Come with us… as John, Lindsay, and I discover Ethiopia’s historical side! This August we spent 10 days visiting Lalibela—in Amhara— and Axum, Mekele, and Hawsien in Tigray. We took hundreds of great photos, but here are a representative twenty with captions.
Visiting the historical loop in Northern Ethiopia is shockingly easy. There are Ethiopian Airline flights to all major tourist destinations that are $50 a pop. And if you decide to take the bus, as we did to the Gheralter Cluster, the roads are perfect and the scenery is fabulous. We traveled on the moderate/cheap, but were able to stay at very nice hotels with hot showers for $12 per night. Lonely Planet calls some hotels “budget” that are really lovely, like Africa Hotel in Axum. We decided many of the $12 options in the historical loop are as nice as the $50 options and have more ambiance.
Spanish and Italian tourists have evidently discovered Northern Ethiopia in droves, partially because of proximity of their countries to Ethiopia (cheap flights). But I loved this trip and would highly recommend it, particularly in the summer time when there are few tourists. At some rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, John, Lindsay, and I were the only tourists visiting. And you don’t have to rough it anywhere in these towns, unless you want to!
I found Lalibela to be a small, friendly, hassle-free place, despite the thousands of visitors who come to see the rock-hewn churches every year.
Tigray surprised me by its cleanliness and organization. Tigray is the driest part of Ethiopia—the region is known for spectacular landscapes as well as famines, in the past. All the houses in the countryside and small towns are made from stone. I almost felt I was in Italy!
If you visit, you’d be in good company. The New York Times Art Critic Holland Cotter wrote about visiting Lalibela and Axum this past April… “Bedrock of Art and Faith.”
Tomorrow is Ethiopian New Year. Happy 2o05!