The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Africa (and its islands)

WESTERN SAHARA – Golden Nightjar, Dunn’s Lark, Fennec Fox & Sand Cat

Tuesday 17th March – Tuesday 24th March 2026

Leader: to be announced

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, West African Crested Tern, 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!), West African Crested Tern, 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 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.


  • Birding a seldom-visited region of the Western Palearctic avifaunal region, full of surprises and breath-taking landscapes
  • Visiting a variety of desert habitats in search of many speciality birds and mammals
  • Seeing the once near-mythical and ultimate Golden Nightjar, surely one of the very best nightjars of all, at night and at day roost
  • Finding the appropriate habitat and observing the sought-after African Dunn’s Lark, here at its most reliable location
  • Enjoying larks galore, including the smashing Thick-billed Lark and Temminck’s Lark
  • Listening in the desert dawn to locate Cricket Warbler, ‘Saharan’ Streaked Scrub Warbler and African Desert Warbler
  • Scanning through large flocks of Desert Sparrows hoping to discover the beautiful Sudan Golden Sparrow
  • Scouring the desert and spotting the gorgeous Fennec Fox and hopefully a Sand Cat
  • Admiring the cute little Lesser Egyptian Jerboa with its huge hind legs and long, soft ears!
  • Searching through thousands of waders, gulls and terns in Dakhla Bay in search of the restricted-range West African Crested Tern, Western Reef Heron and Kelp Gull


  • Day 1: Evening arrival at Dakhla airport. Transfer to our hotel.
  • Days 2-7: Exploring the Daklhla region, including the Aousserd Road.
  • Day 8: Tour ends this morning at Dakhla airport.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.


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: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

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

2026: provisional £2220, $2850, €2590, AUD4300. Dakhla/Dakhla.

Single Supplement: 2026: £210, $280, €250, AUD420.

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 US Dollars. 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: 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.


by Diedert Koppenol

View Report


View Report

Other Western and Northwestern Africa birding tours by Birdquest include: