Our Tour to North Ethiopia in February 2002
Our first stop from Addis Ababa was Bahir Dar by Lake Tana where we visited a monastery on an island in Lake Tana, and drove down to see the Blue Nile Tis-isat falls. From there we had a transit stop at Gondar before flying to Lalibela. After a few days sightseeing we continued to Axum. After visiting several sites and Yeha, we returned to Addis Ababa.
Bahir Dar – Lake Tana monastery – Tisissat Falls, February 2002
Early morning departure from Addis Ababa. Arrival Bahir Dar, and minibus to Tana Hotel. After checking in we met for a boat trip on Lake Tana. We passed a few islands on our way to the Ura Kidane Meret monastery. We saw a few locals padling tankwas – local reed boats made from papyrus. We were met by sellers and children begging for Birr and school-pens.
The church building is circular with and outer terrace, then through a door to the room circling the inner holiest room. All the walls had religious paintings. Afterwards we were shown some old crosses and a crown from the monastery’s treasure chamber.
After lunch we had a very dusty drive southwards. We walked across the old Portuguese bridge, and walked up to the Tissisat Falls – the Blue Nile falls.
Lalibela, February 2002
Early start from Bahir Dar. After a short transit stop in Gondar we landed at the relatively new airport near Lalibela. Then by bus up in the mountain to the town of Lalibela. Driving down through the town was like driving back in time.
After checking into Roha Hotel, and enjoying a good lunch and the view from our room, we walked up the streets to the first church cluster. Impressive rock-hewn churches. We ended our tour at the Bet Georgis (St.George) cross shaped church – the most famous.
Next morning we rode mules for an hour to the Nakuta La’ab monastery. After lunch I walked with our local guide up through the old town to the post office.
In the afternoon we walked up to the second church cluster, and from there into town to have real Ethiopian coffee in a local coffee shop. After diner with Ethiopian food our guide had arranged an Ethiopian dance show for us in the reception area.
Axum, February 2002
Next stop was King Kaleb‘s palace, and after a stop at a famous stele with inscriptions in several languages we visited the main stela park. The tallest being (non-standing) being about 13 floors high.
Next to the steele park is the churches and the fenced church where the Ark of the Covenant is said to be stored. We were of course not allowed to go inside, but we were shown the old king crowns.
Yeha, February 2002
We drove by minibus a few hours on gravel roads North-East of Axum, through Adwa, stopped at the Adwa battle location, and parked in the small village of Yeha to see the old temple site of Yeha. Archaeologists are not sure about its origin, but believe it was built by people coming across from Yemen.
We visited the temple and the churches treasure chamber, and then walked through the heat to some local houses before heading back to Axum.
Local Church, Axum, February 2002
Early morning I heard voices outside from a loudspeaker. I got out of bed and walked to the top of the hill to view the sunrise over Axum, thereafter I went down to investigate the voice. It came from a church between the Yeha hotel and Queen of Sheba’s pool.
I climbed to a nice viewpoint and filmed the churchgoers and beggars.