Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.

Dec 29 Lake Tana and Blue Nile Falls


This morning we left at 8:00. Ayu drove us to Lake Tana (a short distance from the Abay Minch Lodge) and we took a 90-minute boat ride across Lake Tana, which is the source of the Blue Nile.


Lake Tana is the largest lake in Ethiopia with an area of 3600square kilometers. The lake hosts 27 islands and 37 monasteries that were founded between the 11th and 16th century. We passed two islands that were close to each other. One was for the nuns and the other was for the monks.  You can barely see the one for Monks in this photo.



We docked on the Zege Peninsula and walked up the hill from the boat dock to the Ura Kidane Mihret Monastery. There are 10,000 people living and working on this island including the monks, nuns, priests, and people growing coffee beans. The name of the village is Azua.

 Although Jane, Sue, and Leigh each had a hiking pole with them, I had left mine in the room so I had to hike without a pole.

Our guide showed us that coffee beans are ready when they turn red. Each seed has two coffee beans inside of it.

We arrived at the Ura Kidane Mihret Monastery, which was established in the 14th century. First we looked at the hanging stone on the outside of the monastery, which is used to call the monks.

The Monastery is conical shaped.



On the top of the Monastery is a sculpture showing seven Ostrich eggs that represents the 7 miracles of Christ.

The people pray in front of the monetary.

We took off our shoes, covered our heads, and entered the Monastery through the floor doors that were made out of 1 piece of a Sycamore tree.

There are floor to ceiling murals that were painted using natural colors in the 16th century and have been restored in the 1990s. Our guide told us that the paintings were created to help the people who cannot read understand the stories of the bible.

Some of the murals were small squares depicting every day life of the people.

As we walked around the circle inside the monastery, our guide explained the 4 sections. The north section depicts the martyrs; the west section is about Mary; the south section is about the exile of Mary; and the east section is about the miracles.

Only the priests can enter through the main doors. Just like churches we saw yesterday and the day before, there are 3 sections (one for woman, one for men, and the center for priests and Monks.

We walked on a path through the coffee bushes towards a second smaller Monastery. The path was beautiful.

The people who harvest the coffee beans live near the field.

I was doing a great job walking without any pole until I tried to get my hat off of my fanny pack and tripped on a root. I am so lucky that I did not get a FOOSH because I fell forward right onto my hands. But I picked myself up, dusted off my hands, and was just fine.

At the end of the path was the second monastery, Ura Kidane Mihret Monastery.  It is smaller than Ura Kidane Mihret and the murals are not as colorful.

.As we walked back to the boat there were many people selling things. Leigh bought a small drum and a bell.  Jane bought a small cross.

A young man named Sale was painting small pictures.   I took a photo of him doing a painting and of the natural dyes he uses. He wanted me to mail the photo to him and the natural dyes he uses to paing..

On the way back across the lake the boatman took us to see Hippos.

We also saw pelicans.

A guy in a small papyrus was feeding the pelicans.

We went to a lovely restaurant where we sat by the lake.

I loved watching the red dragon fly land over and over again on the same branch.


It took them a very long time to bring us our lunch but it was delicious grilled lake fish.

After lunch we drove about 30 km. Ayu told us we were going for an African massage just as he began driving over another gravely, potted road. We passed the fields of sugar cane which is grown in this region.

This was market day in the small villages we passed. We had to keep the windows closed because of the dust. We say a man covered in a white cloth being carried on a platform. Ayu said they were taking him to the doctor’s office. I think they had to walk about 5 km to get there. If the doctor doesn’t know how to help him, he will call an ambulance.

We arrived at Tisabay (the town by the Blue Nile River which means “smoking water”) where Ayu bought our tickets to walk to Blue Nile Waterfall that is on the Blue Nile River. The river is known as Tis Abay in Amharic, which means “Great Snake.”

We walked up the very rocky path along with many people who were going home from the market and they had donkeys with them.

Again I was walking without a pole and doing a great job.  So happy that my balance still works.


I really did a great job walking up the very rocky path without my poles.

.The guide warned me to be careful about the donkeys pushing me over. When we were crossing the stone bridge that was built in 1620, one donkey bumped tight into my butt.

We made it to the overlook of the waterfall.

Of course we needed a photo of ourselves.

We came to the new suspension bridge that was built in 2011. Much to our surprise, there were 5 or six cows being led across the bridge toward us. One woman said that it was very fitting because the bridge was constructed y the Swiss.

We took a very short boat ride back to the where we met Ayu and the Jeep. Then we bounced along the gravel road again and back to Abay Minch Lodge for a delicious fish and vegetable dinner. They brought the fish wrapped in aluminum with a fire on top of it in foil.

They just threw the fiery foil onto the floor.

Being driven by Ayu in a private group with only the four of us with private guides at each place is so fantastic. We are so privileged.

Author: Nancy Panitch

Traveling has been a passion of Nancy Panitch's life and she loves seeing how people in other cultures live. Her travels have taken her to many places within the United States, Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. Being around people inspires her and she has much gratitude for the kindred Souls that are joining together with her in body, mind, and heart. She moved from Chicago to Portland, Oregon in 1982. It was one of the best decisions of her life. While in Portland she stays very, VERY busy. She volunteers (Inter-Religious Action Network, Human Rights Council, & ushering for various theaters); attends a Unitarian Universalist church; goes hiking with groups (Cascade Prime Timers & Trails Club of Oregon) and also with individual friends. Book groups, movie group, and bridge groups occupy her time as well. Her quiet activities include yoga, knitting, Sudoku, and reading. She enjoys all of these activities, but making time to see her wonderful 4 grandchildren takes priority over it all. She is happy to share this blog and hopes to encourage others to travel.

5 thoughts on “Dec 29 Lake Tana and Blue Nile Falls

  1. Well, Nancy, I feel privileged to be among the people to share your adventures, if only through this blog! Thanks for sharing with us!


  2. It is so great and informative to travel vicariously through your writings and photographs!
    Thank you!


  3. Sounds like you did a great job walking without your poles 😉


  4. Wow, what a trip!


  5. Love reading about your adventures!


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