After an early wake up call, we checked into our flight to Bahir Dar. Unlike most other African airlines, Ethiopian Airlines often leave early so it is worth checking in well before you need to. The security at the airports is very tight so it does take longer to get through the airports. Whilst their security is very tight, according to the poster below they might be slightly more relaxed on the safety aspect of flights!
After a 45 minute flight we landed in Bahir Dar which is a relatively new city having grown substantially since 1976. It has a feeling of a beachside resort as it is located on the edge of Lake Tana. We stayed in a charming resort called Kuriftu Resort which has 28 rooms and a very inviting swimming pool.
Unfortunately a dip was not on the cards as quickly we dumped our bags and set off on our journey to the Blue Nile Falls.
The 1.5 hour journey took us through some beautiful Ethiopian countryside. It was so much greener and fertile than we imagined. The preconception most of us had of Ethiopia being dry, arid and drought ridden was so far from the truth. There are huge tracts of the country that are very dry but the majority is very green and fertile.
As it was Sunday everyone was wearing their Sunday best comprising of long white cotton shawls which looked stunning when en mass. It was a 20 min walk to get to the falls which took us through some little villages. It was lovely to get so close to the villagers and get an insight into village life as you’re meandering through them.
We were also lucky enough to come across an elderly lady making traditional njera, a pancake like staple food.
The Blue Nile falls were not as dramatic as normal due to it being dry season but they were still very impressive to see. The best time to visit the falls is August, Sept & Oct just after the long rains when the river is full.
We were treated to the sight of a whole bank full of Cayenne Bee Eaters and a Long Crested Eagle as we emerged from the falls…..this was just a taster for some of the incredible birdlife we would be treated to in Ethiopia. By the end of the trip we had all turned into twitchers!
The drive back seemed far quicker although slightly disconcertingly we came across two accidents….both featuring local buses!
After a delicious lunch we set off on on our boat trip across Lake Tana to visit two of the 12 monasteries on the lake called Ura Kidanemihret and Azora Mariam. It was fascinating walking through the thick forest before emerging into a clearing with a very unassuming round church in the middle. We made our way through a gap in the wall to discover the most incredible paintings depicting scenes from the Old and New Testament all over their walls. It is quite mind blowing to think of all the incredible artwork in the (relative!) middle of nowhere!
The team admiring the church paintings