Live with a Berber family in the Moroccan Sahara

Description of Live with a Berber family in the Moroccan Sahara

We offer you the experience of a life-time by inviting you to visit our most welcoming of families and taking you on a camel trek which shows the the full contrast of a desert ecosystem. You will visit the stark lunar landscape of the Black Desert and the romantic towering dunes of the magnificent Erg Chebi where you can watch the shooting stars in the clear night sky.

You won’t be watching desert life from a gas hungry 4x4, but will get out and visit with the people, experience their life and make friends. This excursion will add a unique dimension to your Moroccan holiday. You will relax, safe in the knowledge that you are helping to secure a sustainable future for this most welcoming of families.

The aim of this holiday is to provide families, couples, groups and solo travellers of all ages a with a truly unique holiday as they are welcomed in to the home of a Berber family to experience authentic day-to-day life in the Moroccan Sahara while providing a sustainable future for the family. This is an adventurous, authentic and affordable experience for the young at heart.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:In the morning we will meet you in Rissani before travelling together to our home in the village of Ras-El-Erg. On arrival at our home you will be greeted warmly with breakfast/refreshments and welcomed to relax and use our washing facilities. Having recovered from your journey, you can really experience traditional Berber life: learn how to cook flatbread, help prepare lunch, feed the animals, go with the girls as they draw water from the well and have your feet and hands decorated with henna. In the afternoon you might simply want to relax with a book or explore the peaceful village of Ras el Erg before preparing for your camel trip into the desert (taking an overnight bag is preferable to taking your entire rucksack!) Mohamed will help you prepare for your trip, making sure that you have enough drinking water. When you are ready, you will ride the camels into the lunar landscape of the Black Desert. Here you will enjoy the hospitality of a nomadic Berber family. You will share a traditional meal of tagine or couscous and sleep in their humble, but welcoming home.
Day 2:Spend the morning with your host family; you can join in with their daily routine, or simply sit back and relax. After lunch you will head out into the majestic dunes of the Erg Chebi. The fittest of you will be challenged to climb to the top of these towering dunes, just to see if you can make it! For the less energetic there are smaller dunes, which enable you to access views that are just as good. Take time to sit and relax in the quiet of the desert, or, play in the world’s biggest sandpit! You will overnight in the dunes, either under the stars in a traditional nomad tent. If you are lucky enough to be in the dunes on a night with a bright moon, you absolutely must stand on top of a dune to see the seemingly endless desert bathed in a mysterious blue light.
Day 3:In the morning, many of our guests like to rise early to watch the sunrise over the dunes before riding the camels to the Fayou Family home. You will be greeted with a generous breakfast and welcomed to use our washing facilities. After breakfast we will accompany you back to Rissanni, where we will be sad to say our goodbyes.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be arranged at any time to suit you and adapted to your requirements
Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type

Travelling with a local operator

This holiday is operated by a company based in the holiday destination and they will be able to provide expert local knowledge. They will be able to tailor make your holiday to suit your requirements not only concerning the dates of travel but also typically the standard of accommodation, and thus price. It is rare for local operators to be able to help with the booking of your flights.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Live with a Berber family in the Moroccan Sahara

Environment

This holiday is fairly priced, permitting the Fayou Family to improve their standard of living and quality of life, while providing you with a very reasonably priced holiday. Please do not haggle with the family; all prices are fixed and agreed at the time of booking.

The purchase of 5 litre bottles of drinking water is most economic way of buying water and there is less waste. Our family have many uses for 5 litre bottles; they will not be wasted. Please bring a refillable water bottle so that you can carry a small supply of personal drinking water at all times.

Food scraps and vegetable peelings are fed to the families animals, nothing is wasted.

Cooking is powered by bottled gas to reduce the amount of vegetation removed from this arid landscape.

Electric lights in the family home are powered by a solar panel attached to the roof.

Reservations are 'paper free'. All bookings are made by the internet. We do not have a 'glossy brochure' to sell our enterprise. We only advertise on ethically based tourism websites. We do not have an energy consuming office. Enquiries and reservations are dealt with at home in the evening. Our computer is not on all the time using unnecessary energy.

Community

If additional camels are needed to accommodate your group they are rented locally, providing extra income for other local familes. On longer camel treks you may stay overnight with nomadic Berber familes who are paid fairly for their hospitality.

Please respect our culture by dressing modestly . If you bring alcohol please do not drink excessively and not in front of the family. Thank you for your kind consideration.

Reviews of Live with a Berber family in the Moroccan Sahara

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 holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 24 Feb 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The sense of being 1000s of miles from anywhere at the same time as being as safe and secure as you could possibly be. Being pushed to the limit in terms of your comfort but in the most exciting and refreshing way possible. The raw and organic experience every traveller craves. And the sore faces from all the smiling.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Loose your inhibitions, there is no room to be shy in the desert. Facilities are basic- but its all part of the charm. Baby wipes are a must! Enjoy every moment- as soon as you are home you'll want to do the whole thing all over again.There are no clocks just the sun rising and setting so don't be surprised if you are able to loose hours not doing much at all... Embrace this, its all part of the experience.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The trip definitely represents great value for money and a very genuine hands-on Berber experience. But most importantly the family they are definitely working closely with the local community and successfully flying the flag to support a responsible and sustainable travel operation.
It is clear that the family have the upmost respect for the land and environment they call their home and work hard to preserve its beauty. The use of further local families shows determination to keep a business which first and foremost supports the immediate local people.


4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


There is simply no better way to experience the Sahara!

Reviewed on 17 Nov 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The most exciting and memorable part of my holiday was sitting back and relaxing in the sand dunes just as the sun had set and the sky was a sparkle with stars and the only light across the dunes was that of the moon. Gazing up at the stars while surrounded by a blanket of silence, was so far removed from my normal setting in the UK, that while it might sound corny, I felt spiritually in touch with the beauty the world has to offer when not filled with manmade distractions

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be aware that you might need a book to read in the down times and that water of at best rationed so be ready to rough it a bit. However given the benefits of this holiday has to offer, a few days without some luxuries is not a big sacrifice.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


It do truly feel this type of holiday does benefit the locals as you are helping them with their finances, even it is through buying water from the local desert shop or spending time with the Berber family and exchanging cultural experiences

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I would rate my holiday as excellent. The time spent with the family was amazing, they were kind thoughtful and nothing was too much for them. But looking up at the stars from within the sand dunes was an experience that I am so glad I had a chance to experience.

Reviewed on 30 Nov 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Sleeping under the stars in the Sahara Desert - the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Stars will seem dull for the rest of my life in comparison!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The family are well organised, supplying detailed information to help your journey to the village and your stay. It is a relaxing trip and there isn't that much going on in the Berber village, so take books and things to do. If you can take magazines that the children can look at the pictures and Western lifestyle they would like that, they even enjoyed our Motorbike magazine! It’s freezing in the Sahara at night, so take the blankets they offer and any clothes that you have. You'll need the vocab sheet they send you beforehand as only Mohammed really speaks English and if you can't find him you'll need to communicate! They are really very friendly, join in with things they do to get the most from it. However, they don't do much in the day, it’s just their way of life - chill out and enjoy the scenery.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Very much so. Even our transport to the village was in a local minibus (we saw other tourists passing in their private air conditioned 4x4s). The house is extremely environmentally friendly, electricity coming from solar panels and food recycled.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A fantastic experience of a lifestyle so completely different to any I have known.

Reviewed on 06 Sep 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Staying with the family in the Sahara Desert. We were amazed at how generous this family was with what little resources they had. The entire family was great from start to finish with our family. Our girls ages 7, 9, and 10 years of age always had fun things to do and they loved playing with the children who were so sweet and unspoiled by the Western world. This was a great adventure and I would highly recommend it to anyone with or without children. I would also like to comment on the taxi driver, Hason who met us at the airport. He spoke 8 languages fluently and was more like a professional guide. He safely drove us over the Atlas Mountains to the desert without any difficulty.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I would recommend that you ask for chores to do and get involved with the family in anyway possible. If you are willing and able to help with anything just let them know and they will assign you small jobs. Take advantage of this rich cultural experience and enjoy every minute of it. If you go in the summer bring a long sleeved shirt to protect from the heat and a light hat or a turban.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, it did benefit the local people and we were very friendly towards the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was a wonderful learning experience for our entire family.

Reviewed on 22 May 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Riding the camel into the desert and sleeping under the stars.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Try and learn a few words of Berber before going so you can communicate. Bring pictures of your country to share with the family. Maybe bring a little something for the family (I brought things for the younger children: marbles, pick up sticks, ball, etc.)

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


It did minimize impacts on the environment and gave a bit of money to the family as well as the experience of having met people from outside their culture.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A memorable experience.

Reviewed on 05 Apr 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Climbing the dunes in the Sahara.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Don’t spend a ton of money on a turban, just get a cheap one or wear a hat.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I do. It seemed like a direct way of getting tourism money into the hands of a family/community. It also seemed more environmentally friendly than the other desert expeditions.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was cool. Definitely the way I would want to do a trip into the pre-Sahara. Would recommend it to others who are interested.

Reviewed on 21 Feb 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


As others have said, the dunes and the stars were magical, the family were warm and generous, but what I treasured most was the peace and tranquility of our stay. I have rarely felt more relaxed. Our days were long and happy.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Learn more Berber than we did! Although communication was no problem, we did regret not being able to talk more with all the family members. If travelling to and from Rissani by public transport, it's a good idea to leave a couple of days for your journeys. There are loads of inexpensive options in terms of buses and taxis, but it's good not to feel too bound by deadlines. We combined this trip with an overnight stop on the return journey to Marrakech in the Dades Valley Kasbah (booked through responsibletravel.com) which I would highly recommend.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


This kind of low impact tourism clearly provides a useful income to local the community while supporting and valuing a traditional way of life.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This was a truly memorable experience for me and my two children. It will stay with us forever. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is prepared to forego a bit of luxury in return for a more than adequate level of comfort, impressive hospitality and a rare and stunning landscape.

Reviewed on 13 Jan 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Definitely the trek into the desert. I had a very grumpy camel (but aren't they all!) and the overnight stay in the desert was fantastic watching the sun go down over the dunes.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure (if you go in the Winter) that you take something to cover your eyes from the dust (Ski goggles might be useful and also a nice warm sleeping bag)

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes - we got there via local transport and bought stuff from the locals so not many 'middle men' so to speak.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent - but not the sort of holiday an adventure junkie should go on. You'll need to learn to relax and chill out if you're not very good at that.

Reviewed on 31 Dec 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The most memorable part of our holiday would be sleeping in the desert and running up the sand dunes (the best exercise of my life). It was so beautiful and so light, even at night! It really did look magical, and helped eased the pain of the camel ride to get there!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Top tip would be to NOT take the overnight bus to Risanni from Fes. We had asked the family whether it was safe and to be fair the bus is due to arrive at 6/7am. However, it arrived at 5am and me and my friend were instantly surrounded by men grabbing us and telling us we should hire their taxis etc. This wouldn't have been so disturbing were it not for the fact we are two young female travellers, half asleep, and there was no one else around save for this group of men. We tried to ignore them, then we asked them to stop but they followed us and became more aggressive. We ended up banging on a random restaurant door, as the restaurant we were recommended by the family didn't open. After banging on the shutters, we ended up getting into Cafe Panorama where we were allowed to sleep in the restaurant. It felt like the owner had literally saved our lives! I realise the behaviour of faux tour guides and drivers is out of the family's control but I am told that the bus regularly arrives early and the cafe they recommend is not open at that time. Do not take the bus or at least arrange somewhere to stay in advance. You will have to wait till 12 noon to meet the family and it is a problem. Even then Mohammed had to go to market so really me and my friend were alone in Risanni until 2pm which meant 7 hours of working out what to do there! I just felt it was a really hairy situation and we were not given proper guidance from the family, only vague warnings not to trust people who approach you.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


The holiday definitely benefited the family and the bus was simply a local person who drove a car back and forth to the town so I think our money did go locally. To be completely honest though, all the hotels and auberges round there are local people trying to make a living and so I think you are benefiting the community by staying in the region generally. We did have to hire a 4*4 to take us back to the town and the bus was just a car so it couldn't hold many people at a time. However, I don't think there was any noticeable damage to the environment-these people have to get supplies somehow!!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I loved the family house and their community. Memories of the desert and fetching water from the well will stay with me forever. The food they cooked was amazing, and guests from now on will have the precious benefit of a western toilet I saw being installed on my last day! It is excellent value for tourists but I didn't feel I had gained the insight into the Berber lifestyle I was hoping for. Unfortunately, the only time we had any contact with the mother was when she came into out room at the end of the trip to sell us fossils (which she bought in Rissani, where we were about to journey back to!) Maybe it is a cultural misunderstanding but I was disappointed that we couldn't eat with the family and that we had to ask to see the bread being baked for example. Perhaps we noticed these things a little more after our incident in Risanni and we were hoping for some comfort from the family! Saying that, Mohammed was a real sweetie and we enjoyed being with him. Perhaps this holiday is better suited for the older traveller or someone in need of some real peace and quiet, rather than two young female travellers eager to witness culture in the desert! All in all, a great experience and I would recommend it to some, but not all!


Read the operator's response here:

We thank Katherine for her kind comments and we are happy that she enjoyed her stay with our family. We apologise for the distress caused by the touts and faux-guides at Risanni bus station, but as Katherine has said we cannot control this problem, nor can we control the bus times. We do provide information and advice to our guests about this, as do all good guide books for Morocco. Unfortunately, trips to countries such as Morocco may have this undesirable element; for some travellers this is part of the experience. However, it can be unsettling for inexperienced travellers.

With reference to Katherine’s point about all hotels benefiting locals, we would like to advise visitors to the area that many of the local hotels are actually owned by Europeans or Moroccans from the cities who have moved to the area to benefit from tourism. They do, of course, employ local people, however, not all hotels pay reasonable rates or treat their staff with respect. This is the main reason that we started our own enterprise.

We do live in a remote location so transport to our home is not direct (we provide detailed advice about the various methods to get to us) I would agree with Katherine that this trip is not for everyone - we do advertise it as an adventure for independent guests! We look forward to welcoming guests who are seeking an authentic and unique experience with a Berber family who live a simple life off the beaten track.

Reviewed on 10 Oct 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The night in the desert was definitely the best part. It took one and a half hours to get to the tent and it was very peaceful and magical. Chatting away under the stars and sleeping outside were fantastic. The camels started fighting in the middle of the night and almost ran us over which was hilarious. Also enjoyed visiting the school as the children were lovely, energetic and so keen to learn as well as playing cards in the local shop!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do not go in August - it will be unbearably hot. We went late September and it was over 40 degrees one day. If you go alone takes lots of things to entertain yourself (books, cards to play with the family, games to play with the children) as the pace of life is slow and for us, city folks, might be difficult to adapt to. Try to learn some Berber words before getting there.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, we stayed with the family and obviously paid them directly, bought some souvenirs from them and also bought lots of water bottles from the village shop. That region lives mainly off tourists so staying with them instead of in a hotel benefited them.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very interesting and the desert experience was great!

Reviewed on 11 Mar 2009 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Spending time with the children and teaching them new games, and just generally entertaining me. Seeing the look on their faces when they were jumping around and carrying each other. The little ones are surprisingly strong! - Helen
Sitting around the fire with all the family and playing with the children. - Jo
It was definitely being able to see shooting stars, whilst sat by the fire in the desert after our camel trip :) - Steffi

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Learn some French and some Berber so that you can communicate more them. It is easy enough to communicate through actions but if you want to learn more, speaking their language helps!! Oh and be prepared to have slight tinnitus after the silence in the desert. - Helen
Bring a warm coat to Risanni! (if traveling in Dec lol!) - Jo
Take head scarves, they are important to respect family beliefs, and be prepared to help out within the family... its a great experience. - Steffi

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes. The money you pay them might not seem a lot to us in the western world, but it as a lot to them, and you can see why with the number of mouths to feed everyday! It was nice being secluded, and not relying on cars or fuel powered transport to get into the desert! - Helen
Yes. - Jo
Using solar power for the few electrical items the family own, and feeding all the scrap foods to the family’s animals :) We knew it was helping the environment, and the family :) - Steffi

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


10/10 Amazing! I really want to go again. - Helen
10/10! - Jo
8/10!! Really good, long bus journey and rain just took the edge off it. - Steffi

Reviewed on 12 May 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


This sort of holiday was a total first for me – definitely not in my usual comfort zone…. My normal holiday is in 5* hotels with swimming pools and uniformed staff at my beck and call so I really didn’t know what to expect! I needn’t have worried - the family were fantastic, nothing was too much trouble. I received more genuine care and attention here than I have in some very expensive hotels.

I think the most memorable and exciting part of the trip was the camel ride into the dunes. I was a bit nervous at first but after about 5 minutes of entertaining camel riding instruction (lean forward – lean backwards!) I was fine and had the best few hours getting deep into the dunes. As the sun was setting and we stopped for a cup of tea to watch the sun go down (if you like your tea on the go and in odd places I recommend taking a small flask!). When we got to the Berber/Nomad tent it was out of this world, I can’t put into words what I thought - it was just amazing. After dinner I went and sat on a dune and it was stunning, the amount of stars I could see in the sky was unbelievable. I saw my first shooting star.

There were so many memories in this holiday that it is hard to say which is the best – I could easily have chosen drawing water from a well for the first time, helping to feed the animals or teaching Mohammed and Youssef some silly party games after dinner – I’ve never laughed so hard! I felt as if I had a new family and they treated me as if I was another member of their family which was so nice. I have never felt so at home when not at home.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


You do need to remember to take a few things with you like anti-bacterial hand gel. Water for washing is always available, but if you’re on the go, soap is not so easily accessible. Also, it’s a bit weird putting toilet paper in the basket rather than flushing it away – but their loo gets blocked by paper waste (as I found out much to my embarrassment!)

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I do feel that by staying with the family I have helped out the local people as all the food was sourced from the local markets rather than from large suppliers (they were happy for me to go shopping with them). So I feel I have done more than I would have if I had gone on holiday with a big hotel chain. I was also pleased that the family gave me boiled water for drinking as this cut down on the plastic rubbish that water bottles create.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I would recommend this holiday to everyone from the posh traveller like me to the young back-packer. The facilities are basic but the service is first class. I have learnt so much about myself and what I can do when I put my mind to it. I would happily go back to this family for another holiday. Just to be able to have time with nothing to think about. I have never relaxed so much. You really do leave all your worries at home. I can truly say this was a holiday to remember and one I will never forget, it has given me a true travel bug and now I would think twice about booking in a posh hotel as I have found out that the world will not end without my hair dryer!

Reviewed on 23 Sep 2008 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The most memorable was walking up the sand dunes at night in the rain! The long drive from Marrakech to Erfourd, the camels, so many wonderful memories.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I read a lot about the guides in the towns being very pushy with you. They were more than that, they got very aggressive if you said no and it was very uncomfortable. Beware not all the towns have seen blonde women and they seem to think it is their right to treat you with complete disrespect, we went covered up and respected their culture but they still were very aggressive. This was in Risanni. We went in September so Ramadan was on and it was very hard to eat during the day with the family, but it was so very hot and we needed to drink so make sure you still drink and eat as we were being polite and ended up ill.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Most definitely, at the time we went to stay with the family there was a big Hollywood film being made and it was really upsetting to see the film causing so much distress to the desert and local surroundings. The rubbish and the big 4x4's, they didn't involve the local people with whom all their noise, light pollution and litter affected them so much. We were really glad we were able to do it independently and help a family.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was a fantastic experience and I am so glad we went, although we read lots of negative things about Morocco, the guides etc if you stay safe and use your head it would be a really good holiday for all ages.

Read the operator's response here:

We are so happy that Emma had a wonderful time with our family. It makes us happy to make our guests happy. Unfortunately we have to agree with Emma that 'guides' from local tours and hotels are very pushy. To help our guests deal with this situation we do several things: At the time of booking we provide our guests with our local mobile phone number - this can be used in case of emergency or if you need help getting rid of unwanted attention in Risanni (our local town). This number can also be used to help you identify us and confirm we are who we say; We arrange to meet our guests away from busy taxi and bus stations, this means you can just walk away from these places rather than searching for us in a crowd; We advise our guests that we are the only guides who know your name - this also helps you to identify a friend.
Our advice is be firm with these 'guides'. Do not enter into conversation with them other than to advise them that you have a reservation and do not need their help. Do not tell them who your reservation is with - they may claim to be us! Remain calm and walk away. We will meet you as arranged. Be assured that when you get to our corner of the desert you can relax and laugh.

We thank Emma for her respect of Ramadan, but we would never want any guest to become ill. Regular eating and drinking is vital or those who are not used to our climate and culture. Future guests - please do not become ill because you are worried about being polite. Finally, we would like to thank Emma for recommending our family home to other visitors.

Reviewed on 09 May 2008 by

Camel

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


That's a very difficult question to answer... It's going to have to be a combination of things – From my lovely warm welcome from the whole family, to my wonderful camel ride into the desert and dunes, to the scaling of the tallest mountain of sand I had ever seen, to the breathtaking views from the top of the sunset over the Moroccan Sahara, to the lying out by the Nomad tent and gazing up at a carpet of stars, so near you could almost touch them…

The whole experience was totally amazing and will remain with me forever.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


CamelCome with an open mind, if you like remote – you will love this… And if this is your first trip into the back and beyond – you are in for a treat… My tips would be to read all the literature they send you and to learn as much Berber as you can – the more you know the better the experience will be. If you show willing you will be more than rewarded… Travel light, if you want fresh water bring your own, bring a good pair of sunglasses – the glare is big out there, pack some high factor sunscreen, bring an extra layer of clothes for the chilly nights, and if you are a bookworm – don’t forget the torch... If you like to travel with music – prepare to share your earpiece with one of the kids – my music was a great after supper success with Fatima and Mohammed… Do a lot of wandering and chat to the locals, especially the kids, who are always happy to meet new faces and play…

If you have any old clothes you don’t need, they will be gratefully received - I left a pair of trainers which went down a storm... And if you arrive by car – ask them to take you to one of the neighbouring villages or better still to one of their relatives – I am sure they would oblige but be prepared for a full car load…

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


From my point of view the answer has to be yes… As a family they are definitely working closely with the local community and trying their best to make a difference. With the little resources they have, they lead by example which is awe inspiring…

ViewThis is a very small set up so don’t have too many expectations… For the Dirham’s they charge, you definitely get great value for money and a very genuine hands-on Berber experience. What you do while you are there is very much up to you – there are no clocks just the sun rising and setting, so you are sure to catch up on sleep. Each day, your meals are lovingly prepared with traditional food which is locally sourced – such delights include yummy tagine or couscous with homemade bread and there’s always a good variety of fruit… If you want to get involved just ask Bedda (Mum) – she will be more than happy for an extra pair of hands in the kitchen… The cooking is powered by natural gas which is stored in refillable gas bottles. Nothing is left to waste as any leftovers are gobbled up by the donkey, goat and camel – what a handsome fella! All electric lights (they need some more renewable bulbs) are powered by solar panels on the roof. To be honest, it a very impressive set up for such a small operation…

CamelMy camel ride into the desert - a wonderful experience – was lead by another Mohammed - their next door neighbour. Mohammed is quite a character – he cuts quite a look in his traditional outfit and his desert stories will keep you amused for hours. To make a bit of extra money the family will hire out the camel to ferry tourists to and fro to the dunes but when you live in the middle of nowhere, needs must. Although, there are few local hotels and Kasbahs – they are far enough away not to intrude… Litter is an issue but hopefully in time with a little education and everybody working together, this problem will disappear… With everything said, I have to take my hat off to the family for being the first in the area to start the sustainable ball rolling. Their hard work and enterprise is a wonderful testimony to what can be achieved if you put your mind to it - I am sure on my next visit – many other families will have been suitably inspired to follow their example, lets hope so…

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


ChildrenFor me this was the perfect holiday – it was exactly what I was looking for, so I would happily give it 4*
If you want to get away from the maddening crowd, are happy in your own space and want to learn a little bit more about another culture – this is for you. You can do as much as you want, for as long as you want – the decision is yours…

I stayed for 3 days but in retrospect I would have loved to have stayed for longer. Next time I am going to go way into the desert – there’s something magical about the silence, the views and the stars. For others 3 days will do the trick but as I said at the beginning – keep an open mind, a couple of days extra on your itinerary and you might find yourself staying longer than you think…

In a world where everybody is so concerned with the now - the family is a refreshing reminder of what can be achieved with a little bit ingenuity. If I have gone a little way to helping them fulfill their dream of becoming a sustainable family – I’m a happy man…

I went in with no expectations and came away with a million memories – thank you!

Reviewed on 31 Dec 2007 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Sunset over the dunes on Christmas Day!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Don't expect any luxuries like a loo out in the desert! If you go in winter, bring your own sleeping bag, its very cold at night! Expect sand to get into everything! However, Mohammed makes a mean Tajine!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Not really, too many massive hotels already set up in and around the area. They are using the same oasis used by the family. It seems like they are being muscled out a bit. My main concern is the large number of tourists from the hotels using the dunes as a loo, the natural spring water in the oasis may be at risk of *eventually* becoming polluted... Also, the hotels supply 4x4 vehicles and quads which blast around the dunes around the oasis pretty much all day long. However, the family themselves are very much in line with their environment, shame they have to compete against the big hotels.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It's not bad, however, unfortunately due to the big hotels taking over the oasis with their infinitely superior tents and the sheer number of tourists they bring to it, there is a bit of rubbish about, plastic bags, empty coke bottles, discarded tins and such like. However, overall, I think Mohammed did a fantastic job, this holiday is pretty much a one man show as you don't really get to meet the rest of the family, they seem to prefer to stay out of sight! All things considered, as a 19 year old lad, Mohammed cared for us incredibly well with the limited facilities he has. The boy is worth his weight in gold!

Read the operator's response here:

We agree with Nadia that Mohammed is definitely worth his weight in gold and that his tagine is delicious! He (along with the rest of our family) works very hard to ensure that good service is provided to all guests. Unfortunately at the time of Nadia’s visit my mother and one of my sisters were looking after a sick family member and were very disappointed not to have been around as much as they would have liked. We apologise for this - this is not normal. Normally my family loves to spend time with the guests.

We would also like to say that the points made about the other hotels and tour companies are not a reflection of us or how we behave. Nadia came to the oasis at the busiest time of year when many hotels in the area are fully booked. We wish we could reserve a piece of the desert just for our guests, but all are welcome at the oasis. Guests should consider what they want from their visit and then consider the time of year they travel; at Christmas time many people have large parties and the desert is not always quiet. However, there are many other times when there is nothing to hear but the wind blowing the sand.

We offer an opportunity for people to live our simple life with all the fun, laughter, problems and difficulties. We cannot change how the large hotels act, but can offer choice to people who come to the desert. The more people who choose the environmentally friendly option of a small scale no frills holiday the less pollution there will be in the desert. We are the first people in our area to provide this service - we hope many more will follow to compete with the large hotels. We also hope many more people will choose the option that is best for the desert and the people who live in it.

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