Although the word Semien means “north” in Amharic, according to Richard Pankhurst the ancestral form of the word actually meant “south” in Ge’ez, because the mountains lay to the south of Aksum, which was at the time the center of Ethiopian civilization. But as over the following centuries the center of Ethiopian civilization itself moved to the south, these mountains came to be thought of as lying to the north, and the meaning of the word likewise changed.
The Semiens are remarkable as being one of the few spots in Africa where snow regularly falls.First mentioned in the Monumentum Adulitanum of the 4th century AD (which described them as “inaccessible mountains covered with snow” and where soldiers walked up to their knees in snow), the presence of snow was undeniably witnessed by the 17th century Jesuit priest Jerónimo Lobo.Although the later traveler James Bruce claims that he had never witnessed snow in the Semien Mountains, the 19th century explorer Henry Salt not only recorded that he saw snow there (on 9 April 1814), but explained the reason for Bruce’s failure to see snow in these mountains – Bruce had ventured no further than the foothills into the Semiens.
Despite their ruggedness and altitude, the mountains are dotted with villages linked by tracks. Historically they were inhabited by Ethiopian Jews (the Beta Israel), who after repeated attacks by the zealous Christian Emperors in the 15th century withdrew from the province of Dembiya into the more defensible Semien mountain.
Travel news in Ethiopia About Guassa Trekking
Menz-Guassa Community Conservation Area (GCCA)’s stunning views and abundant wildlife make it a destination not to be missed.
Guassa Community Conservation Area is found in Amhara National Regional State, North Shoa Administrative Zone and in Menz-Gera Midir Woreda (district), 260km northeast of Addis Ababa by road. The area is among the Ethiopian highlands’ most pristine and secluded natural wonders. Along the 90-minute drive (80km) from Tarmaber, the hustle and bustle of urban life fades into the slower pace of a traditional Menz village. The plateau itself promises breathtaking views and numerous endemic bird and wildlife species, including the iconic Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) and gelada (Theropiticus gelada)
The area is managed through a common property resource system by the communities living adjacent to the Guassa Area. This indigenous management system has been traced back to the 17th century and is one of the oldest conservation management systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. At present, Guassa user communities live in nine kebeles (farmers’ associations) adjacent to Guassa Community Conservation Area. The area is managed by Guassa Conservation Council which has kebele and woreda level components and consist of both community and local government representatives.
Ecotourism development in Guassa Community Conservation Area is being promoted by Frankfurt Zoological Society and local government in order to generate an alternative income for the Guassa user communities and to support management of the GCCA. The project has established the Guassa Community Lodge and designated wilderness camping grounds, which are managed by the Guassa Community Tourism Association on behalf of the Guassa council.
Guassa Community Conservation Area offers a wide variety of products and services, ranging from four-day treks to single night stays with short hikes. Visitors can discover a traditional Menz village and enjoy longer trekking experiences, mule rides and overnight wilderness camping. The income generated by tourism is returned to the community and supports the conservation of the Guassa GCCA.
Every village and town has its own market. Some are tiny, some are large, some are specialized and some are general. All are colorful, and give you the opportunity to mingle with the local residents and learn about their habits and ways of life. The largest open market in Guassa is held on Saturday in Mehal Meda, about 17 km from Guassa Community Conservation Area.
To date, 114 different bird species have been recorded in the Guassa Area, some 2% of the 861 species of birds recorded for Ethiopia. There are 14 endemic species of birds in the Conservation Area that account for 48% of the total endemic population of Ethiopia.
Three species of birds found in Guassa are near-threatened, and two species are vulnerable.Among the 114 species recorded, 34% are Afro-tropical Highland Biome restricted species.
The range-restricted and globally endangered Ankober serin (Serinus ankoberensis) and the endemic spot-breasted plover (Vannellus melaocephalus) are found in greater numbers in the Guassa Area than anywhere else in the country. The Ankober serin is restricted to the northern part of Guassa, demonstrating that a small patch within a larger area can be important for a particular species.
One of the striking features of the avifauna of the Guassa Area is the high number of birds of prey, which is a result of the high density of rodents occupying the area. The area also serves as a wintering ground for 38 species of Palearctic and intra-African migrants.
Frequently Asked Questions
Fresh local bread
When is the best season to visit Guassa?
Guassa can be visited any time of the year although heavy rain can be expected from July-September.
The annual celebration in the Arbara Medhanalem Church is held on April 5th and Firkuta Kidane Mihret Monastery has its annual celebration on January 26th.
How many days should we stay?
The minimum recommended stay is two days, with one night in either Guassa Community Lodge or Mehal Meda. The Lodge makes an ideal base for day trippers, who want to take short excursions to the magnificent Guassa plateau and the surrounding villages. For hikers and mule riders, we recommend spending at least one night camping in the mountains, at one of our three wilderness camps. If you have enough time, then a four-day trek, staying at a different camp each night, makes for a wonderful adventure!
Do the guides speak foreign languages?
The guides speak reasonable English. As for other languages, they will try to communicate, however a basic knowledge of English is required.
How much experience is needed to ride the mules?
Many of our visitors have never ridden a mule before and return home very pleased with their newly acquired skills. It takes only minutes to learn the essentials!
Is it possible to see wild animals?
The Guassa Area boasts several spectacular flagship species, and sightings of many of these species, including the endemic gelada and the iconic Ethiopian wolf, are virtually guaranteed.
How soon do we have to make bookings?
The facilities and guides are extremely busy during the peak seasons of Christmas and Easter, so you should book as far ahead as possible. At all times booking is required at least a day in advance.
Where can we eat in Mehal Meda town?
There are many local restaurants in Mehal Meda offering the standard range of Ethiopian dishes at a very low price, and delicious fresh bread! Otherwise, come prepared to cook your own food at the Guassa Community Lodge or campsite.
Apart from the mountain trips, what else can we do there?
Day walks or excursions to nearby attractions are easy to arrange around Guassa Lodge itself, or trips into the Sefed Meda Valley where wildlife is abundant and easily seen in the grasslands and Afroalpine habitat. Mountain trekking can be combined with village visits.
Trekking simen Mountains,gondar,Axum,Lalibela
Tour Duration: 16 Days/15 Nights
Transport: Flight and Surface
1. Arrive Addis Ababa, city tour.
2. Fly to Gondar and visit the Castles and Churches.
3. Drive to SankAber. O/N camp.
4. Start Trekking from Sankaber-Geech.
5. Geech, mount Imetgogo & Kedadit O/N Geech.
6. From Geech to Chenek.
7. From Chenek-Hambiquo.
8. Climb Ras Dashen (4620 mts) back to Ambico.
9. From Ambico -Arko Azeye.
10. From ArkoAzeye-Lamo (Mekarebya).
11. From Lamo-Hawaza.
12. From Hawaza- Arkay meet the vehicles and drive to Axum.
13. Tour of Axum.
14. Fly to Lalibela . visit round lalibela cherch
15. Lalibela to Asheten Maryam
16.Flay Lalibela to Addis Ababa shopping and diner at habesha 2000 traditional restaurant Dispatcher.
Trekking to Lasta Lalibela for 7 night 8 Days
Transport: Surface and Air
Tour cod TA/BT 13
Day 01: Arrive Addis Ababa
Arrive in Addis Ababa. Afternoon city tour of Addis Ababa which include the national museum, ethnographic museum and Merkato.
O/N: Ambassador hotel
Day 02: Addis Abab-Lalibela (2500m)
In the morning, fly to Lalibela. The rest of the day, visit the first group of rock-hewn churches from 1200 AD.
Day 03: Lalibela –Merebarbu (3500m)
In the morning visit the second group of rock-hewn churches. In the afternoon, trek to Merebarbu enroute visitng Asheten Mariam monastery church from the 13th century.
O/N: camping at Merebarbu.
Day 04: Merebarbu-Wedebye (3700m)
Start the 4 hours trekking from Merebarbu to Wedebye (3600 to 3800).
O/N: Camping at Wedebye .
Day 05: Wedebye-Abune Yosef (3900m)
Continue the trek for ~4 hours to Abune Yosef (4130). En route enjoying the stunning view covered by afro alpine types of vegetations you will have the chance to spot endemic mammals like Gelada Baboon and Simen Fox.
O/N: Camping at Abune Yosef.
Day 06: Abune Yosef-Degosach-Yimrhane Kirstos
From Abune Yosef, the third highest pick in the Ethiopia, we will trek on the plateaus of Degosach en route visiting different villages. At Yimrhane Kirstos, you will visit the 12th Century built up cave church which is very famous for its unique style of architecture, construction and interior decorations.
O/N: camping at Yimrha.
Day 07: Yimrha-Arbatu Ensesa-Lalibela
In the morning, walk down hill to visit Arbatu Ensesa, a rock-hewn church from the 4th century AD. At the same point, meet your driver for the drive to Lalibela en-route visiting Bilbala Cherkos.
O/N: Roha hotel.
Day 08: Lalibela-Addis Ababa-Departure
Fly back to Addis Ababa. In the afternoon, city tour of Addis Ababa and diner at Habesha 2000 Traditional Restaurant back home. End of tour.
Trekking around Lalibela
This trek offers a unique and unrivalled combination of history, culture and spectacular scenery. Winding its way from the Abune Yosef Mountains, across the Wedebye, Degosach plain and passing through beautiful afro alpine forest, small remote villages and farm lands and ancient cave churches which dates back to the 6th century and 12 century.
The itinerary includes: the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, Abune Yosef Mountain, third highest pick in Ethiopia and some less known cave churches, which takes in beautiful mountain and farm scenery as we follow Lasta Mountains Ranges.
This trip is just a perfect introduction to Ethiopia’s incredible diversity of less known and less visited ancient civilization, culture and nature. Here, the incomparable scenery of the Abune Yosef Mountain contrasts with some of the most beautiful scenery of the Low Lands of Bilbala and Wag Yimra. This trip is truly to the Off the beaten track!
Trekking to bale
For 8Naight 9 Days
Tour cod BA/TB 12
Day 1: Arrive Addis Ababa
Arrive at the Addis Ababa and be welcomed by Grand Holidays Ethiopia representative and transferred to your hotel.
O/N: hotel-Addis Ababa.
Day 2: Addis-Ethiopian Rift Valley – Dinsho
After breakfast drive through Ethiopian Great Rift Valley en-route enjoying the beautiful Rift Valley Lakes and the spectacular mountain scenery.
The rest of the day, walk around the Juniper forest around the park headquarter and explore the area where high concentration of the Bale Mountains Nayal, Minilik Bush Buck and other mammals are found.
O/N: Camping at Dinsho.
Day 3: Dinsho – Geysay Valley – Dinsho (3250m)
Trekking time: 5-6 hrs
Trek to Geysay Valley, to the northerly extension of the park. Here, while trekking in the indigenous forest, it’s possible to spot the endemic Minilik Bush Buck and Mountain Nyala and other mammals including the endemic Ethiopian Wolf.
O/N: Camping at Dinsho.
Day 4: Dinsho – Weib Valleys-Fincha ábera
Trekking time: ~6 hrs
Trek and pass through the lovely Weib Valley and the finally reach at the beautiful waterfall of Finch’abera.
Day 5: Fincha ábera-Merero-Wasmea
Trekking time: 8 hrs
Trek beneath the peaks of Merero; see and taste the strange mineral springs before making the steep ascent out of the head of the valley onto the Sanette Plateau.
Day 6: Wasama Valley – Batu – Garba Guracha Lake
Trekking time: 9 hrs
Climb Batu (4203 m), and then trek on across the arms of the Batu horseshoe, to camp beside lovely Garba Guracha Lake-set beneath towering cliffs in the head of the Tegona Valley.
O/N: Camping at Garba Guracha.
Day 7: Garba Guracha-Konthe – Goba
Trekking time: 3 hrs
Trek across the Plateau enjoying the stunning highland scenery full of small lakes and the reach at the pick of Konthe (4100m) . Meet veichles at Konthe and drive to Goba.
O/N: Wabe Shebele Hotel
Day 8: Goba-Wendogenet
In the morning, drive to Wondogent. The rest of the day have a relaxing trek in the mountain covered by natural forest.
Day 9: Wendogenet-Addis Ababa
After breakfast drive back to Addis Ababa. The rest of the day, city tour of Addis Ababa. and Dinar at Habesh 2000End of tour.