Dirty Details – Bahir Dar

If you’re planning on going to Ethiopia you’ll want to hire a tour company. Tourism is relatively new to Ethiopia, which might be surprising to some since it is so rich with religious and anthropological history, geographical wonders and the many indigenous tribes who still exist today.

However, Ethiopia’s transportation infrastructure is not set up for individual travel. The roads are not great but more so, the complex and beautiful topography means travelling between cities would take up most of your trip’s time.

It is for that reason that most travellers to Ethiopia fly from Addis Ababa to the northern cities of Bahir Dar, Axum, and Lalibela as well as between them. For southern tours Arba Minch is usually the starting point and it’s an hour’s flight from Addis.

YAMA TOURS I had the privilege of working with Tariku, the owner at Yama Tours. I cannot say enough of how great his team is. What sold me was how quickly Tariku responded to my needs and how quickly he put the tour together. His ground staff was professional and knowledgeable and I wouldn’t look any further for a ground handler in both Northern and Southern Ethiopia.

TREKKING TOURS IN NORTHERN ETHIOPIA WITH TESFA TOURS If you’re looking for a different experience in the north you might consider community based trekking tours with Tesfa Tours. I didn’t get the opportunity to work with them but I’m told that their main focus is trekking with their guests through stunning scenery as guests of local farming communities who then host you in their specially built local style. Sounds like the real thing to me and my trek in the Simien Mountains was truly breathtaking!

DISCOVER ETHIOPIA BY PRIVATE PLANE WITH WINGS ETHIO TRAVELMany quickly rule out discovering a country by private plane because it would seem too expensive. However, booking your tour with Ethio Wings makes sense because Ethiopia is a country where so many domestic flights are needed. Don’t automatically rule it out, especially if you’re travelling with a small group, are short for time or want to travel in luxury. Captain Abebe, a trained pilot in Toronto, Canada has returned to his roots and caters to those who want to maximize their time on the ground and fly into destinations not as easily accessible by larger commercial planes. Ethio Wings also books tours by land, hotel/flight reservations etc so I would recommend contacting them as well and finding out what works best for you.

My guide in Bahir Dar, booked by Yama Tours –

Tilahun Atinaf – guidebahirdar@yahoo.com – 251.910183112 or 251.918762500



Addis – Bahir Dar – 11 hours by car

Bahir Dar – Gondar – 3 hours


AIRPORT TRANSFERS TO CITY CENTRE – Hotel representatives were waiting outside the airport terminal and seemed to be transporting guests free of charge. Confirm with your hotel that they offer free hotel transfers and note you will likely be sharing transportation with guests from other hotels as transportation is often shared.

Alternatively a tuk tuk will cost you about 50 birr / $2.80 USD. A taxi, 70-100 birr / $3.90 – $5.60 USD.




1) Lake Tana Monasteries & The Blue Nile Hippos.

Boats depart from a small and inconspicuous dock on the water approximately 2 mins by foot from the Summerland Hotel. Ask for directions to the Lakeshore Restaurant, it’s right in front of it.

Boats are either aluminum or fiberglass. You’ll want a fiberglass boat, much faster. Each boat is $40/boat and can take 5-6 people; the more people you have the cheaper it is.

The entrance fee at each monastery is 100 birr / $5.60 USD

Me at a Lake Tana Monastery (Ura Kidanemhret)

Me at a Lake Tana Monastery (Ura Kidanemhret)

2) Tis Isat Waterfalls – You’ll need a driver/ride to and from Tis Isat Waterfalls, located about 1-1.5 hours from Bahir Dar. If you’re not on a tour then ask your hotel to organize it.

Alternatively my guide who was excellent and who I recommend is:

There is an entrance and the park office where you’ll need to pay the 100 birr / $5.60USD entrance fee and gives you a guide to the waterfalls as well.

A five-minute car ride later you’ll disembark for a beautiful 30 min walk across the old Portuguese bridge that connects the two provinces. I was there on a Saturday and had the privilege to walk amongst hundreds, if not thousands of villagers who walk hours to get to and from market.


Restaurant Recommendation: Desset Resort, located on the water. The food is good and the scenery and view is incredible. Eat outside and enjoy the sunset!


Accommodation Recommendations:

Budget Summerland or Homland – refer to my review of both.

Luxury – Kuriftu Resort – A free massage for every night you stay? Yes! 37 rooms, ideal location, spa and activities. If you can afford it stay here.



Pulau Weh Booking Information – Dirty Details

Read here for our account of Pulau Weh diving Read here for our experience in Pulau Weh NOTE: The PDF guide to Pulau Weh (at the end of this document) is the most recent one we could find on the island, from 2008. Times and prices will have likely changed.   Indonesian Travel Visa – […]