Awe-struck visitors often call Lalibela’s underground churches the most impressive sight in all of Africa. They’re also arguably Africa’s most mysterious attraction.
Ruins such as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and Peru’s Machu Picchu spark intense speculation about how they came to be built – along with unabashed amazement at the ancients’ architectural abilities.
Such destinations are firmly on tourist trails, with multitudinous hotels and diverse attractions to complement exploration of the ruins themselves.
But Lalibela is far less widely known.
Tourists occasionally boast of encountering no other visitors.
Egypt’s pyramids are commonly considered Africa’s top constructed attraction. However, some who’ve eyeballed Lalibela maintain it’s even more memorable than the pyramids of Giza.
My low-level flight from Addis Ababa to Lalibela crosses semi-arid countryside more reminiscent of Australia’s outback than the lush jungles of equatorial Africa. Long ridges extend like giant’s fingers over a harsh landscape. Some farming families’ homes perch precariously at cliff edges.
Lalibela lures foreigners to Ethiopia, a regionally important Horn of Africa nation.
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