When you visit Lalibela on a private tour, you are in for some divine explorations because this fantastic city is regarded as Ethiopia’s Holy City.
The biggest attraction to the city of Lalibela and probably the main reason to come here, is the eleven rock-hewn churches that are carved out of the solid rock from a volcano. These amazing churches, chapels, tombs and holy rooms are incredible to tour around and learn the fascinating history of them.
Lalibela is situated to the northern part of Ethiopia and in the Wollo province. Other than the rock-hewn churches in the centre of the city, there is a famous monastery, shrines, tomb and sacred sites so a great place for sightseeing tours and guided tours.
Ethiopia is an amazing destination to visit and the city of Lalibela is especially extraordinary and it is definitely the ideal place for amateur historians and amateur archeaologists. It may very well surprise you! Read More...
Have a Fascinating Guided Tour of the Extraordinary Rock-Hewn Churches
So apart from the guided tours to the rock-hewn churches, what else is there in Lalibelo, you may ask?
There is plenty of activities to do on the outskirts of the city. The mountain range and dormant volcano over great hiking, trekking and climbing.
In relation to food in the city, the traditional food is second to none and should definitely be tasted.
The people in the city of Lalibelo are very endearing and for a city that is invaded with tourists, they are very tolerable, welcoming and kind.
Do not be surprised if you get talking to a local and by the end of the conversation you are invited in to their home to meet the rest of the family.
Top 10 Things to Do in Lalibela
When in Lalibela and on a sightseeing tour of the rock-hewn churches, the most impressive one is Bete Giyorgis. This one unbroken piece of stone that became a church was shaped from the inside out. The best thing about this church and all the others churches here is the amazing series of tunnels. This church is cut down 40 feet and the roof is shaped in the form of a Greek cross. There is an Ark of the Covenant replica here too.
Described to be one of the most detailed and intricate churches of its kind in Ethiopia the Yemrehanna Kristos is a must to see on guided tour. It was built between the 11th and 12th century inside a natural cavern. There is no doubt the fact it is in the cave has saved the church from deteriorating as much as it would have had it been built out in the open. The facade is made of layers of stonework that protrudes and is interlaces with wooden beams.
Mount Abune Yoseph
Take a sightseeing tour of Mount Abune Yoseph and what a sight you will see. This mountain that is also known as Rim Gedel is one of the wildest and highest mountains found in Ethiopia. The Abune Yoseph Community Conservation Area is situated around the peak. There are great hiking trails to me done here and it is a great way to see some of the wildlife such as gelada monkey’s, Ethiopian wolves or the 200 and more species of birds.
Asheton Maryam Monastery
Another popular place to visit on a sightseeing tour is the Asheton Maryam Monastery that is carved into a cliff face. It is also one of the highest tours to take in Ethiopia because the monastery is elevated 4000m. There is a small and plain church that contains illuminated manuscripts, crosses and lots of other interesting treasures. However, it is the spectacular setting and breathtaking views that are superb.
When in Lalibela, take a sightseeing tour to the small village called Bilbilla which is situated around thirty kilometres north of Lalibela. This village is found in the centre of a cluster of historic churches, four of them. Three are rock-hewn but are not as impressive as the ones in Lalibela and the other is the Yemrehanna Kristos. It is fascinating visiting all the rock-hewn churches in the area and it is hard not to be impressed.
Lalibela Cultural Center
Learn the history of this extraordinary city by going on a guided tour of the Lalibela Cultural Center. It is a beautiful new museum that has excellent displays telling the story of Lalibela’s history from the past to the present day. Some of the items you can see exhibited are cultural artefacts, ancient manuscripts and things found in archaeological excavations. Everything is very well displayed and explained.
A church that is one of the rock-hewn, is Bet Maryam which is situated in a large courtyard with two others. On a guided tour, Bet Maryam is a well designed, exceptionally decorated but small church. One of the things that make this one stand out is the extending porch. Bet Maryam is dedicated to the Virgin and very popular with pilgrims. Some of the decoration on the porch include a carving of St. George fighting a dragon.
Bet Medhane Alem
On a sightseeing tour, see the ‘House of the Savior of the World’ Bet Medhane Alem which is a traditional Ethiopian church but looks more like a Greek Temple. The size of the church is very impressive given it was entirely carved from solid rock. There is a very good possibility that it is the largest rock-hewn church found in the world and if you get the opportunity to see it, do. There is a barrel-vaulted nave and four aisles inside.
Regarded to be the most finely carved church of the rock-hewn churches found in Lalibela is Bet Amanuel. On a guided tour see what some people think was the private chapel for the royal family. Possibly the most striking feature found at Bet Amanuel is the interior with the double Aksumite frieze on top of the nave. There is a tunnel that connects it to Bet Merkorios but unfortunately not accessible during a tour.
A guided tour to Bet Merkorios is slightly thrilling as it entails getting there through a series of tunnels and trenches and one of them is pitch black, long and narrow. Start the tour from Bet Gabriel- Rufael. Some of the objects found in the Bet Merkorios include shackles which led people to believe that it many have been the town’s prison or at least a house of justice. There are fabulous frescoes that can be seen here.
Travel Tips for Lalibela
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Lalibela is anytime during the year if you are wondering weather wise. The temperatures vary very little through the seasons and therefore difficult to differentiate. The coolest time of the year and probably the better time to go on sightseeing tours or guided tours is October, November or December. Another great time to visit is during January when the Timkat festival is on.
Lalibela is very reasonable in terms of other more expensive African cities. You will likely be charged a "Ferengi" price (foreigner rate) which is at least twice the local price. You can try to negotiate this down, it can be fun, but it will be challenging as most of the traders and operators won't budge but give it a go and try. Restaurants, public transport and hotels are still quite cheap and affordable but there is not a lot of variety to choose from.
Know Before Visiting
When going on private tours or sightseeing tours on Lalibela when the weather is hot and humid, be sure to have lots of water with you. When it comes to water, only drink bottled water and ensure the cap is sealed when buying it. When going on tours, always stay in the group and try not to have too much cash on you as there are pickpockets all over the world. At night it is not advisable to walk alone in the dark.
The weather in Lalibela is very similar all year round. The temperatures at their highest is averaging 24 degrees Celsius and at their lowest averaging 20 degrees Celsius. It does rain at some stage every month but not much for example August is the rainiest month because it rains for 13 days the other months average 6 days rain. Generally all year round is lovely and pleasant but have a raincoat on hand just in case.