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Ethiopia: Blue Nile Falls

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Blue Nile Falls | Ethiopia | Africa

[Visited: October 2006]

From Bahir Dar, the Blue Nile Falls make for an easy day trip. Instead of taking a tour or one of the regular buses, we decided to rent a bicycle and make our legs to the work. It was a great way to be out in nature, to see the landscape and greet the people along the way, but at times it was also unpleasant, especially when kids started throwing stones. When we finally reached Tis Abay town, it seemed that the whole population was after us. People running with us, jumping in front of our bikes, trying to get our attention in all ways: we quickly bought our ticket, parked the bikes and walked off. Of course, this was not enough to escape, especially around the Portuguese Bridge, constructed in 1620, where souvenir sellers, kids posing as guides, and other locals just bored and looking for some diversion in the form of foreign visitors jumped on our backs.

Picture of Blue Nile Falls (Ethiopia): Blue Nile falls: main waterfall

In fact, we would be followed for a long time by locals, and it was harder than anywhere else in Ethiopia to get rid of them and just enjoy the surroudings by ourselves. Certainly, we ignored the crowd as much as we could, but it only left us with the most stubborn of self-appointed guides. Even though we visited just after the end of the rainy season, the waterfalls seemed to have lost much of their water, and in fact, we later learned that the power plant takes away some eighty percent of the waterflow. The name may be the Water that Smokes (Tis Issat) or Smoke of the Nile (Tis Abay), but the thunder has gone.

Picture of Blue Nile Falls (Ethiopia): Water falling down at the main waterfall in Blue Nile falls

Still, the Blue Nile falls are worth a visit, the setting is beautiful, and especially when you walk the loop, you can come close to the waterfall by traversing a side river and walking towards the edge of the falls. It is also possible to come close to the basin of the waterfall, where you can reach a permanent, very local rain forest that developed here thanks to the constant spray. It is very unfortunate that these falls have been greatly limited by the hydro power plant; by looking at the enormous bare cliffs you can only imagine how spectacular they must have been. It is even more unfortunate that the people of Tis Abay are trying to make any visit as unpleasant as possible.

Picture of Blue Nile Falls (Ethiopia): Blue Nile waterfalls: a detail
Picture of Blue Nile Falls (Ethiopia): Small side fall of Blue Nile falls or Tis Abay
Picture of Blue Nile Falls (Ethiopia): Blue Nile falls seen from up close
Picture of Blue Nile Falls (Ethiopia): Tis Issat or Blue Nile falls from a distance
Picture of Blue Nile Falls (Ethiopia): Close-up of Blue Nile falls or Tis Issat
Picture of Blue Nile Falls (Ethiopia): Tis Abay or Tis Issat: detail of falling water at main waterfall
Picture of Blue Nile Falls (Ethiopia): Water falling into the abyss and being hurled up in a spray at Blue Nile falls
Picture of Blue Nile Falls (Ethiopia): Small waterfall at Blue Nile falls
Picture of Blue Nile Falls (Ethiopia): Micro rain forest climate continuously fed by Blue Nile falls spray
Picture of Blue Nile Falls (Ethiopia): Portuguese bridge at the Blue Nile falls still serves visitors

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