Scaling Simien: Budget mountains for beginners in Africa

Hiking Simien

When it comes to hiking in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro claims all the fame: Snow-capped and wreathed in clouds, it’s the highest peak on the continent and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. As an adrenalin junkie and a hopeless romantic I admit to being tempted, but the price of a climb – up to $4,000 – forced me to look for cheaper alternatives.

I stumbled upon the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia and within a few minutes was utterly sold. A series of jaw-dropping peaks, plateaus and valleys in the northern Ethiopian Highlands, the range is part of Simien National Park, a 1978 UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hills are home to the socially adventurous gelada baboons, the elusive Ethiopian wolves and the shy but regal walia ibex, a goat found nowhere else in the world. Years of plateau erosion have created one of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth, and if you’re a beginner on a budget like me, few mountain ranges can offer you more.

My journey began by haggling a price with online tour companies, which quoted me between $600 and $2,000 for an all-inclusive four-day hike. This looked like a bit of a gimmick to me, and I was sure the agents would charge me as much as they could from behind their computer screens. I was proven right, and through the grapevine learned that the cheapest way to book a climb was last minute, upon arrival in the northern Ethiopian city of Gondar.

Read more at: The Globe & Mail

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