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Eco-safari lodge due to set new standards for Ethiopia

Eco-safari lodge due to set new standards for Ethiopia

Construction has commenced on Bale Mountain Lodge, a planned 15-bedroom eco-safari lodge in the Bale Mountains National Park (BMNP) of south central Ethiopia

The location of the lodge – which is anticipated to open in November 2013 – has been selected to provide guests with an excellent opportunity to experience a pristine wilderness that incorporates the largest tract of Afro-alpine moorland remaining on the continent, the majority being over 3800m above sea level, whilst living in a stunning cloud forest which offers access to the rift valley and wider local attractions.

This amazing mix of habitats supports myriad rare species, many endemic to Ethiopia and some found only within the park. Sixty per cent of the remaining Ethiopian Wolves, the world’s most rare carnivore, are found within the park. Other species include the endemic Mountain Nyala, Menelik’s Bushbuck and various rodent species, plus lions, rare Giant Forest Hogs and significant numbers of endemic  or rare bird species.

In the immediate vicinity of the lodge can be found a number of mapped and marked tracks that take guests into forest, out to a hot springs location or up on to the plateau. The forest teems with wildlife of all types, but of particular note are the endemic Bale Monkeys, which can routinely be seen in and around the lodge site, alongside the spectacular birdlife of he forest. Other primates, rare cats and spectacular plants can be seen, and every trip into the trees provides a different experience.

Located around 400km southeast of Addis Ababa, the Bale Mountains National Park is a protected area of approximately 2,200squ.km. Designated as a Biodiversity Hotspot by Conservation International, its high mountains, sweeping valleys, dramatic escarpment and wide expanses of forest provide visitors with a diversity of vistas unique to the Ethiopian highlands.

Bale Mountain Lodge is being set up by Guy and Yvonne Levene, a British couple who have lived out in Africa for 20 years. Conservation is fundamental to the couple, who are setting new standards for Ethiopia. BML have created their own concession document and lease, both of which have now been adopted as the standard for others to match if they wish to operate within Ethiopian National Parks in the future. They have also voluntarily adopted additional conservation and HR covenants as part of their funding agreements.

It is BML’s long-term goal to have a direct impact upon the management of the National Park at a tactical level, and all of their activities are geared to reducing de-forestation, educating locals and guests about the unique nature of Bale, its role as a ‘water tower’ for 12 million downstream users, and its unique wildlife, providing alternative employment for the villagers in the only legal village within the park, and managing the lodge and resource chain in a responsible and ecologically sound manner.

All lodge rooms will be large and comfortable, and will have a wood-burning stove in each room  Furniture is being manufactured locally using sustainable wood, and furnishings will be of the highest quality to emphasise the comfort.

Prices start at $220pppn, and a 4-night stay at BMJ with Red Savannah (www.redsvannah.com) costs from £1,555pp based on two sharing, flights with Ethiopian Airways in economy class, return airport transfers and four nights’ accommodation, including all meals, local beer and wine.

www.balemountainlodge.com

About The Author

Mike Cowton

Michael Cowton, an outdoors writer, editor and photographer with a passion for nature-based travel and wildlife. He is a former editor of EcoTravel, Outdoor Pursuits, Camping, Lakeland Walker and Which Motorcaravan magazines, and national newspaper journalist.

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