Simien Hikes out of Gonder

We got pretty badly ripped off for three days walking in the Simien Mountains, as we had no choice but to go through the tour operators in Gonder (tight for time) – it appears that most of them have also doubled their prices, claiming that this follows from price increases in the park itself… We tried and failed to negotiate meaningful discounts. I would advise all travellers with sufficient time to skip this step entirely and go straight to Debark. These guys are making a fortune.



7 thoughts on “Simien Hikes out of Gonder

  1. Nico says:

    Chris and Readers,

    Ive lived and traveled Ethiopia (Especially the North) for one year now. And I usually recommend the exact opposite, i.e. organize everything in Gonder. Debark is a hellish village run by a scrubby crew of 80 adolescents absorbed in their “Debark Transport Association” which aims to charge each person entering the Simien Mountains as much as possible for a lift.
    Association prices: 1 person, 2500 birr to Chenek Camp (65km)

    The amazing thing is that this association has lobbied the city council to actually pass a law that makes it illegal for hikers and lovers of mountains to hitchhike! How? Simple, it is illegal for a scout to ride in the bed of an isuzu truck or any other truck for that matter. And guess what, you cant get into the park with out a guard. Perfect balance of pubescent mafia and lazy ass drivers reaping all the money… I think the drivers pay the association 10% of the price of the ride.

    My recommendation is negotiate (but negotiatie well and wth sharpened teeth) in Gonder. Yichalal!!!

    By the way, me and a friend paid 500 birr per person to Chenek in high season 2010. That’s still waaaay too expensive for Ethiopia and a ride over a graded road that takes you 65km.

    Down with the Debark Mafia!!!

  2. Charo says:

    Hi Nico.
    I’m planning to go to Ethiopia with some friends in September and our idea is to spend 2 days in Simien. As per your recommendation of negotiating in Gondar to arrange everyting, coul dyou please suggest any person/contactU/agency /whatever??
    Thank you very much in advance
    Charo (Spain)

    • Nico says:

      Hola Charo! no tengo ningún contacto en Gonder pero la verdad para solamente dos días, tienes que estar lista/o para pagar bastante para transporte. Lo que encuentras depende de muchas cosas… cuántas personas hay en tu grupo? Quieres quedarte solamante en el Lodge o vas a acampar con tienda? si tomas el bus local a Debark, está bien, y barato. Pero te digo luego en Debark, prepárate para luchar por los precios de transporte dentro del parque!!!

  3. Ian says:

    we paid $275 each for 4 nights. this included all camping stuff, cooks etc

    it was good – but felt very expensive – and when you saw how much the guide,scout and cooks were getting then you realised someone is making a lot of money.

    the thing is, you are on holiday, and sometimes you have to do stuff if you want to do it.

    i think one of the most expensive things is the ride to the park.

  4. Katarzyna says:

    Ian, Jonathan
    Please advise reasonable company in Gonder. We’re going there in November and just got the price of 1350 USD for 5 days trekk for 2 people. Even for someone who has never been to Ethiopia it sounds crazy.

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