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Bahir Dar attractions – Lake Tana Monasteries and Blue Nile Falls

Located on the southern tip of Lake Tana, Bahir Dar is one of the largest cities in Ethiopia and an ideal stopover town on the way to many attractions in northern Ethiopia. There are several places to visit around Bahir Dar itself as well, best known are Lake Tana monasteries and Blue Nile Falls. I took a tour to visit monasteries, but visited Blue Nile falls independently using public transport.

Lake Tana Monasteries

There are several old Ethiopian Coptic monasteries and churches scattered around Lake Tana shores and islands. Oldest ones date back to the 14th century, others were built over the following centuries. Don’t get fooled by the simple outside look; these monasteries are filled with beautiful paintings inside.

Blue Nile Falls

The town of Bahir Dar is built on the edge of Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia. The lake gives the town a tropical feel that is more like the southern valley town of Awasa than it is to northern Ethiopia. With its diverse plant life and pretty lakeside vistas Bahir Dar is a very attractive town. It is also the base for visits to the Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana’s many monasteries.

The Blue Nile Falls, known locally as Tis Abay (smoke of the Nile) or Tis lsat (water that smokes), are best known for the volume of water that pours from the 45m high rocks, especially during the rainy season. Above the waterfall the Nile is 400m wide while below the falls, the gorge is estimated to be 37m deep.

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