Ethiopia - The Old Road to Lalibela


Mountain Bike

Ethiopia - The Old Road to Lalibela





per person

The old road to Lalibela and the St. George Feast

Ethiopia Wild Bike connects Ethiopia’s political capital, Addis Ababa, with its spiritual capital, Lalibela, through the old road that crosses Ethiopia from its centre to the north. 

During the 9 stages and 600 kilometres of riding on this journey, we will cross largest plateau of Africa, from the Red Sea to the great valley of the Nile, while viewing the lowlands that surround it, from up to ten thousand feet.  Ethiopa is a perfect place to discover by mountain bike. 

In the classic style of the "traveler" we will camp on the banks of rivers or near small villages, and will cross canyons of immense size. 

Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator. It was a monarchy for most of its history, and the Ethiopian dynasty traces its roots back to the 2nd century BC. 

Ethiopia is also one of the oldest sites of human existence known to scientists today, having yielded some of humanity's oldest traces. 

During the scramble for Africa, Ethiopia was one of only two countries that retained its independence.  Ethopia is very large in size and in it you will find an incredible variety of ethnic groups - 83 languages  are spoken with the official language being Amharic. 

Ethiopia is a country of stone in every sense. The Amhara people who live on the plateaus are Christian, and are very strict and conservative. . Our final destination is Lalibela, the Jerusalem of Africa, its churches, carved into the mountains, have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and need to be seen

Riding here is truly a mystical experience in a surreal atmosphere – definitely stepping into the ‘unknown’.  This beauty of this country and its people, considered one of the five poorest nations in the world, will leave an indelible mark in our hearts.



December 26, 2017
Arrival at the Addis Abeba International Airport in the morning. Transfer to the hotel and preparation of the bikes. Free afternoon to visit of the city. Overnight in hotel with lunch and dinner included.

December 27, 2017:  Muketuri  - Jemma River
1st Stage - Kilometers 73 - Elevation 500 metres
The day begins with a transfer of 80 kilometres. We start our bike adventure just after the little village of Muketuri, among the astonished looks of the people who are reaching the town market. The stage goes on with some easy ups and downs. Around kilometre 35 we begin to observe the amazing views beyond the edge of the cliff. We start the downhill around kilometre 50 and after lunch we continue until we reach our camp situated on the bank of the Jemma River. From here we will enjoy a prime view of the cliffs we just arrived from.

December 28, 2017: Jemma River - Wenchit River
2nd Stage - Kilometers 52 - Elevation 1,200 metres
We start the day with a long climb of about 20 kilometres which takes us to the village of Fetra. The first part crosses very poor villages in an area that is very remote. After a break in Fetra we ride on the plateau until we reach the main village of this area, Alem Katama, where we will have lunch and enjoy the coffee ritual. After lunch we leave the village to ride a fast descent that leads us to our camp located on the bends of the River Wenchit.

December 29, 2017: Wenchit River - Midda
3rd Stage - Kilometers 32 - Elevation 1,500 metres
The first part is characterized by various ups and downs as we are led to a climb along the river. After about 10 kilometres we will see a huge tree near a bridge. For the first time we will observe some wild fields. From here we begin the most difficult part, with a climb of about 12 kilometers with some really steep gradients. We ride up to the plateau with continuous switchbacks until we reach the village of Tegera, where lunch awaits us. The scenario that we leave behind us is majestic, a sort of Ethiopian Monument Valley with amazing mountains. We can stop to visit a mill for grinding Tef (typical Ethiopean cereal), whose engine dates back to the Italian occupation in 1930. The second part of the day, despite being short, still requires an big effort to overcome the last 450 metres of elevation that separates us from Midda.

December 30, 2017: Midda - Wereliu
4th Stage - Kilometers 71 - Elevation 600 metres
Today's stage runs entirely on the plateau between 2,600 and 2,700 metres above sea level. The area is characterized by the strong presence of cultivated fields, mainly in tef. In the first part we can still see the spectacle of the cliffs, then after the village of Togolo the scenery changes. The boundaries of the plateau are no longer visible and instead on the horizon appear the towering mountains above 3,000 meters, which we will cross over the next few days. The arrival in Wereliu is marked by an encounter with the mass of people coming back from work in the fields or markets.

December 31 2017: Wereliu - Ginchiro
5th Stage - Kilometers 80 - Elevation 1,600 metres
We leave the village of Wereliu and begin to ride with ups and downs that bring us closer to the high mountains that we have to overcome today. After 30 kilometres, we reach the village of Kabe at the end of a broad and beautiful valley where the most challenging section begins - a steady climb that brings us over a pass situated at 3,450 metres above sea level. We continue in a beautiful valley that runs in the high mountains. Once we reach the main road we encounter a small village where we will stop for lunch before tackling the last 250 metres in altitude. Once at the pass, at an altitude of 3,700 metres, we enjoy a spectacular view of the valleys below. The track from here is very fast but the ups and downs make this second part of stage far from easy so we need a last effort to reach the cozy guesthouse in the small village of Chiro, where an imposing mosque stands.

January 1, 2018: Ghinciro - Bechelo River
6th Stage - Kilometers 77 - Elevation 800 metres
The downhill profile of the stage should not deceive us. The altitude and continuous ups and downs make this day far from easy. In the first part we will cross several villages whose houses are built in succession at the side of the road. Also interesting is the crossing of some small forests of eucalyptus and pine trees. After arriving in Tenta, the capital of this area, we will stop for lunch. We have been feeling for several kilometres the end of the vast plateau that we are crossing. The Church of St. Michael, situated on the last hill is the prelude to the long descent that opens in front of us and offers incredible scenery . We can see the other plateau at 3000 metres above sea level and below us the huge valley carved by the river over thousands of years. The descent is long and spectacular. It will be impossible to resist the temptation to stop and capture this magnificent panorama. The last 5 kms to reach camp on the river are very fast and should be approached with caution.

January 2, 2018: Bechelo River - Scità River 
7th Stage - Kilometers 72 - Elevation 1,650 metres
We leave the river that we cross through a long newly built bridge and go up to the new plateau. We reach the first village after about 12 kilometres. After the village we began a spectacular climb of over 1000 metres with continuous turns in the track that give us constant changes of perspective. When we reach the end of the climb we can already begin to see groups of gelada monkeys, a species of baboons that live only in Ethiopia and are characterized by the presence of a double red triangle on the chest. After reaching the plateau at 3,000 metres, we now have just a few more kilometres to Wegel Tena, the village where we will eat. The next part on the plateau is often quite windy. After about 25 kilometres, we come out on yet another grandiose scene, one of the most beautiful in Africa. We see the river, which opened this valley, 1200 metres below us, and the plateau where we are headed in front of us at 3000 metres. All of this  is accompanied by beautiful villages of huts that in this area are on average larger and better maintained than elsewhere. We finish with a long descent to arrive at our camp on the banks of the river.

January 4, 2018: Scità River - Tekezze River
9th Stage - Kilometers 76 - Elevation 1,900 metres
We enjoy the cooler hours of the day during the initial climb - over 15 kilometres with 1000 metres of climbing to reach the plateau on a rideable but rocky road. In the last part of the climb we will see the gelada monkeys again, who find shelter in the caves of the cliff.Once on the top we will ride a long mostly tree-lined road with a slight slope that leads us to Gashena, where after 9 days, we will encounter again a paved road. Instead of the pavement we will take a fast gravel road to our camp.

January 5,  2018: Tekezze River - Lalibela
10th Stage - Kilometers 26 - Elevation 1,000 metres
Today's stage finally brings us to Lalibela. After summiting the easy first pass we will ride on asphalt for the final 17 km. With the city in site, there are still some strenuous ups and downs before we reach the new cobbled road that crosses Lalibela downtown. Following this road we arrive at St. George church, for the traditional group photo and then continue to our hotel. After lunch we will spend the afternoon visiting the Western churches.

January 5, 2018
8:30 a.m. Walk to visit the Eastern Churches (about 2 hours).
2:00 p.m. Visit St. George Church and packing of the bikes.

January 6, 2018
Transfer to Lalibela Airport and flight to Addis Abeba.
Free day in Addis Abeba. Dinner in a typical Ethiopian restaurant.
10:30 p.m. transfer to the airport and fly back home. End of Services.



Arrival and departure times:

Arrival at Addis Ababa Airport (ADD) the morning of December 26, 2017

Fly back from Addis Ababa Airport (ADD) after 10.00 pm - Januaryr 6, 2018




The individual cost of participation is:

Price for a group of: 10 People € 2.290 each
Price for a group of: 7/9 People € 2.390 each
Price for a group of: 6/7 People € 2.620 each

Minimum number: 6 people
Maximum number: 20 people

The price includes

  • All ground transportations from and to the airport of Addis Abeba
  • All transfers during the tour
  • Internal Flight Lalibela/Addis Abeba
  • Full board during the bike expedition
  • Overnight in Hotel (with breakfast and dinner) in Addis Abeba and Lalibela
  • 1 Tents for 2 person 
  • Organization and logistic team including guides, a cooker, and other helpers for anything needed
  • 4x4 Van support for logistic and baggage
  • Travel insurance


The price does not include

  • International Flights
  • Overbaggage and bike fee on flight (including flight Lalibela/Addis Abeba)
  • Visa
  • Tips, drinks and extras in Hotel
  • Lunches in Lalibela and Addis Abeba
  • Extra overnight in Lalibela and Addis Abeba
  • Everything not included in “The price include”


About a stage: We will wake up early and after breakfast and the personal preparation the organization will start the daily stage. During the development of the stage the organization will set up points of food supply and water rehydration. The departureis scheduled between approximately 7:00 and 8:00 am, depending on the mileage on the program. It is recommended to take the ride everyday with calm and try to enjoy the majestic scenery surrounding us. The excursions are not a competition but will require good preparation. At about 15:00-17:00, depending on the pace,the stage will end: it is time to rest and regenerate.  After dinner, the Organization holds a briefing on the next stage. End the day chatting about the day’s ride. 

Very Important! The places where the entire route will be developed are wild, there are no cities but small communities. It is not guaranteed you will have the opportunity to to wash (hot water) on some stages. For this reason it is recommended that each participant, in addition to the joy of cycling, brings with it a great sense of adventure, adaptability and collaboration. The grandeur of the landscape will reward the labors as the days will pass. The organization will provide all their experience, so you can enjoy the maximum comfort throughout the expedition. 

Support: Depending on the size of the group there will be at least one support vehicle. The support vehicle will carry all of your luggage and extra gear as well as snacks and water. It can also carry you and your bike if you feel like taking a break or in case of emergency. 

Travel Documents: Each participant must be in possession of their passport which must be valid for six months from the date of departure. The visa can be done directly at the international airport of Bole in Addis Abeba. It costs approximately 20 USD. 

Prophilaxis: No particular vaccination is required, although it is better to be covered with anti-tetanus. 

Alimentation: Anyone vegetarian, vegan or allergic to any kind of food in general, please notify the organization. 

Medical Assistance: Throughout the trip we will have a well-stocked first-aid bag. Despite this, we suggest each of you not leave without their stock of personal medicine. If   anyone is allergic to a particular medicine or food, please to notify this to the organization. 

Money: The currency is the Birr. One Euro is changed to approximately 25 Birr. You will not need to take foreign currency with you. In any "money exchange" Euro and USD are accepted. In Addis Ababa airport you will find a case for change and in the center of the city with ease, an ATM to withdraw cash.  

Companions: The route is one of the most beautiful and spectacular you can see in Ethiopia. Conscious of this we offer the opportunity to participate not only as a cyclist, but also as an alternative traveler. People who are accompanying ther riders will be provided easy trekking along the same trail of the cyclists or in the villages they passed through. In this way we are sure to satisfy all those who want to try this adventure cycling, but they have also fill all the expectations of those who are not mountain biker but still want to be part of an expedition like ours. 

Wheater: Usually on the plateau there are two main seasons: the dry season from October to May and the rainy season from June to September. The temperatures could be higher in the first stages and in Addis Abeba where it can reach over 30ºc. On the plateau the temperature will be colder and in some stages it may be around 0ºc during the night. During the day on the bike it is recommended to always keep very well hydrated. It is necessary to use moisturizer for the face and protection against UVA. 

Photo and tips: Is highly recommended  to ask before taking any photos. In some villages people ask for a tip for any photo and the price must be negotiated with the person. In any case, we suggest to not give money where it is not asked and not give candies or other objects to the children we will meet on the road and in the villages. It is usually permitted to take photos during the procession in the churches but we think that it is better to maintain a certain distance out of respect. 

Mechanical Assistance: Everyone is responsible for their own repair of flat tires, cleaning of the chain or other mechanical problems. So it's essential that everyone brings with him a kit for repairs. Each participant can bring spare parts from home, that the organization will carry on the vehicle and give to the rider at the end of the stages. In any case the organization will help anytime it will be possible. The organizer will not be held liable for bike damage as a result of improper packing, maintenance or transportation, accidents, or whatever other reason. While local parts are available, they may not match those of your specific bike or equipment. In the event that your bike is unrideable, we will make every reasonable effort to find a suitable replacement bicycle. The rider will take responsibility for incurred rental costs and you will not be compensated for possible lost riding time. 

How to pack the bike: Your bike must be packed in special soft bags or boxes (please avoid plastic and bulky bags). Remove the wheels. Deflate the tires. Disassemble the rear derailleur and wrap it in something soft. Remove the pedals.

Which Kind of Mountain Bike: This is of course a very subjective and difficult topic.  First of all, you don’t need the latest mountain bike. Full suspension bikes are really useful, especially in the downhill sections. Front suspension are lighter but require a a higher level of handling and concentration. Suggested tires: 2.0/2.2. The brakes: it’s not important which kind of system you use, they must be fully operational. If you do not want to carry a backpack, we recommend a little rear carrier. In any case the bike needs to be in perfect condition and recently checked by your mechanic. We are big fan of 29ers.  

Basic Rules  

In order to achieve the greatest effectiveness we believe it convenient to adopt some basic rules. 

a) Equipment  needed  We will have a  limited space  for the transport of the equipment of the expedition, so each person must carry strictly what you list below:     

  • An identifiable travel bags     
  • Sleeping bag (at least 0 degrees C in condition comfort)    
  • Clothing cycle (short and long)    
  • Leggins and sleeves    
  • Light and heavy gloves    
  • Light and wool cap, sunglasses     
  • Anti Wind Jacket    
  • Socks and shoes suitable for riding    
  • Rubber sandals for the shower    
  • Underwear and towel    
  • A fleece or wool sweater    
  • Small bike bag or Backpack    
  • Toiletry bag and a roll of paper     
  • Moisturizers and sun protection factor 12    
  • Headlamp    
  • Helmet (*mandatory*)    
  • Two water bottle     
  • Kit for puncture repair + 2 spare tubes + pump    
  • Spare tire and spare brake pad    
  • Chain tool and Chain Oil    
  • Allen keys/Multitools    
  • A small pharmacy set 


b) Lunch bag Before departure of each stages, the organization will deliver to each participant a bag of food supplies that they bring with them in a backpack. 

c) Camps During the tour will be organized working groups that, in turn, will participate on some stages in the construction of the camp. Note: this does not mean that you will cook but that you will participate in the preparation of infrastructure on which we will spend the night or we will have dinner. All this is very important to create the best group you would expect on a trip like this and friendships that often persist for years. 

d) Environment Each participant is responsible for helping protect the local environment. Hold on to any garbage until you meet up with the support vehicle or find a wastebasket / recycling bin. Stay on the main trails as much as possible. 

e) Safety  Without trying to limit your riding enjoyment, we ask all participants to ride responsibly in order to reduce the likelihood of injuries to themselves and others. Ride conservatively on technical sections and reduce speed when appropriate. Be aware of pedestrians and other vehicles. Helmets are mandatory at all times. Alert the staff if you notice any problems with your bicycle. 

f) Right of the organization The organization reserves the right to change the route for the safety and security of participants. We also reserve the right to terminate the tour of any participant who refuses to ride responsibly or repeatedly puts other at risk. No compensation will be provided for tours cancelled as a result of non-compliance. 

g) Waiver of Liability All participants will be asked to sign a waiver before the start of the tour. If you have any questions, please contact us in advance.


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