What to do and see in Amhara Region, Ethiopia: The Best Places and Tips

March 21, 2018 Janette Largent

Amhara (Amharic: አማራ) is one of the nine ethnic divisions (kililoch) of Ethiopia, containing the homeland of the Amhara people. Previously known as Region 3, its capital is Bahir Dar. Ethiopia's largest inland body of water, Lake Tana, which is the source of the Blue Nile river, is located within Amhara. The region also contains the Semien Mountains National Park, which includes Ras Dashan, the highest point in Ethiopia. Amhara is bordered by the state of Sudan to the west and northwest, and in other directions by other regions of Ethiopia: Tigray to the north, Afar to the east, Benishangul-Gumuz to the west and southwest, and Oromia to the south.
Restaurants in Amhara Region

1. Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela

Lalibela 1260, Ethiopia
Excellent
81%
Good
14%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela

A labyrinth of tunnels with grottoes and galleries connects 11 impressive churches built under King Lalibela out of red volcanic rock.

Reviewed By Chrisbeeoxford - Oxford, United Kingdom

The eleven churches are in two campuses. The central campus is in my view the better of the two and includes the oldest and youngest churches. This does not mean that one should not see the other campus as it does have much to offer different from the city campus. I was brought to admire how King Lalibela harnessed religion and politics so deeply to rule his kingdom for 40 years without any issues.
There is so much to see and history to learn and marvel at that a short review cannot do the two campuses justice. The churches remain working churches and the objective for pilgrims. One is constantly aware of how religion has remained woven into Ethiopian society. The campus is a place of calm, of sanctity, and removed from materialistic life despite the tourist wandering in and out. The seamless structures are a marvel. The most perfect has to be the youngest of all the churches, St George and the most interesting (and oldest) St Mary's.
In the other campus one can experience Hell. In my view the best there are the semi-detached churches of Gabriel and Raphael.
I had never understood the idea of the New Jerusalem until I saw Lalibela.

2. Church of St. George

Lalibela, Ethiopia +251 94 646 0146
Excellent
85%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
0%
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5 based on 160 reviews

Church of St. George

the church of st George is a brilliant feats of engineering and architecture and are often referred as the "Eighth wonder of the world".

Reviewed By Julie C - New York City, New York

The Church of Saint George has been something I have wanted to see for some time and it didn't disappoint.
An amazing feat to build/carve a church from a huge rock .
From above, the church looks big but once you enter it appears much smaller. Make sure you walk around to get a 360 degree look from above but take care the rock is slippery.

3. Simien Mountains National Park

Gonder 0125, Ethiopia 251921963544
Excellent
82%
Good
14%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
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4.5 based on 806 reviews

Simien Mountains National Park

Simien Mountains National Park, in northern Ethiopia is a spectacular landscape, where massive erosion over millions of years has created jagged mountain peaks, deep Valleys and sharp precipices dropping some 1,500 m. The park is of global significance for biodiversity conservation because it is home to globally threatened species, including the iconic Walia ibex, a wild mountain goat found nowhere else in the world, the Gelada baboon and the Ethiopian wolf.

Reviewed By Chrisbeeoxford - Oxford, United Kingdom

If one wants to see the endemic mammal species one would need to stay 3 nights in the Lodge; one short visit is not enough to hunt for them in 400 square kilometres of difficult terrain. However a quick visit has its virtues; the scenery is magnificent, the flora is surprisingly similar to Scotland, the Gelado are there in their hundreds, and a few birds can be observed.
Beware if you cannot walk well. The tracks are down and up and can be steep.

4. Yemrehanna Kristos

Lalibela, Lalibela, Ethiopia
Excellent
63%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
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4.5 based on 194 reviews

Yemrehanna Kristos

The church of Yemrehanna Kristos is one of Ethiopia's best-preserved late Axumite churches, and is named for a twelfth-century Zagwe priest-king and saint. The church is located inside a large natural cavern on a hill in northern Ethiopia, set in a spectacular landscape of juniper trees, predating the famous nearby rock-hewn churches of Lalibela by almost a century.

Reviewed By LalibelaAdvisor - Lalibela, Ethiopia

Cave church decorated with paintings
This is a very beautiful cave church decorated with different old paintings, and there are still small diamonds hanging on the ceiling. Behind the church is found thousands of mummified human body’s, nobody knows who they are and where they come from.
Coming to this church hiking from Abune Yosef Massif, will make you feel you are a real explorer, like the Indiana jones.
Hiking to this church can be organized with Lalibela based tour operator Highland Eco Trekking Tours

5. Debre Berhan Selassie Church

Gondar, Ethiopia, Gonder, Ethiopia +251 91 815 6611
Excellent
62%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
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4.5 based on 291 reviews

Debre Berhan Selassie Church

Reviewed By Robert937 - Rotterdam, The Netherlands

At first sight the church looks like a large barn strangely placed in an enclosure of walls with small towers amidst high trees. There used to be a church at this strategic hill top built in the 17th century, but it was destroyed. This building dates from 1880s, a time when Ethiopia was under attack by the Sudanese ansar followers of the Mahdi who wanted to establish an Islamic caliphate in the region (comparable to IS during our times). Initially these fanatic Islamic rebels fought British backed Turkic Egyptian rule of Sudan, but later turned against Christian Ethiopia as well.
For this reason you see the fortification surrounding the church. Twelve towers symbolizing the protection by the twelve apostles. The interior of the church is abundantly decorated, while the exterior has been kept rather low profile. A bit like similar churches that were built during Ottoman rule in Romania. I was not very impressed about the artistic quality of the frescos. It represents a kind of naieve art, that has its charm. You see scenes from the bible, but also many knights on horses with spears and swords fighting evil (no doubt Al Khalifa's troops). Satan as well is depicted with near him Christian martyrs. One whose head is chopped off, another one hanging upside down from a tree, and other horror scenes.
Remarkable: at the entrance to the church there is a sign in English urging visitors "who slept with your spouse or your spouse yesterday" (I hope they forgot the word today) and "ladies during manstration" not to enter.
Entrance fee for foreigners 100 ETB

6. Fasil Ghebbi

Gondar region, Gonder, Ethiopia +251 91 102 1308
Excellent
52%
Good
42%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
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4.5 based on 261 reviews

Fasil Ghebbi

A royal fortress-city dating back to the 16th-17th centuries demonstrates Hindu, Arabic and baroque influences.

Reviewed By Robert937 - Rotterdam, The Netherlands

17th century Castles made of stone in Africa are rare. The rocky structures within the so called royal enclosure remind you of mediëval Castles in Europe. It shows the Amhara people over 300 years ago had great skills. Having said that, the architecture of the remains of 6 Castles that were built over a period of some 150 years does not show a lot of progress. The design, the techniques and the materials used, remained the same. The Italians attempted to convert one of the Castles into a European style mansion.
The cages where lions were kept during the times of the last Emperor Haile Selassi also date from that period. Fortunately a recent plan to relocate lions there failed.
Entrance fee for foreigners 200 Birr (incudes entry to Fasilides bath down at the river). Services of a guide cost extra.

7. Azwa Mariam Monastery

Lago Tana | Penisola Di Zege, Bahar Dar 1260, Ethiopia +251 92 343 9870
Excellent
56%
Good
41%
Satisfactory
3%
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4.5 based on 86 reviews

Azwa Mariam Monastery

Reviewed By janina776 - Somerset, United Kingdom

A calm, inspirational monastery in a beautiful setting. There were some wonderful wall decorations and ancient artifacts. We were shown around by a very helpful guide who obviously loved his work and was proud to show off the splendour of this monastery.

8. Asheten Eco Trekking

Lalibela, Ethiopia +251 91 087 9046
Excellent
77%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
5%
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4.5 based on 94 reviews

Asheten Eco Trekking

Reviewed By therapina - Limassol, Cyprus

I've written my review of this attraction under Churches of Lalibela, but wanted to point out that in addition to the churches, Lalibela as a town is remarkable in itself, perched high on a mountain ridge with amazing views to further high mountain ranges and their Valleys below. We very much liked the town with its cobble stone streets (said to resemble honey combs), its choice of restaurants, its market, and its freedom for two ladies on their own to walk the streets without too much hassle from children and teenage boys. The atmosphere was enhanced by the number of weddings taking place with their singing and clapping and dancing, all trying to beat the deadline before lent (and a long period of fasting) started.

9. Lake Tana

Ground floor from Blue Nile Hotel, Bahar Dar 0000, Ethiopia 0910510910
Excellent
46%
Good
39%
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12%
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2%
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4 based on 453 reviews

Lake Tana

Reviewed By Brett M - Mansfield

So the good stuff first ; nice morning boat ride over to Zege
Peninsula, good walk from one monastery to the other, good bird life and we saw antelope and Hippo at the Underwhelming source of the Nile. BUT
The bad bit, our “authorised guide” started off by telling me what he expected as a tip ! this was before we had taken one step, You then spend more time walking past boring souvenir stalls than monasteries, Our guide actually berated us for not buying souvenirs off his friends and relations and started to get nasty about it. We left Disgusted, so be warned and be careful.

10. Gondar

Castello Di Fasilide, Gonder 1021, Ethiopia +251 93 548 0338
Excellent
48%
Good
40%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
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4.5 based on 165 reviews

Gondar

Reviewed By DAVISFAMILY5 - Chepstow, United Kingdom

Attractive town with great tourist sites to see. Had a good laid back feel. Four Sisters Restaurant a must. Wish I had had more than 2 days to explore. Gondar is in a nice hilly setting as well.

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