You can get to Lalibela either by plane or by bus. By bus you can reach the village from the west (BaharDar/Gonder) or from the east (Woldia/Addis). I arrived from Woldia, as I visited Tigray region in the north first. The trip from Woldia by bus is 25B (2,5 USD) and takes 7 and a half hours, though it may depend on the state of the tracks.
On my way there we got stuck on the mud twice and had to go down and push the bus to get it out. At the lunch stop I invited my seat mate and his family to a common injhera in the local restaurant. At bus stops you can only get for lunch injhere, spaghetti, bananas or bicuits, so if you don't like this menu, bring your own food.
When we arrived, my seat mate accompanied me to a nice hotel (Lalibela Hotel) and invited me to his house for the coffee ceremony. That fellowship is something you miss if you come by plane...
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
But as it was nearly the end of my trip and I was tired, to return to Addis I chose the plane.
Ethiopian is a rather good local company, in fact the only one flying inside Ethiopia. They offer discounts in internal flights if you have chosen thm to fly to Ethiopia.
The flight Lalibela-Addis was about 70USD and took 1 hour.
The airport is far from the village (23km) and there is no regular bus. You have to arrange a shared (or private if you are rich) taxi to get there. The best way to do so is asking around the 7 Olives Hotel. I arranged mine there and they picked me up at my hotel downhill. It costs 30 B (0,3 USD) and takes 30-40 minutes. The road to the airport is fully paved.
- Budget Travel
As Lalibela is a rather touristic spot, the airport is modern though small. It has only a gate and 2 souvenir shops and a cafeteria. Coming from the muddy rural village, the airport seemed to me a spotless piece of "western" land, a place where WC were like at home and there was A/C... heaven after so many days in dusty buses!
To reach Lalibela from any destination takes its time. Therefore take the first bus in the morning which leaves around 6.00am. Its possible to buy the tickets the evening before in the bus that will be parked at the bus station for the night. Ask for a seat number (seat 1 & 2 are usually the best).
There is one bus going to Addis Ababa via Weldiya. If you want to go towards Bahir Dar or Gondar you need to get off at Gashena (two hours / 10 Birr). Around midday the bus to Bahir Dar will show up. Usually this bus will stop for the night at Nefas Mewcha. The other option is to hitch a ride with a truck.
ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES OFFICE
Lalibela may not have banks, but it does have an Ethiopian Airlines office. It seems to be open 7 days a week, but times vary. The really nice guy who works here sold me a ticket to get back to Addis Ababa. No problem.
The funny thing is I met this same guy in Addis Ababa 5 months later walking down the street!
The office is located in the town, which means at the top of the hill. Within eyesight of the Seven Olives Hotel.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Historical Travel
- Study Abroad
From the airport
With only one flight per day, the airport is not the busiest. It is over 20km from town, so your choices are limited.
Taxi costs 60 Birr per Person, and they usually try to arrange the hotel for you.
There are many agents for hotels here.
You are likely to share a minibus taxi with others.
The drive takes about 30 mins and involves a journey through some impressive mountain scenery. Check out the table mountain near town.
The easiest and quickest way to get here is by domestic flights with Ethiopian Airlines. Lalibela has 2 flights a day and can connect you to Addis Ababa and the other northern historical cities of Bahr Dar, Gonder and Axum. You can fly return or one-way for a little more than $100. Their website does not list domestic flights, but all of their offices speak English. You can ring their Lalibela office on the telephone number listed below or ring them in Addis Ababa on: +251-11-551 7000. You can reserve by telephone or at any city office in the country without a credit card! A 2 hour flight can save you up to 2 full days on a bus! They have an office on the main road in town.
- Study Abroad
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
Wanted to take the min bus from Gonder but the road was being worked on so the trip would have taken more time than I had to spare so I flew over here with Solomon. The airport is a 20-30 min ride down the hill from the town of Lalibela. When you get off the plane the local guides will be waiting for you....these are the same guys can show you around the Churches. Try and catch a bus with another group so you can get the price down a bit..these same guides will offer to pick you up in the morning for your return trip to the airport. Be careful and try and go with a group since they may take you to the airport 3 hours before your flight so they can meet an earlier flight and pick up another load of guests.
Off the beaten Track
To reach Lalibela without losing too much time you need to fly. The Airport is about 25 km away. A bus transfer will cost 30 Birr.
Tiny airport with one or two flights per day.
Small cafe inside, and one shop.
Get a window seat, great views of the mountains around Lalibela.
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