Community Walks in Ethiopia
Walking in the mountains of the Lasta Massif near Lalibela offers you fantastic scenery without too many ups and downs. You’re fed and hosted by local people in community-run sites along your route. Besides the scenery, you see for yourself how people live and work here, experiencing the warm culture as well as the real challenges of life in northern Ethiopia’s remote farming communities.
The starting point for your trek is within two hours’ drive of Lalibela. This region is known as North Wollo, and for much of the walk you follow the sharp, meandering edge of Meket Escarpment, staying at around 2,800m above sea-level. The walking is relatively gentle with some steep sections in and out of valleys that cut into the plateau. You make frequent stops to enjoy the views, the small churches and the wildlife. You don’t have to worry about your bags, which go ahead of you, securely strapped to the back of a donkey.
This walk is as much about the people as it is about the wildlife and the landscape, and you stop to chat to local people you pass, your guide translating as well as explaining the customs and the practical challenges for people living here. Some days you picnic, and others you enjoy a sit-down lunch prepared by local people. Although the days are warm, the altitude means that the temperatures drop at night.
This is a community tourism trek, and each night you sleep in one of the community-run guest houses. These are clusters of traditional tukuls (round houses) with beds, simple showers and eco-toilets. They are thoughtfully sited along the escarpment so that you wake up to magnificent views each morning.
At the end of each day you enjoy sundowners before dinner, sipping a beer or a soft drink while enjoying the sunset. All your meals are freshly prepared, and there is no shortage of hot tea and coffee.
Besides the skittish rock hyrax that you see warming themselves on the cliff tops, other animals you’re likely to see include troops of gelada baboons, klipspringer, duiker, spotted hyenas and mongoose. Birds of prey spiral in the thermals that rise along the edge of the escarpment and you may see buzzards, kite, black eagles and lappet-faced vultures amongst them.
Community Trekking and Lalibela’s Rock-hewn Churches
This is a sample tour to give you an idea of cost and what you could experience in 8 days in Ethiopia. We can tailor it in any number of ways.
- 4 days (3 night) trekking in the Lasta Massif near Lalibela
- 3 days wandering through Lalibela’s rock-hewn churches and visiting Yemrehanne Kristos and the Asheton Maryam Monastery in the surrounding hills
- 2 days exploring Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s historic capital
Starting from $1,145 per person* on double occupancy basis (excluding all flights)
Single supplement: $175
*Minimum group size 4
- 3 days fullboard guided community walking
- All accommodation on B&B basis
- All airport and road transfers
- Entry fees and a local tour guides at all the historic sites and national parks
A few suggestions for tailoring your tour
- 1 day (1 night) in Gonder exploring its UNESCO World Heritage sites
- 2 days (2 nights) in Kuriftu Ladge exploring the 14th-century island monasteries on Lake Tana
- 6 days (5 nights) visiting the ancient city of Axum (2 night) and the cynic Gheralta mountain areas (3 nights at Gheralta lodge)
There are many options for these community treks in North Wollo, and although you can do a 2-day-1-night trek, we recommend you spend at least 3 or 4 nights in the mountains to get into the rhythm. If you’re travelling with younger children, then 2 nights would probably be enough.
When to go to North Wollo
The best time to hike in the Lasta Massif is from the end of September to the end of June.
Our top tip for the Lasta Massif
“During my three years’ experience of leading treks along the Meket Escarpment I’ve seen it in all seasons, and it’s always beautiful. However, if you go to the Lasta Massif in late September or early October, the wildflowers are at their best following the end of the rainy season. Whole slopes are sunny yellow with Meskel daisies.”
If you enjoy learning about different cultures then get a copy of The Lure of Honey Bird: Storytellers of Ethiopia by Elizabeth Laird to read on your journey.
Flights to Ethiopia
What happens in an emergency?
Communicating in Ethiopia
Ethiopian time and dates
The weather and what to pack
Mobile phone coverage and Internet access in Ethiopia
Advice from locals
Girma was an excellent guide during my two week trekking experience in northern Ethiopia. It is hard to imagine anyone with a greater knowledge and passion for the country and its people, which led to an unforgettable experience and a feeling of being more of a long-lost family visitor than a mere tourist. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Tadele Travel for discovering the real Ethiopia- Andrew Roberts, Washington DC
I first went to Lalibela in Ethiopia in 2008. Back then I thought that it would be a one-off visit to a town that for so long had piqued my curiosity but had seemed too remote to experience. Now I’m sitting down to write about my third trip there, which ...