Using Ecotourism for Massive Impact in Rural Ethiopia

Dorze lodge

People who love adventure travel are usually the types that love get to off the beaten path and experience a place just like the locals do. These types of travelers love integrating into local culture and customs, and seeking out authentic experiences. Adventure travelers are responsible travelers; that is, they care for the environment and they practice cultural relativism as best they can. If you are a traveler that embodies these characteristics, take note: Dorze Lodge in the heart of Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley is an ideal travel experience: unique, rustic, comfortable, and authentic.

Dorze lodge 2

Dorze lodge is located in the region called the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ region in the Southwest portion of Ethiopia. It is approximately 500km from Addis Ababa with the closest city to the lodge being Arba Minch. The lodge itself is perched on a cliff 2400 meters above sea level in the Guge mountains. Its location offers spectacular views of the Rift Valley lakes of Chamo and Abaya, as well as Nechisar National Park. Nechisar  itself is found on the isthmus between the two lakes (known as the Bridge of God), and it is covered by grassy plains, thick bush land, and groundwater forests along the lakes’ shorelines. Wildlife in the park includes zebras, gazelle, crocodiles, and one of three populations of the endangered Swayne’s Hartebeest, which is endemic to Ethiopia.

The principal reason for the development of Dorze lodge is its direct connection with its namesake ethnic group, the Dorze. The lodge practices community-based tourism and is owned and operated by members of the Dorze community. The goal of the lodge is to employ members of the Dorze community and promote a trickle-down effect of the lodge’s profits to the Dorze people. The lodge’s commitment to sustainable development and social well-being of the Dorze  make this a feel-good location for spending your tourist dollars.

Dorze Lodge breakfast

A trip to the lodge creates the opportunity to learn about the Dorze first-hand through day trips to local communities in the area. The excursions include a cultural education of their history, societal structure, food preparation and preservation, beliefs, stories, rites, and religion. This is accomplished by visits to local bakers and farmers and attending church masses and traditional dance shows, with many more immersive opportunities available.

The Dorze people themselves total approximately 28,000 through nine villages in the Guge mountains around Arba Minch and nearby Chencha. Many Dorze are involved in weaving and other crafts, as well as farming. Their huts are tall and conical and made of locally available material. In keeping with the lodge’s goal of being a local representation of the culture it is situated, the accommodation for guests are Dorze huts built in the same fashion as in the villages. Better yet, the furniture inside the huts, including the soft furnishings such as pillows, are made by local Dorze community members.

A final point about the Dorze lodge that should interest the avid adventure traveler is the fact that not only does it advocate community-based tourism, it also is a strong supporter of  sustainable environmental practices as well. Ecological considerations include water management and the anticipated use of solar panels for energy. After the unfortunate destruction of their solar panels in a recent fire, a generator is now used sparingly for electricity at night. However, future plans to replace the solar panels are in the works (with the help of Zana Fund). Hopefully a fully environmentally friendly lodge is attainable here for the near future.

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When and Where?

We are located in

#209-1008 17 Ave SW
Calgary, Alberta T2T 0A6

Phone: (403) 800-6608