Blue Nile (Tissisat Falls)

Trip Start Oct 11, 2012
Trip End Nov 19, 2012

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Where I stayed
Blue Nile Resort Hotel
What I did
Tissisat Falls
Bahar Dar Market
Blue Nile Gorge
Portuguese Bridge

Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It was a buffet breakfast this morning in Bahar Dar.  Sian set her alarm for 7 am but we were up a bit before.  She got to breakfast before me and first I sat at her table and then moved over to sit by Aga who had just arrived.  I thought it might be easier to get served at a new table rather than one that had already been served.  It was a buffet though, so only coffee service really mattered.  They had a choice of 4 fresh fruit juices so I had papaya and a watermelon, banana, papaya mixture - the best thing at breakfast for sure.

At 8 am we set off for the Blue Nile Falls - Tissisat Falls.   It was a very bumpy dirt road and took quite awhile.  The roadside had the usual variety of lovely landscape, grain crops (tef, some type of sunflower, chat and maize - maybe wheat too).  There were a few villages with little markets on the way and cattle, goats, school children, shepherds and a few birds that different people identified...or not.

When we arrived at the site of the falls, we had to take on a local guide who did not really speak to us.  We walked down a slippery, rocky path meeting people and donkeys along the way.  I used my new walking sticks and some of the others had their sticks as well.  Finally, the path got less rocky and slippery, so that was good.  We stopped at the Portuguese Bridge where Kibrom told us about the history of the Ethiopians and the Portuguese and Turks in the 16th C. when the Bridge was built in the Portuguese style.  I think it was the 16th C when the Turks and the Portuguese both wanted Ethiopia because of its central trade location.  Both tried to convince the local people of the evil intentions of the other in order to defeat their enemy.  I need to look this up.

After the bridge, there was a large oak tree with white blossoms similar to apple blossoms.  We started up a slope, but a grassier one, until we got to the top overlooking the falls on the other side of the gorge.  Since the hydroelectric plant was built, the size of the falls is only one-tenth of what it used to be.  It was still pretty impressive and we could see the rainbow above the muddy brown water.  There were various boys following us and trying to help us, guide us and give us information.  Of course, we tried to reject it because we really didn't want to have to pay them for something we didn't need or want.  After checking out the falls for awhile, we descended on the other side through some fields and reached another overlook with cows grazing in front of the falls.  As we walked out, we could feel the spray.  Further descent brought us past an interesting black bird with yellow spot - a widowbird.  Some others saw more birds.  We reached the river and got a short boat ride to the other side where we walked through the village to our bus. 

On the way out we had stopped to take photos of a woman making injera on a large round griddle-like pan.  She was very gracious - smiling as she poured the batter on the pan.  Quite a few other people, family or neighbors, congregated as we watched.  I think we all took photos of a beautiful little girl with huge brown eyes.  On the way back, we had another photo op: hooded vultures were flying around a tall tree near the garbage dump.  So we all jumped out of the bus to take photos of the birds.  From there we came back to the hotel for an hour or so. 

I had seen the post office in town and wanted to go back to get some stamps so I hurried off.  As I left the hotel, a young man started walking next to me on the sidewalk, telling me that he worked at the hotel, wanting to know where I was from, asking whether I had I visited the Blue Nile and monastery, how long was I staying, where was I going.  I told him the Post Office and that I knew where it was.  He accompanied me to the corner just short of the Post Office and then said good-bye.  Maybe I am getting too cynical, but I didn't trust him and so I was barely communicative.  That didn't feel right either. 

Once at the post office, I went to a window and told the clerk that I wanted post card stamps to the US.  He counted my cards several times and then sold me the stamps.  I was trying to rush to get back in time for our departure to the market.  He recounted my cards.  He counted out 2 sets of stamps at least twice.  Then he had to calculate how much it would cost.  I think he might have counted the post cards again.  He took off all the extra bits around the stamps and then gave me one each of a single stamp.  Then he gave me all the stamps and my cards and I was off again.

As I started walking back to the hotel, I was joined by another man - a bit older, who asked me the usual questions and then asked if I would marry him because he loved me.  I told him no.  He insisted that he required nothing from me, he was a doctor and it would be no problem for me to marry him and take him to London.  (I think I must have said I was with a British tour group.)  I said no.  He kept walking beside me and telling me he would give me his telephone number and email address and I could change my mind and contact him.  I said no.  He walked up the driveway to the hotel, but finally turned around as I approached the last few steps to the hotel.  I had less than 10 minutes to get ready.  I grabbed my cameras, locked my bag, filled my water bottle and met Sian on the veranda with 2 minutes to spare.

We drove into town to the market and Kibrom led us around.  He showed us some tef in big bags; barley and hops from which they make local beer; the vegetable stands; the basket and pottery aisles; the chicken section where there were tethered chickens waiting for buyers and some not so live-looking ones as well.  One young man was walking around the market with dead chickens tied by their legs onto a stick held over his shoulders.  We also saw baskets of eggs.  We walked through the clothes and shoe sections and the plastic container section.  There must have been more as well.  It was an OK market - some people were smiling and friendly; others, suspicious of the foreigners and unwilling to have photos taken.  I was looking for a pumpkin but there were none to be found among all the potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, cabbages, onions, garlic and root crops.  There were beautiful orange lentils and other beans.  Oh, yes, we did see huge bags of un-roasted coffee beans.  No one from our group bought anything from the market.  I think I might have bought one of those wide-brimmed farmers hats if I had seen any.

Sian and I both remarked on how tired we were when we got back to the room.  The walking to the falls was more strenuous than any other walking I have done since coming to Ethiopia so maybe that is why.  I have also noticed that I am getting more sun so I need to reapply my sunscreen during the day.  I am thinking it might be because I am now taking my doxy further from mealtimes.  Sian and I attended to our chores - I uploaded photos & I think Sian was writing in her diary. 

We decided to go to dinner when it was almost 7 - rather late for us.  We joined the Irish contingent after having sat at our own table.  I took my silverware and glass and dish and the waiter confiscated them because I had ended up with too much.  Sian and I split an entree.  Margaret had a request for soup and steak.  Some of the others also rocked the boat by ordering something different or changing their orders so we had the feeling the waiter was quite upset with the lot of us.  This caused a bit of hilarity so we enjoyed our dinner despite any waitstaff disapproval.  After we left the others to finish their meals, Sian and I chatted a bit in the room and now it is close to bedtime.  I delayed too long with my shower so I guess it will be tomorrow am instead.  We don't leave until 8 am.

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