FULL IMMERSION IN THE REMOTE TIGRAI:
THE MONASTERY OF GUNDA GUNDE

(from September to May)

Visit the old monastery and at the same time experience the culture, the history, the spirituality and the nature of this area. It is also a de-tech holiday, in a remote and rugged territory.


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Program

This corner of the Tigray region, even nowadays far from the main touristic circuit, is still able to offer a rural and authentic daily life experience to visitors. The area is mostly populated by the Irobs, a small ethnic group that lives in the northern regions of Ethiopia, characterized by its own culture and traditions. As they have been isolated for centuries, they are able to maintain their own language, Saho, and preserve ancient agricultural practices through the usage of terracing and an ingenious irrigation system.

The itinerary is characterized by breathtaking landscapes, very different from the ones that we can enjoy in the other parts of the region, with high mountain chains that fall into deep gorges.


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On their banks; the rivers supply green gardens of orange trees, banana trees - famous in the whole of Ethiopia, they are crucial for the economy of the region. The river Gunda Gunde flows at the end of the canyon and the homonymous monastery, protected by the mountains, is located here. It was built in the 14 th century and preserves one of the biggest collections of manuscriptsin the Ge’ez language in Ethiopia. The monastic complex is still home to many monks and emanatesan intense spirituality that has been spread throughout he valley for centuries.


The following program offers to visitors the possibility of experiencing all aspects of this world, which step by step will not fail to impress you. The following itinerary is created to avoid walking during the hottest hours of the day, considering that the majority of the paths are exposed to the sun. Please bear in mind that due to the steep terrain during the itinerary, the excursion is recommended only for fit people.

Day 1

Arrive at Gheralta lodge and enjoy our welcoming drink while we explain the tour and introduce the guide who will accompany you on this adventure. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.


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Day 2

After breakfast, around 7 a.m., drive to Geblen (2.700 masl), and reach the trekking starting point at 8, 30 a.m. In front of us we can already enjoy the breathtaking landscape of the surrounding valleys and mountains – amongst them the majestic mount Asimba stands out with a height of 3.250 m.

We leave our luggage with the mules and we continue on foot, going down through easy mule-tracks, surrounded by green cactus and farmed fields. On the way we can enjoy watching the locals occupied with their traditional daily-life activities. After 3 hours walk we reach the Irob community of Nayloweyti, where we have lunch in a local house, hosted by a family. We enjoy a typical coffee ceremony so we have time to socialize with them and discover different aspects of the Irob culture.

As the hottest hours of the day pass, we can start the twohour walk down through a demanding but well-maintained and shady path, from which soon we can enjoy the view of the valley and the green gardens. As we arrive at the picturesque village of Mekarabur, with its houses built on the rocks, we reach the riverbed. We then have one more hour’s walk through an evocative canyon which leads us to the monastery of Gunda Gunde (859 ma.s.l). We set up our tents here - under centuries-old trees where eagles build their nest - and we have our dinner around the campfire, enjoying the cool night under the stars and the fresh water from the river.


Day 3

After breakfast, we dedicate the morning to the visit of the ancient monastery and discovering itssurroundings. The male visitors can cross the threshold of the monastic citadel, accompanied by the monks, entering into the church and exploring the whole complex, while the women can enter the nearby church dedicated to them.

Everybody has the possibility of admiring some of the 220 precious manuscripts kept inside the library of the monastery. The women can enjoy the manuscripts outside the walls by kind permission of the monks.


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Nor do we miss out on exploring the interesting surroundings. We visit the traditional houses built on the rocks, we climb up evocative e panoramic viewpoints, and we walk around the curve of the river up to the base of the mountain that marks the border with the Afar region.

As we make our way back we stop for lunch under one of the beautiful orange trees, taking a rest before the 2 hours walk uphill towards the panoramic village of Nayloweyti. Here a local family hosts us for the night. We will have dinner together and have the possibility to socialize before we sleep; tired but satisfied after the magnificent experiences of the day.


Day 4

Wake up at dawn and after a hearty breakfast of local products and Ethiopian coffee we take the path to Geblen. In these fresh morning hours we say farewell to the warm Irob, who during this adventure have given us unique moments, probably the most beautiful and authentic of our stay in Ethiopia. After 3 hours walk - around 9 a.m. - we will reach the vehicle that will take us back to Gheralta lodge.


Price per person:

Group from 2 pax: 280 $

Group from 3pax (triple room/tent): 240 $

Group from 4 pax (2 double rooms/2 tents): 240 $

For solo travelers, big groups or special needs, please contact Gheralta Lodge (Tewelde 0942 027676).


The quotation includes:

All accommodations, meals and drinks (alcoholic drinks excluded) from the dinner of day 1 to the lunch of day 4, English-speaking guide, transport to/ from Geblen, mules to carry luggage, camping equipment, entrance to the monastery and the ancient manuscripts viewing.


The quotation does not include:

Tips, health insurance, personal shopping.


Extension of the program:

It is possible to add to this program the transfer to/from Mekele airport, visit of rock-hewn churches along the road (entrance fees included), the use of the rooms up to 2 p.m. and lunch at the restaurant at the Lodge (extra charges apply)


Group from 2 pax: 95 $

Group from 3 pax: 75 $

Group from 4 pax: 65 $


For solo travelers, big groups or special needs, please contact Gheralta Lodge (Tewelde 0942 027676).




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