COMMUNITY TOURISM IN LALIBELA

A local charity is working with local communities in the north Wollo Mountains near Lalibela to develop simple facilities catering to visitors who wish to get off the beaten trail, trek in breathtaking scenery and explore as well as experience the real culture of the Abyssinian highlanders. As of now charity has assisted two communities in Meket district to develop trekking camps, though more are likely to follow. These communities manage the enterprises and retain the proceeds from them.

The first site located in the parish of Mequat Mariam is set on a promontory of the plateau at around 2800m, jutting out to the southwest with spectacular views across the rural landscape; a sundown drink here is an unforgettable experience. The second at Wejela, is set in gentler scenery with a beautiful wood of acacia trees and numerous stands of Eucalyptus in the surrounding village. The site itself stands on a cliff above the juniper forest and church of Weketa Mariam, with its intriguing cave complex.

The plateau at Meket is set on a lava bed associated with the formation of the rift valley. This lava dried into hexagonally formed basalt rocks, which makes the cliffs both beautiful and intriguing. Some of the basalt in the area [Wegal Tena Basalt] was reputedly formed deeper in the earth’s crust than any other rock in the world.

Using local materials where possible, the communities have constructed Tukuls [round thatched houses] with comfortable beds, clean sheets and blankets. Each site has too a restaurant and an eco toilet seat with a view allowing peaceful contemplation of the landscape!

Trekking routes largely follow the escarpment edges and give a chance to see and experience local farming techniques and other elements of the local culture. With luck, visitors should also see some of the local wildlife which includes the endemic Gelada Baboon, Klipspringer, Rock Hyrax and some birds of prey. For those interested in spending more time with the local communities, to experience how they cook and farm, this can easily be arranged through Overland Ethiopia Tours.

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