Bahir Dar-Gondar-Simien Trek-Lalibela-Trek

  A couple visited Ethiopia in May 2017

“We are a couple traveling to Adidis Ababa for a meeting and we are exploring taking a tour after the meeting. The meeting occurs from May 1 to 5 in Adidis Ababa. We like to meet people, hike or bike in nature, explore cultures, and see historic sites. We would definitely like to see some of the national parks. We are comfortable with a wide range of lodging options. We are healthy and capable of considerable exertion.”


Marco Degasper, a local specialist from Ethiopia, helped this traveler put together a customized itinerary based on Trekking in the Simien Mountains and around Lalibela - 9-Day Itinerary.

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Trip planning highlights

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Summary of the trip planning conversation

Below are some useful excerpts from the trip planning conversation
Thanks for getting in touch about your planned visit to Ethiopia! My name is Marco, and I manage an ecotourism company based in Addis Ababa and Gondar. Look forward to helping you plan a great trip to Ethiopia!

Here is my proposal for a short 9 days tour in the North of Ethiopia

Day Date Program
1 06.05.2017 Domestic flight Addis Ababa – Bahir Dar, visit Blue Nile Falls (walk of 2-3h), relax on the lake
2 07.05.2017 Visit Lake Tana with monasteries on the islands (small walks possible there) and wildlife/birds in the lakes
3 08.05.2017 Drive to Gondar (4h), there visit Fasil Ghebbi Palace and Debre Birhan Selassie Church
4 09.05.2017 Start 2 days trip to Simien National Park, driving (3h), trekking, finally overnight in the Simien Lodge, highest hotel in Africa
5 10.05.2017 2nd day of trekking, in the afternoon return to Gondar
6 11.05.2017 Flight Gondar – Lalibela, visit rock hewn churches in the afternoon
7 12.05.2017 Hike from Lalibela to an Eco-Lodge above Lalibela, overnight there
8 13.05.2017 Return to Lalibela and visit the remaining churches there, overnight in Lalibela
9 14.05.2017 Flight Lalibela – Addis Ababa and departure

Since the distances in Ethiopia are far and your time limited it's necessary to take 3 domestic flights on this tour. Here an important question in this respect. Are you flying into Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines? Because this makes a big difference in the costs for the domestic flights (discounted if you use ET for the international sector). These flight costs are really high if you're not entitled for this discount. And in the latter case we could consider readjusting the travel route.

...


Thanks for this!

I had a few questions - I think the seeing the Blue Nile falls would be great, and I think the lake sounds interesting.

The Fasil Ghebbi Palace and the Debre Birhan Selassie church sound interesting, although I think we are loosing our enthusiasm for church touring / palace touring as we travel more places? (I'm not trying to be difficult, just honest about what might be the most relevant for our interests?)

In contrast hiking in the Simien National Park sounds great and it looks like there is a good deal of interesting hiking that can be done there? Maybe we spend more time hiking / biking or floating in the Park? The Lalibela churches sound fascinating, but I think we'd be interested in connecting if possible with more of the culture or being active than the architecture of the structures?

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so we're planning less lakes and churches and more activities like hiking. We can do a serious and nice 4 days hike in the Simien Mountains. Please find attached a detailed description about that hike.
Gondar and the castle can still be included, since it's on the way to the Simien Mountains and you only need a few hours for visiting everything.
Nonetheless you can see Lalibela and the rock hewn churches as Ehtiopia's most known attraction. Furthermore there will be also a nice (but easier) 2 days hike to the Lasta Mountains above Lalibela to the unique Hudad Eco-Lodge (http://lalibelahudad.com). I'm sure you will enjoy also that.
So the plan would be this:

Day Date Program
1 06.05.2017 Domestic flight Addis Ababa – Gondar, visit Fasil Ghebbi Palace and Debre Birhan Selassie Church
2 07.05.2017 Start 4 days trip to Simien National Park, driving (3h), trekking, finally overnight in tent
3 08.05.2017 2nd day of trekking, overnight in tent
4 09.05.2017 3rd day of trekking, overnight in tent
5 10.05.2017 4th day of trekking, in the afternoon return to Gondar
6 11.05.2017 Flight Gondar – Lalibela (visit rock hewn churches)
7 12.05.2017 Hike from Lalibela to an Eco-Lodge above Lalibela, overnight there
8 13.05.2017 Return to Lalibela and visit the remaining churches there
9 14.05.2017 Flight Lalibela – Addis Ababa (afternoon visits)

But if you're not interested in Lalibela, you can visit Bahir Dar instead of it.  In that case there is even time for a 5 days trek in the Simien Mountains, so like this:

Day Date Program
1 06.05.2017 Domestic flight Addis Ababa – Bahir Dar, visit Blue Nile Falls (walk of 2-3h), relax on the lake
2 07.05.2017 Visit Lake Tana with monasteries on the islands (small walks possible there) and wildlife/birds in the lakes
3 08.05.2017 Drive to Gondar (4h), there visit Fasil Ghebbi Palace and Debre Birhan Selassie Church
4 09.05.2017 Start 5 days trip to Simien National Park, driving (3h), trekking, finally overnight in tent
5 10.05.2017 2nd day of trekking, overnight in tent
6 11.05.2017 3rd day of trekking, overnight in tent
7 12.05.2017 4th day of trekking, overnight in tent
8 13.05.2017 5th day of trekking, in the afternoon return to Gondar
9 14.05.2017 Flight Gondar – Addis Ababa (afternoon visits)

...

I think we prefer the first option of including Lalibela, if it is affordable. Can you give us an estimate on costs?

Also, can you give us a sense of the tenting - is this back to our scouting days we carry our own gear and sleeping bags or is it more luxurious than this?

...

Ok, then we go for the option with Lalibela.
About the flights, I will give you both prices, one in case you're flying with ET and one if you use another airline.
In regard to the camping and generally the trek. You will be accompanied by a complete staff: local English speaking guide, park ranger/scout (mandatory), a cook who will prepare the meals and there will muleteers who handle the mules and donkeys which transport the heavy material. So during the day, from one camp to the other, you will walk only with a day-pack including water, lunch box, jacket and photo camera.

Let me know if you have any other questions,
Marco

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Travelers Review

The trip allowed us to visit many exceptional sites accompanied by professionals, exploring and learning as we went. We especially appreciated the attention to our interests and the design of a trip that met our needs. Highlights were too many to mention but included - great visits to the Blue Nile, the Simien Mountains with opportunities to visit with the Gelada, Lalibela, and Addis. The guides were consistently pleasant, knowledgeable, and helpful.

Marco has a great understanding of the country and opportunities to both see and experience it and an excellent ability to recruit team members across Ethiopia to support the trip.

Really enjoyed our trip and our experience with the guides was fantastic. The whole experience went smoothly and SimienEcoTours and their guides are a large reason for our ability to immerse ourselves into the Ethiopian natural and cultural environment.

Marco was very responsive before the trip, kept track of our experience to make sure all was well along the way, and served as a local guide in Addis as well.