Bahir Dar and Lake Tana
Bahir Dar has always been a center of trade. Still the Tankwa’s (small papyrus boats) are used for trade and transport. Situated on the shores of Lake Tana, with palm-lined avenues, colorful markets and handicraft and weaving centers, it is a pleasant place to stay.
It is also a good base for tours into its surroundings. A boat can be rented to visit some of the numerous islands on Lake Tana with their age old monasteries. The construction of these monasteries started around 1400 A.D. Most monks of these monasteries spend their days in meditation and cultivating their gardens so they live a completely self-containing life. The churches are sometimes built in African stye, like a big round hut. Many of them have beautiful wall paintings and the monks will show you age old hand written Bibles and other church treasures.
It is said that in one of the monasteries, Tana Cherkos, the Ark of the Covenant was hidden for 800 years before it was brought to Axum. Indeed, you can see there are some pillar-like remains from what must have been an altar. The tops of the pillars are hollow and have been used as containers for blood of sacrificed animals. In the old temple in Jerusalem, animals were sacrificed in the sanctuary where the Ark of the Covenant was kept.