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Day 2: Bahir Dar

This morning, I was up just in time to see the sun rise as I transferred back to the airport for my flight to Bahir Dar. The city is located on the shores of Lake Tana, well known for its mystical monasteries.

My first excursion of the day was to visit the Blue Nile Falls.  As we made our way toward the falls, approximately 40 minutes from the city center, we were greeted by one of the Blue Nile Falls’ guides who offered to take me on a hike up and around the falls.  The hike is roughly 1 hour from start to finish, with only 5 km of steep terrain.  There is an option to drive to the top of the falls as well. The hike provides lovely scenery and the opportunity to stretch your legs! I highly recommend it!

Later this afternoon, we boarded our very own pontoon boat, chauffeuring us across Lake Tana to some of the area’s oldest monasteries.  My visit to the Ura Kidone Monastery was an unforgettable experience. As this was my first visit to a monastery, there was much for me to learn.  First, there are 3 rooms in each monastery: the chanting room, the holy room, and the holy of holy room.  Visitors are able to see the first two room, but only the high priests and monks are allowed to enter the holy of holy.  This is where the replica of the Ark of the Covenant is held.

The ancient paintings on the walls and ceilings of the monastery are breathtaking.  The stories depicted in these paintings illustrate an attention to detail that is almost divine.  The floors of this monastery are hand crafted from bamboo and cow hide and the doors were carved from one piece of wood, standing approximately 40 feet high.  The dedication that has gone into creating such a holy space is indescribable.

I returned back to my hotel, my mind reeling from all I learned and experienced today. Tomorrow I depart for Gondar.