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Birdquest's Morocco birding tour explores the best country for birdwatching in North Africa. Our Morocco tour has the most comprehensive itinerary available and targets all the country's specialities. Our tour is pitched at the height of spring migration too, making for a richly varied bird list as we travel this land of dramatic scenery (in the Atlas and Sahara) and fascinating culture.
Saturday 27th April —
Saturday 11th May 2013
Leader: Dani López-Velasco
Group Size Limit: 11
Tour Category: Easy for the most part, occasionally Moderate
Morocco has the richest avifauna in North Africa and, with its many specialities, including all but one of the North African endemics, ranks as one of the top birding destinations in the Western Palearctic (the zoogeographical term for Europe, North Africa and the Middle East).
This scenically spectacular country has a decidedly undeveloped feel and, for those who like travelling somewhere distinctly ‘different’, a visit to Morocco will be a memorable journey through a land where many regions seem outwardly little changed in centuries. The combination of dramatic desert and mountain scenery, superb desert oases, strikingly attractive mud-walled towns and villages, colourful tribal people and superb birding ensures that Morocco is one of those places that one longs to return to.
This is a land of contrasts where in the course of a single day one can be watching Firecrests in the forests of the Middle Atlas in the morning and Desert Wheatears on the edge of the Sahara in the afternoon. During this exciting tour, which is the most comprehensive Moroccan birding itinerary available (our longer itinerary produces more of the country’s specialities than any other bird tour), we shall have the opportunity to see the full range of habitats that exist in this diverse country at a time of year when many northbound migrants are passing through. In particular we shall be concentrating on North African endemics and other regional specialities.
Our journey commences in Casablanca on the Atlantic coast. Here we will explore the coastal lowlands and the forests of the Zaër where we will search for specialities such as Double-spurred Francolin, the endemic Barbary Partridge, Black-shouldered Kite, North African Blue Tit and the rare Marsh Owl. From here we will cross the cultivated plains of northern Morocco and climb into the Middle Atlas, where we shall find a rugged patchwork of stony uplands, superb montane forests and small lakes. In these varied habitats we shall find other endemics including the localized Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker, the stunning Moussier’s Redstart and the very distinctive Seebohm’s Wheatear (formerly treated as a race of Northern), as well as the breeding-endemic Atlas Flycatcher (split from European Pied).
Beyond the Middle Atlas we cross an area of arid, sparsely vegetated plains. Here we have a great chance of finding the shy and little-known Dupont’s Lark and the recently-recognized endemic Maghreb Lark. As we travel further south, we will encounter the starkly dramatic mountain scenery of the High Atlas where we will pause to search for the endemic Tristram’s Warbler. Soon we will reach the northern edge of the Sahara. Here, we will explore the stony expanses of the ‘hamada’, the spectacular sand dunes of Erg Chebbi and the numerous green oases hidden in deep valleys. Amongst the desert specialists found in this area are such North African endemics as African Desert Warbler and House Bunting, as well as the impressive Pharaoh Eagle Owl, the mysterious Egyptian Nightjar, the gorgeous Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, the rare and localized Desert Sparrow and, with a bit of luck, the endangered Houbara Bustard.
After crossing the Anti-Atlas we will explore the rocky deserts around Boumalne where specialities are likely to include Black-bellied and Crowned Sandgrouse, the impressive Thick-billed Lark, Temminck’s Lark and Western Mourning and Red-rumped Wheatears. We will then follow the Sous valley west to the Atlantic coast at Agadir, pausing en route at the scenic and ancient town of Taroudannt where we have another chance for Egyptian Nightjar and our first opportunity to see Red-necked Nightjar. During our stay in the Agadir region we will explore the nearby estuaries of the Oued Sous and Oued Massa, which at this time of year are packed full of migrating waders, gulls and terns, and also travel north along the Atlantic coast to look for the endangered Northern Bald Ibis and the spectacular Eleonora’s Falcon.
Finally we will explore the magnificent High Atlas above the historic city of Marrakech. Here, with a backdrop of towering, snow-capped peaks and green alpine meadows, we will search for the distinctive North African form of the Crimson-winged Finch.
Birdquest has operated tours to Morocco since 1982.
(Note: The above is a summary of the tour. For more information please download the detailed, day-by-day itinerary. The button is at the top right of the page.)
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are mostly of good standard, occasionally medium grade. Road transport is by minibus and 4x4 vehicles and roads are mostly surprisingly good.
Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but there are a few fairly long walks, mostly on flat terrain.
Climate: Rather variable. Many days at lower altitudes are warm or hot, dry and sunny, but sometimes it is cool and overcast. There may well be some rain at times. At higher altitudes conditions range from cool to distinctly cold.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are quite good.
Tour Price: £2190, €2720, $3420 Casablanca/Marrakech. Price includes all transportation, all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.
Single Room Supplement: £280, €347, $437.
Deposit: 10% of the tour price (excluding any single supplement).
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
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