Brad Pitt visited Mequat Mariam back in 2004, as part of a whirlwind tour in Africa with Washington based NGO DATA (Debt, Aid and Trade in Africa), with other members of DATA including Erin Chapman. After Erin wrote to say:
I just wanted you to know that our visit with you was far and away the high point of the trip. It made a huge impact on everyone in the group ….
(Brad did sign the communities visitors’ book, which we rushed out to buy before he came; hence his is the 1st entry!!)
Three cheers for a great trip in Ethiopia covering: Addis, Lalibela, Harar and Asela. It was all well organized and there were no hitches. While there is much to share, the walk in the highlands outside of Lalibela is something we will never forget. Its more than travelling in distance, it is also travelling in time. Walking through fields of people harvesting crops and grain in ways as it has been done through the centuries was fascinating. We felt like we were walking through an African landscape that Breugel could have painted! The guesthouses were perfectly placed for spectacular views from the escarpment. Without light pollution or air pollution, we had amazing nighttime entertainment from the stars. Our guides, and helpers were terrific: Sefiew, Misgan, Lishan and Alex. What we liked most of all was the knowledge that the people of the villages benefitted by our stay. It made it feel all the more worthwhile. We also leave Ethiopia with a new appreciation for the noble donkey — they helped us on our way as they do for everyone in the Ethiopian countryside. What an amazing animal. Thanks again!
I wanted to let you know that our trip to Ethiopia was the best trip we have ever taken. We came away totally enchanted by the country and its people.
I particularly wanted you to let you know that the planning for the trip was impeccable. Everything happened on schedule, was superbly chosen and the timing of all the movement and activities was perfect. That Tesfa was able to organize all of our travel, from Lalibela to Axum and then our trek and stays in the community guest houses and the grand final at Gheralta Lodge and the incredible climb to Maryam and Daniel Korkor churches, meant that the transition from place to place was seamless. Hugely appreciated is your hiring of top notch guides for each of these places. They were knowledgeable, gracious and were committed to showing us the treasures to be found. We loved them all!
The highlight was Tesfa trekking in Tigray from high plateau to high plateau. Really I can’t express what a profound experience it was. The landscape was outrageously gorgeous and the facilities had everything we needed, but it was the people working in the guest houses and that we met along the way that totally charmed us. Being greeted with such warmth, beautiful smiles, hand shakes, hugs and Ethiopian shoulder bumps made us fall hard .. in love. And the kids! We had a blast playing, running and singing with them. Those smiles made us melt. It was the experience that we dreamt of having come true. What an incredible model for development and international relations!
I want to make a strong call out to Mulat who we all adored. He was wonderful. We also happened to meet Kiros while having sundowners on the terrace at the hotel in Axum and he couldn’t of been more charming prepping us for the trek.
I can’t recommend Tesfa highly enough. You did a fabulous job from our first email exchange. It was the perfect trip to take with young adult children. We all felt a strong feeling of adventure that delivered. Also thank you for talking us through our security fears. You were totally right. All was calm and we didn’t have a moment of feeling endangered in Ethiopia.
Thanks so much and I look forward to coming back soon!
We just did a 4 night trek in the mountains near Lalibela. We had a fabulous time trekking with our guide, Misgan. He is a wonderful person, an asset to Tesfa Tours. So helpful, patient & knowledgable. A real inspiration.
The trekking was an experience we will treasure for the rest of our lives. The people we met have a place in our hearts. We visited the most amazing Churches whilst here in Lalibela, again the guide was very knowledgeable & passionate, enhancing our experience of your beautiful heritage. We have some outstanding photographs to support our magical memories. Thank you all.
Our trek (June 2016) was a wonderful experience and a great opportunity to meet the people and see how they live their lives. Coming from an agricultural background myself, it was impressive to see how self sufficient they are and their good humour, their hospitality and their dignity. Our trek was the perfect end to a most memorable holiday in Ethiopia.
There were so many trek highlights, the beautiful panoramic views, the wildlife, our friendly and helpful guide Hagus, delicious bread cooked for us in our overnight lodges, the two wonderful girls in Shimbrity and all the other amazing people that we met along the way, not forgetting our helpful driver Favianos. And the walking, everybody walking everywhere, I loved it! Thank you Mark to you and your team.
A group of 5 of us are just back from a 3 day Tesfa trek in Tigray, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The scenery, people, wildlife are just out of this world. We walked from high plateaus to valleys that could have been a scene from another time, with cattle and donkeys threshing the crops, a village girl bringing us fruit to eat and everyone with a smile and a genuine interaction. You just don’t get this experience on the regular tourist trail. These holidays are so special, I want to tell everyone to go. They benefit the local people ,who are poor, and need the extra income. But it is us who gain most , it is an experience that takes you right back down to earth. Literally
I took a short trip with Tesfa guides covering Gonder and Lalibela. Wonderful! The whole Tesfa team – from helping me before arrival, to the guides, airport fixers, etc all were patient, professional, fun…and most of all, clearly had Tesfa’s mission to genuinely help rural and marginalized Ethiopian communities. It added an rich and satisfying aspect to my experience that otherwise probably would not be possible. I look forward to hopefully doing a full community trek in the near future.
We did a three day trek in Tigray. We stayed at Errar, Gogot and Shimbrity guest houses and loved every moment of it all. Highly recommend the trek for the beauty of the countryside, the hospitality at the lodges – everything! Especially impressed by the guide Kyros who is not only great company but knows a lot about plants and birds.
My 19 year old son and I did a three day trek west of Lalibela and absolutely loved it. The walking wasn’t too challenging which was a good thing as we were not used to the altitude. The scenery is stunning, the communities we lodged with welcoming, the food was varied and always delicious. We were really well cared for and deeply touched to be allowed to visit peoples homes, to see how they live, cook and care for their animals.
I particularly loved watching the chickens climb up to roost on a purpose built mud shelf above the cooking area! We were delighted to find a family of baboons digging for breakfast beside us as we set off one morning. I would recommend this tour to anyone wanting to see the pastoral face of Africa and come up close to its wonderfully rich wild life. Thank you Tesfa Tours.
Tesfa tours were brilliant and everything worked like clockwork. Dikra and Mark really thought about what type of people we are and tailored the trip around that. Before the trip they patiently answered all of my questions in great detail.
At each leg of the journey there was always a smiling face waiting to greet us and our guides were so considerate. It soon became clear that there was a lot of organising going on in the background, but on the surface all was relaxed and informal.
The trek was stunningly beautiful and the Tukul villages that we stayed in were always carefully positioned so that we had breath-taking views of the Lalibela highlands. I was very pleased to get the chance to talk to the locals and to get an understanding of their way of life. Our guide Mesgan, was excellent. Within a few hours he knew what we were interested in and made sure that he pointed things out that were going to fill us with wonder. We went on one of the more challenging treks, and yet I always felt completely safe, thanks to the services of the local guide and guard. Our cooks made sure that we had a good mix of both Ethiopian and International food, and there was plenty of it! I am not sure why Mark advises travellers to take some snacks just in case – I certainly never went hungry. And the soups in the evenings were so tasty!
We arrived during the harvest, which was fascinating. The countryside was a hive of industry: cutting the harvest, threshing, winnowing, carting the straw and then finally when that was done ploughing in readiness for the next season. And all using hand-tools and animals. There were still some plenty of flowers, and many birds to catch our attention, including the massive Lamergayer. My favourite though was the white billed crow. In the late afternoon we relaxed outside and watch out for baboons and the very rare Ethiopian wolf. There were plenty of cultural stops as well – churches and schools and the famous boabab tree were villagers come to pray, party and make beer (maybe not in that order).
There was also plenty of fun in the evenings, chatting around a fire, dancing and singing.
We also visited lake Tana (birdwatchers paradise), Gondor with its palaces and stunning churches and of course Lalibella.
I was amazed at how much we did in 11 days and this has to be the best holiday ever. Back in London, I have some rich memories to keep me going over the winter, and for the rest of my life. Unusually I came back from holiday a couple of pounds lighter and quite a bit fitter that when I left. Thank you Tesfa, I don’t know what else you could have done!
The trek was an amazing experience for me. Our tour guide made our journey enjoyable, he answered our questions and he informed us about the plants, area and about the people. The two guesthouses were placed right by the cliff so the view which was across our eyes was phenomenal. Everything was amazing from the walking to the Tigrayan dancing with the Tigrayan people who stayed with us at the guesthouses. I would definitely recommend this to my family and friends and would love to do this again, but lasting for 5-7 days!
I have just taken a small group of pupils (aged 17) from a London inner city school for a 3 day 2 night trek in Tigray with Tesfa Tours and I can honestly say it was an incredible experience for them and up there in the best 3 things I have ever done. The organisation of the tour was flawless, the guide exceptional and the scenery was nothing short of spectacular! We took a small group to see how the students would cope and to see, before we increase the numbers on the trip, if we would include it on the itinerary again – it will certainly be the first thing we book next time! Thoroughly recommended.
I am just back from the 5 days hike Ayn Amba – Genete Mariam – Tadios Amba – Abune Yosef – Ad Medhane Alem – Lalibela. It was….. FANTASTIC!
I wanted to thank you for all you did to arrange our trip. Nick and I had a wonderful experience of Ethiopia thanks to you both.
We were inspired by a people with almost nothing in the way of material wealth, their generosity of spirit and a warmth of their welcome deeply impacted us. Sitting around a fire in a mountain hut, faces glowing with smiles and in the gentle reflections of the fire, sharing a meal, laughing and chatting.
We reflected the good and bad about the scenery, it is intensively farmed across every hillside and valley, and this leaves very little space for mother nature. That said of course the landscape is spectacular and the people too. It has inspired us to want to visit other parts of the country, and to travel with your help once more. You did everything you said you would do and so much more. We are happy to be reference clients for you if you have anyone needing some re-assurance.
Teams of donkey’s, local village people, a wonderful guide and then a whole set of villagers hosting us each evening, what an absolute priviledge. We still can’t get our heads around how you co-ordinate this. No-one was even one minute late, with no phone and no watches!
A huge thank you once more
Tesfa Tours absolutely delivers on their promise to show you the Real Ethiopia. We were exposed to incredible sights–ancient castles, churches and monasteries–but also to people as they live in the countryside. We were greeted by literally hundreds of small children and visited a schoolhouse where classes were underway. We even observed a beautiful wedding ceremony quite intimately.
The Tesfa guides were first rate without exception. This is a professional group of people who are devoted to showing you the best the country has to offer. Our experience was totally positive.