Bahir Dar & Lake Tana

I found Bahar Dar on the one hand pleasant with quiet streets and the lake, but on the other hand I might prefer to stay in Gorgora next time. It was the worst when it came to touts, well mostly when walking around with my backpack. The concentration is very high near the busstation.

The monasteries

I found them all pretty similar, but the closer to Gorgora, the better. I visited:

– Kibran Gebriel (close to Bahir Dar): you can’t get in, useless stop

– Ure Kidane Mihret (on Zege). Super touristic, aggressive sales, lots of construction

– Narga Selassie (Dek): beautiful location

– Debre Sina Meryam (Gorgora): the most authentic, amazing surroundings when arriving by boat, very devote, adobe building (like Ure Kidane Mihret). My favorite.

Accommodation

Blue Nile Spring Hotel

None of the tuktuk drivers had a clue where this place was. I had my map, so left with one guy who first tried to drop me of at Tana Hotel. Than he asked some locals and we drove further north to Abay Minch Lodge. This completely didn’t fit the description, also the bungalows were expensive (and not worth it). I got one of the older rooms at Birr 250, they were sort of nice, but in the morning, just after I got out of bed, a splash of water came down from the ceiling, due to some construction work. For the receptionist it seemed to be normal that this happened. On the way back to town (the lodge is beyond the bridge), I was the Blue Nile Spring next to the gas station, before the bridge if coming from town, but didn’t take the effort anymore to check it out. There is no ‘Abay Minch’ in the name of the Blue Nile Spring Hotel, probably the start of the confusion.

Than I stayed at the Ghion, which is best for meeting fellow travelers, but on the other hand I found it rather run down. And the prices went steep up, 300 birr for the front bungalows, 250 for the ones in the back. I managed to bargain the front ones down to 250, still too much. But the beds are good, no discussion about that. I had expected more of it, but would stay there again.

Bahir Dar Hotel: a little more basic than Ghion, with a pleasant courtyard at Birr 70, but full of con-artists and touts. The staff doesn’t act upon it, even if the touts pretend to work there. When I asked to see some of the rooms, the staff pointed me to one of the touts, who claimed to be the sun of the owner. Obviously they need them to bring new costumers. Because of all this, I believed it was the son of the owner and when he invited me to a coffee ceremony I said yes. He brought me to some shack not far away. I had asked the price before, but than after that we got into an argument and so I threw 250 on the table and left, ready to go and talk to his fatherm who turned out to have no son. This whole story ended in the police station, but I’m not sure if the police is ever going to make an effort to find them. It all made a very disorganized impression. Luckily I had made some pictures of the ‘son and his friend’, so at least they know who they are. I also forwarded the pictures to all the budget and midrange hotels that have a @-mailadres.

Getting there

Addis to Bahir Dar

I took the Selam Bus, very comfortable, nice trip of 9 hours. It leaves at 5.30 from near the train station. To the left of the trainstation, look for the billboard. I’ve taken Selam 3 times and I’m very happy with their services. The competition, Skybus, slightly more expensive, leaves from Meskele Square (ticket office in Taitu)

Bahir Dar to Gonder

My travel partner rented a boat and it was an easy trip across the lake to Gorgora, I think just like four hours or so, plus some stops on the road.

Danny Jacqmot

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