The 4 day route to Lalibela has been grueling with over 9000m of elevation up rocky winding switchbacks. The scenery has still been incredible and changed noticeably to a more sub-Saharan vegetation with a few scattered baobabs littering the landscape. This leg has been deemed by the tour organizers to have been the toughest in the tours history and many riders have taken strain opting to ride the truck into Lalibela. I, myself have opted for half day rides which have been more than a challenge.
Lalibela is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, and a center of pilgrimage for much of the country. The population is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian. The rock-cut churches for which it is famous, are thought to be a symbolic representation of Jerusalem. They are thought to date from the 13 & 14th centuries and are a very impressive engineering feat which must have taken several hundred years to complete. There are 11 identified churches which are carpeted inside with various art works of Christ and Mary adorning the interior walls. We spent the morning today exploring the area amongst the many pilgrims attending open air mass.
It does have a very tourist feel thou and many local teenagers often fluent in several languages will offer to be your guide for the day at a decided price. It is definitely worth a visit if one is in Ethiopia.
Tomorrow will see us making our way gladly back onto paved roads as we ride down to Bahir Dar.