ECO LODGE – Ourigane, Marrakech
Since you read our article about Marrakech and what to do there in 4 days (because you did, right?), you also know that we spontaneously flew to the Moroccan city for four days in mid December. You also know that we decided to spend two days in the city and two in the nature, and particularly here our goal was to find a tranquil and green stay, to recharge our batteries before getting back to the fantastic chaos of the city bazaars. After some research, we identified our destination: Eco Lodge in Ourigane, around 90 minutes away from Marrakech, direction Atlas mountains (which we had in front of us for the whole route – splendid).
Very easy to find yet away from civilization, the lodge is a small Moroccan residence situated right before the wide mountain range, and a perfect spot for those interested in hiking and trekking adventures (for example on the Toubkal – highest north African mountain) while paying attention to the environment.
We were particularly interested in finding our what makes them eco-friendly, and so, upon our arrival, we spent some time with the staff, drinking some tea and walking through their garden. Eco Lodge has 4 pillars of sustainability: food, solar energy, water, waste management. First of all, the first pillar towards sustainability is growing own food, and the proof of that is, guess what, the garden. Here we found many types of veggies, from salad, to chili, carrots, beans and tomatoes. It’s not big enough to satisfy the entire mansion, but one of their goals is to acquire surrounding land to expand the garden. Their second eco-pillar is solar energy. On top of the higher part of the lodge, two large solar panels can be seen which manage to power the garden, the stairs and most of the heating for the water. In order to provide for the private rooms too (7 in general), some more panels are required, which Mouhamed, the owner, is working on acquiring. The third pillar is the sourcing and usage of water. It comes, in fact, from a well below the surface and is filtered on the spot. Moreover, drop-by-drop technique is used to water the garden. The fourth pillar is waste management. Food leftovers are used to feed their animals (ducks, chickens and rabbits) and the usage of disposable objects has been strongly reduced.
Lodge and our stay
We enjoyed a lot the building style, which mirrors Moroccan design through local objects and decorations too. The garden is the melting spot for relaxing and chatting with others while enjoying the surrounding landscape. The bedrooms are spacious and bright, and keep the traditional design and ornaments in their style. Since we went there on December, the temperature was not optimal for eating outside, so we, along with the other guests, enjoyed the food in a wooden room facing the garden. And if, at first, this canteen-like method did not convince me, after some minutes I had to eat my words back since we had the chance to chat with the others about our trip. Speaking of eating (how could I leave this out): it cannot get more authentic than that! The lady in the kitchen, Aisha, showed us her secret recipe for the tagine but, most importantly, for the Berber bread – so fun to look at and so different from how we are used to making it. Small tip: make sure you are at the lodge around 6 pm to be able to witness the show.
For those looking for adventures in the neighborhood, the lodge provides also some activities like hike and trek tour, 4×4 and horse riding, day trips to Marrakech and the Tinmel mosque, as well as desert tours.
Conclusion: did Eco Lodge pass the Sustainability Test? Yes it did. There is much greenwashing out there, as we also explained in this article, and many hotels and lodges have already been selling themselves as green and eco friendly facilities. Even though some refinements need to be done to go 100% green and eco friendly, the Eco Lodge definitely showed that they are taking the right steps in that direction and Mouhamed´s goal is to get there as soon as he can.
Kudos, Eco Lodge!
How to get here from Marrakech
It is possible to get to the lodge from Marrakech by taxi, of course, and this would be around 30-40€ (depending on your negotiation skills). However, how about an eco-method to get to the Eco Lodge? At the big square in Marrakech, Jam El Fna, you can find collective taxis that will get you to Asni, a small village near Ourigane, and from there another collective taxi that will get you very close to the lodge. The cost for both is 27 Moroccan Dirham, or less than 3 Euro (December 28th, 2018 exchange rate).