Community Trekking in Wof Washa

Trekking around the forest blankets of the Rift Valley escarpment.

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Community Trekking in Wof Washa, Ethiopia

A Land of Milk & Honey, and much more; Wof Washa forest blankets over 6,000 hectares of the Rift Valley escarpment with natural forest. Its only 130km north east from Addis Ababa, and the forest extends from Ankober (seat of Emperor Menelik’s former palace) towards Debre Sina. Here an NGO called SUNARMA has supported forest cooperatives to develop guesthouses to accommodate tourists around the forest. Tesfa Tours has signed an agreement with these cooperative to market and manage the bookings for this wonderful trekking setup.

At the highest levels (around 3,500 meters above sea level) the forest consists of Afro-alpine vegetation: Giant Lobelia and Giant Heather trees (Erica arboreal). As you go lower increasingly there are massive Juniper, African Olive, Podocarpus,  Hagenia Abysinica (Kosso), Hypericum and many other species. Some of these trees are over 500 years old.

With the changing altitude was a variety wildlife. At the top of the escarpment was Guassa grassland with little rodents scuttling into burrows before us and large troops of Geladas. Reliable reports indicate that Ethiopian wolves can be seen here too best seen early morning and late afternoon.  The great raptors patrol the escarpments on thermals in search of rodents or Rock hyrax (which look like overgrown guinea pigs).

As you descend into the forest down on the escarpment edge it rapidly warms up and the lower altitude trees appear. In addition to the trees you will notice a myriad of different coloured flowers. Anyone with an interest in plants will be fascinated and be scrabbling for their notebooks. The regular rain with the varied altitude make this one of the best places to see flowers and different plants.

In terms of mammals, lower down are Colobus monkeys, heard Hamadryas baboons, Grivet (a type of vervet) monkeys, leopards (you will be lucky to see them but may hear their cough or see their spore), hyenas, tree hyrax, Cerval and Civet cats, Menelik’s bushbuck Porcupines – and more. Among the birds you will be excited to see the White-cheeked Turacos with their scarlet wings.

At the lower levels there is agricultural land abutting the forest – green a verdant, with the jagged forested peaks rising behind. Low level fields maybe full of crops such as barley a bean called Bakela. And all the while water gurgles by in streams.

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The Routes

A good start point is to be dropped at the trail head nearest to Debre Berhan – a junction on the gravel road called Kura Mariam. From here its an attractive and easy 5km walk to Gosh Meda Guesthouse set on the top of the escarpment.

From Gosh Meda its a beautiful half day walk down through the forest on quite steep paths to Mescha guesthouse on the lower forest edge. The walk itself might take around 3-4 hours.

Next day follow the forest edge to the west around to Mescha village where there is a Thursday market and a nice school you can drop in on. The walk caries along the lower slopes with farm land below and forest above on to Lik Marifya. The whole trek can take 6 hours or more depending on your walking speeds. As you get closer to Lik Marefya you will climb over a short but steep steep pass and cross into another valley. The views each way from the top are stunning, and the descent into a forest of giant Olive trees is a highlight of the trek. The guesthouse is set on the forest edge with views out to the agricultural land below the forest.

Next day it is possible to walk several hours down the valley to a Falasha monastery. The people there claim to be orthodox but Jewish in origin. Their compound is different and quite intriguing, but dont expect to find a fucntioning Jewish community.

The trail up to Kundi guesthouse takes you up the same Lik Marefya valley, through farm land, along good trails. Expect to go up and up and up. Depending on speed and stops the walk up will take between 4-6 hours to arrive at the gravel road on top of the escarpment at a village called Tamkay. It is then another 90 minutes or more walk along to Kundi (or you can head west to Ankober village).

Kundi guesthouse is once more in the Afro Alpine, and you are likley to have Gelada Baboons grazing around the guesthouse, and there are stunning views from the escarpment.

From Kundi (1km from the guesthouse) you can be picked up and taken back toi Debre Berhan, either on to the north via Kombolcha/Dessie, or back west to Addis Ababa.


( Click on site names for more details )

Wof Washa Sites

  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Length: Between 3 and 7 days
  • Altitude: 2,700-3,500 meters

Route Description - Liq-Marefya

This guesthouse is the most westerly of the sites, and has stunning views looking south over the forest, west towards Ankober and north at the escarpment. There is a huge hall which is the dinning room, and a number of small cottages as bedrooms and toilet. The forest is right adjacent so you can enjoy the Colobus Monkeys. Yellow billed kites flew acrobatically around the site for us.

Route Description - Kundi guesthouse

This guesthouse is up in the Afro Alpine, near a village , and close to the gravel access road. It is also on the edge of the Rift Valley escarpment with great views down over the Wof Washa forest.

Route Description - Mescha guesthouse

At Mescha quite different village guesthouse awaits. It’s a place you never want to leave. It is one of the most scenic places you can imagine. Jagged forested peaks ring Mescha on three sides. Low level fields were full of crops of barley and a kind of broad bean called Bakela and water gurgles by in streams. You may woken up in the morning with the serenade of the Colobus (Guraza as they are called in Ethiopia) a kind of rumbling roaring that is unexpected if you never heard it before.

The name Mescha comes from an event in 1701 (Eth calendar) during a famine. After praying Mana came down from heaven to feed the hungry population around the historical church of Mescha Mariam. This led to the naming of the area as Mescha meaning ‘comes down’ as the Mana did.

Route Description - Gosh Meda

At Gosh Meda ( Buffalo grassland), SUNARMA have supported the local villagers to build a guest house. The views from the escarpment here at an altitude approaching 3,600m are stunning. But the wind can be bitterly cold. None the less this is a great place to see the Afro Alpine flora and fauna with out having to travel far from Addis. Around the guesthouse Gelada baboons graze, and reports are that Ethiopian Wolves can be seen early in the morning and later in the afternoon. Hyrax run around on the escarpment a few meters away and raptors circle over head.

Route Description - Wof Washa Genet

This guesthouse is not operational.

Map Key



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Trek Prices

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.

Charges in Ethiopian Birr (ETB) – From 11 Sept 2017 until 10 Sept 2018.

Category From Sep ’17 (till 10 Sep ’18) Note
Adults (16yrs+) 1650 + 49.5 (15% VAT on TT 20% ) = 1,699.5 Per 24 hours or part of
Children (12-15yrs) 75%  = 1,275 Per 24 hours or part of, with adult accompanying
Children (3-11yrs) 50%  = 850
Children under 3 Free


Extra charges in Ethiopian Birr (ETB)

Charge Amount How charged Note
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

Where does the Community Tourism tours money go?

See examples of our community tourism tours ⇒

Administration Costs


The Guiding Enterprise


The Community

Still not convinced by our community treks?

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