Monasteries and hippos

We took a minibus on a four hour drive from Gonder to Bahir Dar, which is a little town next to Lake Tana.  That afternoon we watched the pelicans down at Mango Bar by the lakefront – the pelicans congregate outside the bar and it’s a popular place for a juice or a coffee.

 

 

Pelicans chilling
Pelicans chilling

 

The next morning we went on a boat ride on Lake Tana to visit some of the monasteries that are on islands and peninsulas.  We landed on a peninsula and walked through coffee groves to one of the churches.  Reubs and I decided not to pay to go into each church, but just to a couple of them as they have become quite expensive to visit.  It is a constant balance for us while travelling to work out where to spend money and where to save money! We went inside Ura Kidane Meret and one other church, where we saw beautiful art and an ancient illustrated book.  We skipped another church, and were unable to go into a fourth as it was closed, but we really enjoyed motoring around the lake.

 

 

One of the churches
One of the churches

 

One of the traditional boats
A traditional boat

 

Some of the art inside the church
Some of the art inside the church

 

More beautiful art
More beautiful art

 

One of the ancient books
One of the ancient books

 

The highlight of the boat trip was at the outlet of the Blue Nile, where we saw three hippos in the water – two parents and a baby. I was a little concerned that they would attack, but the hippo family was fairly chilled and left our boat alone.  It was awesome to see hippos in their natural habitat.

 

 

Hippos in the water
Hippos in the water

 

Cruising back to Bahir Dar
Cruising back to Bahir Dar

 

On our last day we caught a local bus to the nearby village of Tis Isat.  However, we had neglected to take into account that it was a market day – so it took about 2 hours to cover what should have taken 45 minutes as the bus kept stopping to pick people up.  Once at Tis Isat, we were disappointed to learn that the Blue Nile falls had no water running but decided to still do the hike to see them.  (We had been pre-warned that there was significantly less water these days than when I had been there last due to the dam that was built, but we were hoping for some water!)

 

 

The falls in 2006
The falls in 2006

 

The falls in 2013
The falls in 2013

 

We walked from the town to the Portugese Bridge, where we crossed and then climbed a hill.  Along the way we met lots of children who asked for “candy? pen? chocolate? money?” Not being big fans of giving to children and not actually taking any of those items hiking, we declined to give them anything. It’s probably a whole different reflection post to write about giving money to children, but this was something we faced throughout Ethiopia.  We were slightly underwhelmed by the actual falls – especially when compared to how I had seen them on my trip seven years earlier!

 

Looking down on market day
Looking down on market day

 

The Portuguese Bridge
The Portuguese Bridge

 

On the swing bridge
On the swing bridge

 

Our boat ride that completed the circuit
Our boat ride that completed the circuit

 

 

We did enjoy the walk across the new suspension bridge, through the local villages and completed the circuit by going back to Tis Isat via local motor boat.  When we got back to Bahir Dar we attempted to book a bus back to Addis Ababa and found out there were none available – so without other options we booked ourselves on a minibus that picked us up at 4:30am the next morning. The minibus was not a fast option – it took us two hours to find enough passengers to leave Bahir Dar, and then another 12 or so to get to Addis Ababa.  The other passengers on the minibus were lovely, showing us how to throw bread to feed the baboons along the way, taking us where we needed to go in Addis and just generally being friendly, but it was still a very long day!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. murray says:

    Amazing artwork at the church. Yes, the falls are a little unwhelming!

    Like

  2. murray says:

    Underwhelming i meant to type on my tablet!

    Like

  3. Mum Bunn says:

    Looks interesting! I like the idea of motoring around Lake Tana. And your then and now photographs of the falls are incredible!!

    Like

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