Fri 05 Oct - Tue 16 Oct 2018

OVERVIEW

What to expect

ITINERARY

What you will do

COSTS

Ways to pay

INFORMATION

All you need to know

Everything you need to know

This page provides you with a variety of information about the challenge that you might find useful.

Level of Difficulty

Money

Visa

Vaccinations

Flights

Insurance

Group Size

Leadership

Climate

Luggage allowance and valuables

Should I take gifts or clothes for the locals?

Responsible Tourism

Typical day

Accommodation

Do we need to take our own sleeping bags/ mats?

Food & Drink

Clothing and equipment

Toilets

Phone and WiFi

Safety

What happens if I fall ill, can’t keep up or there is an emergency?

Training

Training weekends

Level of Difficulty

The Simien Mountain Trek is graded as “tough”. Summit night in particular is a gruelling experience that will test you both mentally and physically. You should not undertake this challenge without significant training.

You can tell your supporters that on your Simien Mountain trek you will be:

  • Trekking for around 6-8 hours per day.
  • Sleeping and trekking at altitudes up to the peak at 4200m.  
  • Arising before dawn and trekking through the night on summit day.
  • Experiencing nightly temperatures of down to -15 degrees.
  • Sleeping in a tent for 7 nights

Money

Currency: Ethiopian Birr (ETB) divided into 100 cents. For up to date currency exchange, go to www.xe.com. The Ethiopian Birr is a soft currency and you cannot obtain Birr before leaving the UK. All exchange transactions should be undertaken with banks, including branches, which may be found at major tourist hotels and at the airport in Addis Ababa. Ethiopian Birr cannot be exported, therefore should be reconverted.

Cash: There are ATMs available at the airport. This is the best source of obtaining currency whilst you are in Ethiopia.

Credit cards: Credit cards are not generally accepted in Ethiopia

Exchange: There are limited opportunities to exchange foreign currency outside the major cities. On arrival at the airport in Addis Ababa, there is a foreign exchange bureau where you can change cash or travellers’ cheques at the prevailing free market exchange rate.

Spending money: You will not need to bring large amounts of money, and other than at the start and end of the challenge, you will be in the mountains away from any foreign exchanges or banks. We recommend that you take a sufficient amount of cash to exchange into local currency. Dollars are recommended. Travellers’ cheques should be accepted at the banks and at Addis Ababa airport. Credit cards are not accepted. Somewhere in the region of £200 in US dollars should be sufficient to cover presents, tips, drinks and so on.

Tips: Tipping is personal and at your sole discretion. You should only tip if you feel that you have received good service. We recommend approx. US$100 per person, and this should be given to the challenge leader at the end of the challenge, who will distribute it among the support team. In the event that a particular member of staff is extremely helpful you might leave him spare climbing gear. Make sure you have plenty of small Birr notes or US$1 bills for tipping elsewhere.

Visa

You will need a passport and a multiple entry tourist visa. The tourist visa is obtainable in the UK and costs approximately £22. We will supply you with the application form & a copy of the flight ticket. The visa allows a stay of up to three months and is valid from the date of issue so make sure you do not apply too early otherwise it will run out before you arrive in Ethiopia. Your passport must have at least six months to run from the end of your challenge. When applying you will need to provide your visa form, a copy of your flight ticket, a recent bank statement, 1 passport photo and the fee. Also see Travel Tips.

Vaccinations

For up to date vaccination information please check the NHS Government website ‘Fit for Travel at: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx. Malaria precautions are essential in all areas below 2000m, all year round. Please seek advice from your doctor.

Flights

You will be flying with Ethiopian Airlines from London Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 to Addis Ababa Airport (via Rome) and returning from Addis Ababa to London Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 (via Athens). Your flight tickets will be issued to you at the airport on the day of departure. If you choose to book your own flights you must confirm with the Charity Challenge office before paying otherwise you may be liable for your included group flights (please contact flights@charitychallenge.com for further assistance).

Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you have a suitable travel insurance policy whilst participating on the challenge. We have a special policy which covers among other things, medical (emergency, evacuation and repatriation) arrangements, cancellation and curtailment of the challenge, and more specifically for the adventurous activities undertaken on this challenge. If you have your own travel insurance policy, you must ensure that it provides at least the same level of cover as our recommended policy, including protecting the charity in the event of your cancellation 56 days or less prior to departure. If you choose not to purchase our recommended policy when you book we will send you a disclaimer which you should complete and return.

For more general travel insurance questions, please refer to our main FAQs page.

Group Size

Each group is intended to be a minimum of 16 people in order to run and a maximum of approximately 25 people.

Leadership

We employ a number of qualified challenge leaders, all of whom speak English. There will also be a first aid qualified medical officer. They will ultimately be responsible for the running of the itinerary and the safety of your group. The itinerary is there as a guide and may change due to unusual weather patterns, the strength of the group, and so on. We will do our very best to keep to the set itinerary. However, we cannot be held responsible for any last minute changes that may occur. In all such circumstances, your challenge leader will have the final say.

Climate

Early mornings will feel chilly at first, but warm up considerably as soon as the sun rises. Whilst we have chosen the best seasons for trekking, rain and cloud, and even hail, cannot be ruled out. Night skies are usually clear and starry. As soon as the sun sets, the temperature drops radically and may drop below zero degrees. On the mountain, you will be trekking in very clear air and will need strong UV protection in particular for your skin & eyes.

Luggage allowance and valuables

As no formal clothes are needed, luggage should be kept to the absolute minimum – details of what to pack are provided in your Kit List. You will need to carry a daypack during the day while the muleteers load your main rucksack on the mules. You will need a day rucksack of about 35-litre capacity. NB. You should take a soft-sided bag or rucksack for the mules to carry as they are easier to load. Your main pack should be 70-80 litres capacity. The maximum weight of each bag is 15kgs. On your outward journey, please wear your trekking gear, hiking boots, and carry a spare change of clothing in your hand luggage.

While we will do everything possible to provide adequate safety for the group and security for your possessions, the general rule is that if you don’t need it, don’t bring it. This includes jewellery, necklaces, rings and even watches. Your passport and money should be kept on you at all times. The rucksack should not contain valuables and items not required on the mountain. Excess items may be left at the hotel to be returned to you once you have climbed the mountain.

Should I take gifts or clothes for the locals?

It is a nice gesture to give the local children small gifts, perhaps pencils and exercise books, but we actively discourage the giving of sweets or money, however small, as this encourages begging.  Please give your gifts to the guide to distribute fairly. We will be investing money into a local community project to help improve local living conditions.

Responsible Tourism

At Charity Challenge we are committed to sustainable and responsible tourism, and work closely with bodies such as the International Porter Protection Group and Climate Care to ensure that our challenges benefit the local environments and communities in which they take place. We ensure that all rubbish is disposed of responsibly, and following local guidelines on cultural and environmental protection and respect, we aim to limit our impact on the natural environment. In addition to taking these practical steps to ensure that our challenges are sustainable, we also make a contribution each year to a number of local community projects, so as to give something back directly to the communities that we visit. Since 2000 we have donated almost £200,000 to such projects, supporting a range of initiatives, including schooling for children in Africa, shelter for street children in Brazil, and Orang-utan conservation in Indonesia. We recommend that any gifts brought over for children are given to the UK challenge leader and distributed where needed by them and our local Ground Agent. If you wish to do more, you should consider buying drinks, postcards and souvenirs from the local vendors. For many, it is their sole source of income. For more information, please visit our Responsible Tourism pages, where you will be able to view a list of the projects that we currently support.

Typical day

You will be woken early each morning at approx. 6:30am, and given a basic but hearty breakfast. After breakfast you will pack up with the help of all the tour leaders and begin the first trek of the day for about 3 hours. A long and early lunch will be taken to avoid trekking during the hottest part of the day. We set off to walk again for another 3 hours (approx.) and then we establish camp late afternoon for dinner and a well-deserved rest.

Accommodation

You will be camping on the mountain in two person tents, which will be supplied by us. At the very beginning and end of the climb, you will be staying in more comfortable hotel accommodation. If you are travelling with a friend or partner who you wish to share with, please let Charity Challenge know in advance.

Do we need to take our own sleeping bags/ mats?

Yes, you will need to bring a warm sleeping bag (four season or three season with fleece liner), and it would certainly help your chances of a comfortable night’s sleep if you bring a good Thermarest sleeping mat. Also see Kit List.

Food & Drink

There will be a hot breakfast (porridge, eggs, toast, tea and coffee) to start the day, a packed lunch on the mountain, and a filling hot meal in the evening (soup, followed by rice, potato or pasta and sauce.) There will be ample drinking water, as we will be filling up from local water sources. This will need to be treated with iodine drops or tablets to purify the water. The staff will collect water each morning and evening for drinking and cooking. Please let Charity Challenge know prior to departure if you have any specific dietary requirements or allergies.

Clothing and equipment

Good quality, durable kit could mean the difference between a fantastic challenge experience and an uncomfortable one. For this challenge, waterproof, well-worn in boots will be indispensable, particularly coupled with some really good quality walking socks. You don’t need a clean pair every day, but enough to make sure you have dry socks each morning. The benefits of a comfortable day sack cannot be underestimated, so make sure that you train with this. Other essentials are high quality gore-tex waterproof and windproof jackets and trousers, technical/wicking t-shirts rather than cotton shirts, and a down jacket for the evenings in camp and your summit day/night. A full kit list for this challenge can be found here once you book you will have access to kit discounts with our partners The Outdoor Shop, Outdoor Hire and Cotswold Outdoor.

Toilets

There are no toilets on the wilderness route, so you must make sure you bury all waste. Where local conditions permit, we arrange for basic long drop toilets in the camps. Mountain streams will be the main washing facility! Your camp team will provide washing bowls of warm water as you arrive at camp at the end of the day’s trekking. Take plenty of toilet paper with you, and antiseptic wipes / anti-bacterial hand gel.

Phone and WiFi

You will have a good phone and WIFI reception while at Ouazarzate.  On trekking days, there will be some phone signal at some points.

Safety

Charity Challenge considers the safety of all of its participants and staff to be a top priority, and as such we have set up one of the most advanced and thorough safety management systems in the industry. In a nutshell, Our Challenge Safe brand formalises our ethos when it comes to safety, and brings together the procedures and risk management strategies that we use to audit all aspects of our challenges, from vehicles to accommodation to the activity itself. Your welfare is paramount!

In terms of your Simien Mountain Trek, there are a couple of important points that you should be aware of:

  • Battling the altitude on the mountain up to the summit.
  • Arising before dawn and trekking through the night on summit day
  • Night time temperatures can go as low as -15 degrees
  • Long trekking days in the heat

What happens if I fall ill, can’t keep up or there is an emergency?

The event is not run as a race and there is always a large discrepancy in people’s walking ability. This is allowed for. There will be a staff member at the back of the group at all times to ensure that you are not left behind and can take things at your own pace. If necessary you can be carried off the mountain by mule. Towards the earlier stages of the trek, we are able to get a 4x4 vehicle along some of the tracks up to the Simien Mountains. There are medical facilities in Gondar and in Addis Ababa.

Training

A good level of fitness is definitely required. Anyone who leads a fairly active and moderately healthy lifestyle should be able to complete the challenge, as long as they train regularly over a period of at least three months leading up to it. Don’t forget that the temperature and climate will be different from the UK, and that you will be exercising constantly for a number of days. See the Fitness Training notes for more information.

Training tips for the Simien Mountain Trek:

  • Endurance training should be your primary focus.
  • Ensure that you get some training walks done in the mountains of the UK to familiarise yourself with walking on rugged terrain.
  • Carry a full daypack while training, and steadily add more weight
  • Join one of our training weekends! Read more about our training weekends by clicking here.

Training weekends

We offer superb training weekends across various locations in the UK, from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. These training weekends not only help you become physically prepared for the challenge, but our experienced instructors and leaders will talk you through your clothing and equipment, camp craft, health and wellbeing, trekking skills (walking on different terrain/at altitude/at night/using walking poles), teamwork on expedition and many more themes designed to make you get the most out of your challenge. The weekends are great ways for you to get out into the mountains of the UK, while also meeting other Charity Challengers and sharing your experiences. To read more about our training weekends, including dates and prices, check out our dedicated page here.

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We hold an Air Travel Organiser's Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 6546. Many of the flight-inclusive challenges on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. This ATOL protection only covers challenges that include flights booked by Charity Challenge and that originate in the UK. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLcertificate

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