Ethiopia (April-May 2012): Lake Tana

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Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, covers a surface area of more than 3, It was known to both the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Greeks. In the 2nd century BC Ptolemy called it Pseboe (″hollow swamps″). Boats made from papyrus, called tankwas, are still used for fishing and carrying loads. The lake is now famed for the more than 20 monastic churches built on its shores and islands between the 14th and 18th centuries. These churches have provided sanctuaries for religious relics and royal treasures. They contain amazingly well preserved murals. I particular liked Debre Sina church in Gorgora (north shore of Lake Tana, 70km south of Gondar), with its traditional roof and adobe walls. On its southern shore, Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile, which forms a 45m-high waterfall 30km after exiting the lake.


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Sunrise over Lake Tana

Tankwa boats (made from papyrus)


Debre Sina church (built in 1608) in Gorgora (north shore of Lake Tana)

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Bird at the church

Inside Debre Sina church


Murals in Debre Sina church

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Murals in Debre Sina church

Monastry of Narga Selassie (mid 18th century),

on the western shore of Dek island, the largest island on Lake Tana

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Monastry of Narga Selassie

Murals in the church of Narga Selassie

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Murals in the church of Narga Selassie

Church of Beta Maryam

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Murals in the church of Beta Maryam

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Murals in the church of Beta Maryam

Kebran Gabriel island monastry

In the market of Bahar Dar (the largest city on the shores of Lake Tana)

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In the market of Bahar Dar

17th-century Portuguese bridge over the Blue Nile

Blue Nile Falls (at the end of the dry season)

Local farmers going to the Saturday market of Tis Abay village


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