“Bale Mountain Lodge,”:http://www.balemountainlodge.com the only accommodation in the Bale Mountain National Park, has just eight rooms and is run by British couple, Yvonne and Guy Levene. Rooms 1 to 3 were square stone lodges right next to reception, whilst 4 to 8 were accessed via a rather rocky narrow path that we didn’t really fancy negotiating in the dark after dinner. Originally we’d been allocated room 5, but as the lodge wasn’t full, Yvonne suggested number 1 which was the nearest to reception. It may have lacked the character and views from the more out of the way rooms, but it suited us better.
Our room had twin beds, with maroon tapestry covers, and was disabled friendly with a large bathroom with washbasin suitable for a wheelchair, a wide door into the wet room and loo. The bedroom was relatively large and had a safe, tea coffee making facilities, but no hairdryer. The bedroom had parquet wooden flooring with grey slate tiles in the bathroom. The wooden deck with two chairs caught the early morning sun and provided good mountain views.
We had an all inclusive package (including a good selection of drinks). Dinner was at 7.30pm in the large circular dining room which had tables around the edge and a huge sunken wood burning stove in the middle with floor to ceiling brick chimney which was a real feature. Evenings are chilly because of the altitude (2380m) and our room had a wood burning stove that was lit whilst we were at dinner and hot water bottles were put in our beds.
There was no choice at dinner but meals were excellent with a soup to start with followed by a comforting hot main, vegetables and potato. Whilst we were there we enjoyed: beef in red wine with baby new potatoes roasted and spinach, beef stir fry, excellent roast potatoes and spinach and on our last night, sheep tibs with rice and carrots. There was always a simple pudding to finish. However, the nicest thing about dinner was that it was all presented in tureens on each table allowing you to eat as much or as little as you wanted.
For lunch you could either take a picnic or return to the lodge which we did on the two full days we were there. One day we had a spicy vegetable curry and cous cous and on the other, a carrot and spinach pizza which sounds strange but was excellent because of the spicy tomato sauce. Lunches appear to be vegetarian and sensibly based on left overs from the previous night.
Breakfast was very good with everything served to table: a fruit platter, basket of toast, three jams, butter and two choices of fruit juice. Eggs were cooked to order.
Outside the restaurant, are tables and chairs for sitting out during the day and an outside fire which was lit on one night although unfortunately it started to rain. Bearing in mind the remote location, there was good wi-fi around the reception area.
We had our own guide, but the lodge can provide guides to allow you to try spotting the endangered Ethiopian Wolves and the endemic Mountain Nyala, Menelik’s Bushbuck that roam in the park. Walks from the lodge are also available and late one afternoon we took a two hour walk to where they diverted the river into the pipe that fed the generator for electricity. It was a lovely walk, with a few small hills but it was the right time of day as it wasn’t too hot yet the sun was dappling through the trees.
The lodge was well run with friendly staff and we loved our three nights there.