Trekking in Janamora, Ethiopia

Wild, raw and rarely visited by tourists, Janamora sits in the northwest corner of Ethiopia, just outside the Simien Mountains National Park, one of the countryís best-known natural attractions. Life here revolves around traditional farming and the Orthodox Church, and your days will be spent following highland trails, dropping into peopleís homes and soaking up rural life in a peaceful part of the world. Tailor made tours are led by guides from the local communities, who, with the help of NGOs, have built a clutch of guesthouses not only to create much needed revenue but also to ensure that they have a stake in conserving their environment.

What does trekking in Janamora entail?

For treks in the Janamora youíll need a minimum of four to five days, but our trips here are tailor made, leaving you free to tweak or extend your itinerary as you see fit, though group sizes are restricted to six to eight people in order to reduce the impact on the land, communities and resources. Youíll walk for between two and six hours a day through farmland just outside the Simien National Park, and though the days arenít especially long, youíll still need to be pretty fit, with many steep paths involved and an average altitude of around 3000m - though the dramatic and wide-ranging views make those breathless scrambles more than worth it.
Walks will take you through woodland, down deep into gorges and along mountain ridges as you soak up the rhythm of local life. Youíll visit homes and churches and wander past farmers ploughing their fields using methods that have remained unchanged for centuries; and on market days you could meet hundreds of people on the pathways making their way to and from markets and towns. If youíre lucky your visit will coincide with one of the many feast or saintsí days help throughout the year, in which dancing, drinking and colourful processions play a big part.
When it comes to wildlife, youíre likely to see gelada baboons and birds of prey as you make your way along the trails, and leopards and wolves are also said to inhabit the area, those these are rarely seen.
You can opt to add a couple of days in the Simien Mountains National Park on to the end of your trip, where you can choose to spend your nights wilderness camping or, if you donít fancy roughing it, spend a day or two relaxing in one of a couple of comfortable tourist lodges.


Youíll lay your head in clean but basic double rooms in community built and run guesthouses, where youíll share composting toilet and shower facilities with other guests. There will be a terrace or chill out space from which to soak up the views as well as a dining hut. Tasty traditional meals are prepared by local cooks and eaten communally around the fire, and you should also get to participate in a traditional coffee ceremony. While on the trails youíll eat picnic lunches or stop at local eateries, where simple meals of injera and wot are the norm.

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Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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The main town in Janamora is Mekhane Berhan, which is where your trek begins. You donít have to make it there yourself, however, and can arrange with your tour operator to be collected from medieval Gondar, some two hoursí drive away.
The best time to visit Janamora is the dry season, which runs from November to March, when daytime temperatures average around 18įC, with plenty of warm sunshine, but even during this period you could come across a rain shower or two. It also gets chilly, especially at high altitude, and the wind can be bitterly cold, so make sure to bring layers so you can wrap up accordingly. Good walking boots that are already broken in are essential and itís a good idea to bring energy snacks for high altitude days.
Written by Nana Luckham
Photo credits: [Page banner: Tesfa Tours] [All photos by: Tesfa Tours]