Lake Tana



Lying 210 mi/340 km northwest of Addis Ababa, Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile. Bahir Dar, a thriving town set at an elevation of 6,000 ft/1,800 m, is the best base for visiting the region. The lake has dozens of small islands, many of which have ancient churches and monasteries. Some of the monasteries (including Kibran Gebriel) do not allow women to enter, so inquire before traveling. One of the most interesting monasteries is Ura-Kidane Mihret, which houses frescos and illuminated Bibles (open to all visitors). Daga Istifanos also has good frescos, but its museum is more memorable: In one room are the mummified remains of several Ethiopian emperors, preserved in glass coffins and illuminated only by candlelight.

South of Lake Tana and Bahir Dar are the 140-ft-/45-m-high Blue Nile Falls, known locally as Tis Isat (Smoke of Fire) Falls and most impressive during the rainy season. During the dry season, the falls are narrow and muddy. If you are in Bahir Dar on a Saturday, don't miss the town's market.

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