Blue Nile Falls

We were up at 5 this morning for a 6am ride to the airport to go to Bahir Dar, an hour’s flight north. The flight was smooth and we landed around 8:30.

Bahir Dar is the home of Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile which flows 900 miles north to Khartoum where it joins the White Nile and flows on through Egypt to the Mediterranean. The longest river in the world*. We are staying near where the river flows out of the lake.

After dropping our luggage at the hotel, our guide Mas and driver Tardi took us on a ride, maybe 90 minutes over increasingly rough roads past fields and little farming villages, with herds of cattle and flocks of goats crossing the road. We finally made it to a little village at the Blue Nile falls.

Here, we picked up a local guide, Masi, a young woman who led us to the falls. We crossed the river in a little boat, then hiked about 25 minutes to the top of the falls. Along the way, Masi showed us a bunch of Khat bushes, so we picked and chewed the youngest leaves to enjoy a mild stimulant effect.

Much of the river’s flow is diverted to a hydroelectric dam, and it is the dry season, but there was still a pretty good flow going over the cliff, though nothing like the Niagara-like cascade they show in travel promos. We hiked around, finding different viewpoints, then headed back.

Back in the city, we had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the lake. Delicious fried tilapia (Nile perch) with a spicy beriberi sauce. Total cost with beer was less than $5 each. Then Mas took us to the local market, colorful with fruits, vegetables, spices, hardware, textiles, lots of people… one guy took out his phone and made like he was taking our picture and we all had a good laugh.

We ended the day on a hill overlooking the lake and the first several miles of the Nile.

All day, Tardi, our driver, was honking and waving at people he knows around town. We were calling him the mayor of Bahar Dar.

Later, back at the hotel, we were sitting on the porch of our little thatch roofed bungalow when a troop of monkeys came through the avocado trees that are planted around this beautiful property. Gray with black faces, white “wings” of fur on each side of their face, and blue balls.