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Morocco – natural history, mountains and coast

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. 

Southern Morocco is under threat from both urban and agricultural development. The demand by visitors such as ourselves, for areas managed for natural history and as a resource for real ecotourism is vitally important for preserving biodiversity. We have chosen the Atlas Kasbah for its environmental sustainability.

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March is the best time for enjoying many of the flowers, both on the coast and in the mountains. With Mediterranean, Macaronesian and African influences, this area has a fascinating mix of plants including palms, succulent euphorbias, chrysanthemums, toadflaxes, mulleins, irises, ornithogalums and interesting shrubs.

The birdlife is very interesting and we should see most of the local specialties, including House Bunting, Moussier’s Redstart, Black-crowned Tchagra and, with luck, the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis. We will visit the Sous Massa National Park, where as well as a variety of birds, we will also look for several species of antelope that have been reintroduced here, including Addax, Dorcas Gazelle and the graceful Scimitar-horned Oryx.

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 Marakesh’, to experience the local Berber culture.

Morocco is a country of great contrasts. Situated on the edge of Europe, its culture and people are a fascinating mix of European, African and Arab influences. From the Mediterranean coast in the north, through the snow covered Atlas mountains to the arid Saharan desert these diverse habitats make Morocco a top destination for wildlife. This holiday is intended to give an introduction to the plants, culture and wildlife including some of the many birding highlights.

Based in the Atlas Kasbah eco-hotel located amongst the Argan forests we will explore an area that is a melting pot of culture, plants and birds. Here the influence of the Mediterranean meets the desert floras of the south creating a unique transition zone. The Argan tree, Argania spinosa is a remnant of a once tropical flora and a key tree in the local economy, exploited for its health-giving oil extracted from the seeds. Our itinerary offers the chance to relax and enjoy the kasbah itself, to see the unique succulent Euphorbias along the coast, to visit the High Atlas and to experience the sights, smells and sounds of the traditional medina of Taroudant.  

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Wildlife Travel Morocco 2017

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.

Dates

3 – 10 March 2018

Leaders

Charlie Rugeroni and Jess Hatchett

Price

£1,545

Single Room Supplement £150

Included

Return flights from London Gatwick to Agadir. Local transport on excursions as specified in the itinerary. Seven nights’ accommodation, full board basis.

Not included

Refreshments. Entrance fees for optional sightseeing. Gratuities. Travel insurance.

Provisional itinerary

Day 1 – Flight to Agadir and transfer to the Atlas Kasbah.

Day 2 – We will explore the lanes and hillsides around the hotel and the nearby village. Cultivated and colourful annuals are a feature and include North African endemics, and the birdlife also includes local specialities.

Day 3 – The Atlantic coast south to the Sahara is well known for its unique communities of succulents mixed with shrubs.We will visit Cap Rhir to explore these communities and visit nearby Oued Tamri, where we hope to see the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis – the total world population is only around 400 birds.

Day 4 – We visit the attractive town of Taroudant, described as a ’mini Marrakesh’ and explore the labyrinthine market – full of herbs and spices, and traditional furnishings. House Buntings sing from the buildings and Little Swift trill overhead.

Day 5 – We head south along the coast to the famous Sous Massa National Park to learn more about conservation here; especially the reintroduction of a variety of Saharan ‘megafauna’ including Dorcas Gazelle, Scimitar-horned Oryx, Addax, and the North African Ostrich. We will finish our day by visiting the Oued Sous, where Greater Flamingos feed alongside various waders, gulls and terns.

Day 6 – We head south to the Anti Atlas, travelling to Ait Baha and beyond, with stunning views and interesting plants along the way.

Day 7 – We head for the slopes of the High Atlas via the aptly-named Paradise Valley and the Cascades du Immouzer.

Day 8 – Our last morning will be spent exploring more of the local area, or just enjoying the relaxing grounds before we transfer to Agadir and fly back to the 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.

 

The group flights are with Easyjet from London Gatwick.

3 March depart London Gatwick 14.30, arrive Agadir 18.20
10 March depart Agadir 19.05, arrive London Gatwick 22.55

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, although the season varies so there may be hotter weather or possibly some cooler weather and some rain.

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.