Walking to Hudad Lodge on the well-trodden path from the town of Lalibela is a great introduction to what lies awaiting you in the mountains and plateaux of northern Ethiopia. The journey takes about 2 hours on a busy path, used for generations by school children as well as people taking donkeys, goats and other farm produce to the market in Lalibela which takes place every Saturday. This is a wonderfully authentic experience of life in Ethiopia's highlands.
At the beginning of our trek we were met by our guide, Molla and his porter, Abi and our donkeys loaded up with our luggage for the ascent to the Hudad Plateau at 3,300 metres above sea level. Luckily, we had packed smaller bags for our mountain trek which made me feel less guilty about the weight that our beasts of burden had to carry for us!
Throughout our ascent past, winding amongst the blooming rock roses, we met people on their way to the markets of Lalibela. It was noticeable that everyone smiled and greeted us with "Salaam" and both humans and livestock were enviably sure-footed and speedy on such narrow tracks.
On arrival at Hudad Lodge, we were welcomed with delicious fresh papaya and tea and fantastic views. The owner of Hudad Lodge, Mesfin, was there to greet us and show us to our "Tukul" - a cone-shaped hut built by local artisans from stones hand-mined from the plateau itself.
The local community is very involved in setting up the lodge from constructing new tukuls and cooking to performing evening entertainment. Huge wooden beds are in the tukuls and warm sweaters and traditional clothing are provided to stave off the evening chill.
There is no running water or electricity here but you do have a long drop loo with a view. Hot water bottles are put into your bed at night.
The gelada monkeys roam freely on the plateau and are well habituated so you can get pretty close to them. Lammergeyers soared in the sky above us.
The hospitality shown to us was wonderful. Guests at the lodge take their meal before our hosts and the resident chef (the only female at the lodge) provided many culinary delights. If you like spicy food, you will enjoy it here.
After dinner, we were treated to having our feet washed and massaged and this was to be a daily treat. One of the elders then sang in our honour after which our chairs were moved to the fire outside from where we could admire the huge sky and constellations, before retiring to our very comfortable beds.
We organise day treks from Hudad Lodge, or you can continue on the 3-day trek to Abune Yosef - talk to Catherine if you'd like to hear more
Posted by: Alex