Lake Tana – the jewel of Ethiopia

Breathtaking sunsets at the source of the Blue Nile

A visit to the peaceful waters of Lake Tana is truly a memorable experience for visitors from near and far. The first view will take your breath away: a vast expanse of water stretching as far as the horizon to form Ethiopia’s largest lake. Described by a Greek traveller in the 5th century as “the jewel of Ethiopia”, Lake Tana links the ancient world with modern day, human civilisation with natural phenomena. Lush forested islands are scattered on the lake, sheltering mystical, ancient monasteries and treasures. Hippopotamus bathe in the shallow waters and flocks of white pelicans dance on the water’s surface alongside the tankwa, traditional papyrus boats that are still used by fishermen today. Just close your eyes and let the centuries and millennia roll away until you are indeed in another place and time.

Lake Tana is more than just a beautiful place to discover rare wildlife and visit the rich cultural heritage on the islands. It is also the life blood of Ethiopia, supplying 50% of the country’s freshwater. Lake Tana is one of the world’s longest river-ways and the source of the Blue Nile River, which, after flowing over 1,500 kilometres and joining with the White Nile River in Khartoum, flows through Sudan and Egypt before emerging into the Mediterranean Sea. It also feeds the local population, and is an essential reserve for important plants.

Lake Tana is located in the Amhara National Regional State in north-west Ethiopia. The state’s capital city, Bahir Dar (Amharic for “sea shore”), is located on the southern shores of the lake and ensures good accessibility for those wishing to explore the area. Watching the sun set across these tranquil waters is an experience you will never forget.