stay at the Hudad ecolodge outside of Lalibela, visiting the family of my guide in a small village near Abune Joseph, and the exhilarating climbs to the rock-hewn churches in Gheralta, Tigray.   
It’s also worth noting that I reached out to a number of other tour operators prior to booking with Boundless Ethiopia. Despite the more personalized service I received from Hans, the prices of his tours were lower than or comparable to the quotes I obtained from other companies.    
Regards,
Nick

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Marc and Veronique (CA), 34 days Best of Ethiopia, December '13/ January '14 by email:

Cher Hans,
Un petit mot pour faire valoir à quel point nous avons apprécié notre séjour en Éthiopie.
Une organisation sans failles, un itinéraire fait sur mesure pour plaire à nos moindre désirs.
Un soucis constant de notre bien-être et qui plus est une disponibilité bienveillante.
Des guides locaux plus que compétents et attentifs à nos demandes.
Nous avons plus qu’apprécié notre chauffeur, attentionné, poli, ponctuel et soucieux de faire de notre séjour un souvenir mémorable.
Nous avons grandement savourer chaque instant de notre voyage et recommandons définitivement votre agence et notre chauffeur Yishak.
Mille merci!
Marc & Véronique
Québec, Canada

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Philip and Rachel (UK), 15 days Historical route, November '13 on Tripadvisor:

Well I've just returned back from a glorious two weeks in Northern Ethiopia arranged by Boundless. I can report that Boundless were outstanding. The trip went like complete clockwork and the logistics of the trip were masterfully taken care of. The guides and particularly our driver were excellent, punctual, efficient, speaking good English and responsive to our requests.
Like others have reported, Hans met us in Addis at the beginning and end of our trip for an introductory dinner and a debrief respectively. Our itinerary took in the historical circuit, Bahir Dar, Gondor, Simien Mountains, Axum, Gheralta, Lalibela. We had an outstanding guide at Gheralta showing us the rock hewn churches. He had previously been a guide for film star Will Smith and had been on a guide for a local documentary on the churches!
We spent a long time prior to our trip discussing our itinerary with Hans via email and he proved to be very knowledgeable regarding festival and religious dates. For example, during our trip at Boundless suggestion, we got to take in the candle lit Lideta procession in Axum, market day in both Addis (the Mercato!) and Axum, we also got to see some morning services in Lalibela which really brought the place to life.
Also, in Lalibela we stayed for a few nights at the Hudad lodge which was suggested on the Boundless website. Its off the beaten track, in the sense that it is a four hour hike from Lalibela town, but is beautiful and a spectacular place to stay and interact with local people.
I believe Hans is very dedicated to his company and is striving to provide value and quality of service to his clients. Boundless are good value in my opinion, we did a private tour and it cost a fraction of what we would have paid booking, for example, through a UK based company. Also, at the end of the tour Hans was very keen to hear of any problems we may have encountered so that he could improve and refine future trips they offer. That to me spoke volumes. He really cares!
In summary, I would highly recommend Boundless Ethiopia. Booking with them was one of the best decisions I have made. I hope they keep up the high level of service and others get to enjoy Ethiopia with Boundless as we did.

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Natalie and Claire (UK), 21 days North and south, October '13 on Tripadvisor:

Boundless Ethiopia Tours - I highly recommend!
I thought I’d post a review about Boundless Ethiopia Tours as I was so impressed by its service. It’s one of the few travel companies actually based in Ethiopia and Hans (the owner) really knows the country inside out.
He was so helpful when we were planning our trip – he answered so many questions and really wanted us to get the right itinerary for what we were looking to do. He got it spot on – we were very happy with our 3 week trip and felt that we got a great mix of history, tribes and fresh air (we did some walking in the Simien mountains and a TESFA trek).
We were particularly happy with our driver (Yet) – he was so efficient, kind and friendly and he really helped to make our trip special. You spend a lot of time together and I know Hans has picked his drivers with real care as they are his ambassadors after all.
On a price note – we thought that Boundless offered real value for money. We did a private trip (2 people) cheaper than going on a group holiday with multiple other people. For us it was bliss to have our own agenda and spend as much time at places as we wanted to etc. We’re both keen photographers so there was lots of stopping the car to take shots!
Do use them – I promise you won’t be disappointed and I think Hans deserves a successful business – he really cares and it shows!

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Dave (UK), 12 days Historical route with trekking Simien Mountains, October '13 by email:

Hi Hans
I'm safely back in the UK, once again, thanks for organising such a memorable trip. Organisation was excellent, from putting together a tailor made itinerary via email to being met personally at the airport despite arriving late on a Sunday evening. Guides were knowledgable and friendly, and, for the most part, punctual. Ethiopia really is a fantastic country to explore, and I feel certain I will return, and will be in touch with Boundless when I do.
Let me know if you have any thoughts on promoting a running based tour package. My career at the moment is fairly broad, so promoting tour packages in the UK may be another string to my bow!
Oh, one last thing, Alex (Alum) took a picture of me riding across the river on the mule, a few seconds before I fell off! Be great to have a copy.
Hope business continues to do well.
Kind regards
Dave

Dave on Tripadvisor:

I visited Ethiopia in Oct 2013 as an 11 day stopover on my way back to the UK after working in Zimbabwe. I wanted to get the balance right between seeing plenty of the country and having some adventure but not spending the whole time on the move. I had minimal knowledge of the country but having given Hans an outline of my interests (some history, nature, trekking) he drafted several possible itineraries. He was very flexible and responded promptly to emails and I felt I was in good hands even before arriving in the country.
I was amazed and pleasantly surprised that Hans came to meet me in person at the airport late on a Sunday evening - I think this symbolises how much he cares and how hard he works. He was even able to give me some advice on things like going for an early morning run in Addis where I was able to run in Meskel Square with some of the top Ethiopian runners.
Guides and drivers were excellent, and flexible. The hotels used (I did the historical circuit plus hiking) in Bahir Dar, Gondar, Simien Mountains, Axum, Lalibela and back to Addis were all fine, and the sights throughout Ethiopia were just amazing - incredible scenery. I would say October is probably a good month to go as it is end of the rainy season and everywhere is v green, plus the Blue Nile Falls are in full flow. I would also take advantage of domestic flights if time is short which worked well for me.
I met with Hans for a debrief (and a beer!) at the end of the trip which again shows he cares and is keen to learn how to make trips as good as possible.
Having had experience of working in the travel industry myself, I'm certain that Ethiopia is not an easy place to organise tours, but Boundless Ethiopia are doing a very good job of it, and I would definitely recommend using them.

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Geert en Annemiek (NL), 23 days North, south and Harar, July '13 by email:

Hallo Hans,
Hoe staat Het Leven & de Business?
En misschien heb je het ook al gelezen op Facebook.
Vandaag 3 korte en ultrakorte video's op YouTube gezet. Hieronder de links.
We denken nog vaak en met veel plezier terug aan onze reis.
Hebben ook al aardig wat collega's enthousiast gemaakt voor het land.
Maar in 1 opzicht is dat ook niet zo moeilijk, de beelden van woestijnen en hongersnood staat bij veel mensen in het geheugen gegrift.
Terwijl -gek genoeg- niemand die tijd bewust heeft meegemaakt omdat ze gewoon te jong zijn. Weird...
Hartelijke groeten,
Geert en Annemiek

Bull-jumping ceremony of the Hamar... (Short video of 3'30")
Bull-jumping is the final test for a boy before passing into adulthood and getting married. But it is also a very important event for the rest of the tribe, because it strenghtens all social ties. To me it was also a very playful event with lots of laughter and excitement.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHwmL86WVV8&list=UURudUISajLG1u8tM7bz4PCQ

Premier league Ethiopian style... After an already hectic day we landed in the small town of Sodo in South Ethiopia. In the early evening suddenly the town exploded with partying people. The local soccerteam has won the last game and therefore the promotion to the premier league of Ethiopia. Everyone happy and eager to share it with us.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBA6I6fBXVU&feature=c4-overview&list=UURudUISajLG1u8tM7bz4PCQ

Sundaymorning mass in Bet Maryam, Lalibela, Ethiopia. Magical moments during sun-up.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeB4VD5cfJU&feature=c4-overview&list=UURudUISajLG1u8tM7bz4PCQ

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Tony (VN), 8 days Historical route by flight, July '13 by email:

Warmest greetings from Vietnam, Dear Hans!
It hard to forget beautiful memories of Ethiopia, thanks to your excellent service and kindest hands!
I hope you and your wife, your company are still doing very well there with the new tourist season.
By the way, could you kindly give me the email address of Elijah, the tour guide in Addis Ababa on 9 July? I want to thank him too for interesting information and faith sharing.
Again, my appreciation and best wishes!
Tony from Vietnam

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Thomas (AT), 4 days Lalibela and Hudad, June '13) by email:

Dear Hans,
Sorry I did not get back to you earlier. I just arrived back in the US last night after a stopover in Austria. The tour was really excellent. Everything worked very smoothly and all the guides and drivers were extremely reliable, well trained, friendly and gave great info about the area and its people, history etc. I enjoyed greatly the half day tour in lalibela's churches and in particular the hike with derebe up to the lodge and the village. derebe is indeed a fantastic guide, young, agile, flexible, very well informed and with the heart on the right spot. The only thing you may want to consider is make clearer that the meals at the lodge are not included in the price as I got caught by surprise but luckily had enough cash.
I will definitely recommend your service!
All the best for you and your family and here some pics from my trip.
Thomas

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Laurie and family (USA), 16 days 'Roots' tour, March '13) by email:

We just wanted to say again.. Thank you so much for our tour. Let us know if we can help you promote your company. We would 100 percent use you again. I am attaching a few pictures from our journey.
Thanks,
Laurie

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Christine and Mike (UK), 4 days Bale Mountains National Park, February '13 by email:

Dear Hans,
In my view it all went very well, apart from the problem with the radiator pipe. The driver dealt with it really well, with typical improvisation, but a little more careful checking of the state of the vehicle before departure might be a good idea. (The puncture was unavoidable, no reason to complain about that.) Perhaps the driver could also be encouraged to stay a little more towards his own side of the road? I understand that driving in the middle is often the most convenient option, but driving on the left seemed uneccessary. Also, I'd rather get there a bit later and avoid the more aggressive overtaking manoevres. But I expect you hear that about all of the drivers you use, I had another driver a few days later who was very similar. Otherwise the driver was helpful, stopped when we wanted to, etc..
The local guide was knowledgable and observant, adapted nicely to our hiking pace and grasped our interests quickly.
The hotel was roughly as expected, they could use a little competition. You might want to warn people to make sure their immersion heater is turned on, ours were on initially but on the third evening we both found they had been turned off and the water was stone cold! It's a simple switch, the hotel staff must have done it to save electricity.
Yours
Christine

Hans,
I would agree with Christine's comments.  It was an enjoyable trip that, apart from the minor mechanical mishaps went smoothly.  We very much appreciated your rapid and courteous responses to our enquires and your welcome at the airport.
We wish you every success with your business and would happily recommend your service.
Many thanks,
Mike

Yes, I forgot to say the most important thing, that it was a really memorable, enjoyable trip!
Yours
Christine

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Denise and friends (NL), 3 days Awash National Park, January '13 by email:

Beste meneer van der Haar,
Heel erg bedankt voor de geweldige reis die we gehad hebben!
Alles was super geregeld: een goede en aardige chauffeur, een prachtige locatie om te overnachten en we hebben heel wat van het park kunnen zien. We hebben het ontzettend naar onze zin gehad en echt genoten!
Nogmaals, heel hartelijk dank!
Hartelijke groeten,
Denise

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Bernard and Lieve (BE), 32 days Best of Ethiopia, December '12/ January '13 by email:

Hallo, Hans
Eindelijk nieuws van ons, zou je zeker denken. Sorry dat we zo laat terug contact opnemen, maar een paar dagen na ons terugkeer zijn we begonnen met de aankoop van een woning.
Beter laat dan nooit, zegt het spreekwoord.
Ten eerste moeten we je nogmaals bedanken voor het organiseren van onze reis, alles was perfect, volgens onze smaak op elk punt.
Yet was geweldig, maar uw  eerste Nederlandse klanten, die we in Agregash Lodge ontmoetten, vertelden ons dat hun driver ook geweldig was.
In attachement vind je enkele foto's van u met ons, van Mariam en van uw eerste klanten. Misschien kan je ze niet zien, daarom stuur ik ze  naar U ook via de Post.
Hoe is het met de kleine familie, die nu waarschijnlijk groter is geworden?
We hebben uw gegevens al aan mensen die geïnteresseerd zijn in Ethiopië, misschien neemt één van hen contact met U op.
We wensen het beste voor U en uw familie.
 
Lieve en Bernard

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Margriet and Rien (NL), 27 days Best of Ethiopia, December '12 by email:

Just back as one of the first guests of Boundless Ethiopia Tours PLC.
It was our second trip and we had several special wishes.
An excellent trip was made for us. Everything was perfectly arranged.
Our driver was very experienced and knew a lot about nature. Local guides were also well skilled .
We recommend you all very highly Boundless Ethiopia Tours PLC .
 
Fam. de Wit (The Netherlands) 05-01-2013

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