Warning about TESFA

I booked a 3-days trekking trip from Lalibela to Mount Abuna Yoseph. This tough trek should take me up one of Ethiopia’s highest mountains but became the worst experience I had in a one-month-stay in Ethiopia. At no moment our guide had the intention of climbing Abuna Yoseph. Although he saw on the first day that I was well trained, in good physical condition and had no problems with the altitude he did everything that we could not reach the peak. He did not get up in the morning, he did not wake us, although this was fixed on the evening before, and also breakfast was not prepared. So it was already 7.40 am when we left the base camp at Medhane Alem.

After two hours walking he stopped and said “We are late, I strongly recommend to go back”. A tourist from England who was in our group agreed but I made clear that I wanted to go further and to see the baboons. Nevertheless we went to a nearby hill and the guide said “This is also a peak with a fine view and the baboons we will see on the way back”. Of course we did not because we walked through fields with cows and sheep to the hut of one of the local guides where we got coffee. At 2pm we were back at Medhane Alem. As I told the guide that I am not satisfied with him he said I should have forced him to go further!

After my return to Austria I sent a detailed report about my experiences to the Technical Advisor of TESFA in Addis Ababa. He answered that he was shocked but the guide is still in service!
P.S.: I am sure that everybody with trekking experience and with the 1:50000 map of Lalibela which can be bought at the Ethiopian Mapping Authority office in Addis Ababa can reach Mount Abuna Yoseph without the “help” of TESFA.

Josef Watzinger


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