During the Second World War, two Italians, Lima and Limo, built what was considered to be the most dangerous road in Ethiopia. Seven decades later, another Italian, architect Mario Balducci, made the luxury lodge at the end of this road, just above the village now bearing the name Limalimo. This boutique property in Simien Mountains was a brainchild of Shiferaw Asrat and Meles Yemata, two mountain guides that were showing the beauties of the national park to the visitors. They wanted to make a difference in luxury accommodation – create jobs and opportunities for locals. And here it is today: Limalimo Lodge setting the example for the hotels in Africa that responsible and sustainable tourism efforts pay off!
The town of Debark, the entrance to the Simien Mountains National Park, does not look as if it would be profiting much from its proximity to this jewel of nature. In 1978, UNESCO listed the park as the second ever site of outstanding beauty. However, it seems that most of the income generated by tourism has not been reinvested in the infrastructure of the town. My feeling is it went into the private pockets, often of tour agencies in Gondar, who readily overcharge the tourists planning to explore this spectacular corner of the world. Local communities seemed forgotten.
With living roofs, renewable energy sources and reusing of the wastewater, Limalimo Lodge reduces the environmental impact of your luxurious stay to a minimum
Limalimo Lodge founders specifically chose the hotel location in the area that was not gaining profits from the tourism. Away from the established hiking routes, a piece of land with stunning views of the mountains was just waiting to become the home of Limalimo Lodge. Since 2016, this unique hotel is the luxurious gateway to exploring the national park, with the responsible approach to the environment, local employment and development.
Waking up au naturel
Located on 10 hectares of land on the edge of the dramatic Simien escarpment, twelve en-suite rooms are scattered around the site, just enough to provide privacy for all the guests. The massive windows are floor to ceiling after all, which does secure a very green backdrop to waking up. From your room, you might even see the unusual Gelada monkeys enjoying their breakfast in the large acacia trees. The lack of TV set in the room is adequately replaced with this live version of National Geographic channel happening just in front of your eyes!
Rooms are spacious and simple. The comfortable Hypnos mattresses, approved by the Brittish royalties, were flown from the UK. This is an exception to the rule: the local suppliers provided the most of the materials for the lodge! For instance, disadvantaged women in Wolleka village produced the very special twin sinks for the bathrooms! Accompanied by handmade Calendula soap and Sun-heated water, your morning wash routine can hardly get more environment-friendly than that!
The villagers are employees in the lodge, but they are also the ones who built it, respecting the rural traditions and using the most sensitive green technology at the same time. They constructed the houses of locally collected rammed soil, eucalyptus wood, and thatch! Solar-powered smart lightening illuminates the pathways to your room at night. With living roofs, renewable energy sources and reusing of the wastewater, Limalimo Lodge reduces the environmental impact of your luxurious stay to a minimum. If you want to add up to it, you can always buy some authentic and unique local products from the small hotel gift shop!
If you are looking for luxurious, but environment-friendly accommodation in Cambodia, definitely check Jaya House RiverPark in Siem Reap!
Dining on the edge of the cliff
Limalimo Lodge rests at almost 3.000 meters above sea level. The best panoramic views of the mountains are reserved for the large central terrace attached to the restaurant and bar area. It is a spectacular place to enjoy the plentiful breakfast, the afternoon carrot cake with spiced tea, or surprisingly tasty Ethiopian Syrah in the evenings.
All meals and beverages are included at Limalimo Lodge (except for imported premium drinks). Lunches and dinners are fixed menus of simple, elegantly served Western food with locally sourced produce. They could replace it with typical Ethiopian injera-wats combination on request. For the romantics, it is possible to arrange to eat at the hidden forest location. For hikers, lunch packages are available.
Evenings in the mountains can get quite chilly. If you are heading to bed early, the hot water bottle will be provided to warm up your bed. Otherwise, fire pit on the terrace and fireplaces in the restaurant and bar area are cozy places to play some board game, read a book, meet other guests or just enjoy quiet decompression time.
Stay active around Limalimo Lodge
Technically, Limalimo Lodge is in the area of Simien Mountains National Park. This means the guests will need to pay the registration fee at the park headquarters, as well as engage the local tour guide and scout for every day of the stay. They will escort you on shorter walks around the lodge or longer hikes in the area if you are looking for real adventure holidays.
It is also possible to visit the neighboring village of Limalimo Abo, and experience local food and drinks, or learn about farming and beekeeping.
Otherwise, relaxing in Limalimo Lodge is also an excellent way to spend the afternoon. Watching endemic birds flying over the breathtaking Simien Mountains, or enjoying the wind in your hair while using one of the swings, will reconnect you with Nature in no time!
Check out this stunning view from the terrace of Limalimo Lodge! And wait for a few seconds – Simien Mountain tops are not the only fascinating thing to see!
Responsible tourism at its best
It is a good feeling to know that 10 dollars from every night of your stay in Limalimo Lodge go towards local conservation projects executed by the African Wildlife Foundation (one of the initial investors of the lodge). The hotel is also actively involved in replacing the non-native species of trees (eucalyptus) with native species that are growing slower, but use less water as well as better support the local wildlife.
Other initiatives that Limalimo supports are Pack for a Purpose, which motivates guests to donate supplies needed by the community, and Simien Mountains Mobile Medical Service, which means that your stay in this hotel will help people from remote villages to get free medical service!
The care for the natural and human environment is highlighted in the core business of this eco-lodge. It is securing the peace of your mind while you enjoy one of the most amazing corners of the world.
Urban areas of Ethiopia can be very loud and exhausting for travelers, and Limalimo Lodge’s meditative environment certainly has healing effects. With no wifi available, it is a great place to disconnect from the world and connect with your inner self. Is there a better definition of – unwinding?
Are you looking for some other hotel options in Debark, the starting point of exploring the Simien Mountains?
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Disclosure: My stay at the Limalimo Lodge was complimentary, but all opinions are my own. Also, this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on them and make a purchase, Pipeaway might make a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting our work!
The Limilimo Lodge looks amazing! I’m so glad they are doing something for the local community, that is how every business should be run, but sadly it is rarely the case in tourism. I’d love to stay here!
Really nice place. You should definitely check it out when you go to Ethiopia, Claire!
Those sinks looks so cool! I wonder what they are made of. Something like that would be the coolest souvenir ever if you could purchase one like it. What an interesting place!
I am not sure if particular sinks are for sale, but there is plenty of other local crafts, available in the small shop, where one could buy the product of one’s choice and support the local economy.