Historians debate whether or not the ruins of Qohaito were once the inhabited walls of the ancient town of Koloe, a commercially important place during the good times of the great Aksumite kingdom. Even if it wasn’t, the city’s impressively large remains – covering an area of 2.5km (1.5mi) by 15km (9mi) – are testament to its once-great stature.
Though only about 20% of the ruins have been excavated, it’ll still take you half a day to pick your way through the digging’s main sights. The four columns and assorted rubble of the Temple of Mariam Wakiro are thought to have begun life intact as an early Christian church and are surrounded by the dusty remains of a half-dozen other temples. To the north of here is an underground, sandstone-hewn Egyptian Tomb, so named not because its Egyptian origin has been conclusively proven but because of the tomb’s impressive dimensions. A short walk from Qohaito takes you to the edge of a vast canyon that plummets dramatically. On a clear day it offers phenomenal views. Near Qohaito are several rock-art sites, including the cave of Adi Alauti and another shelter with over 100 painted figures.