Trekking is the most popular type of adventure tourism in Ethiopia, and it’s no wonder. Simien Mountains National Park and World Heritage Site is not only one of the most spectacular places to trek in Africa but also one of the most spectacular in the world. It is the crown of the Ethiopia Highlands, which is the largest afromontane zone anywhere. Its escarpment resembles and rivals the dramatic views of the Grand Canyon. The wildlife is unique, fascinating, and much of it is easy to see.
The lesser known Bale Mountains National Park, itself on the tentative list of World Heritage Sites, is also a world unto its own. While its escarpments are, perhaps, less rugged and abrupt and its top is almost 200m lower than the Simien Mountains, it hosts the largest afroalpine area in the world, on top of the Sanetti Plateau. While it doesn’t have geladas or ibexes, it does have the majestic mountain nyala and just about guarantees a sighting of the Ethiopian wolf, which is much harder to spot in the Simiens. Besides these two massifs, there are plenty of other places to trek, and the climates vary far beyond the cold afroalpine climates of the country’s two highest mountain ranges. In fact, at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, summiting an active volcano that starts around sea level in the hottest place on earth is also possible. Backpacking also gives access to places much farther off the beaten path, sometimes in places not accessible by any other mode. Whether hiking from camp or taking camp along in a pack in order to go farther on foot than just a day’s travel, camping in Ethiopia is a great way to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of this unique biome as they change throughout a 24-hour period.