The Blue Nile: Its Origin, Falls, and Gorge
There are four natural features attributed to the Blue Nile. These are Lake Tana, the Blue Nile River itself, the Blue Nile Falls and the Blue Nile Gorge
Source of the Blue Nile
Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, situated north of the beautiful town of Bahir Dar is the source from where the famous Blue Nile starts its long journey to Khartoum, and on to the Mediterranean.
There are 37 islands that are scattered about the surface of Lake Tana, out of which some 20 shelter churches and monasteries of immense historical and cultural interest.
Along the lakeshore bird life, both local and migratory visitors, make the site an ideal place for birdwatchers. The whole of the lake Tana region and the Blue Nile gorge host a wide variety of birds both endemic and migratory visitors.
Covering more than 3,600 square kilometers, Tana is Ethiopias largest lake. Known to the ancient Greeks as Pseboa, its sometimes stormy waters are traversed by papyrus reed boats, called tankwas, which differ little from those found in the tombs of the Pharaohs.
The Blue Nile River
It is this spectacular flood of the Blue Nile that sets it apart from many other great river systems of the world. Each year during the heavy rains, the Blue Nile swells to over 50 times its dry season size and carries with it a staggering 140 million tonnes of rich, fertile silt as it rages, thick and brown, towards the Mediterranean sea.
The Blue Nile from the highlands of Ethiopia, and the White Nile from Lake Victoria meet in Khartoum, and merge in what Arab poets call 'the longest kiss in history', to form the Nile river.
For most of the year, the Blue Nile provides little water compared to the White Nile, but in summer it is very much the dominant tributary.
The Nile River is 6,700km long, and hence is the longest river in the world. Despite the fact that the Nile flows through one of the harshest deserts, and travels the last 2,400km without a single tributary, it never runs dry.
The Nile river is said to be the life of the Egyptians. There is an old saying that 'Egypt is the gift of Nile'. The entire long history of Egypt, even as far back as the days of the Pharoes and the Pyramids, is closely linked to the Nile river. This is still true even to the present day, as the Blue Nile is vital to the livelihood of Egypt. Almost 60% of the water that reaches Egypt originates from the Blue Nile branch of the great river.
The river is also an important resource for Sudan, where dams produce 80% of the country's power as well as irrigation for the Gezira Plain, a project delivering water to over 2 million acres. The Gezira Plain is most famous for the production of its high quality cotton. It also produces wheat, but animal feed crops dominate the production of this vast and rich farmland.
It is ironical that although the Blue Nile has such a big economic impact for Sudan and Egypt, Ethiopia as yet has not benefited from the Blue Nile. This is more eloquently put in an Ethiopian saying, "Ye Abayin lij wuha temat", which means "the daughter of Blue Nile is thirsty".
Besides the natural features of the Nile river, the fact that so many peoples and countries have vested interest in the river, makes it an extremely interesting geopolitical issue.
The Blue Nile Falls
Four hundred meters wide in flood, the Blue Nile plunges forty-five meters down a sheer chasm to throw up a continuous mist that drenches the countryside up to a kilometer away. In turn, this gentle deluge produces rainbows that shimmer across the gorge under the changing arc of the sun - and a perennial rainforest. The pillar of cloud in the sky above, seen from afar, explains the local name for the falls, 'Tissisat', water that smokes.
The Blue-Nile Falls is the second largest of its kind in Africa, and is one of the best sceneries in the entire continent.
The Blue Nile Gorge
From all over the highlands, huge rivers pour into the Blue Nile Gorge. For a million years the Blue Nile has been carving this huge gash through the Ethiopian Highlands.
Nearly 20km wide and over 600km long, this is Africa's own Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon in Arizona, U.S.A. and the Blue Nile Gorge have their similarities and differences.
The main Difference:
Hence, although the two canyons have their similarities and differences, they are both magnificent to view and explore.
|Acknowledgement: This web site contains some excerpts from the various publications of the Ethiopian Tourism Commission.
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|Last modified: Aug 28, 2008© Copyright 2006 Dinknesh Ethiopia Tour. All rights reserved.|