From bracing multi-day high-altitude treks through the Simien and Bale Mountains to moderately demanding day hikes amidst the remote rock-hewn churches of Gheralta, Ethiopia offers practically limitless opportunities for keen walkers.
Described by the intrepid 1920s traveler Rosita Forbes as “the most marvelous of all Abyssinian landscapes”, Simien Mountains National Park, its “stupendous crags” and “gorges of clouded amethyst” rising to 4,533m at Ras Dejen (Africa’s fifth-highest mountain), remains the most popular trekking destination in Ethiopia.
Traversing windswept Afro-alpine moorlands, babbling mountain streams, and intimate evergreen forests, the scenic network of hiking trails through Bale Mountain National Park reliably offers close-up encounters with the endemic Ethiopian wolf, mountain nyala, and Bale monkey
The sandstone cliffs in Gheralta are one of Ethiopia’s most iconic and dramatic landscapes. There are plenty of hiking opportunities along these plateaus, and within the crevasses and caverns of the cliff face, ancient monasteries and temples wait to be discovered.
Guided hikes through recently created Community Conservation Areas such as Mount Abune Yoseph (near Lalibela; http://www.abuneyosephtourism.org), Guassa Plateau (north of Addis Ababa; http://www.guassaarea.org) and Adaba-Dodola (bordering Bale Mountains; http://www.baletrek.com) offer a combination of wild mountain scenery, good wildlife watching, and the opportunity to support and interact with rural Ethiopian communities.
Ancient footpaths, clambering over rocks worn smooth by centuries of continual use, lead adventurous visitors to the many remote rock-hewn churches that adorn the burnished sandstone cliffs of Gheralta.
Hiking is good throughout the year, but the scenery is at its best after the rains, from late September until December, when the countryside is swathed in various shades of deep green.