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Golden Nightjar, African Dunn's Lark, Fennec Fox & Sand Cat

Western Sahara Birding Tours: our Western Sahara bird watching and mammal watching holiday explores an area that is still little known to bird watchers, but which holds some major specialities, including Golden Nightjar, African Dunn’s Lark, Cricket Warbler and Desert Sparrow, not to mention such marvellous mammals as Fennec and Rüppell’s Foxes, Saharan Striped Polecat and Sand Cat!

Thursday 4th April — Thursday 11th April 2019
(8 days)

Leader: Mark Beaman

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Mostly easy walking and comfortable accommodations


In recent years the remote Dakhla region in southernmost Morocco, at the southern edge of the 'Western Palearctic' faunal region and part of the territory of Western Sahara that was annexed by Morocco after the Spanish left their former colony, has become famous as a place for seeing some very special birds and mammals. Western Sahara birding tours are most definitely frontier birding!

Prime amongst the avian specialities are Golden Nightjar (recently found calling on territories here), African Dunn's Lark, Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark, the splendid Cricket Warbler, Desert Sparrow and the lovely Sudan Golden Sparrow.

An interesting supporting cast includes Lanner Falcon, Cream-coloured Courser, Spotted and Crowned Sandgrouse, Pharaoh (or Desert) Eagle-Owl, Thick-billed, Greater Hoopoe, Temminck's, Thekla, Desert and Bar-tailed Larks, Pale Crag Martin, Black, White-crowned, Red-rumped and Desert Wheatears, African Desert Warbler, Fulvous Babbler, Brown-necked Raven, Trumpeter Finch and, with luck, Namaqua Dove.

Large numbers of waterbirds can be found in Dakhla Bay, including Greater Flamingoes, many Caspian Terns, Royal Terns and large numbers of Audouin's Gulls. There are also fair chances for Western Reef Heron and Kelp Gull.

Migrants will be prominent at this season and among these we should find Short-toed Snake and Booted Eagles, Western Marsh and Montagu's Harriers, European and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, and Western Bonelli's, Western Subalpine and Western Orphean Warblers.

Over the years a remarkable selection of vagrants have reached this part of the Western Palearctic, including Reed Cormorant, Lesser Flamingo, Lesser Scaup, Rüppell's and White-backed Vultures, African Crake, Allen's Gallinule, Grey-headed Gull, Lesser Crested Tern and White-throated Bee-eater (seen on our 2017 tour). All are great rarities in the true sense of the word, so realistically we can only hope for one such surprise at best during our visit.

Even more remarkably, this is an extraordinary place for seeing deep desert mammals. The gorgeous little Fennec Fox is relatively easy to see here and there is even a good chance of encountering Sand Cat for those who (like us) are persistent! Other mammals regularly seen here include Rüppell's Fox, African Golden Wolf, Wild Cat, African Savanna Hare, the wonderful little Lesser Egyptian Jerboa, Pygmy and Lesser Egyptian Gerbils, Desert Hedgehog and (with luck) Atlantic Humpback Dolphin.

If we have time, we will visit the Safia reserve, situated to the south of Dakhla. The reserve, which consists of a huge, approximately 15 square kilometres, enclosure, holds re-introduced Addaxes and Dama Gazelles, as well as Common Ostriches. (There are no Scimitar-horned Oryx here, contra reports that say there are. This appears to be a confusion with Addax.) Sadly, hunting pressure in the region is still too intense to allow for these animals to be left to roam outside the reserve. There is a fair chance of seeing Dorcas Gazelle in the surrounding area and there is also a slim chance of Houbara Bustard.

Join us for a very special week in the desert!

Birdquest has operated Western Sahara birding tours since 2017.


Accommodation & Road Transport: Hotel accommodation at Dakhla is of good quality and comfortable. Road transport will be by cars and roads are mostly good.

Walking: The walking effort during our Western Sahara birding tour is mostly easy, but there may be some moderate grade walks.

Climate: In Western Sahara it is typically warm or hot and sunny. Rain is very unlikely.

Bird Photography: Opportunities during our Western Sahara tour are good.


Prices are provisional

Tour Price: £1890, €2140, $2610 Dakhla/Dakhla. Single Room Supplement: £210, €237, $289. Deposit: £300, €360, $420.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Base prices for this tour are in Euros. The exchange rates used are: £1 = €1.130 and €1 = $1.220.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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