Travel article: Gondar & Bahir Dar

Travel blogger: Christelle & Cedric

Trip story: 100 days in Africa!

Image for blog article: Gondar & Bahir Dar

Bahir Dar, Éthiopie

Ethiopia 5 days - July 2019






Our mission to realize in two days: 3 bus, no reservation (this concept does not exist in Ethiopia;)), 540 kms of mountain roads, go!

But where are we going? The day before we hesitate. Is Simien National Park worth it in the rainy season? What about Axum and its stelae dating back to the 4th century?

At the sight of rain and landslides, we decide to draw and join Gondar then Bahir Dar. No trek for us this time!


The many use of mini-van will be smoothly the first day and we are again surprised by the kindness of Ethiopians, how surprised to see us in their public transport!


The second day will be more difficult. 12 hours by bus, certainly in incredible landscapes, mountainous, green, isolated villages with wooden huts but a bus that can barely go up and every turn makes us get too close to the ravine on the right and on the left, ravine that seems to call us ... We get a bit scared. We are stopped by the army a dozen times in these two days of journey following the inter-ethnic clashes which notably overthrew and killed the chief of the armed forces a few days ago ... We are snubbed during these searches for our relief.


We will stay two nights in Gondar, the first Ethiopian city where we can stroll without the risk of getting into a donkey or a tuktuk! We will discover a special culinary specialty-the mango juice / avocado. Quite good.


Former royal city in the 17th and 18th centuries, the city is fortified, perched at 2200 meters above sea level and is surrounded by hills.

A pleasure to stroll in the ruins of the castle Fasil Ghebi- Emperor Yohannes I erected. Then many emperors will add structures over the centuries.

At the time, place of religious celebrations or not and holiday resort of the emperor, today many family photo shooting takes place there. What a surprise to discover a fortified city in Ethiopia.

Then we continue to discover the monasteries and churches of the country with the amazing church Debra Berhan Selassie.

If the structure dates back to the 17th century and the 19th century-very modern paintings for Ethiopian heritage, we appreciate the details starting with the hundred or so angels on the ceiling that stares us down and represents the omnipresence of God. On the walls, the story of the Bible is told to us and the priest (translated by a very friendly Ethiopian tourist) spend long minutes to dive into it. A symbol that will facilitate our understanding: the bad guys are painted in profile and therefore always have only one eye.

As an anecdote, just as in India or Japan, modernity slowly interferes with the established traditions and we will see a group of students praying fervently before taking a selfie in the church! Many women have a tattooed cross on the forehead and men with facial scarification related to religion as well. Unique.




Then we reach Bahir Dar, at the edge of Lake Tana in local mini-bus always.

A small attempt at a regular scam that we avoid thanks to Google translation and our learning of figures in Amharic. Several locals will exclaim "but you speak Amharic?" No, no only the numbers that suit us (and the king formulas of course!)


If once again the city has little interest, we are delighted with our cruise on Lake Tana which allowed us to reach beautiful monasteries. Lake sacred because at the mouth of the Nile, many pelicans and hippopotamuses laze there.

Life flows slowly around the lake between laundry, dishes.

We travel to the Zege Peninsula to visit Azuwa Maryam and Ura Kidane Meret.

The monasteries are very well preserved and present again many religious paintings. We will spend some time admiring them in the company of the monks very curious to see us here.

The next day, we go to discover a new type of landscape: a waterfall!

It is by public transport that we go there in probably the bus the oldest we took ... A lady went through the floor! More fear than harm, we continue the road through many villages teeming with life, the rainy season is raging, everything is muddy and very green too. The advantage of the rainy season!

The waterfalls are about 45 minutes walk from the village and it is with the sound of guns that we finish the climb. A burial takes place and apparently the shots are part of the ceremony and procession...

Nature is lush (thank you rain!) and we discover waterfalls high 40 meters and 400 meters wide. The mud is carried away in its passage and besides if in English we call them Blue Nil Falls, in Amharic it is actually the Dark waterfalls!


A dam was built and is a source of conflict between Ethiopia and Egypt, which sees the flow of the Nile reduced.






This is how we ended our incredible stay in Ethiopia. We were blown away by the diversity of landscapes, culture and historical heritage very well preserved.

We had to go to the south of the Omo valley to meet the tribes but the bacteria and parasites that lodged in our bellies decided otherwise!

Rest forced for 4 days in Addis Ababa before advancing our flight to France!


Some recommendations:

# hawzen- adigrat: bus every hour and lasts about 1 hour. 25 Birr per person.

# adigrat-shire: we were lucky enough to find a direct bus from Adigrat. 5 hours, 120 birr the ticket. Otherwise you have to join Axum then Shire.

# Bus shire-gondar (and stop at Debark for Simien Park): every day at 6am. 8-12h of journey. 115 birr the ticket.

#Night at Shire in front of the train station at Kelama Pension. 630 birr at night. We recommend it thoroughly!

# Gondar: nights at Sycamore pension. Very basic but clean. 350 birr at night. Be careful no generator so annoying during the too many power cuts.

# Visit of the fortress: 200 birr per person.

# Bus Gondar-Bahir Dar: the station is outside the city, about 10 kms. 150 birr in tuktuk. Then bus about 3h for 85 birr per person.

# Nights in Bahir Dar at the very good Delano Hotel for 800 Birr per night.

# Cruise on Lake Tana organized by the hotel for 1400 Birr for the boat.

# each entry of monasteries costs 150 birr. The guides are not obligatory.

# Blue Nil Falls waterfall: 1h30 from Bahir Dar. Easy to reach them by public transport 20 birr per person.

# entry fee: 50 birr per person. Guide not required, the hike is very well marked on




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Sep 21, 2019 - 08:14 AM

coucou, quelle aventure !!!! Angie