Transportation was the most frustrating part in the Ethiopia experience. These series of posts aims to help with this aspect.
Despite being a major tourist destination, Lalibela remains hard to reach. Lalibela is located pretty deep in the mountains and all the roads leading to it are not paved. Taking a public bus to Addis Ababa takes two days with a break at Dessie. If you are in rush and determined to get to Addis Ababa in one day, it is still possible. There are two ways I am aware of.
- Your best bet is flying. Book your flights well in advance to avoid disappointment. We were in Lalibela during Timkat and all the flights were sold out. Another option is to take a morning bus to Bahir Dar and fly from there. There are flights from Bahir Dar to Addis Ababa throughout a day.
- The second best bet is hiring a private car. The catch is that normally drivers do this journey in two days breaking the journey in Kombalcha. We had a hard time finding a driver agreeing to do it in one day and ended up paying 2400 birr for the ride. The journey took 15 hours and the driver told us at some point he regretted accepting the deal.
All in all, plan your exit strategy before you set your foot to Lalibela. If you determined not to fly, one way to do it and still enjoy in process is to go to Bahir Dar after Lalibela, spend there a night or two (it is a nice enough city that warrants several days) and then a catch a direct morning bus to Addis Ababa. Bahir Dar is reachable from Lalibela in 5-6 hours with a bus change at Gashena.
Got questions, comments or corrections? Leave a comment below.