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Monday, Simien Mountains National Park, Ras Inateye Summit Trek

Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia
Monday, September 30, 2019
We got up at about 06:00 for breakfast at the Sankabar Camp. From there we hiked about an hour and a half to the Jin Bahir Waterfall (also known as Jinbar Waterfall). The weather was a lot nicer and we had amazing views of the valleys along the trail. The trail followed the edge of a massive escarpment most of the way.

We saw a few geladas along the way and lots of vultures and eagles circling above the waterfall. The waterfall has about a 900 meter drop over the cliff into the valley below. It looks a little bit like Angel Falls in Venezuela.

After the waterfall, we hiked back to the road to catch the jeep to our next drop-off point. One of the Brits was leaving and he stayed behind to wait for his ride out of the national park. Our jeep dropped us off at the departure point to the Ras Inateye summit.

The landscape at this high altitude changed from rocks and mud to smooth green pasture which sloped gently uphill. There were many of the endemic giant Lobelia trees (Lobelia rhynchopetalum) dotting the landscape.

The armed scout was our leader on this trek since our tour guide had stayed with the guy who left the tour to make sure that his transportation arrived. The scout was an older Ethiopian guy who spoke no English and carried what looked like a World War 2 Enfield .303 rifle. He let us take some selfies with the rifle and showed us that it was loaded when I asked him about the ammo with hand signals.

We hiked up for about an hour and a half to the summit which was the high point at the end of an escarpment. The altitude was an astounding 4070 meters / 13353 feet. We had to walk slowly to avoid gasping for air. At the top, we only had a few minutes of clear views of the valleys below and mountains in the distance before the fog rolled in.

We had a quick lunch at the summit. Other tour groups arrived, some riding horses. They arrived too late for the clear views. The summit got crowded pretty fast so we continued on along the escarpment which started descending.

The afternoon hike down from the summit to Chennek took about three hours. It was a steep but easy descent. There were the usual village kids selling handmade souvenirs along the way. They would see us coming and then run to a point along the trail below to intercept us.

The Chennek camp area was more interesting because it was open and there were a few animals around and a nice view point at the top of a hill. There were huge Thick-billed Ravens flying around and a jackal running around and making occasional appearances.

Our group had one room with three double beds in a "lodge" building with some other rooms. It also had a clangy metal door that was impossible to open and close quietly. The lady who ran the camp tried to get the young Brit guy and me to share one double bed so she could rent out the other one. We refused that and let our tour guide know that it wasn't a good idea. She came back later to try again and he shut her down that time.

It was a quieter night since there were only four of us in the room and there was nobody sleeping on the floor snoring. We all went to bed at about 20:00 since we were cold and wet and there wasn't much to do after dark.

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