Travel Select: Lake Tana The Blue Nile


The Blue Nile looks like a sluggish beast as it meanders out of Lake Tana, but not far out of Bahir Dar you’ll see the Nile in a very different mood. The river pours over the side of a sheer 42m-high chasm and explodes into a melange of mists and rainbows (best at 10am) before continuing on its tumultuous path to Khartoum, where it finally gets to kiss the White Nile.

The catch to this impressive scene is that hydroelectric projects upstream have stolen most of the energy from Tis Abay, the ‘Nile that Smokes’. Though far smaller than its natural 400m-wide flow, the three-pronged waterfall is still jaw-droppingly huge in August and September. From around January or February until March it’s now known as ‘Blue Nile Shower’ and it’s not really worth a visit. The in-between time is still beautiful enough that most people enjoy the trip (though note that one of the hydro plants only operates on standby and if it’s turned on during this time the waterfall gets turned off). You may want to ask fellow travelers who’ve recently been to the falls about the flow, as tourist-industry operators won’t always give you a straight answer.

The ticket office is at the very end of the road through the town of Tis Abay. The road to the falls starts 50m west of here and it’s 1.5km to the start of a rocky footpath that leads down to a 17th-century Portuguese bridge (which was the first bridge to span the Blue Nile) along the so-called eastern route. From here the trail climbs up through a small village and a gauntlet of children selling souvenirs to reach the main viewpoints. Some people backtrack from here, but the better option is to take the suspension bridge over the narrow Alata River and walk down to the base of the falls. In the dry season you can swim at the bottom and walk behind the watery curtain. You can complete a circuit by using a path above the falls and crossing the river by motorboat. The boat service usually operates 7am to 6pm, but when the river runs too fast the boats can’t cross. Look for crocs during dry-season mornings. The entire walk is about 5km and takes about 2½ hours with lots of gawping time. As it’s not very steep, less energetic or mobile people may want to approach and return from the falls along this western route.

The falls are located 28km southeast of Bahir Dar down a bad dirt road; the first 10km were being sealed at the time of writing. Buses from Bahir Dar leave about hourly for Tis Abay village (Birr15, one hour). The last bus back usually leaves about 4.30pm, but to be safe, plan to return around 3.30pm. You don’t need to pay anyone to hold a seat for you. If you miss the bus, hitching back isn’t tough, though it will probably be expensive.

Zelalem Memory in Bahir Dar can organise excursions here for Birr1200, which includes a vehicle, fuel and a driver; a guide costs Birr400 extra. It’s pricey, but less so if you can get a group together.

Tickets & tours

Lake Tana and Blue Nile Falls Day Tour
Best of Bahir Dar in One Day: Blue Nile Falls and Island Monastries
Day Trip To Debre Libanos & Blue Nile Gorge

Find out more about the waterfall and ethiopian tours here. 

Priceadult/student/child Birr50/30/free, personal video cameras Birr50, mandatory guide Birr100

Daily Focus 018

These quick cast can go one of two ways. Its either organized I make notes on the topics I would like to briefly discuss or I just turn the damn recorder on and start talking. This was a talking joint, rambles about the way music can take your mind to another dimension and making fun of clients that mercilessly lie to your face with a smile.  How Americans would use smart brain cream on their butt cheeks and the next 10 Yogis I will be generating some questions for. Another one…. and yes its late, relax.




Breakthrough Cancer Cure Style Virus?

  • Scientists are hoping a new cowpox-style virus could kill every type of cancer 
  • Professor Yuman Fong, from the US, is engineering the treatment called CF33 
  • The treatment is being developed by Australia biotech company Imugene 

The treatment, called CF33, can kill every type of cancer in a petrie dish and has shrunk tumours in mice, The Daily Telegraph reported.

US cancer expert Professor Yuman Fong is engineering the treatment, which is being developed by Australia biotech company Imugene.

They are hoping the treatment will be tested on breast cancer patients, among other cancer sufferers, next year.

Scientists have created a new cowpox-style virus in a bid to cure cancer (stock image)

Scientists have created a new cowpox-style virus in a bid to cure cancer (stock image)

Professor Fong is currently in Australia to organise the clinical trials, which will also be run overseas.

Patients with triple negative breast cancer, melanoma, lung cancer, bladder, gastric and bowel cancer would be tested in the ‘basket study’.

Success with mice does not ensure the virus will be able to treat humans, but  Professor Fong remains positive, as other specific viruses have been effective in fighting cancer in humans.

How music effects the brain?

I’m a big fan of music, and use it a lot when working, but I had no idea about how it really affects our brains and bodies. Since music is such a big part of our lives, I thought it would be interesting and useful to have a look at some of the ways we react to it without even realizing.

“Without music, life would be a mistake” –Friedrich Nietzsche

Of course, music affects many different areas of the brain, as you can see in the image below, so we’re only scratching the surface with this post, but let’s jump in.


We can usually pick if a piece of music is particularly happy or sad, but this isn’t just a subjective idea that comes from how it makes us feel. In fact, our brains actually respond differently to happy and sad music.

Even short pieces of happy or sad music can affect us. One study showed that after hearing a short piece of music, participants were more likely to interpret a neutral expression as happy or sad, to match the tone of the music they heard. This also happened with other facial expressions, but was most notable for those that were close to neutral.

Something else that’s really interesting about how our emotions are affected by music is that there are two kind of emotions related to music: perceived emotions and felt emotions.

This means that sometimes we can understand the emotions of a piece of music without actually feeling them, which explains why some of us find listening to sad music enjoyable, rather than depressing.

Unlike in real life situations, we don’t feel any real threat or danger when listening to music, so we can perceive the related emotions without truly feeling them–almost like vicarious emotions.


We all like to pump up the tunes when we’re powering through our to-do lists, right? But when it comes to creative work, loud music may not be the best option.

It turns out that moderate noise level is the sweet spot for creativity. Even more than low noise levels, ambient noise apparently gets our creative juices flowing, and doesn’t put us off the way high levels of noise do.

The way this works is that moderate noise levels increase processing difficulty which promotes abstract processing, leading to higher creativity. In other words, when we struggle (just enough) to process things as we normally would, we resort to more creative approaches.

In high noise levels, however, our creative thinking is impaired because we’re overwhelmed and struggle to process information efficiently.

This is very similar to how temperature and lighting can affect our productivity, where paradoxically a slightly more crowded place can be beneficial.


Take this one with a grain of salt, because it’s only been tested on young adults (that I know of), but it’s still really interesting.

In a study of couples who spent time getting to know each other, looking at each other’s top 10 favorite songs actually provided fairly reliable predictions as to the listener’s personality traits.

The study used five personality traits for the test: openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability.

Interestingly, some traits were more accurately predicted based on the person’s listening habits than others. For instance, openness to experience, extraversion, and emotional stability were the easiest to guess correctly. Conscientiousness, on the other hand, wasn’t obvious based on musical taste.

Here is also a break-down of how the different genres correspond to our personality, according to a study conducted at Heriot-Watt University:

Click to expand

To break it down, here is the connection they have found:

  • Blues fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Jazz fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing and at ease
  • Classical music fans have high self-esteem, are creative, introvert and at ease
  • Rap fans have high self-esteem and are outgoing
  • Opera fans have high self-esteem, are creative and gentle
  • Country and western fans are hardworking and outgoing
  • Reggae fans have high self-esteem, are creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease
  • Dance fans are creative and outgoing but not gentle
  • Indie fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard working, and not gentle
  • Bollywood fans are creative and outgoing
  • Rock/heavy metal fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, and at ease
  • Chart pop fans have high self-esteem, are hardworking, outgoing and gentle, but are not creative and not at ease
  • Soul fans have high self-esteem, are creative, outgoing, gentle, and at ease

At this point in the article is where I tend to go left but If you would like to finish reading it go to  Fast Company 

Carbohydrates 101

Do Bodies Process Carbs Differently?



All healthy adult bodies process carbohydrates the same way, but not all carbs digest in the same manner. Some types of carbs break down quickly, others take a while and fibrous carbohydrates don’t break down at all. In some cases, certain digestive issues or nutritional deficiencies may contribute to an inability to digest carbohydrates. Because carbohydrates are your body’s main energy source, it is important to know how they digest and break down.

Simple Carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are sugars and can be naturally occurring or added. For example, fruit contains natural sugar called fructose, while milk has its own naturally occurring sugar called lactose. Processed junk foods often have added sugar in the form of sucrose, dextrose or high fructose corn syrup. These simple carbohydrates all process in a similar manner in your body. After you chew and swallow the food, sugars quickly travel down into your small intestine. From there, enzymes convert the sugars directly into glucose, which is the main fuel source for every cell. Glucose molecules absorb through intestinal walls and immediately enter your bloodstream.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are starches that have long branched chains. Your system has to work hard to deconstruct these molecules into simpler forms. When you chew food that has starch, such as potatoes, whole-grain foods or corn, saliva in your mouth goes to work. Saliva engulfs complex starch compounds and turns them into a type of simple carbohydrate called maltose. Once maltose molecules reach your small intestine, enzymes turn them into glucose and they enter your bloodstream in the same way as sugars.


Your body processes fiber in a completely different manner than sugars and starches. Although fiber is a complex carbohydrate, it does not break down into glucose. Fiber stays intact, for the most part, as it travels through your gut. Soluble fiber is the soft part of plants that holds onto water. It acts similarly in your gut by attracting water. When soluble fiber binds with water it forms a sludge or gel substance that slows digestion. Soluble fiber allows nutrients to absorb through intestinal walls, delays absorption of sugar and can help lower blood cholesterol by sticking to cholesterol and pushing it out through waste. Insoluble fiber is the rigid structural component of cell walls. This is the type of fiber that is difficult to chew and gets stuck in your teeth. Insoluble fiber speeds up digestion and makes it easy for you to have bowel movements. Most fibrous foods provide some of each type of fiber.

Digestion Problems

Even though everyone processes simple carbs, complex carbs and fiber the same way, certain issues may affect how efficiently your body uses carbohydrates. If you are lactose intolerant, your body does not make enough lactase, which is the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk products. Lactose cannot digest and causes uncomfortable gas, bloating and diarrhea. Digestive issues, such as Crohn’s disease, or intestinal damage from anorexia nervosa or alcoholism, limit your body’s ability to absorb thiamine, or vitamin B-1. This vitamin is critical for digestion of carbohydrates. Without it, pyruvic acid builds up, causing difficulty breathing and heart damage. Diabetes is another issue that affects processing of carbohydrates. If you have diabetes, Type 1 or Type 2, your body either can’t produce insulin or doesn’t produce enough working insulin to help cells absorb glucose after carbohydrate digestion. Glucose reaches dangerously high levels, which can lead to heart disease, kidney failure or blindness.


New NeuroHacking Cream?

A “neurohacking” cream that can help people learn musical instruments or languages faster could be available in the UK within five years – but British people may not want it, experts admit.

The neuropeptide dihexa was developed by Washington State University to combat Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment by slowing cell death and suppressing enzymes that destroy brain chemicals crucial for memory and learning.

It has been granted initial approval for use in the US following safety trials and is being prescribed to boost general mental performance. Dr Daniel Stickler, of Apeiron, a US biotech company, prescribes dihexa when clients want to achieve specific goals.

Speaking at the Biohackers Summit in Helsinki, Dr Stickler said: “Dihexa is a very short peptide, just six amino acids, and it can be rubbed into the skin. “It’s amazing for learning and memory. They are doing it in clinical trials for dementia and traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s but it’s also really good, if you’re learning to play the guitar or something, for creating that kind of mental response.”

Neuropeptides are small protein-like molecules that help neurons communicate, and influence brain activity.

They are part of a new kind of medicine called biologics, which seek to use small molecules already in the body to fix problems rather than introducing foreign drugs which can cause off-target impacts and side-effects.

But he told The  Telegraph that early attempts to introduce the drugs into Britain had thrown up an unexpected obstacle. “When we were in London and meeting people, we were presenting this idea of improving human behaviour and we were finding that as long as there were other people worse off than them it was all OK, they just kept calm and carried on. That mindset was very different for us coming from the US where we have a very large percentage of people who think, ‘I know I’m good but I want to get better.’ So it’s been a foreign concept for people in Britain.”

But he added: “I think that is changing and although peptides are only legally prescribed in Australia and the United States right now, I think within the next five years you will see it coming into availability in the UK.”

Other neuropeptides currently being prescribed to boost brain power include cerebrolysin, which is derived from pigs’ brains and has been shown to be neuroprotective, enhancing learning and memory, increasing metabolism and decreasing amyloid beta – the stick plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Likewise, the neuropeptide nasal spray FGL is currently in phase 2 clinical trials and appears to help repair the myelin sheaths around nerves which are damaged in multiple sclerosis. MT-2, which is used chiefly for people hoping to boost their tan, is also now being taken to stimulate brainwaves.

And the brain molecule RG3, which is now also being prescribed, mimics exercise and increases the body’s ability to manage free radicals, the unstable atoms that damage cells, causing illness and ageing.

“You’re actually getting greater activation than you do with exercise,” said Dr Strickler. “This is pretty impressive. It’s a nasal spray so it’s simple to use.

“Biologics are things the body is familiar with, strings of amino acids that the body understands.

“They are very on-target, so when we give a biologic they go in and do what we intend them to do. With medicines the body reacts and we get side-effects and off-target effects. We’re going to see peptides overtake the pharmaceutical energy.”

Fabien Foelsch, of the biohacking company Braineffect, said people would increasingly need brain drugs and microdosing in the future to keep up with advancements in society.

“I believe that microdosing is able to provide us with the edge we need in the new neurosociety,” he told delegates. “Taking one to two grams of nicotine, I prefer in a gum product, has a good nootropic (brain boosting) effect.”

Source – Telegraph

Daily Focus 017

In This episode we reminisce on lessons learned being surrounded by Vodun Dolls while talking about Jimi Hendrixs doc Voodoo Child.  The inspiration you find out the blue. Big body dreams with red hairs and such. Quotes out the good book. The Throat is a god,  it takes sacrifices daily.  Here is your offering.

Magnetic Cures Old Technology New Improvements?

Deadly conditions like leukaemia, sepsis and malaria could be drawn from the body using magnets, after a British engineer designed a blood filtering system which sieves away disease.

Dr George Frodsham, came up with the idea while studying how magnetic nanoparticles can be made to bind to cells in the body, to allow, for example those cells to show up on scanners.

But he realised that if it was possible to magnetise cells for imaging, it should also be possible to then suck them out of the blood.

In theory, any bacterial infection, blood cancer, or virus that could be grabbed by a tiny magnetic particle could be removed from the body without the need for lengthy treatments with harsh drugs.

The first human trials of the technology – called MediSieve – are awaiting approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and are likely to start next year. Testing will begin on malaria in 2020 followed by trials to see if the device can remove sepsis-causing bacteria and dampen down the deadly immune response by 2021.

Dr Frodsham, the CEO of MediSieve, a spin-off from University College London (UCL), said: “In theory you can go after almost anything. Poisons, pathogens, viruses bacteria, anything that we can specifically bind to we can remove. So it’s a very powerful potential tool.

“When someone has a tumour you cut it out, Blood cancer is a tumour in the blood, so why not just take it out in the same way?

“Now is we know it’s possible, it’s just a question of figuring out some of the details.”

Scientists prepare the magnetic nanoparticles in the lab

The filtration system works in a similar way to dialysis. Blood is removed from the patient and infused with tiny magnetic particles which bind to the specific disease. Those bound substances are then trapped in the system using magnets and the ‘cleaned’ blood is pumped back into the body.

The blood could be run through the system several times until the disease is at such low levels that it can be removed by the immune system or a short course of drugs. And the whole process is likely to take just two to four hours, although could be repeated if necessary.

Curiously, malaria becomes magnetic naturally when it enters the body because it targets iron rich red blood cells which means that the first step is not necessary.

“The malaria parasite invades the red blood cell and consumes the haemoglobin, and therefore it leaves an iron based waste product, which it then takes inside itself. So effectively malaria parasites poop is magnetic and then it eats its poop,” added Dr Frodsham.

“We can never get to 100 per cent with something like this so you can get to 99 per cent so you can rely on the body to mop up the rest or you will be looking to use alongside drug therapy.

“With sepsis we’re going after five different targets, both the root causes and mediating the immune response,” he said.

The technique could be used for multiple diseases and conditions 
The technique could be used for multiple diseases and conditions  CREDIT: HARRY PARVIN 

Charities welcomed the new development saying that new treatments were desperately needed for blood cancers like leukaemia and they looked forward to the results of clinical trials to see if it would be an effective solution.

Dr Alasdair Rankin, Director of Research at the blood cancer charity Bloodwise, said: “As surprising as it sounds, laboratory scientists have used antibodies attached to magnetic beads for decades to separate out cells for their experiments.

“ Unfortunately, blood cancer cells don’t all circulate in the blood. Some stay in the bone marrow and lymph nodes and the only way to cure blood cancers like leukaemia is to eliminate these cells completely – or the cancer will return.

“But this is an interesting idea – by removing cancer cells from the body rather than killing them with drugs inside the body, this sort of approach could reduce the need for drugs with toxic side effects.”

Earlier this year Dr Frodsham won the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Innovator of the Year Award and is hoping that the device will inspire a new generation of engineers to find technological solutions to the big medical problems rather than simply looking for new drugs.

He is backing the new Royal Academy of Engineering campaign ‘This is Engineering’ which aims to show there is more to the profession than building roads and bridges.

“We’ve put blinkers on ourselves,’ he said. “ Anyone who is looking at new solutions to malaria were looking at drugs,and it hadn’t entered anyone’s mind you could use a devices and I said ‘look we have this physics we can use’.

“If you look in hospitals, everything is being done by engineers. All the equipment and the surgical stuff and the syringes and the machines and monitoring to to keep you alive.

“If people are looking for a potential career in which they want to change the world and benefit people and honestly don’t into medicine go into engineering, you will have a much bigger impact. A doctor will never treat a million people but an engineer could.”

Read the full article at Telegraph

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