MOROCCO “BIRDWATCHING TOUR”
Morocco is a wonderful country of Nothern Africa. Its authenticity and its living culture make this the ideal destination for holidays without doubt.
But is also particularly interesting because of its wildlife. Around 450 species of birds, 112 of mammals, more than 90 of reptiles and 11 of amphibians.
This is a special tour, focusing on birds, as it is one of the most interesting moroccan faunal group, but obviously with chance to see other interesting species such as the Rüpell’s fox, Barbary ground Squirrel, Agama lizard or Spiny-tailed Lizard.
DAYS 1, 2
Meet and welcome at Marrakech airport and transfer to our hotel in the Atlas Mountains at the Ourika valley where we’ll stay for two nights. En route, we’ll have time for some birding stops in the pine forests where we will have a first look for Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker as well as Moussier’s Redstart, African Blue Tit, and the distinctive local races of Common Crossbill and African Chaffinch.
The following day we will explore the alpine area around the Ski resort, marvelling at the superb mountain scenery with its snow-covered peaks. Here we hope to find Crimson-winged Finch, Rock Sparrow, Horned Lark. Alpine and Red-billed Choughs feed in the wet meadows and Alpine Accentors may already be proclaiming their territories. Other likely species for us to enjoy in the area include Black Redstart, Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting and Dipper, whilst Long-legged Buzzard is one of a host of possible raptors.
After an early breakfast we’ll leave the mountains behind, descend along the wooded Ourika Valley, giving us a second chance of Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker. Red-rumped Swallow, Sardinian Warbler and Great Spotted Woodpecker all occur in the area, whilst we might find migrant warblers in any orchards and gardens. Once on the main road, we head south-east and travel through some of the most spectacular landscapes in Morocco. Our route takes us over the Tizi-n-Tichka Pass at around 2,260m. Our journey should provide opportunities to view Common Raven, Thekla Lark and more raptors, including perhaps Short-toed Eagle. Tristram’s Warbler favours the stunted vegetation of the dry slopes and we will search for it, but it can sometimes be a difficult species to locate. From the dizzy heights of the High Atlas, we’ll reach Ouarzazate and Skoura, where we will overnight.
DAYS 4, 5
To the east of Ouarzazate lies the El Mansour Eddahbi reservoir, a magnet for both resident and migrant species including Ruddy Shelduck, Marbled Duck, Eurasian Spoonbill, Squacco and Purple Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron and Gull-billed and Whiskered Terns. Good numbers of hirundines hawk over the ever-expanding cultivations whilst White Storks nest in the nearby villages. After spending much of the morning in this area, our journey will continue eastwards along the picturesque Dades valley, aptly named both the ‘Valley of a thousand Kasbahs’ and the ‘Valley of Roses’: the beautiful pink roses are harvested annually to make scented rose water. We should start to notice smart White-crowned Wheatears along the way and have our first opportunity to locate the elusive Maghreb Wheatear, a recent split from Mourning wheatear. Eventually we reach Boumalne du Dades, our base for the next two nights.
The following morning we will start very early, to head to the Tagdilt Track. This is without doubt one of the top areas for birding in Southern Morocco. Excellent chances exist for seeing Red-rumped Wheatear, Trumpeter Finch, Hoopoe Lark, Temminck’s Lark, Desert Wheatear, Greater and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Cream-coloured Courser and with luck the highly nomadic Thick-billed Lark. If the heat allows, we will dedicate most of our day to exploring this area, with a short evening trip to visit the Dades gorges where the Bonelli’s Eagle breed.
After our breakfast, we’ll visit a rocky canyon in search of Maghreb Wheatear, Desert Lark and Pharaoh Eagle Owl. Later we’ll travel eastwards and stop at a scrubby wadi to seek out the elusive Scrub Warblers, maybe also rewarded with Moussier’s Redstart, Trumpeter Finch and Thick-billed Lark. Finally after another exciting stop we’ll arrive at our Desert Kasbah in Erg Chebbi dunes our base for the next two nights.
We’ll spend the whole day exploring the sandy dunes and the nearby stony desert of Erg Chebbi – the largest dune system in Morocco. Brown-necked Raven, Hoopoe Lark, Desert Sparrow, African Desert Warbler, Desert Lark, Bar-tailed Desert Lark, Fulvous Babbler, Crowned and Spotted Sandgrouse, Barbary and Lanner Falcon and many migrant passerines are all possible. In addition, If rains have been plentiful a seasonal lake near Merzouga can be very interesting, with ducks, waders and their attendant raptors. Chances also exist for Egyptian Nightjar at daytime roost.
Transfer day from Merzouga to Skoura via Agdez. Drive through the Anti-Atlas, a series of rocky hills, cliffs and deep gorges of volcanic formations. Roadside birding could produce migrants and plenty of wheatears. Dinner and accommodation in Skoura.
A long journey back from Skoura to Marrakech via Kasbah Aït ben Haddou and Telouet. We will drive through the High Atlas Mountains, stopping at the scenic and impressive Tizi `n’ Tichka Pass to admire its fabulous geological rock formations. Free evening to visit the old quarter of Marrakech and the bustling Jema-el-fna square which is an unbelievable experience for any visitor – snake charmers, water sellers and spice stalls plus the charm of bargaining in the Souk (OPTIONAL). Dinner and accommodation in Marrakech.
If time allows, some more birding in the Marrakech area, then transfer to the airport where the trip ends.
We hope to see…
Marbled Duck, Lanner Falcon, Long-legged Buzzard, Bonelli’s Eagle, Barbary Falcon, Cream-coloured Courser, Spotted Sandgrouse, Crowned Sandgrouse, Laughing Dove, Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Egyptian Nightjar, Little Swift, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker, Desert Lark, Bar-tailed Lark, Thick-billed Lark, Hoopoe Lark, Desert Wheatear, Desert Sparrow, Red-rumped Wheatear, Mourning Wheatear, White-crowned Wheatear, Scrub Warbler, Tristram’s Warbler, African Desert Warbler, Desert Olivaceous Warbler, Common Bulbul, Fulvous Babbler, Alpine Chough, Brown-necked Raven, Alpine Accentor, Trumpeter Finch, Crimson-winged Finch, House Bunting,…
A valid passport is required to enter into Morocco. No visa is required for European tourists staying in the country for less than three months.
Comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended and should include full health cover and repatriation in case of serious medical emergency.
*We reserve the right to amend the itineraries according to circumstances, but will strive to maintain the advertised standard of the tour.
*It is recommended the use of comfortable clothing. Bring a jacket and/or a fleece, as it could be cold early in the morning and evening. Walking shoes or hiking boots, hat and sunscreen.
*9 Nights accommodation with private facilities
*4x4 transport during the tour
*Use of quality optical equipment
*Full time guiding and interpretation in English
*All meals, bottled water
Price does not include
*Extra food/drink to normal meal times
*Travel & contents insurance
*Item of personal nature
* Price based on sharing a twin/double room.
* Option: Extra nights in Marrakech based on HB
€70 p.p.p.n., €35 single supplement
Minimum group size: 6 people
Maximum group size: 10 people
DATES: 2019. March 24th – April 2nd