Mount Bwahit
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TMR1004
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feb. 2019 • Alene
1. Introduction
Mt. Bwahit (or Buahit) is the third highest mountain in Ethiopia and the thirteenth highest in Africa. It lies in the Simien Mountains, a world heritage site. It is separated from Ras Dashen, Ethiopia’s highest mountain, by 10 miles and a gorge of over 5,000 ft. The scenery is stunning, as are the views from the summit. I had trouble getting good information before this hike so I thought I would write this review in the hope that it might help others enjoy this incredible experience.

2. Trailhead
There are numerous places where you can start the climb of Mt. Bwahit because there is a road that goes directly from Debark to Bwahit Pass. You could start anywhere along the road. That being said, most people start from Chenneck Camp, which I did also, and this review is about the route that I used. It is about a 1 ½ hour drive from Gondar to Debark and about an additional 2 hours to drive from the park office in Debark to either Inameda or Chenneck Camp.

3. Information Sources
1) Map – Simien Mountains, Ethiopia. Produced by the University of Berne. An
excellent topo map showing most of the major trails in the Simien Mountains.
2) Agere Tesfu – my guide for Mt. Bwahit and Ras Dashen. He is a top notch,
highly experienced Simien Mtn. guide who can answer all of your specific
questions and help you plan the trip that is best for you. His contact information
is:
Email: ageretesfu@gmail.com
Phone (whatsapp): 0920193081

4. Level of difficulty
Climbing from Chenneck Camp to the summit of Bwahit and returning is a moderately difficult hike. The distance (one way) is about 3 miles and you will climb 2,700 vt. ft. What will make this harder than it sounds is the altitude. That being said, with the proper pace, this hike is appropriate for anyone who is acclimated and in reasonably good hiking condition.

5. Best time of year
The rainy season is July through mid-September. Most people prefer to hike in late September through December because the weather is generally good, everything is green and the flowers abundant. January through June also have good weather, but there is less greenery/color, etc.

6. Options
Almost unlimited. If you buy the map, you will see that Mt. Bwahit can be climbed from several directions and that there are multiple potential “starting points”. I would recommend hiring a good guide, like Agere, and discussing the options, along with your level of experience and fitness, with him. Then, the two of you can plan the itinerary that is best for you.

7. Guides/Permits, etc.
All hikes in the Simien Mtns. must be arranged through the park office in Debark. A guide is optional, but a park scout is mandatory. One will be assigned to you. He will accompany you through your entire trip. I would also highly recommend using a guide. A good guide will help you plan your trip, handle the logistics, hire other staff (cook, muleteer, etc.) and provide a wealth of practical and interesting information about the Simien Mountains, the people who live there, flora and fauna, etc. Agere did all of this and was a pleasure to hike with and spend time with. One caveat. Take the time to find the right guide for you. We only saw a few other guides on the mountain and most seemed fairly good, but one was definitely not. I spoke with his three clients and they were very disappointed with their trip. A bad guide can make all the difference in the world, changing what would have been a wonderful experience into a painful regret.

8. Trail distances
About 3 miles (one way) from Chenneck Camp to the Summit.

9. Elevations
Chenneck Camp 11,800 ft.
Mt. Bwahit Summit 14,555 ft.

10. Vertical Elevations
You will ascend 2,755 vt. ft. to the summit of Mt. Bwahit. There are no ups and downs on this climb, just straight up.

11. Trail description
Leaving Chenneck Camp, you will be on single track trails most of the way, but will also walk sections on the dirt road toward Bwahit Pass. While you are hiking on this road, the trail to Ras Dashen will break off to your left. You will continue on the road for another 10 minutes or so until the trail to Mt. Bwahit breaks off to your left. The trail is rocky and is steep in a few places. This, along with the altitude, will make the climb take longer than you might think.

12. Water along trail
There is no water along the trail. Carry what you need. 1 ½ liters was sufficient for me.

13. What to bring
If you start early, it can be fairly cold, but you will quickly warm up as you climb. So bring layers that you can easily adjust, as necessary. Toward the summit, it can get cold again, especially if it is windy. Also, there is a lot of sun exposure. Make sure you bring lotion, hat with a brim, sunglasses, etc. I also brought light weight long pants and long sleeve shirt, which worked very well for me.

14. Altitude
Do not underestimate the effects of altitude. If you live at sea level like I do, try to spend a few days in either Addis or Gondar (7,000 – 8,000 ft.) to start to acclimate. I also hiked the last 3-4 hours along the road to Chenneck Camp and camped there the night before the Bwahit climb. I believe that acclimating made the climb much easier and enjoyable for me.

15. Time estimates
This is always a difficult thing to say, due to differences in fitness, trail and weather conditions, pack weight, how often you stop to take pictures and breaks, and of course, how well you are acclimated to the elevation. That being said, most people take 2 – 3 ½ hours to climb from Chenneck Camp to the summit of Bwahit and about 1 ½ - 2 ½ hours to descend back to Chenneck Camp.

16. Conclusion
Hiking Mt. Bwahit and Ras Dashen were the highlights of the time I spent in Ethiopia. I hope that you enjoy this adventure as much as I did. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Skrevet 13. mars 2019
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