Blue Nile Falls and Lake Tana Monasteries

Blue Nile Falls, locally known as Tis- Isat Falls – ‘Smoke of Fire’ – the Blue Nile Falls is the most dramatic spectacle on either the White or the Blue Nile rivers. 400 meters (1,312 feet) wide when in flood, and dropping over a sheer chasm more than 45 meters (150 feet) deep, the falls throw up a continuous spray of water, which drenches on lookers up to a kilometre away. This misty deluge produces rainbows, shimmering across the gorge, and a small perennial rainforest of lush green vegetation, to the delight of the many monkeys and multicoloured birds that inhabit the area.

Lake Tana has thirty-seven islands scattered about on the 3,000-square-kilometer (1,860 square-miles) surface of Ethiopia’s largest body of water. Some twenty of these islands shelter churches and monasteries of significant historical and cultural interest. They are decorated with beautiful paintings and are the repository of innumerable treasures.

The islands and peninsulas of Lake Tana can most conveniently be approached by boat from the port of Bahir Dar, on the southern side of the lake, through boats crossing the lake can also be obtained at the port of Gorgora on the northern shore. You can hire a boat from the Maritime Transport Authority, based in Bahir Dar. The nearest monastery – Kebran Gabriel – is about a two-hour round trip.