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“Simply extraordinary!”
Review of Gheralta Rock

Gheralta Rock
Ranked #1 of 13 things to do in Mek'ele
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed 26 July 2018

When your guide points out a tiny white speck high up in the Gherelta Mountain and tells you this is your destination….well, it is hard to believe. Until you start to hike. I'll tell you from the outset: this is one tough hike because the terrain is tough and unforgiving. My biggest tip would be to start out early: I would recommend a no later than 9 am start to give yourself ample time to navigate and make your way up. My next tip would be to get yourself a 4x4 which will take you as close to the base as possible versus a van which can only take you about 1km to the base thus increasing your walk time, all uphill.

The trek starts off with a gradual uphill incline before the real work begins: at the crack between two mountains, where you begin the ascent. Here begins some real leg work because you are literally climbing up and over boulders at an incline of about 45 degrees for a good 20 minutes at a steady pace before you get to the first cave which is flat and you can sit and catch your breath and ogle at how far up you have come in such a short time. From the cave, there there are some tough bits to navigate as you ascend even higher up: scaling almost vertical rock faces. These faces have toe and hand holds and your guide will direct you on where to place your hands and feet for the best grip but you still need to ensure that your grip is firm. A scout is a great help because he is super familiar with the terrain, and personally, found that the extra hand especially in the beginning helped get the adrenaline flowing. There are some tricky bits where you need to have upper body strength to help you up vertical rock faces, after which there are some flat parts along ledges with sheer drops and some more clambering over boulders before you finally get to Maryam Korkor, which is an unassuming white building perched at the top of the mountain.

A 5 minute walk along a ledge (quite wide and far from the vertical drop) is Daniel Korkor which I think is more beautiful than Maryam Korkor because of the frescoes on the ceiling and walls. The entrance is a tiny door carved into the mountain, and the church is small but has so much energy vibrating in it. You have to remove your shoes to go in, as is in all other Churches. It is also small enough that only one group can go in at a time but thankfully there aren't that many groups doing the hikes in Tigray and those that are - are nice enough to let you take your time.

The entrances into Maryam Korkor are different for men and women but eventually merge into a large hall with arches and an altar in the middle, closed by a curtain. There are also tombs where skeletons of what I assume are pilgrims are kept. The frescoes in this church are nice but don't really capture the imagination like the ones in Daniel Korkor do. The whole experience takes between 2 and 3 hours depending on your pace, and how much time you want to spend once at the top. The views are simply breath taking and it is worth taking the time to soak it all in - after the gruelling hike to the top!

Date of experience: December 2017
1  Thank HarpreetsWanderlust
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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11 - 15 of 81 reviews

Reviewed 3 July 2018

This wasn't my first time in this region and also this time it was outstanding. Unattached culture, lovely, smiling people and hours of walking to visit remote villages. The landscape is breathtaking. Church buna Yemata Guh that you have to climb to get there isn't the only one there. Definitely recommend for adventure a spirituality as well as for outstanding views. Coming back in November. Probably the best time is between September and February.

Date of experience: May 2018
Thank Shalvia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 June 2018

I spent three days in gheralta, camping.It was one of the best trips in Ethiopia mainly because it brings you with a close touch with nature (especially if you camp) and wonderful people.

I highly recommend to skip the lodges and take a chance on wilderness - ask you local guide to arrange a camping site for you, and immerse yourself in those valleys and mountain tops.

I was very lucky to book Gebre (Gebrehiwot Redae) as a local guide. Since I booked last minute, I couldnot find any rooms in the lodges so he offered to camp. This turned out to be a fantastic decision! I spent the first night in a tent in one of the valleys near some villages. Gebre arranged for some food, fresh water, a guard and an additional person to stay with me since I was by myself! I could not be more grateful to his generosity and for taking such a good care of me on a short notice. On the second day, we slept on top of the mountain hosting Mariam Korkor church, this was truly magical! I would definitely do it again! Being on top of the mountain overnight, experiencing the naked wilderness of those mountain peaks, watching the sun slowly siting and slowly rising the next day over the town's horizon - Absolutely loved it!

On the third day, we climbed the famous Abuna Yemata Guh Church with the feared 7m vertical wall - I insisted to use some rope, and my guide answered :) It was so much fun with all the help by the local scouts - with sturdy bodies and steady steps, they did a great job to get me up and down safe and sound!

I am very grateful to Gebre and his team for making my time worth it - it was a very 'local' trip and I did not feel at all that I was with a 'tour company' - it was truly authentic and highly recommended: Here is Gebre number @ +251914205694

Date of experience: May 2018
4  Thank Ilham T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 May 2018

As with the previous reviews, we were blown away by how spectacular the whole area is. We only had 1.5 days here, but as with everything, you make the best of the time you have. Our guide, which is compulsory, was the extraordinary "Tinsae", who was organised through our tour operator, Covenant Tours. I don't think we've ever had a guide before who has been in sync with us as much as Tinsae is. He is half man, and half mountain goat, and it was fun to watch him scale up the cliffs! We are fit and do a lot of activity, so he geared his walking for our pace, which was awesome. Right from the start it was explained to Tinsae that we weren't interested in hiring any additional scouts/guides/porters etc, and he made sure that this was enforced, so we had a hassle-free hike. We started from the Korkor Lodge side of the escarpment, and went straight up to Korkor Maryam and Korkor Daniel, before continuing over the mountains to Abuna Yemata Guh on the other side. It was steepish in places, but definitely do-able. By the time we had visited the 3 churches and got to the carpark at the bottom of Abuna Yemata Guh, our hike was only about 12km. I was a little bit nervous about the ledge going to the Abuna Yemata Guh, but it was actually a whole lot better than I expected, and with little hand-holds in the rock wall, is definitely do-able, even for those with a fear of heights.

Date of experience: April 2018
Thank TracyO07
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 27 April 2018

I've been all over Ethiopia, but I must say this trip stood out from the rest. Much less touristed than Lalibela, the churches of the Gheralta still have that feel of authenticity and other-worldliness. Even without the churches, the hiking would be spectacular, but the sheer devotion that the churches show is really humbling.
The landscape is somewhere between biblical and the wild west. The locals are extremely welcoming. My tour company organised it around camping, which gave the four days much more of an expedition feel. The final night was camping under an overhanging cliff at a spring.

Date of experience: March 2018
1  Thank Andy G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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