Reasons to visit the Blue Nile Falls

The Falls

The Blue Nile river, which emanates from the nearby Lake Tana, cascades down a 42m-high drop to produce a dazzling spray of mist and rainbows. In the rainy season, when the falls are at their strongest, it's easy to see why the locals call it 'Tis Abay' meaning ‘the Great Smoke’ in Amharic. 

Hiking trails

The paths that lead to the falls wind through beautiful, verdant countryside and across a 17th century bridge (the first bridge to span the Blue Nile). There are a few routes to choose from, and it's an hour or so each way. 

Bahir Dar

Bahir Dar is a picturesque town on the shores of Lake Tana, and your base for exploring the Blue Nile Falls. Bahir Dar is often the first stop on Ethiopia's northern circuit. From here, you can take a boat trip out on to Lake Tana to explore the ancient island monasteries, before heading off to visit the falls in the afternoon. 

Bird life

The countryside around the falls is a great birding destination (make sure to pack a pair of binoculars!). There are a number of endemic species in the area, including the wattled ibis. 

The Blue Nile Falls under blue sky in Ethiopia

The Blue Nile Falls is the most spectacular waterfall in Ethiopia

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The river continues on its path to Khartoum, Sudan, where it joins the White Nile. The construction of a much-needed hydroelectric dam upstream has reduced the flow of the falls, so while they are spectacular in the rainy season (May - September), the flow is greatly reduced in the dry season (October - April). 

Visit the Blue Nile Falls on these trips

The tours below showcase just some of what is possible in Ethiopia. Use these itineraries as starting points, or to draw inspiration. Then get in touch, and let our expert team help craft the perfect itinerary for you.

How do I get to the Blue Nile Falls?

The Blue Nile Falls are located 30km Southeast of Bahir Dar. It takes around an hour to drive from Bahir Dar to the village of Tis Abay - the entrance point to the falls. 

From Tis Abay, you will arrange your ticket (if you have booked with us, you won't pay anything extra), before beginning the walk to the falls. If you have not arranged your trip through a tour operator, you will have to pay 50 birr per person (children go free) at the ticket office, which is open from 7am to 5:30pm.

There are no licensed taxis that can take you from Bahir Dar to the Blue Nile Falls, so your only options are hiring a private vehicle or taking a bus. If you have booked with us, all transport will be arranged for you. 

Buses from Bahir Dar depart roughly on the hour for Tis Abay village. The journey takes around an hour and costs 15 birr (~50 cents). The last bus back leaves around 4.30pm, but can leave earlier, so it's best to get back to the village for 3:30pm. 

Woman in front of Blue Nile Falls in Bahir Dar

The view on the approach walk to Blue Nile Falls

Hiking to the Blue Nile Falls

The main trail

There are three hiking trails that lead to the Blue Nile Falls.

The first route starts 50 metres from the ticket office and takes you through the scenic countryside and along the edge of the gorge forged by the river. You'll cross the river via the historic 17th-century Portuguese stone bridge - the first of its kind in Ethiopia. The path then ascends through some small hamlets, where local children sell souvenirs. You'll soon reach the main viewpoint that gives you the full view of the falls, the Blue Nile river, and the surrounding countryside.

The hike is between 30-60 minutes each way, and while it easy enough to not cause any problems for most visitors, on hot days it can be quite tiring!

Blue Nile Falls in Ethiopia

The main viewpoint of the Blue Nile Falls

Getting to the Blue Nile Falls by Boat

A shorter, less physically demanding option is to cross the river on a motorboat and then walk for around 20 minutes to the bottom of the waterfall. Here, in the dry season, you can stand behind the waterfall as its plunges over the cliff, and even take a dip in the pool at the base of the falls.

In the rainy season when the river is running strong, boats might not be able to cross. 

Blue Nile Falls in Bahir Dar behind a tree

Blue Nile Falls in Bahir Dar

Combine the two routes

A third option is to combine the two above routes, by taking a path that leads between the bottom of the waterfall and the viewpoints above. This involves starting with the first route and then, after reaching the viewpoints, continuing down the trail to the bottom and traversing the suspension bridge over the narrower Alata river.

This circuit is longer, and the round trip (including time spent at the falls) is 2-3 hours.

Blue Nile Falls in Bahir Dar Ethiopia

The force from the falls is impressive when the hydro-dam is switched off!

Accommodation options near the Blue Nile Falls

The Blue Nile Falls are located near the charming lakeside town of Bahir Dar. The town is a popular first stop on the historic north circuit of Ethiopia, and will be your base for exploring the Blue Nile Falls.

The best accommodation option in Bahir Dar is the Kuriftu Resort - a charming lakeside hotel that walks the line between boutique and luxury accommodation. 

It is the most expensive option, but there are a number of decent mid-range accommodation options as well. 

Kuriftu Resort and Spa in Bahir Dar

Dinner on the shores of Lake Tana, Kuriftu Resort Bahir Dar

When is the best time to visit the Blue Nile Falls?

The best time to visit the Blue Nile Falls is between August and September, during Ethiopia’s wet season when the river is flowing at its fullest.

From January to March, the falls are generally a lot less impressive and are little more than a shower of water. If the hydro-electric dam is also turned on, the falls more or less grind to a halt. 

The falls are still worth a visit outside the rainy season, as the countryside walks, local communities, and countryside landscapes are a great afternoon out. 

Ready to visit the Blue Nile Falls?

The trips below show just some of what is possible in Ethiopia - get in touch with us and we can help create a tailor-made holiday that's perfect for you.

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