Historic Lalibela Extension Trip Notes

Travel to the incredible archaeological site of Lalibela and embark on an adventure through the ages. Get to know the capital Addis Ababa and explore the churches of Lalibela, including Bet Medhane Alem, Bet Giyorgis, Yemrehanna Kristos and more.

    • 4
    • YOAL
    • Total twin price tool tip
    • Total single price tool tip
      USD $1,080
      CAD $1,150
      AUD $1,170
      EUR €830
      GBP £715
      NZD $1,415
      ZAR R10,875
      CHF FR1,025
    • Short Breaks - Group Adventures
    • Comfort
Print Version
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2014
Historic Lalibela Extension
Trip code: YOAL-C
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Embark on your own pilgrimage to Ethiopia's holy city of Lalibela and become immersed in a site of paramount history and legend. Sample everyday Ethiopian culture and cuisine in fascinating Addis Ababa, learn about King Lalibela's vision of building a New Jerusalem and hear the various theories accounting for how the realisation of this ambitious goal came to be in his lifetime. Admire the unique frescoes and motifs adorning the 11 Unesco-listed churches, trail white-robed priests through tunnels clouded with incense and be regaled with tales of epic battles divine intervention and empires bygone. Arguably one of the most impressive archaeological sites on the African continent, this intriguing 4-day Historic Lalibela Extension will appeal to the inner Indiana Jones in every traveller.
This trip will be discontinued from 01 January, 2015.
This trip is run by our experienced sister company Peregrine Adventures. Your group is therefore likely to be a mixture of Intrepid passengers and other like-minded international travellers.
Table of Contents
StyleGroup sizeVisas
ThemesYour fellow travellersIssues on your trip
MapSingle travellersHealth
We also recommendMealsTravel insurance
Culture shock rating TransportResponsible Travel
Physical ratingJoining point The Intrepid Foundation
Money ExchangeFinish point Feedback
Spending moneyEmergency contact
Important notesEmergency funds
  • Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Short Breaks - Group Adventures
Historic Lalibela Extension
Day 1 Addis Ababa
Teanastellen! Welcome to Ethiopia.
On arrival in Addis Ababa, you are met and transferred to your hotel. Please ensure your flight arrives prior to 11.30am so that you can partake in the afternoon city tour.
Referred to more commonly as "Addis", Addis Ababa lies amongst wooded hills at an altitude of about 2300 metres, giving it a pleasant climate. Addis has many sights to offer visitors. Get a fascinating glimpse into Ethiopia's many tribal groups at the Ethnological Museum, see the stunning fossil collection at the National Museum, and don't miss the chaotic bustle of the Merkato (local market). All manner of arts and crafts can be found in the souvenir shops on Churchill Avenue.
At 2pm, after checking into your hotel, you will be collected for your afternoon city tour.
We visit the National Museum which consists of archeological collections from as early as Lucy (3.5 Million Years old) and other fossils of primates from earlier periods. This museum also includes archeological collections from the ancient civilization of Axum and other major sites in the northern Ethiopia.
Merkato is the biggest market in the east Africa and its bustling outdoor markets are very colorful reminders of more traditional way of life. Addis Ababa's cosy espresso bars and pastries are reminiscent of Rome and the Mediterranean world and the people, the bursts of music from the cafes and shops, the pungent aromas of spicy cooking, of coffee and frankincense, form a unique Ethiopian pastiche.
This evening we are treated to a meal at the well-known Habesha restaurant which serves national food and has traditional dancing. If you want to sample an authentic Ethiopian meal, this is the best restaurant to do it - serving different varieties meat dishes and vegetarian fasting food. There is also live music and traditional dancing every night.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Lalibela
An early morning flight takes us from Addis Ababa to Lalibela, where we stay for two nights. Lalibela is one of the world's greatest historical and religious sites in the Christian world. Between 1137 and 1270, several astounding rock-hewn churches were constructed in Lalibela. Whilst these churches are definitely Ethiopia’s top attraction, the town of Lalibela, which lies in the Lasta Mountains at a height of 2630 metres above sea level, is a very isolated place. Lalibela’s churches are astounding because most are not carved into the rocks, but actually freed entirely from them. Two afternoons are spent exploring the town churches. 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. On the morning of Day 3, we drive for 42 kilometres out of Lalibela to Yemrehanna Kristos - the most incredible church outside of Lalibela. According to local tradition the church was built by King Yemrehanna Kristos between 1087 and 1127, and it was built within a cave rather than excavated. It sits atop a foundation of olive wood panels and features whitewashed marble panel exteriors. It is one of the most incredible sights, but is rarely visited by tourists due to its remote location.
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 4 Addis Ababa
This morning is at leisure to walk through the cobbled streets of Lalibela. Alternatively an optional morning mule ride can take you to Ashetan Maryam Church, sitting atop a 3150 metre high mountain that overlooks Lalibela. An afternoon flight takes us back to Addis Ababa. Your tour ends 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 on request.
  • Historic Lalibela Ext - Single Supplement Inclusive (YOAL-C)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Lost Tribes of Ethiopia (YOKL)
Culture shock rating

Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Physical rating

Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
Money Exchange
The official currency of Ethiopia is the Birr (ETB). There are some ATMs which accept international Visa cards in the major cities. Check with your bank for information on international ATM fees. When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it's stolen. Keep this in a safe place. We recommend that you carry some foreign currency cash for when ATMs can not be accessed, have broken down or run out of cash. There are few problems changing money at the many banks and currency exchange facilities. Cash in USD are the easiest to exchange, although EUR can also often be exchanged. Traveller's cheques are not recommended and while some banks and five-star hotels will change travellers cheques, the process is time consuming, commissions can be high (up to 10%) and it can be difficult to change on weekends and public holidays.
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
Important notes
This trip is operated by Peregrine Adventures and you will be joined by other like minded Intrepid and non Intrepid travellers. Single travellers will share accommodation with another traveller of the same sex.
Group size
Maximum of 10 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
Your group will be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers from our sister company Peregrine Adventures.
Single travellers
Please note that this short break has a compulsory single supplement. Please contact your booking agent for more information.
Hotel (3 nts)
3 Breakfasts, 1 Dinner
Minibus, Plane
Joining point
Global Hotel
Debre Zeid Road
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Phone: 251 11 6181313
Finish point
Addis Ababa
Addis Ababa
Emergency contact
In the case of an on ground issue or problem Intrepid's Ethiopia Office can be reached on their 24 hour number +251 (11) 372 7258 or +251 (911) 457 196.
For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Most nationalities require a visa for entry to Ethiopia. Please see this website to find your closest embassy or consulate: http://www.embassiesabroad.com/embassies-of/Ethiopia. If you are flying into Addis Ababa you can obtain a visa on arrival. You'll need two passport photos and approximately US$40. You may be asked for proof of a return ticket - please carry your tour notes as proof that you are leaving overland. If you are entering at any border other than Addis Ababa airport you MUST obtain your visa in advance.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Bilharzia is known to occur in some of the lakes or rivers visited on this itinerary, we therefore advise all to take advice from your guide or leader locally before venturing for a swim.
Dengue fever is a known risk in parts of this country. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Malaria exists in all areas of Ethiopia below 1800m and it is recommended that you consult your doctor about malaria preventative medication.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.