Bahir Dar at a glance

Bahir Dar is a beautiful lakeside town, and often the first stop on the historic north circuit of Ethiopia. Most people spend a night or two at Bahir Dar, giving you enough time to soak up the city and enjoy the scenery. 

The most popular thing to do in Bahir Dar is the boat trip out on to Lake Tana, Ethiopia's largest lake. Lake Tana is home to a number of islands, and on these islands sit ancient monasteries with incredible frescoes and wall paintings. 

Slightly outside of town is the Blue Nile Falls. Most impressive during the rainy season from June to September, the falls are the biggest on the Nile river system. 

Blue Nile Falls in Bahir Dar

The rainbow mist of the Blue Nile Falls

Things To Do in Bahir Dar

Visit Lake Tana

45 minutes in from your flight from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar, you will notice one of East Africa’s prominent natural jewels, Lake Tana. 84km in length, 66km in width, 15 meters deep and at an elevation of 1,788 meters, this vast body of water is the largest lake in Ethiopia.

Lake Tana is also the birthplace of the Blue Nile, the major tributary to the world’s largest river, the great Nile.

Located in a depression of the north-west plateau, Lake Tana is home to about 37 islands and peninsulas, where some of the world’s oldest churches and monasteries are found, the most famous being the Kebran Gabriel. Kebran Gabriel is believed to have been built in the 14th century and contains a museum with old paintings and manuscripts. It is important to note this monastery is only open to male visitors.

Not a popular as the Kebran Gabriel, but far more majestic, is the Ura Kidane Mehret monastery located on an island taking the same name. Founded by Saint Betre Maryiam, this 14th-century church has a stunning interior ornamented with frescos of the then ruler of the Gojjam province, Tekle Haymanot. This island, including the monastery and church, is open to all members of the public.

The lake is also home to a wide range of species of birds which are definitely worth seeing. Recognizing its national and international natural and cultural importance, UNESCO welcomed Lake Tana to its Biosphere Reserve list in 2015.

Discover the Blue Nile Falls

Tis Abay (or the “great smoke” as the locals tend to call it), the Blue Nile Falls is a waterfall on the Blue Nile. Located 35km from Bahir Dar, the falls of Tis Abay are 45m high, making it the 9th tallest waterfall in Africa.

The continuous deluge of water that falls from this mystic tourist attraction often produces stunning rainbows, shining magnificently across the gorge – an enthralling and worthwhile sight for those who have trekked through the rolling hills to get there.

Legend has it that it was the famous Scottish traveller and travel writer James Bruce who first discovered the Blue Nile Falls and named it the primary source for the Nile River. In his famous book ‘The Life and Adventures of Bruce, the African Traveller’, he described the fall as “a magnificent sight, that ages, added to the greatest length of human life, would not efface or eradicate from my memory”. 

Places to stay in Bahir Dar

Kuriftu Resort

Kuriftu Resort is the place to stay in Bahir Dar. With 28 spacious rooms all with stunning views, a modern restaurant, a pool and a fully equipped spa, Kuriftu will have you on a digital detox in no time.  

Kuriftu's lakeside location, good amenities, and fantastic service makes it the best place to stay in Bahir Dar. 

Blue Nile Resort Hotel

The resort is a short 15-minute drive from the airport and is a large property with 135 rooms, all with modern amenities.

As standard, guests will receive free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, mini bar, a safe box, and a flat screen television with 25 paid and free to air channels.

Nestled on the shores of the Lake Tana, the hotel boasts wonderful views and is a perfect spot to wind down after a long day of exploring.

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