To those of you who are planning on visiting Tis Abay

Sit your asses down for there ain’t nothing to be seen!

Three times I have been there, and you would be a fool to expect to see the falls the way they are shown on the back of the one birr bill. Maybe this is one of the reasons why the national bank is going to replace the bill with a coin.

The last time I saw it, loser looked like two people were standing on the cliffs and pouring the water with a jug.

An observation: the Amharic letter of ti resembles a fall

And I am telling you that it does not even have the amount of water that ti does.

You can even chill by the water’s edge. And do not think that is a good thing – given the way things used to be.

So, don’t do it if disappointment is not your thing.

But, should it be the case that you are hell bent on going over there (the hard-headed never learn), take heed because I don’t want none of yeall to get ripped off and disillusioned at the same time.

  • At the Bahir Dar bus station, forget the people who try to lure you into minibuses and take one of the bigger buses. I hope you will agree with me when I say 10 birr is a much better proposition than 350 birr (adjustments based on world oil markets apply.) It is only 30 or so kilometers of pista menged. A big plus is the chance to mingle with the locals. But as soon as one of them starts giving off vibes that they want to show you around once you get there –mingling over. Just kidding. Tell them that you already know the place and you are going back to see if the water has dried up or not. And you could continue chatting about all matters dry.
  • stay away from a certain Aba Tes….’s car. It is green and does not work.
  • midway, at a town called Andasa, you can buy zeituna
  • once you are in the Tis Abay bus station, you will see in front of you the gate to the power station. Walk towards it a bit and to your left you will find that there are two adjacent small houses: one has got a transmitter or something in its compound and the other is where you buy tickets for the “big visit.” Ethiopians prepare 3 to 5? birr and  foreigners … it is posted on the windows. Not exorbitant I tell you. When asked if you have got a video camera on you -and I know you do- say no. I don’t condone lying but it is a small lie when compared with the bigger lie that goes by the name Tis Abay. 
  • in the meantime, resist the advances of all those who try to be your guides, some even force-50birr-fully  claiming that they have permits. However they badger you, state your case calmly; tell them that you know that there are two ways of getting there viz  cross the bridge that Atse Fasil/ the Portuguese built with eggs and stuff or take a boat (the manner in which I did it on all three occasions.) Never, under any condition, give them the finger. I cannot guarantee your safety if you do that.
  • now where were we? Yeah, the ticket booth. Turn around and walk a little. Do you see to your right that little shop, the on painted Coke-red? The first one? Take that narrow road next to the shop and walk on. Have no fear of being lost. As I say in situations like this, think Magellan, Columbus, Moses,…
  • in no time, you will see the banks of Abay
  • keep on moving and you have reached the dock. A boat will get you to the other side – a one minute affair- for a 10 birr return trip. The 10 birr is to be paid on the return leg.
  • before or after you have crossed the river there will again be people trying to show you around. You may need someone to take group pictures and a local boy or girl may come in handy (“ready?” and all that.) Be judicious in the way you acknowledge their services.
  • now you are on the other side. Congrats if you have made it alone  thus far! And you can go the rest of the way by just keeping on going 🙂 more often than not, there will be people returning from the falls. And if you are taking a local, he is likely to show you a plant known as yesew neger a.k.a. the sensitive plant a.k.a.  Mimosa pudica. What this plant’s leaves basically do is shrink when touched. You will not miss it if you travel mindful of  the plants around you.

  • there you have it – Tis Abay, to your right.
  • knock yourselves out and a happy disappointment.


P.p. 1. some may wonder why I try to bring our tourism industry into disrepute. My answer to that would be: truth over tourism, bitches.

P.p. 2.  I hear a friend is coming into town. No doubt he is going to want to visit Tis Abay.

October 15, 2010.

Well, Tis Abay put me in my place. Saw it some weeks back with some friends and, impressive! And yet, it was not at its most impressive!

Respect, frigging respect, man, I mean water!

Disclaimer: seasonal changes still apply.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. getere
    Dec 23, 2009 @ 00:13:00

    Hoping for a blog in Awra Amba.


    • tibebe
      Dec 23, 2009 @ 14:13:51

      what is the larger note trick?

      awra amba, it could happen.


    • tibebe
      Mar 13, 2010 @ 15:17:58

      saw ato zumra and his wife today, in campus. i was at loss as to what to do with them (photograph them, kidnap them, kidnap the wife only cuz she is awfully young and he, on the other hand, is you know…)so i just saw them.

      this communal living stuff, does it go all the way to having orgies?


    • getere
      Mar 13, 2010 @ 18:49:02

      you should have said to him “by the way this communal living stuff, does it go all the way to having orgies?”


  2. getere
    Dec 21, 2009 @ 12:29:11

    oh ya if you’re a foreigner in any country be prepared to be tricked. i have a Canadian friend who used to ask for the manager whenever he thought he was being overcharged in restaurants. i kind of do the same here too, but in banks. sometimes they give me the general stupid answer when i know they could do more. so i just ask for the manager and everybody takes my query seriously.

    one other thing, when in doubt, i simply give 10 birr or 50 birr (depending on my guess of how much the stuff can cost bibeza bibeza) and then wait for the change as if i know how much to expect. it works with small shops. that doesn’t include listros though. i don’t mind if they try to trick me. they should be paid more anyway.

    also, when in doubt, bargain. worst that can happen is “aykenisim endeza new wagaw”.


  3. tibebe
    Dec 21, 2009 @ 08:40:27

    negerickuachihu engdih ! gosh, esun zim belut eshi?

    the businesses in gonder are more lively. and one can make it rain on the azmaris. while there, do not forget to go to kuskuam mariam where the corpse of etege mintiwab is in display (though we went there very late and could not see it)

    now i feel much better about the overcharging foreigners. what goes around comes around.


  4. getere
    Dec 19, 2009 @ 18:37:03

    Why all the disappointment and attitude? I saw it in May if I’m not mistaken. Certainly not as wide as I’ve seen in postcards but it was amazing. The continuous sound of the water falling, the mist, the white water that never ends, …

    The minibuses charge 350?! Maybe good for elderly people but definitely not worth it. Besides, we should save energy. I do remember though sending off my grandma and sisters with one of those. My grandma wasn’t capable of getting on a bus.

    Gonder is very close too so why not drive up there! Amazing experience when I saw Fasiledes castle. I was looking for it and asking people for directions when somebody suddenly pointed it to me and it was in front of me with all its grace. Unforgettable experience.

    So to whoever is reading this, go and see Tis Abay!


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