Bahir Dar, “the Ethiopian Riviera”

Originally my plan was to go straight from Addis to Gondar, but when I was asking the buses at 4 o’clock in the morning, all of them were fully booked, but there was a seat available to Bahir Dar, and I must say I’m glad that I did it that way.

Bahir Dar is often called the Ethiopian Riviera, mainly because of the flat streets by the lake with palm trees lined up by the road. The city is a popular destination both for international and local tourists, people who come to enjoy the many hotels and restaurants the small town has to offer and to see the monasteries which are only reachable by boat. It also used to be very popular for tourists to go visit the Blue Nile Falls, but when the government built a huge dam they apparently destroyed that tourist magnet.

A traditional papyrus boat on Lake Tana

My couchsurfing host was working in the tourism business and hooked me up with a free room at NGG hotel and a free boat trip on lake Tana.

People painting the walls of Ura Kidane which recently had a fire

It took us about two hours to reach the Zeke peninsula where the Bete Selassie and Ura Kidane Meret monasteries were located. Just like all the monasteries on Lake Tana they were round with colorful walls on the inside. The tour continued to the Kibran island for St. Gabriel Monastery and Entos Eyesu Monastery Island, but as each of them had a 3eur entrance, me and two other tourists decided to just relax on the two last islands.

The highlight of the stay was chatting with the neighbors of my host who invited me for dark, homemade barley beer and watching a traditional dance show in the evening.

Drinking local, dark barley beer at my hosts place

Traditional Ethiopian dancing at Belageru Cultural Club