Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Limalimo Lodge pioneers the development of a sustainable model of tourism in the Simien Mountains, embracing the need for more ecologically sensitive building techniques in Ethiopia.
Opening in autumn 2015, Limalimo Lodge is being constructed using ‘rammed earth’ – a building material that respects the unique eco-system in which it sits. Limalimo’s commitment to sustainable development doesn’t stop with the build – the welfare of the neighbouring community is deeply integrated into the project’s business model: today, more than 70 members of the community are regularly employed on the construction site; when the lodge opens, more than 60% of staff will be from the local area.
The opening of this lodge has been a long time coming for the two Ethiopian Simien Mountain guides behind its development – Shiferaw Asrat and Meles Yemata. With a combined guiding experience of more than 25 years, they have long dreamed of opening a sustainable lodge in the UNESCO listed mountains they grew up in.
Thanks to an investment from the African Wildlife Foundation, along with a number of passionate British and Canadian investors, Shiferaw and Meles’ brainchild will open later this year.
Ethiopia has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and is frequently on lists of global travel destination hot spots. Shiferaw and Meles cannot state enough the importance of building this lodge in a way that brings tangible and real benefits to the community, whilst being sensitive to the eco-system and respectful of sustainable tourism.
“Tourism is rapidly on the rise in Ethiopia” states Shiferaw, “we want to embrace that and introduce visitors to the country’s historical and natural wonders in a way that is sustainable and beneficial to the community. By constructing Limalimo Lodge, we aim to have a positive and long-term impact on sustainable conservation practices in the Simien Mountains. We hope that Limalimo Lodge will be held up as an example – an example of what well-managed sustainable tourism can look like for Ethiopia.”
The lodge’s focus on green technologies starts with the walls themselves, which are made using a technique called “rammed earth”. Though labour intensive, the effect is beautifully natural and ecologically very low-impact. The green roofs are supported by a grey-water reuse system that limits waste water on site. To continue the sustainable benefits beyond the build, the rooms will be furnished with Ethiopian textiles and local art whilst the restaurant will source food from nearby farmers and producers.
The Simien Mountain National Park was established in 1969 to conserve the rare species found amongst its peaks, including Gelada Monkeys and Walia Ibex, both of which are endemic to the Simien Mountains. In 1978, it became one of the first two UNESCO natural World Heritage Sites to be listed.
Photos: Courtesy of Limalimo Lodge