Roadtrip Day 19: The Blue Nile Falls

Monday 22nd January, 2018

Today’s trip two 25 km journeys, 1 hour drive each way

Following Miss Google’s lead, we head to the Blue Nile Falls at Tiss Isat, the falls are known as Tiss Abaya (which means, great smoke). Google does take us along some very interesting roads in Bahir Dar; we drive up a wide road that becomes a track and then a building site and then a hole…. and have to reverse back to a point where we can actually turn the car. All while being watched by curious locals. We don’t give up, and try a parallel road to get us in the right direction.

All good this time, and we arrive at the Blue Nile Falls park office, donate our 200 Birr each, and then drive another 1500 metres to the start of the walk. It is a well signposted walk, so we ignore the offers from local guides, and walk around the children selling cheap trinkets, to start the half hour walk to the falls. The first section of the walk crosses a small stone bridge that was build by emperor Susenyos in 1626. It is the oldest bridge still in existence in Ethiopia.

17th century bridge over the Blue Nile

The Blue Nile Falls are 400 metres wide and have an up to 50 metre drop. A power station was build here in 2003 to provide the local area with hydro electricity. This does mean that the amount of water diverted to generate electricity varies, and so does the amount of water left to fall over the falls.

Blue Nile falls in the dry season

The walk ends with crossing a long suspension bridge. For the fainthearted, you can opt to ride on a donkey across this bridge, keeping your eyes closed. Or do what I did, and hold on tightly to the person in front of you, while shuffling forward.

Blue Nile Falls suspension bridge (donkeys for scale)

It is an amazing experience, well worth crossing that bridge for. We stand in the spray, and even at half capacity, the waterfall is impressive.

This is one of Ethiopia’s top tourist destination, and the local children can be a bit of a nuisance harassing you for money, pens, and money to have photo’s taken.

Johannes and me at the base of the falls

As we head back to Bahir Dar we discover the Ethiopian equivalent of the Australian road train; six carts, piled high with hay, drawn by one horse.

Ethiopian Roadtrain

We have a late lunch with plenty of Bedele (beer) and Ambo & Coke (sparkling water and coca cola mix), and then go for a leisurely stroll along the lake shore.

We book a private motor boat trip to the island monasteries for tomorrow, and see a boat and papyrus canoe race which draws a large number of local spectators.

Lake Tana boat race, Bahir Dar

Travel Details and Tips:

Accomodation: Grand Hotel, Bahir Dar

Tip: If you want to see the Blue Nile Falls at its biggest, go in the rainy season, August and September are best. We went in January, which is in the middle of the dry season, when the waterfall is at its smallest. However, it was still very much worth the effort!

One thought on “Roadtrip Day 19: The Blue Nile Falls

  1. Janny, another good time to see the falls is when the powerplant is shut down for (unscheduled) maintenance and no water is diverted to the turbines. This happen quite often but is difficult to predict!


    Liked by 1 person

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