Visiting Gheralta Rock Churches Korkor Lodge Credit O  Grunewald

Gheralta Mountains & Mekelle

Explore the rock churches of Gheralta

Little-visited rock churches and northern plains

In northern Tigray, landscapes and lesser-known rock-cut churches in the Mekelle and Adigrat regions are a visual feast

Somewhat off the beaten track in the North-Eastern part of Ethiopia, the Gheralta region is home to a series of beautiful cave churches, many precipitously located on mountainsides, meaning access is tricky and it is often bypassed by visitors in favour of seeing the more accessible churches of Lalibela. However, those who do make the journey up here on a tailor made Gheralta holiday are handsomely rewarded with some incredible churches to explore, breathtaking views and some surprisingly good places to stay given the remote location.

Access is by road from Axum to the West or from Mekelle to the South, with both drives taking in some stunning scenery along the way. Axum is part of the main Historical Circuit so adding Gheralta is an easy extension for those so inclined to visit, with Mekelle usually used as the departure point since it is well-linked to Addis Ababa by air. In itself, the town is unremarkable, but it offers some pleasant hotels for those who require an overnight in Mekelle.

For us the great joy of visiting the churches of the Gheralta region is the reaction of the priests and custodians when visitors arrive. So few people make the journey up here (especially in relation to the numbers who visit Lalibela) that there still remains genuine intrigue from locals when they see unfamiliar faces and you will often be afforded a more intimate and privileged tour of the churches than you would be in other areas. Some of the churches are found very close to the roads and are easy to access, whilst others require long treks and a head for heights, so we can plan where you visit to suit your capabilities.

This is a breathtaking area and for those who have a little more time it’s well worth the journey to enjoy time away from the main tourist trail, and to take in some of the most beautiful views that Ethiopia has to offer.

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