Hike through Ethiopia: Lalibela

The highlands of Ethiopia are best explored like the farmers of the region: on foot, with a donkey as porter. You will be rewarded with overwhelming views and the mystical rock churches of Lalibela.

The donkey knows the way. He trots straight ahead, over the plains burned yellow and dry by the sun. On the back carries the animal tight lashed our hiking baggage. Together with the mountain guide Fentaw Asnake I cross rustling eucalyptus groves and mud-built circular villages.

The 32-year-old comes from the area and knows many of the residents by name. Women are sitting in front of the houses, grinding coffee and dried corn in wooden vats. Through thick bushes we hear children giggling. It is the first day of our trek through the Wollo Highlands in northern Ethiopia, a landscape of bizarre mountains and deep gorges.

In the middle of the highlands lies Lalibela. In the town live more than 22,000 inhabitants. It is best known for its world-wide unique architectural wonder: eleven well-preserved rock churches from the late 12th or early 13th century. The special feature of the churches: they do not rise high, but are carved deep into the rock – their roofs close off with the floor.

Kirsten Milhahn has been living in Nairobi in Kenya for five years. As a freelance foreign correspondent and photographer, she tours the entire African continent – full of admiration for the beauty of nature and the spirit of departure of many people.

“They were not bricked,” says Fentaw. “Their walls, columns, windows and doors are chiseled out of one piece up to twelve meters deep into the terracotta-colored rocks.” The Rock Churches are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the holiest sites of the more than 1,600-year-old Ethiopian Orthodox religion. 60,000 pilgrims flock to Lalibela every year. […] READ MORE