The starting point for all tours is Lalibela. According to your favored way of travel, one can reach Abune Yoseph by a one and half day trek by mule and foot (one day if in peak condition) or a two and a half hour drive followed by a 2-3-hour hike.
Trekking (Lluis Dantart, CRBA)
You are free to choose whether to ride or walk as you make your way to the highest community lodge in Africa. However, it is recommended to take along mules as a precaution because climbing to an altitude of 4,200 meters can be exhausting. The mules can carry a maximum of around 40kg. No prior riding experience is required.
It is recommended that guests spend a minimum of two nights at the lodge to experience everything the area has to offer. Highlights include watching the sunrise from the top of the third highest mountain in the country, a visit to the 14th century Abune Yoseph monastery and spotting the endemic gelada and Ethiopian wolf.
The following itineraries are simply suggestions and can be tailored to fit time restraints, interests and needs and can be done on foot or by mule.
Following the Footsteps of the Medieval Kings
Trekking by mule from Lalibela to Abune Yoseph
3 Nights/4 Days
This trek begins in Lalibela and passes through breathtaking panoramic views of surrounding mountains dotted by clusters of grass thatched traditional huts before entering the serene Afroalpine meadows of the Abune Yoseph Community Conservation Area. Spend 2 nights in the community lodge while exploring the nearby terrain including the 14th century cave monastery.
Day 1: Leave Lalibela and head to the Atabiqign TESFA community hut or the Lalibela Hudad private lodge; 5-6 hours and 4-5 hours respectively. The trek begins with a gentle stroll through heather and Erica forests towards the church of Asheton Mariam at 3,300m. The views from the trail include surrounding mountains and grass thatched traditional huts.
Day 2: Begin your day with a walk to the Abune Yoseph Community Conservation Area, passing small villages. After 2.5 hours, you will arrive in Wedebye. From there, the trail winds it way into flat plains until you reach the village of Tekukebele at the base of some impressive rock towers. The village has a market on Thursdays. From here, the trail meanders through the impressive Afroalpine habitat, past thre three highest peaks in the area, and ends at the ACCA Lodge. From Atabiqign community hut the trek is about 5-6 hours. From the Hudad Lodge its about 6-7 hours. After a brief rest, take some time to explore the escarpments near the lodge.
Day 3: Head towards the Abune Yoseph Peak (Rim Gedel) on a lush green trail for one hour. The trail then becomes rocky and steep and here you begin your ascent of the third highest mountain in Ethiopia. Leaving the summit behind, head through the giant lobelia valley and follow the trail down the escarpment to the 14th century cave monastery. You can return to the lodge on a different path – the total loop trail takes about 5 hours. Keep your eyes peeled for the Ethiopian wolf, gelada and lammergeyer on the way.
Day 4: There are several different options for leaving ACCA. You can trek 2-3 hours to the small village of Tekukebele where you can arrange for a car to meet you (a 2-3 hour drive back to Lalibela); you can continue on to a TESFA community hut; or you can hike to the eastern edge of ACCA to the village of Gidan (4 - 5 hours) where you can arrange for a car to meet you.
Loop trek to Explore Abune Yoseph
Trekking (Lluis Dantart, CRBA)
Loop trek to Explore Abune Yoseph in combination with TESFA community huts
4 Nights/5 Days
This trek can either begin or end in Lalibela or Genet-Mariam. Genet-Mariam is home to a rock-hewn church and there are other cave churches to visit along this route. This trek will reward you with fantastic views as you climb steeply at times through villages.
Day 1 – Lalibela to Genet-Mariam: A 45 minute drive or a 17km hike brings you to the rock-hewn church in Gent-Mariam. Spend the night where?
Day 2 – Genet-Mariam to Tadios Amba: This steep route takes you from the village, along a ridge to a cave church: Mekina Medhane. This treasure is rarely visited. The narrow path slowly gains altitude and you are treated to magnificent views as you arrive.
Day 3 – Tadios Amba to Agaw Beret: Passing through fields of giant lobelias, you will eventually arrive at the ACCA Community lodge at 3,952m. Behind the lodge is Rim Gedel – Ethiopia’s third highest peak. Climb it at sunset or sunrise for astounding views.
Day 4 – Agaw Beret to Ad Medhane Alem: Explore the Afroalpine terrain in search of Ethiopian wolves, geladas, leopards and lammergeyers and retire at this hut which is perched on a fantastic ledge overlooking Lalibela.
Day 5 – Ad Medhane Alem to Lalibela: Passing through forests of giant Erica, the descent takes several hours and takes you through the home of Hamadryas baboons living at surprisingly high altitude.
Drive and Trek Combination
2 Nights/ 3 Days
Even though you can only reach ACCA by foot, you can drive 2-3 hours from Lalibela to the small village of Tekukebele where a 2-3 hour trek will bring you to the lodge. See previous itineraries for more information.