The Green Donkey

Located on the Southern Atlantic Coast, hidden away from the claustrophobic Medinas of Morocco’s chaotic cities, is one of the country’s best-kept secrets.

Three years ago when travelling in Morocco, by word of mouth we heard about L’ane Vert: a unique sustainable hotel, which is located in the remote costal fishing village of Tafenda. After being given vague directions from a surfer in Essaouira, we were told that upon arrival we should find Achmed, a local fishmonger.

After finally locating Achmed among a herd of donkeys, stray dogs and feral cats, he pointed us in the direction of what seemed to be uninhabited desert and an unlikely location for a hotel. Yet we took a leap of faith and ventured into what felt like a minor sandstorm.

After struggling through the barren terrain, we emerged from our cloud of dust to find an awkward concrete structure that jutted out of the headland. We assumed trickery and began to curse Achmed’s name. It was either a blatant lie or we had just stumbled upon a hotel not yet built.

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With morale at breaking point, we began to wonder why we had ventured so far off the beaten track. Nonetheless we decided to climb the stone steps and investigate a little further.

However as we reached the top of the stairs, we were greeted with a charming surprise: L’ane Vert was an eccentric cross between a Moroccan souk and a Parisian vintage market: it had a bright blue floors, vibrant ceramic tiles, oriental rugs, antique furniture, an assortment of chess tables and an audacious mannequin wearing nothing but a pair of converses.

A large wooden deck overlooked a secret beach that was inhabited only by a few stray camels, and as we later found out, L’ane Vert’s surf instructor, Jamal who had taken up residence in a nearby cave.

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We had stumbled upon a non-profit project, co-founded by Antoine Meier and a German architect named Daniel. Although it was still in its grassroot stages, it had a defiant mission to become an ecological project that relied solely on sustainable energy.

With the aid of local Moroccan craftsmen and 200 international volunteers, the project had been built without machinery, using locally sourced materials, such as Argan wood, hay, mud bricks and rocks quarried from a nearby valley.

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With no electricity or running water, our stargazing evenings were candle lit and we slept in quaint hand-sewn Berber tents that were woven together from camel and goat hair. Our showers consisted of a bucket of ice-cold water.

A Hawaiian volunteer, who turned out to be a culinary Goddess, produced everything from traditional Berber eggs to orange infused French toast, only using ingredients from the nearby farms. The fresh fish was also caught daily by the local fisherman.

Since our stay, a solar powered hot water system has been implemented and a variety of traditional Moroccan rooms have been crafted from recycled materials, tadelakt and natural stones.

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A sub-section of L’ane Vert has also been created: L’Exchange is a cultural platform that stimulates artistic creation and environmental education. It is a non-profit organisation, which aims to give back to the local community.

L’Exchange is funded by Le Lodge – a new ecolodge, which is an ‘environmental and socially sustainable space where artists and travellers can connect, with a percentage of the profits going towards L’Exchange and its projects’.

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L’Exchange invites artists from all over the world to stay in Le Lodge and arrange creative workshops for children from the local community.

L’ane Vert is a wonderful synergy of sustainable tourism, artistic innovation and cultural enrichment. Even though we only saw the project in its initial stages, our stay was unforgettable, and after so much progress, I cannot wait to visit L’ane Vert once more.

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My friends and I tucking into a delicious tagine as a reward for taking part in a beach clean.

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To learn more about L’ane Vert and its current projects, visit these links:

Wesbite: http://ane-vert.com/lodge/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/concept.ane.vert/

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