Saturday, June 08, 2013

Being Green in Luxor - Responsible Tourism in Egypt

I first got interested in Responsible Tourism on a holiday I took holiday to Japan. The ethos of this holiday was having a good time, enjoying your holiday AND being ecologically friendly whilst doing it. From simple things like buying chopsticks and not using disposable ones, to bigger things like using public transport, we were encouraged to Think Green. We stayed in local Japanese run accommodation and ate in local restaurants, using local food, avoiding international chains at all costs.

I liked this kind of holiday; you got a much better feel for the country, people, food and life.  Lots of people who come to Egypt also want this experience so I decided to use what I had learnt in our Nubian Eco Village

Firstly we would only use the internet for advertising, printed material is carries with it the taint of deforestation and I wanted to avoid that at all costs.

Then the accommodation would be built using local designs, the DOME is the big feature of the rooms, cooling the rooms the way the Egyptians have for many years. Hassan Fathy the world renowned architect researched this building design and used it extensively in his designs. It allows rooms to be kept cool without the need of air conditioning. 


We would have liked to use mud brick for the rooms but as the houses at New Gurna are now showing, the rising water table causes problems with this material. Constant water at the foundations and mud brick are just not compatible and we wanted to build for the future not just for a quick gimmick. So we used local baked brick but in the traditional Nubian design. We incorporated shelves, cupboards and even niches in the shower room, into the design which eliminated the need for some furniture. Wood has to be imported in Egypt and we wanted to avoid overuse.  The walls were built with thick walls to help with insulation. This makes the rooms delightfully cool. We even experimented with a room constructed of palm branches (with a proper toilet and shower).  Now there are 8 rooms sleeping 16 people in a mixture of single, double and triple rooms.

But most of the land is devoted to growing food for the in-house restaurant. Guests can view vegetables and fruit being grown to provide them with delicious meals. Some food does have to be bought but this is also locally bought and grown.

We also tried to be imaginative about tours, offer green alternatives like sightseeing by donkey, Nile cruising by sailing boat and bike hire. We also offer walking tours with a local guide. These tours are ideally suited to Egypt and indeed donkeys and sailing boats were used throughout Pharaonic history. .
Finally we applied for and were granted a listing with Responsible Travel, their criteria for awarding a listing is very tough and we were gratified to see our efforts acknowledged.

So for a green, ecologically friendly, sustainable holiday in Egypt visit the Nubian Eco Village Luxor.

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