Fabulous Negash Lodge
Despite its physical brilliance and cultural diversity, Ethiopia remains under-explored tourist destination. The hospitality service remains much to be desired and the tourist infrastructure outside Addis Ababa is generally inferior. This is, however, likely to change as some forward-thinking individuals are embarking up on the huge task of developing a hospitality and tourism industry. One such place Addis Journal is featuring in the second installment of top ten eco friendly lodges is Negash Lodge, located in Wolisso town, southwest of Ethiopia, 114km away from the capital.
The promotional pamphlet explains that the lodge was first built in the 1930’s and was used as holiday home by Emperor Haile Selassie, because of its natural hot springs which many believe has curative properties. In the late 1940’s it was named Ghion Hotel, and was one of the country’s biggest honeymoon destination. By the late 1950s it was renamed Ethiopia Hotel before being privatized in 2005 and called Negash Lodge.
Lying on approximately 90,000sq.m, today it remains an attraction comprising of huts built to the specifications of the different tribes of Ethiopia and made of local materials. The owner Zimetawork Negash has totally revamped the old hotel building, and added as number of bungalows in traditional styles, Sidamo style and tukuls.
Zimetawork named it after her late father Negash Hailemariam and she has been an advocate for raising the awareness of tourism issues in the region. She attributes her success in the industry to hard work, marketing and a love for hospitality.
The lodge takes in the model of a cultural village and its several furnished cottages are scattered across spacious layout, each set with good views into the forest. There are different varieties of indigenous trees such as cedar, zigba, erythrina brucei, plenty of birdlife (including a variety of robin-chats, an array of colorful sunbirds) creating a sense of peace and relaxation in this natural environment. Black-and-white colobus and vervet monkey and a ground squirrel colony, and even an occasional antelope are seen.
A good range of facilities including conference hall, thermal hot spring, children’s play ground, a lively bar, and a restaurant serving a good range of Western and local snacks. Enough activities and amenities to keep you busy for week’s vacation.
Though as great destination as it is, how much the lodge has given thought to its carbon footprint or committed to low-impact technologies such as solar power is still to be questioned. But I believe it will have to embrace more sustainable policies because clients will increasingly demand it. For the time being, the lodge remains satisfying woods retreats and is benefitting the local economy by inviting guests to get a taste of the local culture and environment in its own modest ways.
Close-by attractions include an ancient church carved into the mountains of Chitu called Selassie Rock Church, located only 12km from the lodge and the beautiful Wenchi Crater Lake, 35 km west of Welliso. The lodge organizes trip to these and other attraction areas in Oromia region.
Woizero Zimetawork said she would continue investing in property and in the hospitality industry. She said she was currently busy putting up a similar structure in Dendi Lake, located 128kms west of Addis.
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