Simien mountains guide recommendation & general tips

Andy Parker writes:

I had a fantastic experience with Mulualem Gelaye of Ethiopia Simien Tours when visiting Ethiopia in January this year. I was short on time and only had 4 days to work with, and decided to see what tour companies could offer me rather than my original plan of getting to Debark and trying to organise everything myself. I don’t doubt that it’s possible to organise a great trip after arriving locally for less money than I paid, but I am really pleased I organised my trip in advance. The time it would have taken to get everything set up would have cut out some of the ‘must sees’ on my Simiens list.

As it was I shopped around and approached a couple of companies that sounded good, and haggled about itineraries, extras and price. I can’t advise strongly enough how much it pays to shop around and negotiate over times, routes etc, The price range offered by different companies for similar service was large. In the end I chose to go with http://www.ethiopiasimientours.com/ as Mulu was super helpful getting the exact itinerary that I wanted for a good price. He has organised Simien visits for the BBC and National Geographic among others, so it is no surprise how professional this company was.

Some specific notes for prospective Simien visitors:
– It gets COLD in the night. The sleeping bag provided for me was a bit thin and was often too cold to sleep, even with all my clothes on. This was the only downside of an amazing trip, so not a major gripe.
– I didn’t know that there were basic cold water showers at Gich and Chenek and this was a nice surprise
– I hired a horse for riding on for the 4 days of walking as I had a calf injury and wasn’t sure how it would hold up. In the end the calf was okay but it was great to have the horse for breaking up the larger uphill climbs at 3700m when I had not acclimatised to the altitude.
– For those with limited time to spend in the Simiens you can still have a great adventure by getting driven in and staying for a single night There might be better options. but from what I saw I would v strongly recommend getting a driver to take you to the Chenek campsite It is deep into the national park so the scenery is incredible, you get the fun of a night’s camping, and there were loads of geladas and walia ibex wandering around.

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