“The river … fell in one sheet of water, without any interval, above half an English mile in breadth, with a force and a noise that was truly terrible, and which stunned and made me, for a time, perfectly dizzy. A thick fume, or haze, covered the fall all around, and hung over the course of the stream both above and below, marking its track, though the water was not seen. … It was a most magnificent sight, that ages, added to the greatest length of human life, would not deface or eradicate from my memory.”
These are the quoted words of Scot James Bruce derived from the Garden of Eden in the Genesis. Very likely his descriptions were depicting the Blue Nile Falls “Tis Issat” encountered in 1770 and possibly during his attempt of searching for the Ark of Convenant. Nowadays, the Blue River is still believed to be the river “Gihon” mentioned in the Genesis and therefore, it is considered sacred for the many Ethiopians.
According to Wikipedia, the Blue Nile name is derived from the fact that the river overflows with water during the months from June to September to a point of turning almost black. So why is it called Blue Nile if the waters look black? The explanation may not seem too odd if we consider that for the local Sudanese population the word black is the same word used for the word blue.
The Blue Nile river originates from the Ethiopian lake Tana and flows for about 900-1000 miles reaching in some points a depth of 4950 feet. The river flows through intrincated and impenetrable gorges deep in the Ethiopian highlands creating serious barriers for its population. The river then enters a canyon for 400 km and breaks into the 150 feet amazing falls mentioned above with such a strong current that a smoky mist is formed giving it’s name “Tis Issat” which translated means “Smoking fire”. In order to see the falls in it’s most impressive force it is recommended to visit them right after the rainy season ends towards the months of October/November.
The Blue Nile during those months supplies a good 2/3 of its water to the famous Egyptian river Nile. Many centuries ago, the same overflowing water was contributing to the fertile soil found along the banks of the Nile river allowing the ancient Egyptian populations to engage in farming and fluorish. Today, the Blue Nile thanks to the Roseires and Sennar dams supplies Sudan with a good amount of hydro-electric power.
Regarless of it’s intrinsec gorges cutting off communication between the Northern section of Ethiopia and it’s southern section, on January 29, 2005 both Les Jickling and Mark Tanner were able to navigate through it’s waters from it’s very source to it’s very final tract up to the Mediterranean sea in 148 days.
Today many tours are offered to visit the Blue Nile. If you plan to visit you will be surely fascinated by it’s history, beauty, picturesque villages and extensive wildlife. You can either relax and visit the river by riding on it’s calm waters or you can set off your adventurous spirit by visiting it’s white water peaks by rafting. Whichever option you choose expect to have a great time, dress comfy and enjoy one of the many Ethiopian wonders of a lifetime!