Bahir Dar is a city in north western Ethiopia and the capital of the Amhara Administrative Region. The city is situated on the southern shore of the source of the Blue Nile.It is 550 kilometers from Addis Ababa, the capital city. Its climate is somewhat tropical and different from the typical highland climate of northeastern Shoa.
Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia and is the source of the Blue Nile River, which flows to Khartoum, Sudan and beyond. There are 37 islands in the lake, upon which some 20 monasteries from the 14th and 17th century exists. Although it is relatively small in comparison with the three “great lakes” of East Africa Lake Tana is very important to Ethiopia as a permanent source of both water and hydroelectric power. The lake is situated in the northern highlands at an altitude of approximately 1800 meters. Four perennial rivers and numerous seasonal streams feed the lake
Monasteries of Lake Tana
There are about 37 Islands on lake Tana , the largest lake in Ethiopia. Many of Lake Tana's Islands and peninsuals shelter churches and monasteries of historical and cultural interest most of which were founded in or before the 15th century are still in service today .some of these include Narge Selassie, Dega Istifanos,Ura Kidanemeheret , Tana Cherkos,Kibran Gebriel, and Debre Mariam. Access for some of the churches is closed to women, who are allowed to land on the banks of the island but not permitted to proceed further.
There are also other Islands which are suitable for bird lovers and are considered as nature sanctuaries . Mitsel Fasiladas Island is a breeding ground for wetland birds. The Zege Peninsula, which supports by far the largest remaining tract of natural forest on Lake Tana, still harbours monkeys and various forest birds, while most of the monastic islands remain remarkably undisturbed in environmental terms. Other places known for bird life include the area around Debre Mariam, the outlet of the Blue Nile,the eastern shore of Lake Tana and the south Western end of Narge Selassie.
The Blue Nile Falls
The Blue Nile falls into a canyon to form one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Africa, --150 feet high and about a half mile wide, these millions of gallons of water gush downward creating a cloud of mist which is called Tisisat--"a Smoking fire".
The first person to make his way to the source, perhaps in search of the Ark of Covenant, was the Scot James Bruce. James Bruce, in his search for the source of the Nile, came upon the falls in 1770 and described it perfectly as:
“The river ... fell in one sheet of water, without any interval, above half an English mile in breadth, with a force and a noise that was truly terrible, and which stunned and made me, for a time, perfectly dizzy. A thick fume, or haze, covered the fall all around, and hung over the course of the stream both above and below, marking its track, though the water was not seen. ... It was a most magnificent sight, that ages, added to the greatest length of human life, would not deface or eradicate from my memory.”