A journey through the fairy-tale-like landscapes of Tigray (northern region) will seem like a time-travel and one for the true adventurer. 1,000-year-old rock-hewn, cave churches, with religious practices frozen in time; monasteries founded by the Nine Saints; mighty Gheralta Churches only accessible by climbing sheer rock walls and skirting cliff edges with no rope, and the monks of Debre Damo Monastery will tie you up in a rope and dragged you up to their sacred place at the summit.
• Visit Axum, the land of the Queen of Sheba, the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant and A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980. Here you will see towering obelisks, ruined palaces, engraved tablets and other ancient artifacts dating back to Axum’s glory days. • Visit the historically significant town of Adwa and its marvelous mountains, where the Emperor Menelik II inflicted the biggest defeat ever on a colonial army in Africa and saved Ethiopia from colonization • About 11km east of Adwa, visit the monastery of Abba Garima, said to have been founded by one of the Nine Saints in the 6th century. The monastery is known for its collection of religious artifacts including three illuminated gospels from the 10th century • Depending on your group type and availability of time, you can visit Yeha or Debra Damo. Yeha is famous for its huge and remarkable temple. According to the 19th-century German scholar Heinrich Müller, the temple is thought to date back to about seven or eight hundred years before the birth of Christ. The temple is believed to be the oldest standing building in Ethiopia. Beside the remarkable temple stands a church dedicated to Abba Aftse. Abba Aftse was one of the famous Nine Saints who came to Ethiopia in the 6th century from the eastern Roman Empire to teach the Gospel • Visit Debre Damo monastery situated on a summit a few kilometers wide and occupied only by monks. The Monastry is accessible by a rope, which is made of “plaited leather”, lowered from the cliffs, which visitors tie around their waist and are then pulled up by monks from the summit • Drive through the City of Adigrat, where you will have lunch. Adigrat is a quietly attractive village of stone houses with sandstone cliffs to the east offering stunning views of the Gheralta plains • Here you have the option of staying overnight at a hotel in Hawzen or Gheralta Lodge (relatively pricier) • A very active day in the Gheralta belt where you will hike and climb to visit three key churches: Abuna Yemata Guh, Maryam Korkor and Daniel Korkor. Abuna Yemata Guh is accessible by trekking for about an hour culminating in a steep ascent up the side of the Gheralta massif. This steep ascent soon turns into a climb using foot holds and hand holds chipped into the sandstone rock by the passage of many hands and feet. The climb and the walk along very narrow ledges with sheer drops to the side is not one for the faint-hearted. The church itself can be reached by walking out on a ledge one meter wide and with a 200m drop to the left hand side. At the entrance there is a small cave and a wooden door built into the rock • Of the three, Maryam Korkor is the most impressive architecturally. A huge, high ceiling is supported by 12 free standing pillars. Looking at it you could not help but wonder how the architect managed to carve so high from the ground • Overnight stay at budget Hotel.