Lake Tana, source of the Blue Nile, is probably, the largest lake in the whole of Ethiopia. In the north western part of the Ethiopian highland, it is located in the Amhara region. Lake Tana is about 84 kilometers long, 66 kilometers wide, with an utmost depth of 15 meters, elevated to about 1840 meters above sea level. Numerous streams and rivers feed the lake, with its surface area ranging from 3000 to 3500 square kilometers depending on the rainfall.
The Lake Tana consists of about 37 islands on which around 20 monasteries constructed between the 14th and 17th centuries still exist. Though it is much smaller when compared to the East Africa’s ‘three great lakes’, Lake Tana is of great importance to Ethiopia, as it is a prominent source of water and also hydroelectricity for this region.
The north flowing Blue Nile was reversed by a volcanic blockage by which one of Africa’s greatest waterfalls, the Tis Abay was created, and this subsequently led to the formation of Lake Tana. The lake was isolated by the falls, which gave evolution to about 18 species of barbus fish, the only intact flock in the world. LakeNet has identified Lake Tana as one among the 250 lakes having rich biodiversity. The basin of Lake Tana contributes significantly to the millions of people living in the lower regions of the Nile River basin. The main reason is that this lake provides fish resource potential of about 10,000 metric tons each year.
For enthusiastic bird watchers, the bird life seen in and around Lake Tana, be it the local or the migratory visitors, is truly an awesome view. The whole region of Lake Tana and Blue Nile Gorge invite a splendid variety of bird species. The wide range of habitats present, be it the riverside forest, rocky crag or the important wetlands, give a confirmed indication that many other species would be spotted in the near future!