Responsible tourism: Painting vacation in Moroccan desert
In common with many parts of the world, both developed and developing, single-use plastic is a real issue in Morocco as plastic bags are routinely given with every purchase in shops and from street food vendors. For many years I have been trying to lead by example and always refuse carrier bags. I make every effort to minimise the occasions where they would be necessary and make sure my guets follow on this. When I refuse a plastic bag I always explain why I am doing so, often generating a lively conversation. Moreover these plastic bags often end up flying around the desert as litter, in a country with inadequate rubbish collection. When I visit beautiful and remote locations with and without my clients I aim to leave them cleaner than I found them in terms of litter and would not allow any client to drop litter, either intentionally or otherwise.
In most countries, education is key when it comes to the environment and where education is poor, leading by example is sometimes the most effective tool and can lead to small changes in local behaviour.
The hotels and auberges we use in the desert regions are made of adobe, a local and sustainable material which is warm in winter and cool in summer. They are built in traditional local style and decorated with locally produced handycrafts such as rugs and ceramics, many of which are very old. While the accommodation is 'comfortable' and 'sumptious' in terms of decor it is not 'luxury' and I actively avoid hotels and rooms with air-con. Where necessary a fan is always my preference.
Travel in Morocco is always about the people, and it is usually a pretty full-on, absorbing cultural experience. From the beginning I make it very clear to my clients that we guests in a fascinating country whose customs and traditions might differ from ours. An open mind, tolerance, curiosity and respect are paramount on these trips, to enjoy them to the full and foster good relations with the people we meet.
We use a local, self-employed driver and stay in locally owned and run accommodation, employing local people. We eat from local restaurants and cafes,and buy food from local sellers and markets.
The small group size facilitates approachability and interaction with the locals, with mutual benefit. Conversations are encouraged where appropriate, as is purchasing from small establishments or individuals rather than bigger shops.
There is usually the option to visit both a desert handicraft co-operative and a cultural music experience during the trip.
Reviews of Painting vacation in Moroccan desert
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.
I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 06 Apr 2017 by Pauline Lawton
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Visiting the desert, the wonderful Adobe accommodation nearby, the fantastic locations for sketching and the visit by camel riding off into the sunset in the sand dunes and staying overnight in a Nomad's Tent to watch sunrise.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Please dress warmly if booking for March, as even though the sun shines, it can be quite cold. Take lots of photos - locations for sketching are very inspiring. Absorb the atmosphere.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
We stayed in local accommodation. We met Berber people and sometimes shared our food. We didn't leave any plastics or rubbish behind.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
I really had a marvellous experience of the desert life, very spontaneous, often stopping to paint buildings, doors, etc. as we passed by. Hamid was a fantastic driver and went out of his way to show us his country. I adored Hassen's Guest House in the desert - very rustic - and it even has a swimming pool! Mary was a wonderful teacher and very patience and tried to get the best out of us. She had given us tasks to do, so it was very helpful as we sketched. I would go again on this vacation.