South Morocco – easy birding, coast, desert and mountains
A birding exploration of the varied habitats of southern Morocco.
March is a very pleasant time to visit Morocco, with good weather, large numbers of migrating birds heading northwards to Europe and plenty of plants in flower, both on the coast and in the mountains.
We will start our tour on the Atlantic Coast, seeking out local specialties, including Moussier’s Redstart, Blackcrowned Tchagra and, with luck, the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis.We will visit the Sous Massa National Park where we will look for several species of antelope that have been reintroduced here, including Addax, Dorcas Gazelle and the graceful Scimitar-horned Oryx.
Heading inland we will pass through the argan forest of the Sous Valley to the arid rocky steppe of the Tagdildt Track, home to larks and wheatears.
Heading back westwards, we will travel through the spectacular Anti-Atlas mountains, before finally climbing the High Atlas to the snow line, where we hope to find African Crimson-winged Finches, Seebohm’s Wheatear and Levaillant’s Woodpecker.
As well as Morocco’s birdlife, we will find reptiles, butterflies, spring flowers and some amazing scenery. This holiday will be our 15th visit to southern Morocco, and our second to explore further into the eastern desert.
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Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.
9 – 21 March 2019
Single Room Supplement – £250
Return flights from London Gatwick to Agadir. Local transport as specified in the itinerary. Twelve nights’ accommodation, full board basis.
Dinner Day 13. Refreshments. Entrance fees for optional sightseeing. Gratuities. Travel insurance.
Day 1 Fly to Agadir and transfer to Atlas Kasbah (c30 minutes).
Day 2 We head to the Atlantic coast, travelling up to Cap Rhir and Oued Tamri, where we hope to see the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis. This coastline is also well known for its unique communities of succulent Euphorbias, and we will stop to explore this interesting habitat, hoping to find Spectacled Warbler and Black Wheatear along with endemic geckos and interesting plants.
Day 3 We head to the famous Sous Massa National Park to learn about the important conservation work going on here; ’re-wilding’ of a variety of Saharan antelopes including Dorcas Gazelle, Scimitar-horned Oryx and Addax, and the Red-necked Ostrich, all of which have become extinct across much of their range.
Day 4 We start today with a visit to the river-mouth at Oued Sous, where flamingos gather on the estuary and feed alongside various waders, gulls and terns. From here we strike inland, travelling through the famous argan forests of the Sous valley, towards Oulad Berhil.
Day 5 We continue our journey eastwards, travelling through increasingly arid, rocky landscapes as we head towards Ouarzazate. Along the way we will start to see White-crowned and Desert Wheatears and a variety of larks along the roadside.
Day 6 Our morning will start with a visit to the nearby Ouarzazate Reservoir. Various migrants rest here on their journey northwards, and could include a variety of waders and wildfowl, warblers and wagtails. From here we travel eastwards to Boumalne des Dades where we will explore the Tagdildt Track, an area famous for its desert steppe birds.
Day 7 We will spend the day travelling up the Dades Gorge, where the Gundi, an endearing rodent sunbathes on the boulders. Birds might include Tristram’s Warbler and Rock Bunting.
Day 8 We continue our journey eastwards. Along the way we will check cliff faces for a chance to find Pharoah Eagle Owl at its roost site. Nearby we hope to find Maghreb Wheatear before finally arriving in the desert proper of the Tafilalt, at Merzouga.
Days 9/10 We spend two days exploring the Tafilalt.taking a fourwheel drive ‘safari’ one day in search of some of the special birds of the desert. We will visit the sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi and explore the oasis gardens.
Day 11 Today we head back to Ouarzazate through the Anti Atlas mountains, with one or two stops along the way amongst the stunning scenery.
Day 12 Today we cross the mountains, via the Tiz n Tichka pass at an altitude of 2,260 metres. From these heady heights we drop back down into the plains near Marrakech, before climbing again up towards the ski resort of Oukaimeden.
Day 13 An early start takes us in search of one of the stars of the mountains; African Crimson-winged Finches. Atlas Horned Lark and both Alpine and Red-billed Chough should also be found. After lunch, we head down to Marrakech for our flights home.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.
Our hotels and guesthouses will have en-suite accommodation – dinner and breakfast will be taken in the hotels, with lunches a mixture of picnics and sit down meals in hotels and local restaurants.
We will travel by minibus. Our excursions in Sour Massa National Park and into the desert beyond Merzouga will be by comfortable four-wheel drive vehicles.
The group flights are with Easyjet from London Gatwick.
9 March depart London Gatwick 14.25, arrive Agadir 18.20
21 March depart Marrakech 18.10, arrive London Gatwick 21.45
It is also possible to fly with Easyjet from Manchester as follows:
9 March depart Manchester 14.35, arrive Agadir 18.35
21 March depart Marrakech 19.55, arrive Manchester 23.50
Morocco is the same local time as the UK.
If you hold a British passport, you do not currently need a visa to travel to Morocco, but your passport will need to be valid for at least six months after your entry into Morocco. If you do not have a UK passport, please check with your local consulate.
At this time of year the weather is usually sunny but not too hot. If we do get hotter weather, we will adapt the itinerary as much as possible. There may be some cooler weather, particularly in the mountains where there may even be some snow.
This is not a strenuous holiday. The main fitness considerations are likely to be the heat and the long distances travelled (by bus). There will be some walking, including on sand dunes/sandy beaches, and on rocky/uneven tracks, sometimes gently uphill. We will adapt our walking to the weather but we will no doubt be walking in the sun on some days, albeit not for very long walks. The hotel rooms may be on the first or second floor, with no lift available.