The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Europe & Surroundings

WESTERN SAHARA

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

Wednesday 10th March – Wednesday 17th March 2021

Leader: Julien Mazenauer.

8 Days Group Size Limit 7

Birdquest’s Western Sahara birding tours and mammal watching holiday explore a territory administered by Morocco that is still little known to birders, 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!

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 breeding here and seen on all Birdquest tours so far!), 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, 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, Saharan Scrub 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 passing through Western Sahara 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 Western Sahara, Morocco birding tour.

Even more remarkably, Western Sahara 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 fairly good chance of encountering Sand Cat for those who (like us) are persistent! Other mammals regularly seen in this part of Western Sahara 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 enough time (which depends on how quickly we find the key specialities), we will visit the Safia reserve, situated well 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 birding tour are good.


PRICE INFORMATION

Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for local guides, drivers and accommodation/restaurant staff.

Deposit: £220, $290, €250.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates and deposit amount)


2021: provisional £1940, $2520, €2250. Dakhla/Dakhla.

Single Supplement: 2021: £200, $260, €240.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in Euros. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

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.

WESTERN SAHARA BIRDING TOUR: ITINERARY

Western Sahara: Day 1  Our Western Sahara birding tour begins this evening at Dakhla airport in southernmost Morocco, from where we will make the short journey to our hotel.

Western Sahara: Days 2-7  Exploring the Saharan habitats of the southern region of Western Sahara, nowadays the farthest south of Morocco, including plenty of night excursions in search of mammals and nightjars.

Western Sahara: Day 8  Our Western Sahara birding tour ends this morning at Dakhla airport.

WESTERN SAHARA, MOROCCO TOUR REPORT 2017

by Mark Beaman

View Report

Other Western and Northwestern Africa birding tours by Birdquest include:

Tristram's

Europe & Surroundings

MOROCCO

Golden

Africa

SENEGAL