I spent my first 2 nights of my 14 day Ethiopian journey in the lovely Haile Resort on Lake Awassa (Hawassa). The resort is owned by national running hero, Haile Gabreselassie. Now turned business owner, he’s beloved in his country for his good care of his employees and his concern for fair wages and decent working conditions. I’ll buy that! The resort was recommended by my dear friend, Solomon, as the perfect location for post-flight rest and relax. He was spot on (note:no second guessing Solomon). I loved Haile Resort.. There are all sorts of reasons why; the bed was super cozy, my room had an excellent balcony view of the Lake, the food was great, the place was quiet and gorgeous. And, it was the only place in my entire 14 days where my bed was comfy and the hot water was reliable. I didn’t know that then, but I appreciate the memory now. The Lake was teaming with it’s own liveliness. A few days of birds, gardens, lush greenery – what’s not to love?
I also was lucky to get their mid-day rates (about $70 a night – which is mucho expensive by Ethiopian standards, but which felt like a fair price – it’s twice as expensive on the weekends!) Note in the image above, the fish eagle in the glorious fig tree outside my room. That fish eagle treated me to it’s unique call all day long. I was a happy birder in this place. I enjoyed the quiet of the resort (I was told it is more lively on the weekends – as is just about every place on the Lake). My time, in fact, was rather quiet and contemplative. I awoke early and watched the Lake life come alive and I spent the days exploring the area (Wondo Genet and the local fish market). I spent my evenings quietly enjoying the outdoor patio watching sunsets with a St. George beer. It was a good place for me – and allowed me to sink into Ethiopia with a few days of solo adventure. The solo piece was new to me. While I have traveled a lot in my life, I’ve always traveled in the company of family and/or children. This space started a 4 day solo stretch – alone – in Ethiopia. I would later join the company of 10 other women, but not quite yet. . First, learning how to spend time with myself. (“Really, this late in life?” you ask. My answer, “Why yes.”)
I was surprised by the number of Ethiopians enjoying the resort – it was refreshing, as I expected to see a hotel full of foreign travelers like myself. I started my trip in full people watching mode – and added some birds to the mix (Hamerkop and Ibis featured in the pictures of mine, by the way). For those who wondered, I felt perfectly safe traveling solo and walking everywhere solo – although I should add that I was always with a local guide. The guides enriched my local experiences by considerable measure; solo is relative. I wouldn’t recommend traveling in Ethiopia without using the local guides – – they know a lot and really enhanced my experiences everywhere I visited.
(Edited commented for folks who asked me to check out alternatives in places I visited. I checked out Lewi Resort – the name came up a lot from others who had been to Awassa. Lewi Resort- it was also beautiful, but much much busier. The compound was far more complex – it included a puttputt golf course, bikes for taking out in the community, private tukul style accomodations, a pool, and piped in western music throughout the resort. If you are traveling with kids and want something that would allow for more ‘self-contained’ hours, perhaps you’d like it? I can’t comment on the rates – I visited the grounds but I didn’t ask anything about the rates. It didn’t really suit my taste – but I can see how a toddler or young one might find it a welcome refuge on a family adventure. I’d certainly advise that if you are visiting Lake Awassa, make it a weekday trip for best rates).