Step back in time for a few days in ancient Lalibela. Explore the medieval rock-hewn churches, hidden crypts and grottoes carved into the red volcanic rock underlying the town almost a millenia ago.
Independent travel, without the stress. Peregrine’s Independent Experiences are a range of short packages that you can add to other Experiences or as an extension to a longer tour, to craft your perfect holiday itinerary. Independent Experiences are for 1-3 travellers, depart daily and offer the back-up of Peregrine, our local offices and expert resident guides.
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Why we love this trip
On a city tour, discover the unique mix of the Mediterranean and the quintessentially east African that makes Addis Ababa a fascinating destination.
Over two days, explore one of the worlds greatest historical and religious sites; the extraordinary rock-hewn churches of Lalibela.
Uncover sites that are remote even for this isolated place with a journey out to the cave-dwelling Yemrehanna Kristos church.
Is this trip right for you?
Our Independent Experiences have been designed for just one to three people, departing every day of the week for most Experiences. You can mix and match to create your perfect trip combination, then we’ll arrange the transport between each experience for you. You will have local guides at most destinations and activities. It’s independent travel without the stress.
On arrival in Addis Ababa, you will be met by a Peregrine representative and transferred to your hotel (approximately 30 minutes). Please ensure your flight arrives prior to 11.30am so that you can partake in an afternoon city tour. At 2pm, after checking into your hotel, you will be collected for a tour of this bustling city, dotted with Italian architecture, interesting churches and friendly inhabitants. You will visit the National Museum, home to a fascinating archaeological collection, including the 3.5 million year old remains of human ancestor ‘Lucy’ and artefacts from the ancient civilization of Axum and other major sites in northern Ethiopia. Stop by Merkato, the biggest market in the east Africa and a colourful reminder of a more traditional way of life. Addis Ababa's cosy espresso bars and pastries are reminiscent of Rome and the Mediterranean world and the people, bursts of music from the cafes and shops, and pungent aromas of spicy cooking, coffee and frankincense form a unique Ethiopian pastiche. This evening you will be treated to an authentic Ethiopian meal at the well-known Habesha restaurant, which serves national food and also has displays of traditional music and dancing.
Global Hotel or similar (1 night)
Take an early morning flight from Addis Ababa to Lalibela (approximately 1.5 hours), where you will stay for two nights. Despite the town of Lalibela being isolated in the Lasta Mountains at 2,630 metres above sea level, it is still the home of Ethiopia’s top sight, and one of the world's greatest historical and religious sites. Between 1137 and 1270, several astounding rock-hewn churches were constructed in Lalibela; astonishing because most are not built from carved freestanding rocks, but instead created from huge single blocks of stone unearthed by the digging of enormous pits. You will spend two afternoons exploring the extraordinary churches that look like they've been dropped down from the sky. The Northern Group contains seven churches, a tomb, a chapel and a sunken chapel. At the centre of the group is Bet Medhane Alem, measuring 33.5 metres by 23.5 metres and said to be the largest rock-hewn church in the world. A tunnel connects three of the churches in a courtyard to the east, whilst another tunnel connects two other churches to the west of Bet Medhane Alem. However it is Bet Giyorgis (St George's), carved in the form of a Greek cross and lying slightly apart from the main northern cluster, which is the most famous and frequently photographed. This church is exceptionally well-preserved and is probably the most visually perfect. The Eastern group of five churches includes the only hypogeous church, where only the roof remains attached to the overhead rock.
Lalibela or similar (1 night)
This morning you will drive for 42 kilometres (approximately 1.5 hours) out of Lalibela to Yemrehanna Kristos, the most incredible church outside of the town. According to local tradition, King Yemrehanna Kristos built the church between 1087 and 1127, and had it constructed within a cave rather than excavated. It sits atop a foundation of olive wood panels and features whitewashed marble panel exteriors. You’ll enter through a huge door, carved from a single piece of olive wood, and see the artwork that covers the walls, pillars and the roof. The inside is replete with motifs, symbols, meanings and detail, and gypsum covered walls feature paintings that are said to be original – undamaged after all this time due to the conditions in the cave and its remote location. The remains of thousands of pilgrims who came to the church to die are also located in the cave. The church is one of the most incredible sights around, made even more atmospheric and authentic by the fact that its remote location makes it rarely visited by travellers.
Lalibela or similar (1 night)
This morning you’ll have free time to walk through the cobbled streets of Lalibela, where the homes are unlike anything else in Ethiopia – two-story circular stone buildings that are huddled together on the steep slopes of the surrounding craggy mountains and rocky escarpments. Alternatively you may choose to take an optional morning mule ride to Ashetan Maryam Church, which sits atop a 3,150 metre high mountain that overlooks Lalibela. An afternoon flight (approximately 1.5 hours) takes you back to Addis Ababa. Your tour will end on arrival at Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport in the afternoon. If departing from Ethiopia today, your flight out of Addis Ababa should not be booked to depart before 7.30pm. Additional post tour accommodation is also available in Addis Ababa (at additional cost).
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Extra accommodation can be pre-booked at additional cost.
Essential Trip Information
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