Ambling along the plateau edges of Meket
These are long walks but more or less on the flat, and can be done by people who are relatively active. Families with children and older guests should be OK with these walks if used to walking.
The western trail head for this walk is at community called Werkhaye Mariam.
Here the local community provide a sit down lunch of local fare: local enjara (a sour pancake made from local grains notably teff) and vegetarian stews, washed down with a traditional cup of hand roasted & ground, freshly brewed coffee. Soft drinks, water and beer are for sale.
From Werkhaye it is a 3 hour walk to the first site, following well beaten trails through the landscape.
The first night is spent at Mequat Mariam, a remote parish based around the church of St. Mary’s of Mequat, was the first community site to begin hosting guests 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, buzzards, kites, ravens and many other birds soar over the site.
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.
It is a full day’s walk between Mequat to the next site: Wajela – about 7 hours walking + stopping time. The walk combines sections following the escarpment edge with incredible vistas and sections across the meadows and grazing land. There are plenty of opportunities to see the communities at work. On the way Meskal Mikael community provide a lunch much like that at Werkhaye Mariam, but besides a cliff edge with ribbons of water (except in the driest seasons) dropping of the edge into the boulder strewn land below.
The second community-run site is Wajela, which began hosting guests in 2004.This quiet village sits just below the plateau top on a fertile ledge. 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. This cosy site is set alongside a village, and community life goes on around the tukuls.
From Wajela to Aterow is a lovely 5 hours walking, mostly along the escarpment edge with the steep basalt cliff edge eroded into protruding blocks.Lunch is served by the community at Gicha by a big Giyorgis church and its lovely wooded church yard perched on the cliff edge.
In 2006 the community at Aterow finalised their tukuls. 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 birds of prey on the thermals too, and with some luck you will see the little Rock Hyrax warming in the sun in the morning.
A vehicle can pick you up from Aterow, either near the site if you have to rush for a plane or if you have a few hours you make the steep descent to the waterfall, and follow the gentle valley eastwards until your path reaches the Lalibela road. It is little over an hour from here to the airport at Lalibela, maybe 90 minutes to Lalibela town itself.
If walking on to Yadukulay, the fourth site which started receiving guest in 2007, it is a steeper descent into the valley which is full of irrigation channels and fields of green onions and other crops. From there a short climb of 30 minutes or so takes you up the little twin peak on which the site is built. It gives you a great 360 degree view up into the valley that narrows to the east or west towards the sunset over the lowlands, or off the cliff faces to the north and south. It is not a long walk from Aterow, depending on your comfort in the descent it can take about 4 hours. So you can reach there for lunch and either elect to relax in the afternoon or go exploring in the villages below.
The Yadukulay community is near the village of Taja, about 50km south of Lalibela. This can serve again as the trek end, or one can continue on to the stunning site at Boya. This is described in the next section – Rugged treks.