Bahir-dar is situated on the lake Tana which is doted with island monasteries and churches. Some are closed to woman but the churchs on the Zegie peninsula their excellent murals, are open to both sexes. In addition to being an attractive city in its own right, Bahir Dar serves the obvious base from which to explore the region’s other main attractions. Bahir Dar aside, the only significant lakeshore settlement is Gorgora, which lies on the Northern Shore 60Km from the city of Gondar. It is possible to cross the lake by boat, from Bahir Dar to Gorgora, or vice versa.
The blue fall (Tisist Falls)
The river Nile the longest river in Ethiopia even in Africa. From lake Tane the Blue Nile knows locality as Abbay flows from Ethiopia to meet white Nile in Sudan (Khartoum) to form the great river that gives life to Egypt and the Sudan.
It has been said that the Blue Nile contributes up to 80% of the Nile’s flow. Nowhere is it more spectacular than when it thunders over the Tisisat Falls near Bahar Dar. Here millions of gallons of water cascade over the cliff face and into a gorge, creating spectacular rainbows, in one of the most awe-inspiring displays in Africa, earning its name ‘Smoking Water’. The Blue Nile falls can easily be reached from Bahar Dar and the Scenic beauty of the Blue Nile Gorge, 225KM from Addis Ababa, can be enjoyed as part of an excursion from the capital.
Lake Tana the Largest Lake in Ethiopia is the source of the Blue Nile from where it starts its long journey to Khartoum and on to the Mediterranean. The 37 islands that are scattered about the surface of the Lake shelter fascinating churches and monastries, some of which have histories dating back to the 13th Century. However, it should be noted that most of the religious houses are not open to women. The most interesting Islands are Birgida Mariam, Dega Estefanous, Dek, Narga, Tana Cherkos, Mitsele Fasiledes, Kebran and Debre Maryam.
Kebran Gabriel is the principal monastery which can be visited by male tourists from Bahar Dar with its impressive Cathedral-like Building first built at the end of the 17th Century. Dega Estephanos, which is also closed to women, is on an island in the lake, and is reached by a very steep and winding path. Although the church is relatively new (only one hundred years old), it houses a Madonna painted in the 15th century. However, the treasury of the monastery is a prime attraction with the remains of several emperors, as well as their robes and jewels. On the banks of the lake are many more religious houses such as Ura Kidane Mehret and Narga Selassie, many of which are open to women. Near Gorgora, at the northern end of the lake, the Susneyos palace is a forerunner of the magnificent palaces and castles of Gonder, and dates from the reign of Emperor Susneyos. In the same area the medieval church of Debre Sina Mariam is particularly important.
A sail or cruise on Lake Tana is one of the most pleasant excursions for visitors to this region, particularly in the heart of the summer. Boats can be hired from the Marine Transport Authority in Bahir Dar. Along the lakeshore bird life, both local and migratory visitors, make this an ideal place for birdwatchers. Bird lovers will not want to miss Fasilidas island, which is especially famous as an important wetland. The whole of the lake Tana region and the Blue Nile Gorge have a wide variety of birds both endemic and visitors. The variety of habitats, from rocky crags to rain forests and important wetlands, ensure that many other different species should be spotted.