Desert Ecotourism
November 5th, 2012

The efforts to introduce tourism in the Sahara since the start of the 20th c. have unfortunately produced typologies that for the most part disrupt or irreparably damage the oasis ecosystems in which they have been imbedded. Fortunately, alternative typologies of desert tourism have recently emerged that have been able to successfully negotiate the pitfalls of their predecessors. On an environmental level they have adopted local materials that, coupled with natural ventilation systems, regulate the temperature extremes in the desert efficiently. Wind and solar power have been harnessed to eliminate the waste from fossil-burning generators. Innovative water management systems promote the conservation of water. Waste recycling has led to the reduction in the pollution of both the landscape and ground waters.

Perhaps more interestingly, it has been these projects’ direct interaction with the local culture and economy that really sets them apart. As they understood that the oasis is as much a cultivated landscape as it is a lively social fabric, they actively engaged the involvement of the local population in the form of employment, hospitality education, environmental awareness programs, organic crops cooperatives and crafts workshops.

A first phase of this research analyzed tourism routes and patterns across the sahara. A second phase documented on site and analyzed three examples of the new generation of eco-conscious desert lodges: Adrere Amella, Fustat and El Karm.

Team: Aziza Chaouni, Nayla Al Akl, Veronica Cheann, Ryogi Karube