My Ethiopian Adventure: Lake Tana, Where the Nile Begins–Part One


From Gonder to get to Lake Tana, you must retrace your route to go to Bahir Dar, the largest city on the lake.  The road around the west side of the lake is not a major highway so we traveled back past the Finger of God, past my favorite castle, through the valley with miles of rice, through Addis Zemen.  Altitude declines the closer you drive to Bahir Dar.  Although Simien Mountain National Park remains one of the most scenic places I have ever visited and Gonder is a city filled with unique history and beauty, I felt happier and happier as it became warmer, more tropical.  In keeping with the previous week, the emerald landscape continued.

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Here cattle grazed in the seemingly endless pastures.  As usual, livestock walked along the road.  The species of livestock varied with altitude and locale.

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When you drive through towns and even larger cities, expect to dodge people and animals.  Even in Addis, we saw goats.

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These intensely yellow flowers in the foreground grew everywhere.  No one seemed to know their name.

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Dino wanted to buy the hat so we stopped to talk to this boy herding his animals along the roadside.  He told Dino he spent two days making it.  The hat along with baskets and other items bought on the trip took one and one half months to arrive in the US after being shipped from Ethiopia.

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In this area, these same yellow flowers appeared everywhere and in some places so close together as to make a fence.  Upon detailed inspection, I concluded they are some type of thistle. Later, we learned they are poisonous to the touch and cause massive swelling.  And to think I seriously concerned touching them. Finally, we arrived at Bahir Dar and drove onto this street.

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We reached a promontory overlooking the Nile.  The Nile!!!  All my life I have heard of the Nile.

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Here below me, flowing out of Lake Tana, the source of civilizations thousands of years old, the Nile begins its long journey to the Mediterranean  Sea.  We drove further down a dirt road to this overlook.

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Unlike the previous point, no one was here except two youngsters and us.  We watched cattle graze along the Nile, a couple walk on a pathway along the river, and a hippo cross from the near bank to the larger island, but too far away to capture with my iPAD.  Even now I can feel the emotion, an overwhelming, indescribable sense of amazement–the Nile, river of rivers, laying there below me.

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I stood spell bound for a long time, watching, feeling, thinking:  I cannot believe this, I am looking at the Nile.  Later, on the way to the hotel, we crossed a bridge over the river where hippos lounged.  We stopped, hoping to take photos, but the river guard said no.  We could look but no photos–he explained it is a strategic bridge.  We checked into our hotel on the shores of Lake Tana.

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Still, now, writing this, I feel the magic, the mystery.

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5 thoughts on “My Ethiopian Adventure: Lake Tana, Where the Nile Begins–Part One

  1. What a thrill it was for you to be at the source of the Blue Nile. The White Nile’s origin is not so clear. It comes out of Lake Victoria, which is considered the source by some. Others claim a feeder river in Burundi is the actual source. The two rivers join to form the great Nile that flows to Egypt. Janice

    • I thought about explaining all the Nile details but it gets complicated. Actually, some say that the feeder river to Lake Tana, the Little Nile, is really the beginning of the Nile because it makes late Tana. You will see a photo of it in a another post, coming soon.

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