Lalibela Travel Information
Traveling to and in Lalibela
What to keep in mind when thinking about visiting Lalibela:
Lalibela is still remote.
Come here by bus and you know what we mean. 1,5 days for 700 km coming from Addis Ababa in an Ethiopian bus can be a long time. Roads are bumpy. It's dusty.
Flying in also takes its time.
In Ethiopia you have to be at the airport 2 hours before flying.
Ethiopian Airlines does not fly to Lalibela from all bigger towns in Ethiopia, so you should plan your trip into and from the right directions. Lalibela airport is 25 km away from Lalibela itself.
The normal way to get into town is using the public minibus and costs 100 Birr per person per trip.
A minibus has 11 seats and they don’t start the car before it’s full. This might take some while - but not hours.
A privat taxi costs 400 Birr each way.
The 25 km take 30 min by minibus
for visiting the churches you should plan one full day since there are 11 churches in Lalibela.
They open for tourists at 8am, close from 12-2pm and close in the evening at 5pm.
Entrance fee for a 4 day pass for all 11 churches per person is 50 USD.
To buy the ticket you need to bring your passport because your name and passport number will be written down on your ticket.
It is NOT POSSIBLE to buy cheaper tickets or get a ticket only for 1 church.
The ticket office is situated very close to the big gate to the group of churches that are situated more or less in the middle of Lalibela.
We highly recommend on booking a professional guide for the churches for explanation -there is extra cost for that.
On Saturdays and Sundays from at around 4 am there are church services which you also can sometimes attend as a tourist, depending on the day and the kind of celebration it is.
At high season times like Ethiopian Christmas (Genna: 7 January) or Epiphany (Timkat: around 18 - 20 January) Lalibela is in a sort of a state of emergency: for Genna literally tens of thousands of pilgrims will travel here, they start to arrive from around 1 week in advance and leave in the morning of the 7th of January.
It is not at all easy and often impossible to find a (payable) accommodation then! Also flights will be booked out well in advance, even to find seats in a bus can become a problem.
For Timkat there are more Lalibelans and people from the surroundings and travellers in town, but it is still crowded and expensive.
Lalibela is a hilly ground. Well, steep.
You will sometimes need to take a deep breath and pause instead of running up the hill.
Some people have problems with the altitude: 2600m.
During dry season it can be dusty here.
Rainy season does not mean it rains every day, it's hard to make a general note about this since it can quite vary.
Lalibela is situated close to the Equator, meaning it's sort of the same temperature all year long: at daytime in dry season from 20 - 27 degrees, in rainy season it can be colder, it may reach 12 degrees but if the sun is out it also can be very hot because of the altitude.
At night in dry season it's around 15 degrees or a bit more.
Every Saturday there is an opened market to be found.
There are no supermarkets in Lalibela but little iron sheet shops where you can find a very limited choice of things.
In some of the more expensive hotels you now can get WIFI.
Internet cafes are expensive, the connection can be bad.
In Lalibela you can find a range of Ethiopian and Western style restaurants.
In the evening you should go and check out the Eskista dance (shoulder dance) of the region in one of the local Tej-houses (Tej is honey wine).
There are 3 banks and 1 ATM in Lalibela which gives out Birr.
The public minibus leaving towards the airport does this early because normally the flights are in the morning, and again you should count at least two hours for this.
For Lalibela you don’t need Malaria pills, it's too high up for mosquito’s.
But good sunscreen though (50+), proper shoes and maybe a torch for some parts and tunnels in the church.