Bahir Dar Ethiopia
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Description: Open source travel guide to Bahir Dar, featuring up-to-date information on attractions, hotels, restaurants, nightlife, travel tips and more. Free and reliable advice written by Wikitravellers from around the globe.
- Bahar Dar Ginbot Haya International Airport (IATA. BJR ). Ethiopian Airlines operates scheduled flights from Addis Ababa and Lalibela. Flights to Lalibela connect to Gondar and Aksum in the north.
The city is connected by daily buses to/from Addis Ababa and Gondar. Many private minibuses also run to/from Gondar and Addis Ababa. They often do not leave from the bus station but are instead arranged through your hotel or by local touts (who will find you before you find them!). The minibuses are more expensive but faster, especially to Addis Ababa. Try Selam bus or Sky bus for a more comfortable (and potentially safer) ride.
To get to Bahir Dar from Lalibela by bus, take a dawn bus to Gashina (about two hours south of Lalibela) and change there to the Woldia - Bahir Dar bus, which passes through Gashina around 10am. To get from Bahir Dar to Lalibela, take the 6am Bahir Dar - Woldia bus and catch the last Lalibela bus at Gashena, which passes through around 3pm.
Bajajs (three wheel rick-shaws) are the most common form of transportation in the city. 20 Birr will get you most places you want to go in the town center. There are also blue minibuses, but few still exist as means to get around town. Bajajs are inexpensive and cost no-more than two birr per line of road and ten birr for a private charter.
Being a relatively flat city with wide streets, Bahir Dar is an excellent city for cycling, and bikes can be rented at various locations in the city.
- The Blue Nile Falls or Tis Abay (in Amharic) is about 35 km from Bahir Dar. The water is no longer diverted to a hydro-power dam. It is a very nice sight – smaller than Victoria Falls, but amazingly scenic. You can take a bus to the village of Tis Abay, from which it is a 30-minute walk to the falls. You take a big trip in the countryside to reach the falls. If you take the bus, ignore anyone in the village who insists that the last bus back to Bahir Dar will be full and wants you to pay them to hold a seat, or that the last bus has already left but they can offer you an amazingly expensive taxi ride. There are plenty of buses back to Bahir Dar, the last one leaves at 5PM or later, and the bus conductor will find a seat for you. You can also arrange for a tour to the falls through your hotel for about 200 birr per person, the boatman is 10 birr each way, entry tickets are 30 birr to enter the falls. You can find guide services near the entrance. There are official prices (ask at the ticket office). Guide services are facultative but it's a good way to support the local community. 1 hour very bumpy drive from town centre. Keep a lot of small notes with you.
- Bahir Dar is situated on the southern shore of Lake Tana. On the islands of the lake there are some of the world's oldest churches and monasteries. There are plenty of boat tours available to the monasteries; these range from 2 to 12 hours in length and can be booked through your hotel or by one of the many touts in the city. In some of these monasteries, women are not allowed to enter. Be cautious and aware of the traditions and rules of the Ethiopian Orthodox church when you visit. A boat is 950birrs for the 1/2day trip. It's the official price for a boat, without guide services and without entrances. You decide what you want to see. There are also long trip for the churches far (3hours drive to reach them). The prices are much higher (3 times more).
You can also try to share a tour via tout. Ask in this case how much people are on the boat and what's included in the price. Visiting 2-3 churches is more than enough, each monastery has a separate overpriced charge of 100 birr per person. Ura is the most famous one but also the most touristic, with uge painting. Ask if any of have an event going on to make them more worthwhile. The 'museums' are nothing more than a one room shack. Guides can be helpful, but don't feel you absolutely need them. According to the reglementation (it changes), you have to take one near the church or not. But the official prices are written somewhere, even if the guide will not say it. It's about (2015) 100birrs for 2 people. Don't forget that it's a good way to support the local people and assure them a revenu in the villages. (Note: These churches are definitely unique to Ethiopia, but they tend to be expensive and the tours are overrated. The boat trip on the lake is nice, but there are better examples of rural churches elsewhere in Ethiopia in a more pleasant and less touristy environment.)
- Bahir Dar grew around a Jesuit settlement, founded in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, from which time the Pedro Páez building dates. One of Emperor Haile Selassie's palaces is located near the city, and the Emperor considered moving the national capital to the town. The palace is an impressive architectural work of its time. Facing Lake Tana it provides a beautiful, picturesque scene of the Blue Nile.
- Lake Tana is not the source of the Blue Nile, it's before. The Blue Nile goes out of the lake up to Tis Abay (waterfall). If you take a boat trip ask the 'driver' to take you to the place where the river flows out of the lake. It is very atmospheric, and probably the best place to spot hippo.
Bahir Dar has a big and colorful market that is open every day. Saturday is the biggest day. Sunday has very few activities.
The local specialty is small footstools covered in goat hide. Find them along the road that runs from Ghion hotel to the main highway. They can apparently be "unstuffed" for travel.
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