Ethiopia’s adherence to Christianity dates back to the 4th century. Because the country was never colonised, unlike the rest of Africa, the way Ethiopians practise their faith has a unique Old Testament flavour to it. This faith permeates life throughout the country, and can be seen in the number of historic churches and monasteries which are found throughout the country, particularly in the North.
Foremost among these centres of worship is Lalibela, a town 2 hours by air north of Addis Ababa. A living UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lalibela, with its 11 ancient churches carved out of solid red volcanic rock during the 12th century, is on a par with Petra in Jordan, but is less well known.
The Churches are spectacular, unlike anything you would see in the West.
Each is still an active place of worship, and during Religious Festivals, which are a feature of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, these places are crowded with thousands of pilgrims and worshippers.
There are also ancient, but flourishing, monasteries in the area, along with the famous ‘Church in the Cave’, built 100 years before the Lalibela Churches were carved out. A half day trip to visit this particular church should be on every visitor’s ‘must do’ list. The contents of the Cave will fascinate you.
Another option that could be taken up by the capable trekker during a visit to Lalibela would be to walk 8 kilometres out into the countryside (a steady 2 hour walk) for an overnight visit to Baregota, the home village of Amlaku Yaregal, founder of Baregota Tour and Travel. The area itself is stunningly beautiful. Very few Europeans have visited this village, so time spent here will give you an insight into life as it is lived in thousands of off the beaten track villages across Ethiopia.
Here though, inspired by Amlaku’s vision and leadership, and supported by friends in New Zealand, we see a community of some 70 families tackling the challenges of the future with incredible energy. His dream back in 2009 was to bring his community, in agricultural terms, some 200 years into the current age. That dream is now well on the way to being fulfilled, with improved water distribution, leading to better and more diverse crops, which both sustain the local families throughout the year and also find a ready market in Lalibela.
There is a basic guest house which can cater for up to 4 visitors, all sharing one room.
Baregota Guest house Village farmland, hills behind reach 4000m.
While Lalibela could be seen in 2 days, a 3 –5 day visit would allow the time needed to take in the awesome sights there are to be seen here. Baregota Travel and Tour would be happy to arrange such a visit. With Amlaku’s specialist knowledge of this, his home patch, you can be assured of a special time in this amazing area.