Classic Trek: Semien Mountains, Ethiopia

Ethiopia is home to one of the more spectacular, yet lesser known, classic treks of the world. The Semien Mountains, found in the northern part of the country, offer amazing scenery, dizzying heights, and unique wildlife, with treks that can range anywhere from one to two weeks in length. Best of all, the trails tend to be remote and generally empty, providing solitude to travelers throughout the breathtaking landscapes.

The Semien range is quite rugged, with plenty of altitude. Many of the peaks rise above 11,000 feet, with the tallest, Ras Dashen, reaching 15,159 feet in height. The trails and campsites remain primitive, and there are few amenities to be had out in the Ethiopian wilds, but the mostly untouched backcountry offers deep gorges and unique rock formations, delivering stunning views to trekkers at every turn.

One of the more unique aspects of a Semien trek is that the trails wander through remote villages on a regular basis. This allows hikers the opportunity to visit with locals who live in the region and still maintain a simple lifestyle that has remained mostly unchanged for generations. The presence of these villages allows for cultural immersion, which is something that is often missing on similar treks in other parts of the world.
There is also plenty of wildlife to see on the trail as well, with Gelada Baboons being one of the highlights. The baboons make their homes amongst the rocky outcroppings of the Semien Mountains and rarely stray far from those protective spaces. Other animals in the area include the walia ibex, a species of mountain goats unique to the region, and the Ethiopian wolf, which resembles a red fox in most physical aspects.

For trekkers who have already covered the more well known treks of the world, such as the Inca Trail or the Annapurna Circuit, the Semien Mountains offer an isolated, little known escape that remains off the radar for many travelers. The incredible views, unique mountain villages, and interesting wildlife set it apart from just about any other hike, and will leave a lasting impression on anyone who makes the journey.