West Meket

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Farmer near Mequat enjoying the magnificent views

West Meket, is the gentlest walking of all the Tesfa treks, although some walks are quite long, they are all mainly on the flat. The altitude is also between 2,800 and 3,000 meterr for the most part, which although it will make you short of breath it will not make you struggle too much!

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Lunch stop by the woods at Werkhaye Mariam

At the trail head is the community lunch stop of Werkhaye Mariam on the edge of a thick Juniper Woodland that surrounds the big Mariam church there. Here the community will serve you enjara and freshly made vegetarian sauces, with coffee or tea. This is welcome after the drive from Lalibela (2 hours) or Bahir Dar (4.5hrs) or Gondar (5.5hrs).

From Werhaye you have a three hour walk to most south westerly guest house is Mequat Mariam, a remote parish based around the church of St.Mary’s of Mequat, was the first community guest house to begin hosting late in 2003. The tukuls (thatched round cottages) are set on a promontory of the Meket plateau with staggering views to the west and south. A small troop of Gelada Baboons patrol the escarpment, and a troop of Vervet monkeys sometime come up for a visit. Lammergeyers, vultures, buzzard, kites, ravens and many other birds soar over the site, and a flock of white-billed starlings – endemic to the highlands of Ethiopia are resident by the guest house cliffs

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Early picture of Mequat Mariam

Mequat Mariam boasts a ‘rock bar’, a smooth sheltered ledge that is warmed by the afternoon sun and invites guests to sit with a sundown drink a watch the golden glow at the end of the day turn red as the sun sets over Mount Guna.

From Mequat it is approximately 7 hours walking to the second community guest house:  Wajela. The walk takes you along escaprment edges and across meadows/fields. On the way you will stop for lunch at Meskal Mikael, also a beautiful place with dramatic views. For several months after the rainy season ends there is a waterfall off the cliffs near here. Its also a great baboon spotting location. Here you will get a lunch on enjara and vegetable wots, with a coffee ceremony to follow.

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Basalt cliff near Wajela

The Guest House at Wajela began hosting guests in 2004. This quiet village sits just below the plateau top on a fertile ledge. It is a cosy site, set alongside a village, and community life goes on around the tukuls.The spot chosen for the tukul camp overlooks an intriguing cave complex and the old church of Werketa Mariam set amongst Juniper (a large indigenous pine tree) woodland. Wajela also boats an old acacia wood, besides which they have built a small church.

The walk from Wajela is mostly along the cliff edge, with the views and birds associated with the basalt cliffs. Its about a 2hr 30m walk to the community at Gicha serving lunch by the big church called Galla Dejen Giyorgis. And again another 2hrs 30 min from there to the community guest house at Aterow.

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One of the tukuls at Aterow Community Guest house

In 2006 the community at Aterow finalised their tukuls, and have since had a many hundreds of guests. The site chosen for the tukul camp overlooks a gentle valley that comes from the plateau top and then below the site drops into a dramatic gorge. The river in the valley takes the plunge and although the resulting falls are not visible from the camp they can be reach by taking the short steep way down into the valley below.

This is a great place to see Gelada baboons, who come up from the cliffs and gorge below. There are always bird of prey on the thermals too, and with some lukc you will see the little Rock Hyrax warming in the sun in the morning.

From Aterow its a 30 minute scramble down the cliff to the top of the waterfall that heads a gorge. There is a longer round about way that avoids the scramble. From the waterfall it is a lovely hours walk along a path through fertile fields to the trail head for vehicles to and from Lalibela. Alternatively its another two hours walk on down to Yadukulay.

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Yadukulay perched on its hill

The Yadukulay community began receiving guests at their tukuls in 2007, set on a small twin peaked hill in a valley just off the escarpment. It is near the village of Taja, about 50km south of Lalibela.

The land around is irrigated from streams coming off the escarpment to the south, and there are great 360 degree views of the escarpments around. Trekkers visiting here will need to be prepared for a climb up to or down from the neigbouring sites with some steep sections. The walk to Aterow is not too long but if heading that way it is uphill. The walk to Boya and East Meket [LINK] is a tougher walk with a steep uphill at the start and is a full days walk.  It is a varied walk – well worth it if you are fit enough.


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