Lalibela is often the highlight of any trip to Ethiopia. For now, Lalibela retains an air of highland rusticity and charm but the allure of its churches will soon bring greater numbers of visitors so we recommend an early visit! This small hillside town has a labyrinthine collection of rock-hewn churches. In addition you can walk to several mountainside monasteries in the nearby hills.
Lalibela is the smallest of the three former capitals of Ethiopia, a charming highland town surrounded by mountainous country including Mount Abune Yoseph. The main attractions are the 13 awe-inspiring churches from the 12th-13th century, including the spectacular St Georges church. The tiny pink-tinged sandstone churches are partially submerged underground and accessed via tunnels and narrow gorges. Unlike many World Heritage sites, these hand-crafted churches have remained in constant use ever since they were built. Church ceremonies for white-robed pilgrims are a constant feature, oozing with local character.
As well as the 13 churches, the surrounding scenery is also very attractive. You can walk up to mountain-top Asheton Maryam monastery at almost 4000 metres. This could be a full day hike from Lalibela or a scenic drive followed by a stunning 20-30 minute hike.
Highlights of the Lalibela region, Ethiopia
- The rock-hewn churches especially St Georges Church (Bet Giyorgis).
- Traditional coffee ceremonies.
- Dining at the star-ship inspired Ben Ababa restaurant with its stunning views.
- Day hikes to Asheton Maryam Monastery and other churches.
- Overnight camping and trekking trips up Mount Abune Yoseph.