Though there are many organised trips to see the falls, these are easily accesible by local bus, which is much cheaper. Go to the main (and only) bus station in Bahir Dar and ask for the minibus to Tis Abay. The first is supposed to leave at 6, but in fact leaves when is full. It costs 4,20B (0,4USD) and takes 1 hour to get there. They are often full, so arrive early to the station if you wanna get a seat.
SIT ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE OF THE PLANE! If you are flying out of Bahir Dar to Addis Ababa, sit on the right side. As you take you will see lots of modern military jets if sit on the left hand side. I sat on the left. If you sit on the right and have your camera ready, the pilot will bank the plane so you get a great view of the BLUE NILE FALLS!
Save this tip to your ‘Custom Travel Guide’ and take it with you. And do not forget!
The easiest and quickest way to get here is by domestic flights with Ethiopian Airlines. Bahr Dar has 2 flights a day and can connect you to Addis Ababa and the other northern historical cities of Lalibela, Gonder and Axum. You can fly return or one-way for less than $100. Their website does not list domestic flights, but all of their offices speak English. You can ring their Bahr Dar office on the telephone number listed below or ring them in Addis Ababa on: +251-11-551 7000. You can reserve by telephone or at any city office in the country without a credit card! A 30 minute flight can save you up to 1½ full days on a bus! They have an office on the main road in town.
This is a fascinating and cheap local way to transport goods and people. It is also painfully slow. They are all built from hand and some are more barges than boats for heavier jobs. You will see this all over Lake Tana.
Just remember the taxis here are as untrustworthy as taxi drivers anywhere. Expect them to tell you, a foreigner, a rate between 25% and 60% higher than for a local. Expect to pay $1 for every 3-4 kilometres. Always argue with them and the price will always come down. Be polite but firm and walk away if you think they are being silly.
We took a minibus from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar. A very good thing about minibuses is that they pick you up from wherever you want to. I stayed with a friend in Addis Ababa and that was where they picked us up. The cost was 120 Birr. They picked us up at 3.30am and we arrived in Bahir Dar(the also dropped you off where you need to get to, Ghion Hotel in my case) around 4pm. The ride was quite fine. I slept pretty much the whole time. I think I got a very good seat, the only one that stands out on its own on the very right side just a bit behind the door so I had all the leg space I needed.
We took a half day boat trip organized by Ghion Hotel, it can cost from 70-150 Birr depending on how many people in the group and your bargaining skills. We visited 4 monasteries including one on Zege Peninsula. We started from 8am and got back around 12.
You can come to Bahir Dar by bus from Addis Abeba. In the past it was a long long trip which was made in 2 days, sleeping in the way. But now there is a express bus that leaves Addis at 6 and arrives here at 19:30h, already at night.
The ticket costs 60B (6 USD), stops at 9:30 for breakfast and at 17h for a break. We have a motor problem in the way, but it only takes the driver 15 minutes to solve it.
The bus is full and not very comfortable, but the landscape on the way is marvellous and you get to know closer the people (the few that speak english at least).
Even though Bahir Dar is located at the lake shore there are no regular public boats crossing the lake. There was a boat to Gorgora, in the north shore, but now it doesn't run anymore.
Anyway, if you wanna see the lake monasteries you can join a private tour to some of them in a little boat. You will be offered these trips in the streets, and if you want something more "serious", the Ghion Hotel offers trips of half or whole days in a little boat. The half day costs 75B and leaves at 8:30h, returning at 14:45h. Count on another 100B for entrence fees, tips and so. We visited Azuwa Maryam, Kebran Gabriel and Entesi-Eyesu.
The Ghion also organizes trips to Tis Abay Falls.
To return from Tis Abay to Bahir Dar, the bus uses to be crowded. It is advisable to RESERVE A TICKET when you arrive, so you won't have to wait endlessly to return.
There is no ticket office, so the only way to do that is to tell one of the many boys wandering around to buy a ticket for you and wait in the line till you return from the Falls. He will do so for 10B (1USD), more than twice the cost of the ticket, but anyway it's only 1 USD!. When the bus comes, he will fight for you for a seat and will call you to go in the bus when everything is ready.
The place to wait for the bus is the only bar in the village (see pic).
Because Bahir Dar is so flat, it is a city ideally suited for bicycles. In fact its one of the few flat places in Ethiopia. Local people love their bikes and you will happily see people travelling around in this environmentally friendly mode.
These are amazing little taxis. They are slightly cheaper than the normal car taxis and you get fresh air you can’t in normal taxis. These motorcycles with seat attached can seat up to 6 people.
This is relatively cheap and ‘quick’ way to get to Gonder. They say it’s about 4 hours, but it can be 5 ½ hours. You pay a little over $10. It’s a great way to see local life, in and outside of the minivan. If you want to take pictures along you journey, clean the windows first! You will also stop at several villages and in the middle of nowhere to pick up and drop people off. Just organise it the night before.
These distinctive blue and white minivans only go on local routes in and around Bahir Dar. To catch the right one you need to listen to the Conductor shouting out the destination(s). Expect to pay between 65 cents and 1 Birr 50.
I wanted to save time,so instead of going to Bahir Dar by bus ,I flew from Addid Ababa.And because I'll save time for a better scenic bus route,which is the route around Simien mountains.
These are some pictures taken from airplane right after take off from Addid Ababa Bole airport.(first 3 pic)Seeing Addis Ababa from up above. Last pic,10 minutes later ,I saw a big factory along the way.Still don't know what,will find out soon.