Ashetan Maryam

  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Looking down on the path in from AM, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Village edge at roadhead, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, AM promontory and farmland below, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Cliff path, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Cliff path, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Cliff path, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Tunnel in, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Top of tunnel, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Filled-in arcade of church, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, The priest was a sweet man, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Huge view from AM, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, High butte from AM, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Path to fields beyond, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, High butte, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Path to fields beyond, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Fields beyond AM, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Prow of high butte from the pass, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Farmland bowl near road pick-up, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, , Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Tuk tuk pick-up, Walkopedia
  • Ethiopia Lalileba Area, Ashetan Maryam, Path to fields beyond, Walkopedia

Key information: Ashetan Maryam

  • Thrilling walk around a spectacular formation, taking in an extraordinary atmospheric monastery-church. 

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating91.5
  • Beauty31
  • Natural interest13
  • Human interest17
  • Charisma32.5
  • Negative points2
  • Total rating91.5
  • Note: Neg: A tourist site.

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 2 hours
  • Maximum Altitude: 3,200m
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate
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Ashetan Maryam: Fields beyond AM - © William Mackesy

WALK SUMMARY

The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are justly famous, but not our focus, other than to say spend at least 2 days there, and take half a day for this walk, which is a brilliant varient as well as a fine introduction to Ethiopia's tradition of building rock-hewn churches and monasteries in extraordinary mountain-top or cliff-face positions.

This monastery-with-church is not as fine as the best of the central Lalibela complexes, but it is thrilling and moving nonetheless, hacked into the basalt of a ridge top hundreds of metres above Lalibela. Its beauty and atmosphere, its location and the walk in make for absurdly exciting and inspiring walking. It is said to be King Lalibela’s first construction. Its resident priest is (as of 2019) a sweet and gentle man. 

You can walk the 500m up from Lalibela in somewhere between 3-5hrs (estimates vary), an interesting enough climb though suburbs, then farmland, villages and scrub, but it is demanding at this altitude, and we would argue doesn't pass the reward/effort calculation. We took tuk-tuks to the high roadhead, an interesting and enjoyable half hour journey in it's own right. Sorry, but we are not self-flagellators for the sake of it...

The path climbs above the last huts of the roadhead village, flattening out to follow a ledge around the lower reaches of a cliff-bowl, gentle farmland just below, then Lalibela itself and the far-away broken valleys and ridges of the Ethiopian highlands. Above are the cliffs of this butte-like formation, a monastic cell on its top, and a quiet grey sky.

At the end of a promontory, we turn up into a narrow gulley which becomes an extraordinary tunnel which emerges, with a Petra flourish, into the tiny courtyard of the monastery. It is all marvellous. 

After a poke about, you need to head out round the back of the complex, to follow a path through steep and atmospheric terracing with vast views for perhaps 10 minutes round to below a saddle in the high cliffs. Turn uphill and follow paths to the saddle for views, again across the Lalibela hinterland.

Descend on steep farm paths, down through field and pine stands back to the road just below the village. 

About an hour's walking, quite a lot longer with all that history and spirituality to contemplate and those views to admire.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Ashetan Maryam: © William Mackesy

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Ashetan Maryam: Huge view from AM - © William Mackesy

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Ashetan Maryam: © William Mackesy...
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