MORE THAN THE CHURCHES
Our hotel is walking distance to the most famous sites of Lalibela: the UNESCO-listed rock-hewn churches. These are pilgrimage sites for Orthodox Christians. Carved out of rock, the subterranean monoliths include huge Bete Medhane Alem, and cross-shaped Bete Giyorgis. Tunnels and trenches join many of these, and some have carved bas-reliefs and colored frescoes inside. Visit FAQ on information about visiting the churches.
But in addition to these medieval marvels, Lalibela and its surroundings has much more to offer for the curious and adventurous traveller. If you have a bit more time, we can share some of our favourite parts of our hometown with you! Both our Beyond the Churches tours and Beyond Lalibela Town tours start and end at the hotel.
We can also help to arrange your transport or tours further afield to Bahir Dar, Mekele and the Danakil Depression, Axum, Gondar, Addis Ababa or even the Omo Valley in the south. We have a network of reliable guides, drivers, tour companies. Through our sister operation - Tizita Ethiopian Hikes - we can arrange transportation or put you in touch with the right people. Please ask!
See our suggested itineraries
Classic Lalibela Church Tour
One of the main reasons why people visit Lalibela: the remarkable rock-hewn monolithic churches in town. The ticket for all eleven churches (multiple entries, valid for 4 days) are US$50 per person (as at January 2020). You are not required to hire a guide. But we find that guests get more out of the experience (and more bang for your buck), if you have a guide to explain the historical and cultural significance of the church. Some guests have also enjoyed challenging our guides and have had some interesting discussions. See FAQ for more info.
Start: Any time during opening hours; Duration = one day or two half days; Cost: Starts at 25 USD depending on the number of people in the group. (Small additional costs if the visit to the churches is split over multiple days.)
Saturday Market Walking Tour
Usually a quiet town, on Saturdays, Lalibela turns into a giant market place. People from all over the Lasta area in North Wollo comes to Lalibela Town to sell their wares: goats and cows, plastic ware from China, teff, wheat and other agricultural products, honey, and traditional textiles, and many other things. Super crowded, the Saturday Markets can be an overwhelming and bewildering experience. Going with Belay will help you to better orient and understand local life, and get up close with the traders and the items that they sell. The tour will include walks and explanations through the different sections of the market, and tasting of korefe and zelele (local beers) and tej (honey wine). You can even try some spicy local snacks (tastes a bit like wasabi peas!) called senafeche.
Start: Saturdays at 9.30 am; Duration = approx. 2.5 hours; Cost: 250 birr per person
Town Sunset Walking Tour
Lalibela Town is full of nooks and crannies, hills and special viewing points over the town that only locals know. The tour will take you on an easy meandering walk off the beaten track through and around Lalibela Town, ending at a hill that gives you a panoramic view of the market, the churches, and the surroundings. Along the way, you will stop at local rivers and a village. A sunset beer at the top of the town is included for each guest.
Start: 1.5 hours before sunset; Duration = approx. 2 hours; Cost: 250 birr per person
Secret Sunset Trekking Tour
As you look around Lalibela Town, you see many mountains and escarpments. Belay and his childhood friends have a favourite secret spot where they go to relax and enjoy sunsets. For a small group, he will share the secret sunset spot with our guests. The trek will begin with a bajaj (tuk tuk) ride to the beginning of the trail. Guests will be guided on a short trek to the escarpment and a lookout point that has panoramic views across Lalibela and its surrounds. This is a medium level trek with some loose rocks and quick ascents. You will pass through some villages and farming communities. Included in the tour is a sunset beer (or two) for each guest and transport. Mules and additional support can be arranged for guests who need it at additional cost.
Start: 2.5 hours before sunset; Duration = approx. 3.5 hours; Cost: Starts at 500 birr depending on the size of the group. Maximum 4 people per group.
Asheton Maryam Monastery & Yemrehanna Kristos Church
Asheton Maryam is the monastery on the Asheton mountain overlooking Lalibela. Sitting at the altitude of 3,145M, it is one of the highest monasteries in Ethiopia. The hike to the monastery has some slippery sections and includes an ascent of 700M. It was the first church built by King Lalibela, and is carved into the cliff face of the mountain. The Monastery is known for its stunning view. (Car or mule transport is also available.)
Located around 42KM from Lalibela, fewer tourists visit Yemrehanna Kristos because of the distance, but it is one of our personal favourites. It pre-dates the Lalibela churches by 80 years and is built by, and named after, a Zagwe dynasty priest-king and saint. It is located in a large natural cave and surrounded by olive and juniper trees. Its interior is elaborately decorated with geometric designs. Priests and hermits still live there, and it is a site of pilgrimage.
Duration: Varies. Cost: starts at 25 USD depending on the size of the group for each site. Excluding transport costs and entrance fees. Please speak to our guides.
Mount Abuna Yusef Trekking Tour
Mount Abuna Yusef is one of the highest mountains in Ethiopia and stands over 4,200M. For visitors interested in the Ethiopian Highlands and its array of flora and fauna, a multi-day trek to Abuna Yusef offers the chance to see gelada baboons, red foxes, the giant lobelia, among others. The recommended route takes 3 nights and 4 days, including two nights at the eco-lodge Lalibela Hudad and one night at a homestay with a local family in their tukul in the Abuna Yusef village. The trek can be combined with a visit to Yemrehanna Kirstos Church on the way back. Shorter versions are possible, but require longer days of hiking (of up to 10 hours) or car transportation for part of the way. A shorter hike up to the Lalibela Hudad and back is also available, and offers the opportunity to see some of the flora and fauna. Mules and other support can be arranged.
Duration: Varies depending on route and mode of transport; Cost: Varies depending on number of days and sites visited. Please speak to our guides.
Ready to find out more?
Let us know which adventures you are interested in, and we'll be in touch with more information or set up a no-obligations chat with one of our guides.