Planning : What to bring & what to expect?
Seasons and weather
Ethiopia maybe in Africa but it is sometimes cold in the highlands (our sites range from 2,600 - 3,000 meters above sea level). Generally the sun is warm and the air is cool. Sometimes it rains, especially in the main rainy season-a veritable monsoon-between July and September. During this season the tourist sites are closed: the mud makes walking unpleasant even if it is not raining - believe me! There is a short rainy season, important to the farmers, with sporadic rain (often late in the afternoon and at night) between February and April. Sometimes the short rains come late and merge into the main rains with May and June wet. All part of global changes in weather patterns perhaps!
Summary of the Seasons (global climate shifts mean there is no guarantee!)
Light clothes are best for trekking, but remember it cools down in the shade so a thin long sleeved top or fleece is good to carry in the day pack. It will get cold at night, especially if there is a wind and so a jacket will be nice to put on top. Also remember that Highland Ethiopians are conservative people, and if you are going into churches and their compounds, respectful clothing should be warn, covering your body to include at least shoulders and thighs.
The sun is also strong at altitude and so a good sunhat and sun cream are important. The air is dry too so lips often need lip-balm, and moisturising cream is a good idea.
The communities provide freshly laundered and aired bedding for the lodges. However if you feel the cold you could bring a sleeping bag.
All community sites will sell clean bottled water, as do shops in even small towns. Drink plenty.
All sites have a toilet (composting, urine separating toilet) and some have a shower (water warmed by sun only, but wonderful after a long walk). In addition to the sleeping rooms (we call the local style buildings 'tukuls') there is a restaurant tukul.
Most of the walking is on the flat or with short or gentle gradients, but some walks do take all day (with stops). For those unsure of wanting to walk all day, horses can be hired. These will be tough local ponies, but not really suitable for heavy people (over 80kgs) and not comfortable for those with long legs (I myself am tall and 90kgs so I know!).
Porters and donkeys/mules will be on hand to move your belongings from where you are dropped by car to each site and on to the rendezvous with the car. However please keep the amount to a reasonable limit (1 bag each), and please if possible pack in soft bags. If you have extra luggage TESFA may be able to make arrangements.
There is no malaria at the Meket sites, being 1,000 meters above the 1,800 limit of the malarial mosquito. Although not as high, Lalibela, Gondar and Axum are also above the malarial cut-off point. More likely to be a problem are tummy bugs, often just from unfamiliar food. Some precautions are worth taking, for instance in local places I drink from the bottle not a glass, but there is no point becoming so concerned that it spoils a sense of fun. A basic medical kit is available in Meket and local clinics sell many items (paracetamol, plasters etc cheaply) however it may be a good idea to bring some medicines such as Imodium in case of a tummy upset.
It is paramount to have proper travel insurance. As with all good tour companies and trips, your guide will want the details of your insurance policy prior to starting your trip.
Other things to bring include: torch, small towel, good fleece, wind/rain jacket, walking boots and sandals/flip flops.