What makes a boutique or eco lodge?
Ethiopia's selection of boutique and eco lodges make for memorable stays. The influence of the environment on these lodges in inescapable and is echoed in their design, with many of the lodges employing sustainability initiatives to better respect the environment.
In the North
Gheralta Lodge offers a selection of bungalows perched atop a Tigrayan cliff-face. The views are simply extraordinary, and the complex is the perfect place to enjoy your tipple of choice as the sun sets behind the mountains on the horizon.
The bungalows have a distinct cabin feel and Gheralta Lodge is another great base for exploring the Tigrayan rock churches.
Outside the hustle and bustle of central Lalibela, Mezena Lodge is a new accommodation in Lalibela and one of our favourite’s in the town. Mezena offers generously sized and well-designed cottage rooms, extraordinarily friendly service and excellent food.
It wouldn’t be Ethiopia without exceptional views, and Mezena’s terraces offer these in spades.
Just outside of Lalibela, accessed by a two hour hike, sits the wonderful Hudad Lodge. The lodge is itself is basic and unassuming, a standard tukul design, stone walls and flooring, and thatched roofing. The appeal of this lodge is its location as it’s perched atop the rolling hills of Lalibela and offers extraordinary views of valleys and canyons, and as sun sets the sky comes alive with stars.
Mayleko is a quaint and charismatic lodge a 15 minute tuk-tuk ride outside of Gondar. The lodge offers great views, and rooms are spacious and cosy tukuls scattered around the small compound. Despite the typical stone walls and thatched roofing, the interior is far more contemporary than you’ll find in many Ethiopian lodges, and there are even large french glass doors that open onto the terrace and garden.
Ankober Palace Lodge
At over 2700 metres in the small town of Ankober, this lodge offers sweeping views and great hiking opportunities. The lodge is the best accommodation available in Ankober, and while there is much to be improved, the friendly staff and surrounding environment makes it well worth a visit.
Awash Falls Lodge
Deep in the heart of Awash Falls National Park, this lodge provides comfortable, but basic, accommodation. The setting more than makes up for the lodge’s relative lack of luxury, and it’s the best place to base yourself for exploring the park. The lodge is right by the Awash waterfall, which can be admired from the lodge’s restaurant and tukuls.
Sitting at over 3200 metres, the Simien Lodge is the highest altitude lodge anywhere in Africa. Sporting the traditional stone walls and thatched roofing, the Simien Lodge comprises a number of tukuls with some boasting great views of the Simien range. The lodge offers a great alternative to camping, and works out slightly cheaper than the more luxurious Limalimo Lodge.
Ethiopia's boutique and eco lodges vary wildly in quality, comfort, and environment. When deciding where to stay, ask yourself what's most important to you, and how comfortable you are staying off the beaten track.
In the Rift Valley
This peaceful retreat is a welcome step-up from the typical sub-standard lodging you’ll find in the Omo Valley. Nestled in the quiet town of Yirgalem between the Bale Mountains, Omo Valley, and Rift Valley lakes, Aregash Lodge is your quintessential eco-lodge. The rooms are large bamboo tukuls, and the lodge is complete with a great restaurant and lovely staff. There are some great short hikes from the lodge, and the forest is home to a variety of wildlife who often stray into the lodge compound.
Hara Langano Lodge
Hara Langano Lodge sits on the shores of Lake Langano. The region is a mecca for wildlife, and there are some great hiking opportunities and boat trips out on the lake. While the rooms themselves are basic, the lodge places eco-tourism at the heart of what they do. All staff are from the local area, and the lodge employs a number of initiatives to reduce their impact on the surrounding environment.
Sabana Beach Resort
Set alongside the only beach in Ethiopia on the shores of Lake Langano, Sabana Beach Resort offers a selection of rooms in private and modern outhouses. The resort has an atmospheric restaurant with great views over the lake and a selection of Ethiopian and international foods. The lodge is a common favourite for travellers traversing the Rift Valley.
In the Omo Valley
As you head south of Addis Ababa, the quality of accommodation begins to decline. The eco lodges in the Omo Valley leave much to be admired, but those listed below are the best available in the region, and are constantly improving.
Looming over the forested lowlands and lakes Abaya and Chamo, Paradise Lodge is the starting point for any adventure into the Omo Valley. The lodge offers great views from the restaurant and bar, and the rooms are tukuls made with wooden floors, stone walls and thatched-roofing.
The lodge has unmistakable character, great service and unmissable views.
Offering pleasant views of the forested valleys and mountains of the Omo, Kanta Lodge is the best accommodation available in the Konso region. The rooms are built in the traditional tukul style and are basic, but comfortable. Dining and room terraces offer great views and calm during your adventure in the Omo Valley.
Eco Omo Lodge
In typical Omo Valley style, the setting is beautiful and verdant, but the rooms leave much to be admired. Sitting on raised wooden platforms, rooms are tents protected by a canvas of thatched roofing. The restaurant is buffet style and includes a wooden terrace overlooking the forest.
Another favourite along the Omo Valley trail, Buska Lodge offers relatively spacious bungalows and a nice open-air restaurant serving decent buffet food. The lodge sits within a nice garden and is the best accommodation available in Turmi.
Dorze Lodge stands out head and shoulders above many other lodges in southern Ethiopia. The views from the lodge are spectacular, and the staff provide a level of service you seldom see in this part of Ethiopia. The lodge consists of small tukul rooms and is perched on the plateau overlooking the stunning Arba Minch landscape.
Deep in the Omo Valley, Lale’s camp is a newly introduced accommodation comprised of four large canvas tents adjacent to the Omo River, complete with adjoining toilets, showers and verandas. During the rainy season, the camp can only be accessed by boat, which in itself is quite an experience.