An eco-lodge in the Hamar region
When talking about the people of the south Omo zone, there are some tribes who get more attention than others. The Hamers are one of them. There is good reason for this. They are the most prevalent tribe in the region, numbering around 45,000. Pastoral and semi-nomadic, the Hamar are attentive to their appearances, and they are known for decorating themselves stylishly. The women and the men, fine-featured and very dark-skinned, could be seen walking around in their villages wearing colorful fabrics and jewel. Women, who usually twist their hair into red tresses by mixing mud with butter, often wear leather skirts dotted with cowry shells, bead necklaces.
The Hamar people’s unique rituals such as a cattle-leaping ceremony that men go through in order to reach adulthood, whereupon young women get whipped to prove their love for their kinsmen has also been much commented upon. Many of the Hamar live in and around the village of Turmi, roughly 800 kilometers south of Addis Ababa by car. Difficult living conditions and furnace like heat are just part of the challenge when camping with Hamar on the sandy villages of Turmi and Dimeka, experiencing a nomadic life that is slowly disappearing.
Here an oasis of rest and case called Buska Lodge awaits visitors. This is among the few well-designed, environmentally sensitive lodges in remote areas of the country, making it the fourth in Addis journal’s list of Top Ten Eco lodges.
The lodge is found in Turmi, on the banks of Kesek River, a stone, wood and thatch build with peaked, stacked reverse con. The lodge, which is one of the first ecologies in southern Ethiopia, strikes a balance of comfort and contemporary style in a challenging environment.
Owner Mulugeta Muluneh has interest in sustainable tourism. He has emphasized the traditional roof styles in some original ways that the Hamar people have been making for centuries. The 21-bedroom lodge uses generator for energy and solar power for its hot water delivery, and has an herb and vegetable garden. Named after Buska Mountain, the mountain which separates the Hamer region from central region, the lodge consists of a main area, sleeping rooms and camping facilities. The shared areas include 2 restaurants, a bar, a coffee ceremony house, seating area and verandah which are lit by generator from 18.00 until 22.00. The restaurant serves Ethiopian and international recipes and a small spa offer bespoke indulgences with materials found in the reserve.
Members of the local Hamar community work at the lodge, gardening and cleaning the compound, (Five guards, four gardeners, two goat herders, two bell persons, a masseuse, to be exact) but guests can also visit them in their village.
The lodge is also noted for its flora and fauna. Abyssinian black and white colobus monkeys inhabit the surrounding trees and there’s plenty of birdlife in the area including white-bellied go-away-bird with a very loud and penetrating sheep-like bleating call “gaarr, warrr’.
After many years of hard work, the owners say Buska Lodge has grown into the haven they dreamed it could be but there’s still development to come that will keep them busy for a long time. “It’s about always evolving our business and making it even better tomorrow than it is today,” Mulugeta said.
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