The most popular tourist attraction anywhere in Ethiopia, the awe-inspiring complex of rock-hewn churches in and the around the small highland town of Lalibela has been billed as sub-Saharan Africa’s answer to Angkor Wat or Machu Picchu. True, Lalibela is not quite as ancient as either of these sites, but its medieval churches improve on both insofar as they are not mute ruins of a half-forgotten civilization but active shrines that have remained in continuous use ever since they were hand-carved into the pink volcanic ruff underlying the town.

Lesser-known but worthwhile attractions near Lalibela include the cluster of equally historic but less frequently visited churches around the village of Bilbilla, and a recently proclaimed community reserve protecting the endemic wildlife that inhabits the windswept upper slopes of Mount Abune Yoseph. Elsewhere, the twin towns of Dessie and Kombolcha are useful overnight stopovers that provide access to the pretty Lake Hayk and seething Bati livestock market, while modest Weldiya is of interest primarily as the main springboard for public transport to Lalibela.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Ethiopia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

17 striking portraits of Ethiopia's Omo Valley tribes

17 striking portraits of Ethiopia's Omo Valley tribes

Renowned the world over for its decorated tribes, the Omo Valley is a stop on many a tourist route in Ethiopia. But visits to the area can cross ethical boundar…

20 May 2016 • Tim Draper insert_drive_file Article
Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures

Ethiopian Christmas celebrations in pictures

Today Ethiopia is celebrating Christmas. Following the Julian calendar, this East African, Orthodox Christian nation celebrates Christmas on the 7th January eac…

07 Jan 2016 • Karoki Lewis insert_drive_file Article
Exploring Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

Exploring Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

In preparation for the new Rough Guide to Ethiopia, the book’s editor, Edward Aves, travelled to the remote and little-visited Bale Mountains National Park.…

18 Sep 2014 • Edward Aves insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month