Bahir Dar

Ethiopia’s third largest city was an unfortunately underwhelming end to what had been an incredible fortnight exploring this fascinating country. The city itself has little to see, but it does sit on the shores of Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia and source of the Blue Nile. Arriving into town at sunset was a promising start.

And the sunrise was equally good.

Things went downhill with half a day spent visiting the Blue Nile Falls, reached by an hour and a half drive along an extremely bumpy and dusty road, followed by a bit of a walk, crossing a 17th century bridge built by Portuguese missionaries. The falls were, and probably still are in rainy season, impressive, but pretty pointless to visit in the dry season. Oddly I saw more tourists here than almost anywhere else in Ethiopia, for probably the weakest sight in the whole trip.

The afternoon was better, with an hour long boat trip across Lake Tana to the Zege Peninsula, home to about 5,000 people, coffee plantations, and seven historic churches. We visited the circular, thatched 14th Azewa Mariam Monastery, which had some wonderful 18th paintings on canvas inside.

Next to the church is the monastery school, where three students share a tiny tukul for three years studying. To become a priest requires seven years training.

To reach the monastery we had to run a gauntlet through endless stalls though thankfully the stall keepers weren’t too pushy.

To finish with an unexpected sight driving from finishing the trek near Gashina to Bahir Dar, a dozen Common Green Baboons along the side of the road. These were much more aggressive looking than the baboons I’d seen in the Simien Mountains. I was grateful for the safety of the vehicle being this close to them.

Author: jontycrane

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