Guest Book - Meket Community Tourism
This is but a selection of the visitors to date, and TESFA wish to thank those that sent details about their stay in Meket and on Abuna Yoseph.
Brad Pitt's stay - Oct 2004
Brad visited Mequat Mariam 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 "..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 and just gave a whole different perspective from the urban poverty we'd been looking at...."
Marisa's Meket Community Tourism Experience - Feb 2005
"we had reached the edge of the world. The flat ground abruptly stopped as we suddenly found ourselves on the edge of a precipice so high and beholding such a vast panorama that we could do nothing but gape, awestruck, at villages thousands of feet below us, mountains stretching out in the distance to the horizon. It was an unforgettable moment. The sun was low in the sky, casting a pale orange glow on the mountains, the smoke from cooking fires drifting up into misty sheens around settlements far below. We looked along the edge of the precipice, stretching as far as the eye could see in both directions, and saw where we were to stay that night.
Stone, thatched tukuls or huts provided bedrooms and dining room some steps from the edge, a toilet just feet from the precipice, with a view that would win awards were they given for dramatic locations, and even a shower al fresco - a bamboo cubicle with heated water poured into a bag above a shower head. On arrival we were given delicious snacks washed down with ginger tea. Then we simply gawped at the view as the sun sank behind the mountains. We were served gin and tonics as we watched a majestic sunset, convinced there could be no place nor any moment more beautiful."
Nancy's account - June 2005
(Photos courtesy of Nancy Strider)"I am a 53 year old woman from Canada, travelling alone, and I made a three-day visit which included a trek through highland terrain between two farm villages... My memories of Meket are infused with the sense of having been genuinely welcomed by the entire villages -- from the fire lit coffee ceremony in Wajela to the warm gestures, smiles and handshakes during a visit by the committee of farmers who oversee the Mequat Mariam site. This imaginative project seems to me to have been set up so that both the "visitor" and the "visited" experience an abundantly fair and non-exploitive exchange."
The adventures of Hannah and Kirsty - Oct 2005
(extracts & photos courtesy of Hannah & Kirsty - from their web journals)
"Without a doubt, this Community Trek has been the highlight of our trip so far. We saw not only spectacular scenery, but also felt so extremely privileged to see the different stages of development of this Community Tourism Project. Most of all though, we enjoyed the privilege of seeing and interacting with the villagers in their own natural environment. Anyway who has the opportunity to visit Ethiopia, do it!" http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/flowergyaru/africa-2005/1130494380/tpod.html
Justin Francis - Oct 2006
Managing Director of responsibletravel.com
Trustee of The Travel Foundation www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk
"Having been superbly looked after on my recent trek I'm writing to say important your work is in both the context of Ethiopian tourism, but also far wider as an example in tourism destinations in developing countries.
Having made a recent study of 150 worldwide community tourism projects with US NGO Conservation International I found your project to be one of the most successful, and replicable projects that I've come across.
...Congratulations on your work, its vital that you continue to make it a success as it's the model for so many others to follow. "
Bob Dewar, British Ambasador in Ethiopia, May 2007
"Many thanks indeed for an absolutely exceptional couple of days walking in the highlands of Ethiopia and meeting the communities. It was the best experience I have had since arriving in Ethiopia and I learned a great deal. As I said to you at the the time I think you are catalysing a genuine positive difference in the lives of the communities and have done very well so far to get them to own the initiative. The sites you have chosen are also really beautiful."
Rita Wittmann, Austrian Alpine Union, June 2008
"We stayed at all 5 sites and it was an amazing experience that I would recommend to anybody coming to Ethiopia. The scenery is truly breathtaking and varies every day with stunning views from every site. We would not want to miss any of the sites! During the trekking we saw lots of wildlife, amongst others hundreds of Gelada baboons and even Ethiopian wolves on Abune Yoseph! What made our experience unforgettable, however, were definitely the warm and welcoming people of the villages, the fun we had with the children and of course, our excellent guide who made sure that we were perfectly looked after on every day of the trek.
If the sites in Meket were amazing, Abune Yoseph was beyond expectations! The site of the new tukuls of Ad Medhane Alem with its view on Lalibela is truly stunning and so is the landscape and wildlife on this unique mountain. At the same time it was obvious how important and valuable this project is for providing sustainable income to farmers in order to ensure the conservation of this fragile afro-alpine ecosystem and of the habitat of the rare Ethiopian wolf.
Congratulations for your work on this innovative project which is a perfect model for responsible tourism-programmes in Africa! Trekking in Meket and on Abune Yoseph was definitely the highlight of this trip to Ethiopia!"