These red sandstone mountains are home to a number of less known rock churches. As with the trekking in Wollo, the communities own and operate simple guesthouses and receive 55% of the income (ex VAT) for their services. Guests are guided through the mountains by specially trained guides from Adigrat, with their bags carried on donkeys. Each guesthouse has accommodation for six guests in three rooms, a roof top terrace, a simple eco-toilet and wash facilities. The communitys cook simple but tasty food along with coffee and tea, while bottled drinks – water, beer and soft drinks are available for purchase.
The trekking takes you up onto the sandstone ridges and through the farmed valleys with ample chance to see farming and community activities. There is also a surprising amount of wildlife in these mountains with Gelada monkeys, hyrax, jackels among the mammals I have seen, and a wonderful selection of birds from sunbirds and little Cordon Bleu to Lammergeyers and Batteleur eagles.Get a quote for Community Trekking in Tigray now
Treks are mostly shorter than the ones near Lalibela (4 or 5 hours) but do include ups and downs as churches and sites are often up a 200 meter escarpment. The trekking season runs throughout the year as for the most part the rainy season this far north only brings showers in the afternoon, and allows treks to be done during the rest of the day. In addition the soil is sandy and the water soon drains away. The best time to trek is in mid August through September and October. But with the wedding season and other celebrations in the communities different times of year bring their unique attractions.
Please note that visits to the churches in this area, as all over the country, are dependent upon the priests being available and willing, and the programme of the churches themselves. However where the church is linked to a community where you stay there is a good chance that a visit can be arranged especially if they are given some notice.
( Click on site names for more details )
The most westerly guesthouse is at Erar built on an isolated section of the western escarpment with wonderful views westward to the mountains of Adwa and the Nebulet pillars. It can be accessed from the Adigrat – Axum road via a good gravel road that ends at a village called Rahya from where it is a 90min walk along the escarpment to Erar.
Erar, like Shimbrety is on the sandstone escarpment on the western edge of the area, also at 2,800 meters. It is a bit closer to the mountains on the Adwa side with some interesting pinnacles of rock in view to the northwest.
About a 90 minute walk from Erar is the village of Kiat underneath the cliff face, with its lovely rock church Kiat Mariam. The walk down may take about 30 minutes, but going back could take up to 1 hour. Near the top of the path is the trail head where vehicles can pick you to take you on to Axum or Adigrat.
In Kiat village Tesfa and their partner ADCS are supporting Village Ways to build a new guesthouse which will be managed by Village Ways.
From these guesthouses it is a 5 hour walk (once back up the escarpment from Kiat) through the valleys to Shimbrety. As you get close to Shimbrety there is an interesting rock tunnel that has been carved through the ridge to give villages on the western side access to the lovely rock church of Maryam Buzuhan. The church itself is a lovely one, and the trail there after hugs the mountain and winds up to the plateau on the top. Shimbrety is the most southerly community-run guesthouse, some 20km north of Hawzien and can also be reached from Gheralta Lodge (using transport to drop you halfway). This is on the western ridge of the Agame Mountains.
The nearest community guesthouse to Shimbrety is Gohgot, a few hours’ walk to the east tucked under the cliff but above the villages. The nearby rock church of Gohgot Eyesus, positioned above indigenous woodland at the head of the valley, is roughly 90 minutes’ walk away. Gohgot can be accessed either from Shimbrety, or nearby if taking a transfer by vehicle from the Hawzien area. It’s a 4–5 hour walk to Gohgot from the main road starting from the village of Idega Hamus just south of Adigrat.
In Seheta village Tesfa and their partner ADCS are supporting Village Ways to build a new guesthouse which will be managed by Village Ways.
Gohgot also connects to the highest guesthouse in the area: Enaf. At 3,000m it has stunning views across the Agame massif and its valleys. The walk from Gohgot takes around six–seven hours and goes past some lovely churches – notably Debre Giyorgis, which is a built-up church in the ancient tradition of Debre Damo and Yemrehanna Christos. It is perched on a ledge three-quarters of the way up the escarpment and is a challenging climb up via sturdy ladders. The walk to Enaf has some steep sections on it so you need to be fit. From Enaf it’s a four-hour walk down the mountain to the Agoro Lodge on the edge of Adigrat.
The guest house north of Enaf is Chehat is one of the more recent additions to the network. There is a great ridge top walk that skirts Adigrat and connects Enaf with Chehat guest houses. This is a more challenging walk taking some 8 hours, but you will be rewarded with a variety of great views and will pass near the peak of the Agame mountains measured at 3,333 meters in case you want to go for a peak. Chehat is a wonderful site with sweeping views north along a gorge towards Debre Damo. This guesthouse also has quite easy access from the main road that goes north from Adigrat
From Chehat the trail takes you north east to Menyebeiti, along the ridge, through some lovely farmland with villages and across the main road that comes up from Adigrat. You will see the round Amba mountain called Amba Fekada infront. Save some puff for the steep walk up the side of the Amba. Once on top you will see why we sited the Menyebeiti guesthouse here. From here you can see the Debre Damo Amba to the west and the gorges to the east that drop into the Rift Valley.
Booking should be made in advance as communities need to prepare for guests, but last minute treks are sometimes possible. The price per person per day, payable in birr or F/C, is currently about US$70 inclusive of food, accommodation, guide and pack animals. It excludes bottled drinks, transport and church entry. An additional fee of around US$12) is charged to solo travellers. Prices usually increase every September.
This payment includes accommodation, food: breakfast, simple picnic lunch (or where developed, a lunch stop with another community), snacks on arrival and dinner, local beverages (tea and coffee), guide and pack animals or porters to carry luggage (a reasonable amount only – max 20kgs- in soft bags if possible).
Payment excludes bottled drinks (bottled water, soft drinks, beers, wine etc), entry fees to local churches (if you wish to enter) and transport to the start of the trek and back from the end where it is required.
On the mountain trek it is advisable to bring good energy snack food for the high altitude days.
|Category||From Sep ’16 (till 10 Sep ’17)||Note|
|Adults (16yrs+)||1450 + 43.5 (15% VAT on TT 20% ) = 1,493.5||Per 24 hours or part of|
|Children (12-15yrs)||1087.5 + 32.5 (15% VAT on TT 20%) = 1,120||Per 24 hours or part of, with adult accompanying|
|Children (3-11yrs)||725 + 22 (15% VAT on TT 20%) = 747|
|Children under 3||Free|
|Late booking fee||60 ETB||Per group per night||Booked with < 3 working days notice|
|Personal guide supplement||250 ETB||Own guide for small group < 4|
|Solo guest supplement||250 ETB||Per guest per night||when 1 person on trek|
Watch this video about the TESFA trekking.
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