Hawelti Tour

Description of service                     

  •     Historical and city Tours
  •     Car rent
  •     Hotel Reservation
  •     Guiding Service
  •     Transfer in and Transfer out
  •     Ticketing and confirmation

Contact Address

  •     Tele No: 0347752265/1979 (fixed line)
  •     Mobile: +251-911-781821

    Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Mekelle offers a range of genuine tourist-class hotels. Accommodation price rates in these hotels vary based on their standard. Overall, after a long day of sightseeing, returning from the dusty Danakil depression or demanding hikes to the rock-hewn churches, visitors may expect a hospitable reception as well as agreeable accommodation and a taste of the local cuisine.


Air Transport:

  • Tigrai hosts one international airport in Mekelle, and two modern airports in Aksum and Humera.

Road Transport:

  • The excellent, and scenic road network in Tigrai allows the more experienced resident visitor and chauffeur to travel by car to enjoy the winding mountain roads along beautiful and extraordinary mountainous landscapes with hidden treasures as well as the flora and birdlife for which the Tigrai region is renowned. Above all, travelling in Tigrai by car is safe and secure – the people of Tigrai are well known for their friendliness and hospitality.

            The historical town of Hawzien is located north – west of Wukro. The town is base to visit the famous rock – hewn churches of Gheralta.  Although every rock church in Gheralta deserves a visit, only some of them are presented in birds – eye - view, taking Hawzien as springboard.
Hawzien – Saint Tekle-Haimanot Church
The church is a union of a rock-hewn and stone built. The chiseled structure, however small in size, is fascinating enough to take attention. The chamber holds six free standing and six more pillars merged with the rock. The independent columns marked by capital like bosses, are wonderfully executed in a style. The walls manifest a set of rectangle from shallow cuts topped by a sequence of designs fashioned to look like cement made tubes. The chamber left for the tablet has finely carved windows and special ceiling inscribed by a dome and cross- like decoration.
   Giorgis Maikado Church
                        It is totally carved out and, has spacious interior which displays various expressive designs. It has four free and six more pillars merged with the walls. All columns are in arches. The central ceiling facing the Holly of Hollies, trimmed to look like a barrel, better adorns the attraction.
The chapel has two attractive windows which farther ornament the structure. One reveals a cross-featured design while the other one, circular in shape, is decorated with pattern rolled like plastic tubes. The Holy of Hollies, well ordered, has its walls carry a series of rectangle and cross-shaped depth-less cuts. More important is the rock cut menbere tabot which is used to keep the tabot. Such features are uncommon. It can be reached about 4km after Hawzen and off the Hawzien – Nebelet road.
Abune Yemata (Guh) – Where Tourists Sense Wonder!
5 km west of Megab, there is a church, which does deserve special mention – Abune Yemata. This church requires almost vertical ascent. It does not take long to get there from the base and the visitor walks past ancient olive trees, small farmsteads and is then faced with a choice. To climb or not to climb up! Parts of the ascent are vertical for about 5 meters and there is no room for error. There are no ladders, no ropes and no hope if you fall. And yet there is a motivating force, which drives you on wards and upwards. When you are close to the entrance and you have succeeded in dealing with vertically you are faced with taking off your shoes and climbing over a bridge of rock with foot holds and hand grips in the rock face.
On top of that, to get to the church entrance, there is a narrow ledge with an abyss below, which almost teases and entices you to look over and follow some primeval instinct to jump. Ivy Pearce, one of the first few westerners to visit the site, gives account of her visit.
I climbed up some pretty stiff stuff and then came face to face with a cliff face with only footholds and hand-grips at irregular intervals. This climb I could not manage, as my arms were not long enough to reach the next hand-grip to let my foot go to find the next foot-grip. Furthermore, the hand-grips were too wide to grasp firmly with my small hands. I didn’t want to take risk, so gave it up and sat on a small ledge below.
Not many visitors are comfortable to even attempt the scary ascent, although it is extremely rewarding to enjoy the view from above of the sharp drop of the cliff. Ruth plant described the church as “…the most unusual church in the most unusual place, that place being majestic and awesome”. The interior of the church, reached via a small crack in the rock is notable for its extensive and perfectly preserved wall and ceiling frescoes, thought to date from the 15th century and regarded by Plant as “the most sophisticated frescoes found in Tigrai”. It is surprising that such great works of art existed for centuries in such unusual place which seems rather closer to the moon than to the earth, or so it seems, a refuge from the rigorous of life on the plains below.
Abune Gebre Mikael, Koraro
The Megab – Koraro road skirts the western foot side of Gheralta accompanied by various landscapes. The escarpment that overlays the settlement in the east is marked by pyramid–shaped stony hills of which one safeguards Abune Gebre Mikael, one of the best-preserved churches of the mountains. Considered one of the best and finest churches in Gherealta, this church’s cruciform plan is hewn beautifully into a dome-like rock. It features vibrant frescoes and carefully carved columns, pillars, cupolas and arches. The church can be reached after driving 23 km of local road from Megab or 18km from the departure of Abune Yemata (Guh) and after a sometimes demanding climb up a chimney in the mountain.
 Debre  Maryam Korkor and Abba Daniel Korkor
A favorite with photographers and documentary filmmakers, the twin churches of Maryam and Daniel Korkor will take your breath away!
Debre Maryam Korkor is a rock hewn-church on one of the high mountains of Gheralta just overlooking the village of Megab. The scenic climb up the mountain is not short but manageable (about 1 hour of reasonably steep mountain hiking) and offers stunning panoramic views of the Hawzien plain and the surrounding mountains. At the plateau on top of the Mountain, one of the biggest and most complex rock-hewn churches of Tigrai awaits the visitor.
    Maryam Korkor has three aisles and was hewn five bays deep into the mountain to the sanctuary entrance. Architecturally, it is one of the more complex structures, with many columns of interesting shapes and three cupolas spanning the five bays with Aksumite detailing. The layout follows a cruciform plan and there are numerous paintings on the walls and columns, some faded, and in different styles. The priest with a chalice on one of the pillars is thought by one commentator to be Melchizedek, the martyr priest. On the blind arch there are scenes from early paradise with Eve and the serpent, and frescoes of many animals, including birds, gazelles and even a pig, can be found all over the walls of the church.
A short but breathtaking walk on to a rock ledge facing east – just wide enough to prevent vertigo, but still extraordinary enough to make one speechless, the entrance to Abba Daniel Korkor is hidden. A very small door in the cliff face leads to this small church with only two rooms. The ceiling of the domed anteroom is decorated with well-preserved paintings. In this remote place, 500m above the plain, with its stunning views of the mountains of Gheralta as well as the Hawzien plain, it is easy to understand why Abba Tesfay, the local monk guarding the twin churches, believes he is closer to heaven here than he could be anywhere else on the planet.                     
  Degum Selassie Church
The site of Degum is an important chapter of Ethiopia architecture. It is the only site displaying in a single area three sanctuaries, a baptistery and a crypt-tomb, all of them copying accurately in the rock the ancient Aksumite architecture. The tomb is a rock-hewn duplicate of the tombs built in the underground of Aksum. The design of the baptistery follows the pattern of the Mediterranean baptisteries built from the 4th C on-wards. In the neighboring Nubian such baptisteries have been built up to the 10th century. Many remains of Aksumite ceramics have been collected on the site (and deposited at Addis Ababa museum in 1971). It is not possible to date a precise duration for the site, but it could be tentatively dated from the 7th till the 10th C. It is on the southern edge of the village off the road.
Mariam Papaseiti Church
It is completely hidden by heavy tropical vegetation including date palms- a very pleasant situation.  The exterior is by no means an impressive structure. The church sanctuary is rock-hewn. The narthex is built against the rock where the paintings, which have been executed on cloth, are located. The most remarkable attraction of this church is its graphic murals which tell both old and New Testament stories most vividly. They can be dated because of the donors – Bashay Dengeze and his wife Emebiet Hirut, who are depicted below the two paintings of the virgin. Bashay Dengeze was the governor of the district during the time of Ras Wolda Sellassie (1788 – 1866), who encouraged commerce and was to receive the first British mission to Ethiopia in 1804.  It can be accessible after 20 minutes’ drive with local road and 20 minutes gentle walk west of Degum.
Abune Abraham Debre Tsion
A few km after Degum, the gravel road turns west to come to a table mountain whose top houses the church of Debre Tsion. It is architecturally most outstanding and entirely hewn from living rock. Inside this church the back walls of the holy of hollies, the domes, pillars and wall panels are all abundantly decorated with fine paintings of Saints and Apostles. Especially the dome is beautifully adorned with patterns. A hidden, half-moon shaped walkway is carved around the church into the rock, leading to a dome-like chamber decorated with many geometrical designs and carvings in bas relief depicting Angels and Saints. Furthermore, this monument of great workmanship also possesses a well-preserved, beautiful 15th century circular ceremonial fan painted on vellum. The church is situated close to Degum, and accessed via a reasonably steep footpath up the mountain, roughly 45 minutes hike in average.
Yohannes Maequddi
This church is rectangular in shape and has six free-standing pillars which curve to meet each other and thereby support a ceiling carved with geometrical designs. The church contains many early paintings which are thought to be at least 300 years old, and are very different in style to any other church paintings found in Gheralta. The walls of the building are dressed with murals of saints and apostles; it is the intense atmosphere that most visitors remember. The relic is reached from the village of Metari, about 1km south of Degum.  It is continued by a steep footpath, roughly 40 minutes hike on average.

                                               HERITAGES WITH IN 100 KM RADIUS FROM AKSUM IN VISITING SEQUENCE
                                                   Yeha: The Ancient Settlement in the Abyssinian Highlands of Tigrai
This spectacular archaeological complex is located about 54km northeast of Aksum. It can be easily reached by car via the completely asphalted highway linking Aksum to Adigrat through the magnificent scenery of the Adwa Mountains. Keep following the road beyond Adwa until the signboard indicating Yeha appears on the left side of the road, approximately 49km from Aksum. Then turn left onto the unpaved track and follow it about 5km until it reaches the square at the center of the village. The famous temple and Abba Aftse Church are located on the small round hill above the village square.

The Temple
The temple at Yeha constitutes as the center of the civilization that bloomed in Ethiopia’s northern highlands millennia ago. Yeha was a center of the Di’amat kingdom, a pre–Aksumite civilization that flourished eight to nine centuries before the birth of Christ. One of the remains of this great civilization is the Temple of Yeha - the oldest standing structure in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a magnificent structure remarkable for, among other things, its structural strength, geometrical perfection and architectural beauty.
Previous studies indicated that the origin of Yeha’s civilization was southern Arabia, a mirroring of the civilization that flourished particularly in Yemen. However, this view, it turns out, was sheer conjecture. Recent findings confirm that the tailwind of civilization, in fact, blew the other way around.
After the Advent of Christianity, Abune Aftse, one of the Nine Saints, built his monastery next the ancient temple.
Over the centuries, Yeha has attracted several international travelers. The first known foreign traveler who visited Yeha was the 16th century traveler Francisco Álvares. Famous travelers like the Scot James Bruce and the Brit Henry Salt have visited Yeha in the 18th and 19th centuries respectively.
The treasures of the church of Abune Aftse are kept on the upper floor of a two-storey building resembling a traditional house, located north of the church. Leather bible pouches, crowns, crucifixes, stone inscriptions and illustrated manuscripts are displayed in this small museum.

Grat Be’al Gibri: The Monumental Building in Yeha
This edifice was built on a high podium with a monumental portico reached by a roughly built stepped structure. Pieces of dressed stone from this structure can be found throughout the building, suggesting that the rubble masonry would have been finished with dressed ashlar. Some of the huge monolithic sandstone pillars remain in their original location, pointing to a building that matched the temple in scale and quality of workmanship. The German Archaeological Institute has started new excavations on the building, which can be dated between 8th and 9th century BC.
Mountains of Adwa: Mountains in Conference
Not far from Adwa, numerous mountains with a typical conical shape - known as the Adwa Mountains due to their proximity to the town of Adwa - fill the whole terrain and present an amazing topography when observed from a distance. In addition, the strategic position and the commanding views that the mountains provide made it possible in the past for the locals to spot and prevent the advance of any potential security encroachment. Stretched north-south over hundreds of kilometers, the Mountains of Adwa chain seems – for the locals – to exist to provide a natural protection to the Ark and the holy city of Aksum, hence being also known as Hatsure Tsion, the Fences of Zion.

The Battle of Adwa
In these mountain ranges lies the site of the Battle of Adwa, where the Ethiopians won a tremendous victory over a colonial European army. Tigrai has always been a battle field where many wars were fought and much blood spilled in defending the region. The history of Adwa and its surroundings mark an important phase in world history. The Battle of Adwa culminated in the decisive defeat of the invading Italian army in 1896. The Ethiopians were led by their Emperor Menelik, Empress Taitu, the War Minister and many notable Rases (high military generals) and their ranking commanders (all with extensive experience in internal campaigns and some also having fought in battles against external invaders). There were also large numbers of Ethiopian camp followers. The Italian colonial army was commanded by General Baratieri, the governor of the then Italian colony of Eritrea, and four other generals under him who led the different attacking wings. The Ethiopia army was fighting a just war in defence of their independent motherland while the Italians were colonial aggressors attacking to gain a relatively rich colony in the Horn of Africa.
In the world famous Battle of Adwa, the comparatively poorly-equipped Ethiopians triumphed over the well-armed Italian colonizers. It was the first ever victory of a black amateur army over a white professional army.

Abba Gerimma Monastery
One of the Nine Saints settled on the southern fringe of the Adwa mountain chains, now known as the Abba Gerima Monastery. To be precise, it is located at about eight km south-east of the town of Adwa. The monastery houses the oldest known Ethiopian manuscript, a vellum gospel book, carbon dated to the Late Aksumite period (6th century). The gospel is bound in two volumes, although it seems that there were originally three books, each comprising the four gospels and a set of canon tables. They are illustrated with portraits of the evangelists, standing and holding books in a pose seen later at the church of Golgotha at Lalibela. The text is in Ge’ez, although there are clear Syrian and Armenian influences in the pictorial and decorative elements, some of which may have had a stylistic influence on the detailing of the Ethiopian churches.
Apart from being one of the oldest places of christian worship in the country, the monastry is also famous for being the resting place of the body of the most famous of all African Generals, Ras Alula Aba Nega.

Debre Damo - Home of the Hermits
The monastery of Debre Damo is noted for its extraordinary location on the crown of an Imba (Table Mountain) 600m by 180m at its widest part. It is a natural fortress, with 50m high cliffs lining most of the perimeter except for a short portion at the northeast end which provides the only point of access to the mountain monastery. Access is provided to men only, as female visitors are not allowed to the church, by climbing or being hoisted on a 15m plaited leather rope, the “Jende”, which is hanging dawn from the top of the cliff. The church is dedicated to its founder, Abune Aregawi (Zemikael), one of the ‘nine saints’ who taught gospel in the country in the 6th century. According to local tradition, Abune Aregawi is believed to have been taken to the top of the Imba with help of a serpent which was commanded to do so by God. Today the ’Jende’ symbolizes this miraculous serpent. One can use the natural footholds to climb the cliff. Inexperienced visitors need to tie their waists with the additional rope provided by the church and climb up the rough cliff.
On top of the Imba are two churches. The main one, 20m deep and 9m wide, was constructed under the auspices of Emperor Gebre Meskel, the Aksumite Ethiopian king who reigned in the 6th century. It is believed to have been built on the very site where the serpent had safely dropped the founder. Described by Richard Pankhurst as “a veritable jewel of ancient Ethiopian architecture”, the church is built following an Aksumite style of construction: layers of stone alternated with layers of wood. The walls are constructed of stones and strengthened with longitudinal beams, which are themselves fixed to the walls with projecting woods otherwise known as “monkey heads”. The walls of the church show resemblance to the decorative styles displayed on the obelisks of Aksum. The monolithic pillars, the beams, the wooden doors, and windows depict Aksumite architecture.
On the ceiling of the sanctuary one can observe wooden carvings of different animals such as cattle, elephants, water birds, etc. Ancient stone pillars can also be seen in the sanctuary and the Holy of Holies. In spite of repeated restorations over the centuries, the original church at Debre Damo still maintains the glamour and grace of the original church.
Famous for its superior Christian scholarship, difficult location and ecclesiastical treasures, the monastery of Debre Damo stands out as a site of unvarnished, authentic monastic life. Young monks from all corners of the country flock to Debre Damo in pursuit of Christian learning.  Even today, the monastery of Debre Damo is viewed as the Harvard of Christian scholarship in Ethiopia.
Indeed, Debre Damo has become synonymous with monasticism in Ethiopia. According to the renowned scholar of Ethiopian history, Richard Pankhurst, Debre Damo “takes today’s traveler into a past age and leaves him with a deeper understanding of Ethiopia’s age–old and unique civilization than mere words can give. “
Debre Damo is also rich in religious and royal treasures of national significance. Ancient coins that date back to as early as the 1st and 3rd century AD, which reveal Ethiopia’s trade relations with India and Egypt, were discovered in Debre Damo.

Enda Mariam Wukro
This church lies 7km northwest of the town of Nebelet in central Tigrai, and northeast of the Gheralta Cluster of rock-hewn churches. The church is not fully separated from the rock face, and only the southern façade is visible from the exterior. The interior has richly decorated walls and ceilings. There are three doors, two of them leading into nave and the third leading to the priests’ chamber, called Kine Mahlet, measuring 9.2m deep, 4.4m wide and 5.2m high.
This chamber is highly decorated with stone bas-reliefs and relatively recent paintings. The western and southern parts of the ceiling have large, carved Greek crosses, and the northern and the central part of ceiling have geometrically perfect domes. The ceiling is supported on two free-standing pillars. The remarkable feature of the church is that the pillars are connected by double arches, and have no central pillars. A wooden door leads to the inner altar.  The interior measures 10m x 9m x 9m.
Four free–standing pillars with pilaster capitals on top, plus another 10 wall-pillars support the ceiling. On the western side of the holy of holies, one can see a window–like opening in Aksumite style, very much reminiscent of the windows of the Lalibela churches. In fact, in many respects, the church is similar to those churches of Lalibala and Debre Damo as well. According to David Buxton, one of the noted authorities of the rock-hewn churches of Tigrai, Enda Mariam Wukro “shows clear kinship with the built church of Debre Damo”. He further states that the church has “some important” kinship with Lalibela churches – Mariam, Amanuel and Abba Libanos specifically. Another chapel, accessible by a wooden ladder, houses the tabot of St. George.  Enda Mariam Wukro is a very complex and magnificent church. According to scholar Ruth Plant, it is “without doubt a great example of Tigre architecture”.

ATSBI – WONBERTA East of Wukro town lies the Atsbi-dera plateau with its striking churches - Mikael Barka, Mikael Imba, and Debre-selam Mikael. These splendidly executed edifices are found perched on mountains with commanding the views of their surroundings. Mikael Barka The rock-hewn church of Mikael Barka can be reached after 18 km drive up the escarpment of the Atsbidera highland plateau east of the town of Wukro. This church is carved from the top of an isolated and roughly round, rock hill. From the top of the hill, one can enjoy a commanding view of the mountain of Tserae and the valley of Womberta to the southeast. The church has a built facade, which, according to the chief priest, was built in 1967. Two entrances lead from the anteroom to the sanctuary. It is a three aisles and three bayed square church, 9m wide and 9m deep. It has twelve columns, four of them freestanding and cruciform in design. The bracket capitals are at different heights and the domes and altars are skillfully executed. The ceiling is decorated with a variety of patterns in relief. Mikael Barka is not known for its wealth of paintings, but one can see murals depicting Saint Mikael. There are also faded murals visible on several columns. Tradition has it that the church was burnt by Queen Judith in the tenth century. According to oral tradition, the edifice is believed to have been sculpted in the 6th century under the auspices of Abune Abraham, an Ethiopian saint. However, David Buxton thinks that the correct date could be the 13th or 14th century. Mikael Imba Church Mikael Imba is of similar design as Abraha Atsbeha and Wukro Cherkos. With an interior area of 140 square meters, the church is perhaps the most spacious of all the rock churches in Tigrai. The top of the pillars are graced with stepped capitals, the ceiling is meticulously decorated with intricate patterns. Incised in relief, a large Greek cross adorns the ceiling. In terms of decoration and finishing, the church is second to none. According to Dr. Twelde Medhin Yosef, the pioneer in the study of the rock churches of Tigrai, Mikael Imba is “an artistically finished church.” It can be found 15km south of Atsbi or 23km from Agulae. Debre Selam Mikael Church Mikael Debre Selam is undoubtedly one of the finest churches in its architectural design. It is a church within a cave or, as Ivy Pearce referred to it, “a church within a church”. The central door leads in to the anteroom with three huge built columns, a beautiful freestanding arch and striking Aksumite “Sandwich Style” constructions (a layer of wood then a layer of stone, painted alternating in black and white). The woodwork of the door and window shutters is exquisitely decorated in geometrical patterns including swastika-like symbols. Especially the middle window shutter is decorated with a 15th century wooden painting of the Virgin Mary and the Child. The ends of the protruding part of the wooden beams are round in shape and their presence adds beauty to the church. It is also known for its wealth of paintings, which can be seen on the walls and arches of the sanctuary, if one asks the priests specifically for it (bring a torch!). The art influence, according to Pearce, is Byzantine. It can be accessed by a 9 km gravel road north east of Atsbi

follow us

Sign up For a Newsletter

Please wait

Want to tell us something?

Send a message

Contact Title