From Bahar Dar you can reach the Blue Falls. Tissat (smoke of fire) or Tis Abai (Smoke of the Blue Nile). It falls over a width of 400 metres down 40 metres. On the way to the fall you cross a Portugese bridge, made by a architect from India. This is the first bridge ever made over the Nile.

From Lake Tana the Blue Nile starts its journey to Khartoum and on to the Mediterranean. Over a length of 800 km the Nile is rushing through Ethiopia. Near Bahar Dar it was falling over a wide of 400 meters 45 meters down in a nice waterfall. Unfortunately because of dams that is not as impressive anymore as it used to  be.

Bahar Dar is a modern small town on the southeastern shore of Lake Tana in the north of Ethiopia. It hosts the fabled Blue Nile falls, the beautiful highland Lake Tana and 14th-century island monastic churches.
It lays on a altitude of 1850 metres and has a very nice center with wide lanes, surrounded by palmtrees, lots of gardens and tropical flowers and plant. The local fishermen still use papyrus boats. There is a main colourful market witch is well known for its weavers and wood workers. From the former palace of Hailè Selassiè there is a splendid view over the Nile valley.

From Bahar Dar you have to explore some of the ancient monasteries that have been built around Lake Tana or on the many islands in the lake. There are many islands dotted all over the lake and 30 of them house churches and monasteries of great cultural and historical interest. They contain beautiful manuscripts, objects of worship and crosses dating back to the dawn of Christianity.
These include Dek, Dega Stephanos, with a good collection of icons, as well as the remains of several medieval emperors, Kebran Gabriel (closed to women), and Ura Kidane Mehret with its famous frescoes.

Overview from the castle of emperor Sysneyos.
Looking over Lake Tana.
Fisherman on Lake Tana in a traditional boat.
The art in a church on a island in Lake Tana
These places all have excellent churches. Though founded much earlier, most of the buildings date from the late sixteen or early seventeenth century. Manyhave beautifull mural paintings and church crosses, and house crowns and clothes of former kings.

Access for the most part is closed to women, who are allowed to land onthe banks of the islands but not permitted to proceed any further. The clergy, who are usually very good humoured, can sometimes be prevailed upon to bring some of their treasures to the water's edge.
Women are, however, permitted to visit churches on the Zeghe peninsula and the nearby church of Ura Kidane Mehret, as well as Narga Selassie.

Kebran Gabriel, the nearest monastery to Bahar Dar, is a principal tourist attraction for male visitors only, as this is one of the places where women are forbidden. Originally established in the fourteenth century and rebuilt during the reign of Emperor Iyasy I, it is an unassuming but impressive building with a distinct cathedral atmosphere.

Ura Kidane Mehret is another populair attraction that is open to women. Located on the Zeghe peninsula, the design of the monastery dates from the same period as that of the one at Kebran Gabriel but is a more decorative building, arched over with a huge conical thatched roof and painted inside with colourfull frescoes depicting scenes from biblical lore and from the history of the Ethiopian Orthodox church.


Historical tours   /   South & Southwest tours /
East & Southeast routes  / Combinations routes
Johnny Abyssinia - Tours & Travel in Ethiopia