OFF THE BEATEN TRACK MOUNTAIN-TOP MONASTERY MISSION
For those who like to work a little before being rewarded with a treat – climbing up a mountain path for half an hour to reach a tiny little monastery is for you. Just outside Lalibela and its numerous well known underground churches, we can arrange for your private guide to take you away from the town on a much more private and off the beaten track experience.
You can either walk from town for around 3 to 4 hours up a winding mountain road where the local farmers and donkeys choose a more direct straight route up the mountain intersecting the road every 10 meters or so, or you can drive 30 minutes up the road and then walk the last 30 minutes.
If you are lucky, there might be a service going on and they are very relaxed and accepting of visitors despite the obvious curious stares and cameras. One very proud priest motioned us to follow him and off we went into a dark room where he lit candles and started to bring out numerous treasures to show us that had been given to the monastery over the last 800 years or so including old manuscripts written on dried goat skin and some very impressive priests crosses.
You are roughly 3,000 meters above sea level so whilst the climb up the side of the mountain is not tough, you can feel short of breath and you wouldn’t want to attempt this walk with any dodgy knees or ankles as it gets a bit uneven and rustic as you reach the top!
But it’s a beautiful gentle ascent and offers a really great vantage point to soak up the breath-taking scenery around a town that is more famous for its churches than its views. Once at the top you suddenly disappear through a hole in the side of the mountain up a winding little white stone corridor of uneven steps carved into the mountain stone over the years. A wonderfully old heavy wooden door waits open at the top and as you enter back out into daylight you can hear the chanting of monks.
For those who are really keen and adventurous you can walk on up from the monastery to the top of the mountain. This is quite tough and not for the faint-hearted as you need to be told where to put your hands and feet each step of the way right up until the very top!
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