trip report by site editor Rick McCharles
Day 3: Gich-Chennek (3600 m), 7-8 hrs walking
A cold night.
But the sky was blue. People keen to get an early start. This would be the best day of the trek.
I love these high altitude grassy plateaus.
Vegetation changes significantly with altitude. Giant lobelias dominate the landscape from here on in.
Nadine likes what our guide called Everlast, too. This high altitude plant blooms year round.
The heart of the mountains. The central viewpoint of the Simien traverse.
It’s a bit of a scramble.
It’s from here that some see similarities with the Grand Canyon. Our trip organizer, Nur, joked that Simien is more of a Green Canyon.
In fact, only South Africa’s Drakensberg were formed in the same manner. That’s the best comparison.
Spanish Moss. Old Man’s Beard.
When it’s dry, the trails are easy walking.
There’s always an EMERGENCY horse waiting. Many fall victim to symptoms of altitude sickness. There are always people selling knickknacks. Their starting price for bartering is usually $8. For anything.
We stopped for lunch at yet another fantastic cliffside viewpoint.
The cold encouraged us to get moving again. This is 4000m (1600ft).
I love best the sections of trail walking the escarpment cliff edge.
The drop is typically 600 – 800m. There is one trail up from the lowlands, using ladders. Park Rangers use it.
Red Hot Pokers. The prettiest flower on the trail.
Finally we caught a glimpse of Camp.
One of the great treats of a guided hike is having hot drinks ready on arrival.
These are our mule drivers.
We had hardly seen them as they and their beasts are not welcome at Camp. They were astonished and thrilled with a combined $15 tip. This is likely the only hiking trip they’ll get in a year. There are thousands of horses in the Simien, all waiting their turn to carry tents, stoves and sleeping bags.
At every campsite in the world there’s some camp thief looking to eat your lunch. In the Simien, it’s the thick-billed raven.
Atypically, the clouds rolled in.
I felt there was still zero chance of rain. It’s the dry season.
At 5:30pm we headed over to the cliff edge. Waiting.
At 6:10pm the baboons headed for the cliff.
Geladas sleep, when they can, on steep slopes for protection from predators, quite near the Ibex. Baboons have excellent hearing. Ibex excellent vision. Either/or may detect a lurking predator above.
I tried to stay up later around the campfire. But it was too smokey.
Another early night.