Eco-friendly travel and sustainable travel are the newest buzzwords in the global tourism industry – and rightly so. Traveling has enormous impacts on our carbon footprint. Everything from the CO2 emissions of airplanes to the waste of plastic in hotels means the tourism industry can end up affecting our climate system disproportionally. Today, many travelers are looking for ways to minimize their carbon footprint while jet setting across the world. The good news is the travel industry has taken note and is adopting newer and more eco-friendlier ways of doing business.
If you’re traveling to Morocco, read below to find out how to make your time here as green as possible.
Eco-Friendly Travel in Morocco
When traveling to Morocco, being eco-friendly may not always be easy but it is definitely possible. As an increasingly popular travel destination, Morocco has been investing more and more in its tourism infrastructures. But it hasn’t always done so in the most sustainable way. The country has been criticized for constantly approving hotel construction plans without considering their environmental impacts. There is also is limited regulation in the tourism industry regarding the term “ecotourism”.
But it’s not all bad news! Morocco has an abundance of natural resources and beautiful landscapes that are well preserved. The country’s Department of Forestry and Water and many NGOs have upped their conservation and preservation efforts to keep these gems intact for the millions of tourists that visit every year. Just recently (July 2016) the country completely banned the production, sale and use of plastic bags in hopes of cleaning up this blight on the environment.
If you’re looking to experience an eco-adventure in Morocco, here are some of the things to do and see:
The Atlas Mountains: There is no better place to hike in Morocco than the Atlas Mountains. So, strap on your boots and grab some bug repellent: you have over 1,000 miles to explore!
The Sahara Desert: Just a few hours from Marrakesh, you will find the edge of the Sahara Desert. A tour into the desert will let you connect with locals, trek on a camel’s back and spend the night in a traditional Berber camp.
Walking tours: There’s no better way to discover Morocco’s most vibrant cities than on your own two feet! You’ll find plenty of walking tours available in Marrakesh, Fez, Meknes, Rabat, Chefchaouen, and more.
The local souks: Buying local is one of the best ways to invest in the local economy. It’s also the perfect way to find a unique souvenir! Make sure to give yourself a few hours to get lost in the winding alleyways of the souks and we’re sure you’ll return with some fun memories.
Tazekka National Park: This beautiful park in the heart of the Middle Atlas Mountains is one of Morocco’s best examples of conservation. Created in 1950 to help preserve the cedar trees in the region, the national park is a perfect place for observing wildlife in their natural habitat.
Our Top Tips
Besides opting for eco-friendly activities while traveling in Morocco, you should follow some simple rules of thumb to keep your travels as green as possible.
Every pound counts when you are traveling! The more an airplane weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces. Don’t bring along those “what if” travel accessories or additional clothes for “every” weather scenario. Pack only what you need – the environment (and your back!) will thank you.
Choose Eco-Friendly Accommodation
Eco-friendly accommodation can come in all shapes and sizes. In Morocco, we recommend staying in riads as they are usually owned and run by local families. But don’t forget to do a little research before making your choice! The term “eco” can be used loosely by riads and hotels simply to attract travelers. So ask yourself: what exactly is the hotel doing to protect the environment, promote conservation or contribute to the local economy?
If you are booking your travels with a tour operator, do some research on their practices as well to find out how green they are.
Journey Beyond Travel is proudly one of Morocco’s eco-friendly tour operators. We have a staff that lives and works in Morocco. A percentage of every tour is contributed toward local sustainable development projects. In addition, our website is hosted on servers which run on wind power credits. If you have any questions about our commitment to the environment and the local culture, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.
Stay on the Path
Hiking and trekking are some of the most eco-friendly activities you can do when traveling in a new country. But, only if you do it right! We know it sounds fun to stray off the path and discover unseen places but this can have dire consequences on the environment. Your footsteps will be followed by others and thousands of steps off the trail can end up significantly impacting the natural processes of weather and erosion.
Limit Your Energy and Water Use
It is easy to remember to turn off the lights and taps when we are back home. After all, someone is going to have to pay those bills at the end of the month! But saving energy and water doesn’t just save you money – it saves our planet too. So remember to turn off the A/C, tap, lights, TV, etc. before you leave your hotel room. Water is an especially valuable resource in Morocco so make sure not to leave water running and try to take short showers and baths.
Eat & Drink Local
Eating and drinking local is not just a fun way to experience the local culture. It also helps to preserve our planet. Food mileage contributes enormously to climate change. So by eating and drinking local, you will increase demand for local products and cut back on unnecessary food imports. Many of Morocco’s traditional foods are made using only locally found ingredients and are typically cooked in-season.
Ditch the Plastic
Plastic is one of the least biodegradable materials on earth. It can take hundreds or even thousands of years for water bottles to decompose. Instead of purchasing water bottles (which don’t generally get recycled in Morocco anyway), bring your own reusable water bottle. When tap water isn’t safe, a purifier filter or iodine tablets will be able to treat your water and keep you safe from waterborne diseases.
Choose Your Souvenirs Carefully!
Buying local products is fun and contributes to the local economy. But beware of souvenirs made from endangered species. Purchasing these is illegal and contributes unlawful (and unmerciful) practices of animal poaching.
One of the most fulfilling ways of lessening your carbon footprint as a traveler is to give back to the local communities you visit. Community development projects in Morocco are some of the best ways to lend a helping hand. A couple of days out of your vacation time can make a world of a difference in these communities.
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful for planning your time in Morocco! You can get in touch with our team of travel professionals today to ask questions or begin exploring options for your eco-friendly Moroccan adventure.