Lake Tana

Lake Tana

Travel to Lake Tana – Largest Lake in Ethiopia

Lake Tana, sometimes called “Dembiya” is the largest lake in Ethiopia and the source of the Blue Nile.

Thanks to its numerous surrounding islands that shelter fascinating churches and monasteries dating back to the 13th century, Lake Tana represents one of the most important tourist attractions in Ethiopia.

The lake is located in the north-western Ethiopian highlands, and is 70 kilometres long and 60 kilometres wide. Its 3,600 square kilometre surface is dotted with over 30 islands, many of which are home to ancient monasteries and churches.

Remains of ancient Ethiopian emperors and treasures of the Ethiopian Church are kept in the isolated island monasteries.

On the island of Tana Qirqos is a rock where it is believed that Virgin Mary had rested on her journey back from Egypt.. The body of Yekuno Amlak is interred in the Monastery of St. Stephen on Daga Island. Other important islands in Lake Tana include Dek Island, Meshralia, Birgida Mariam, Dega Estefanous, Dek, Tana Cherkos, and Mitsele Fasiledes.

The monasteries are believed to rest on earlier religious sites and include the 14th century Debre Maryam, the 18th century Narga Selassie, and Ura Kidane Mecet, known for its regalia.

Visitors to Lake Tana can enjoy a sail or cruise on the lake. Boats can be hired from the Marine Transport Authority in Bahir Dar. Along the lakeshore birdlife, both local and migratory visitors, make this a an ideal place for birdwatchers.


A ferry service links Bahir Dar with Gorgora via Dek Island and various lakeshore villages.


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