Morocco – natural history at Christmas
Enjoy a relaxing festive season with an introduction to the natural history of southern Morocco.
Based for the week at the wonderful Atlas Kasbah in southern Morocco, our holiday is an excellent introduction to the flora, fauna and culture of this fascinating country. The short flight to Agadir, 30 minute transfer to the hotel and relaxed pace of the week make this trip ideal for anyone wanting a taste of Morocco in the company of expert leaders whilst enjoying a high standard of accommodation and easy, comfortable travel.
With Mediterranean, Macaronesian and African influences, this area has a fascinating mix of plants including succulent euphorbias, colourful composites, toadflaxes and lavenders and interesting shrubs, including the endemic Argan tree.
Our traditionally and sustainably-built and run hotel, the Atlas Kasbah, has spacious rooms with lovely views of the surrounding countryside, attractive patios and a swimming pool. It is situated within the protected argan forest and we will have time to enjoy this area and grounds of the hotel as well as excursions to the coast, mountains, oases, small villages and the attractive town of Taroudant, a ‘mini Marrakech’, to experience the local Berber culture.
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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.
21 – 28 December 2019
Single Room Supplement – £185
Return flights from London Gatwick to Agadir. Local transport on excursions as specified in the itinerary. Seven nights’ accommodation, full board basis.
Refreshments. Entrance fees for optional sightseeing. Gratuities. Travel insurance.
Day 1 Our early flight takes us to Agadir, from where we transfer (c30 mins) to the Atlas Kasbah, in the hills out beyond the city. After settling in, and our first delicious Moroccan lunch, we will have a gentle wander through the lanes and hillsides around the hotel .
Day 2 The Atlantic coast south to the Sahara is well known for its unique communities of succulents mixed with shrubs and we will visit Cap Rhir to explore these, looking out for butterflies and reptiles along the way. Nearby is the wetland of Oued Tamri, where we hope to see the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis: the total world population is only around 600 birds, with one of the main nesting colonies nearby. We will end the day with a visit to the old Kasbah of Agadir, with its views over the city.
Day 3 Today we visit the attractive town of Taroudant, described as a ’mini Marrakech’ but with a character of its own reflecting its rich Berber culture. We will enjoy views from ancient city walls and explore the labyrinthine market, as well as a women’s Argan oil co-operative and the oasis at Tioute, the natural habitat of the date palm Phoenix dactylifera.
Day 4 Today we will have a free day, with the opportunity to explore the local countryside a bit more, relax around the hotel or enjoy the pool (if the weather permits!). In the afternoon, we will have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in Berber culture in the company of Helene, Hassan and the wonderful staff of the Atlas Kasbah, culminating in a celebratory meal.
Day 5 This morning we head south to the Anti Atlas, a low range of very old mountains, which form much of the landscape in the south east of the country. We will travel to Ait Baha and beyond, to visit an ancient ‘agadir’, a fortified grain store typical of the Berber villages in this area. Along the way we will enjoy stunning views, we will look out for the locally endemic broom Hesperolaburnum platycarpus, Barbary Ground Squirrel and the large lizard Bibron’s Agama may appear along the roadside, while Bonelli’s Eagle soar overhead.
Day 6 We head south along the coast to the famous Sous Massa National Park. Today we will learn about the important conservation work going on here, especially the reintroduction of a variety of Saharan ‘megafauna’ to the reserve. We will finish our day by visiting the Oued Sous, where Greater Flamingos gather on the estuary and feed alongside various waders, gulls and terns.
Day 7 Today we head in the opposite direction, for the scenic slopes of the High Atlas, making a circuit via the aptly-named Paradise Valley, home to Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin and Black Wheatear, and the Cascades du Immouzer.
Day 8 Alas our week is up, and we bid farewell to the Atlas Kasbah and return to Agadir for our flight back to UK.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.
We will stay for the whole week at the wonderful Atlas Kasbah, a new hotel in a traditional design situated amongst the Argan trees in the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve. The rooms are very spacious, the local culture reflected in the furnishings, and there are lovely views from the rooms and roof terrace. It has an attractive patio, gardens and swimming pool. It has been designed sustainably and is run in an environmentally friendly way.
All food is included.
We will travel by coach/minibus. Our visit to Sous Massa will be in high clearance 4WD vehicles.
The group flights are with Easyjet from London Gatwick. Flight times are not currently available but are likely to be similar to 2018:
21 December depart London Gatwick 07.10, arrive Agadir 11.05
28 December depart Agadir 11.50, arrive London Gatwick 15.40
Morocco is one hour ahead of UK time.
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, although the season varies so there may be hotter weather or possibly some cooler weather and some rain. The nights are cooler.
This is not a strenuous holiday but on some days we will be walking for much of the day, 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. All excursions are optional and you can choose to spend more time in the pleasant grounds and rooms of the hotel if you wish. The hotel rooms are on the first or second floor and reached by stairs.