Full tour. Deserts, Mountains and Coasts 13 days

FULL TOUR. DESERTS, MOUNTAINS AND COASTS.
(13 DAYS)

The Strait tour: A circuit of Morocco entering and exiting by Tangier.
This tour is intended to be the fullest that can be offered to observe almost all birds of special interest that we can see in Morocco. It’s a loop that begins and ends in Tarifa.

Once we cross to Tangier we begin visiting some of the most interesting wetland areas on the North Coast. Then we head towards the interior where we will cross the Atlas highlands, gorges and valleys up to the desert. After living the experience of the Sahara we continue again up the mountains of the High Atlas via Oukaimeden, and from there we go on to cover the Atlantic coastal route of the southern half, leading us back to the North, to the city where we started the tour 13 days before. 
 
Day 1 TARIFA – LARACHE

At 9: 00 we meet in Tarifa. We take the Ferry in the morning and cross the Straits of Gibraltar, seeing from the deck some species of seabirds, and if we are lucky the various cetaceans that abound in these waters. After an hour’s journey, we arrive at Tangier, and after passing Custom we continue on for a further hour to our first destination, Larache.

Beginning in the estuary area, we will see interesting waterfowl and terns and amongst the birds of prey, the majestic Osprey. Continuing along the estuary towards the interior we will see many species of waders and shorebirds and in particular a large number of Glossy Ibis (in their thousands), which we will be able to watch throughout the day and entering their evening roost. Night in Larache.

 

Day 2 LARACHE – CEDRAL DE AZROU

We leave early to reach the cedral in Azrou around noon. Along the way, we will make some interesting stops, for example to see a spectacular colony of Little Swifts. Once in the cedral will see one of the relict populations of Barbary Apes, and its community of tits and finches, and the star of the forest, the Levaillant’s Woodpecker Picus vaillantii. Night in Azrou.

 

Day 3 CEDRAL DE AZROU – MERZOUGA

In the first hour early morning we head to Zeida to be on the plain known as “Le Plateau de L´Arid” at dawn. Larks, wheatears, sandgrouses and Cream-coloured Courser are inhabitants of this place. It always was the best place in the country for the Dupont’s Lark Chersophilus duponti, where even today it is possible to hear and even see it according to the time of the year. We will spend the early hours of the morning covering the plain, leaving not too late  to return across the Middle  Atlas, passing through mountain lakes with good areas for wheatears and hopefully we will see our first Moussier’s Redstart. We will continue through the tunnel of the legionary and enter the spectacular gorges of the Ziz, getting that same afternoon to the gates of the Sahara. night in Kasbah in front of the dunes of Erg chebbi.

 

Day 4 MERZOUGA – ERFOUD

In the morning we will tour the surroundings of the lagoon of Merzouga where we will see ducks, waders, sandgrouse, flamingos and other birds typical of the area… That morning we will look in the area of Rissani for the desert eagle owl. The afternoon will be spent searching for three of the jewels of the desert, Tristram’s Warbler, Desert Warbler and the star bird, the SALIDUN as it is known as by local inhabitants – the rare Desert Sparrow. Night in Kasbah in front of the dunes. 

 
Day 5 ERFOUD – TINEJDAD – BOULMANE DU DADÉS

We leave Erfoud heading to Rissani, where our guide will be waiting to accompany us throughout the morning in the area, then we will head to Boulemane du Dadés but not before taking a small detour in Tinejdad to see another small much desired bird, the elusive Scrub warbler. Night at Boulemane du Dades. (Xaluca).

 

Day 6 TAGDILT TRACK – GORGES OF THE TODRA

At dawn we will be in full Tagdilt Track. This place is considered by many as the ornithological golden mile of the country. Interesting larks, sandgrouses and birds of prey occur in this peculiar plateau. At noon we will go to the Gorges of the river Todra, undoubtedly one of the most spectacular landscapes of all Morocco. There we will also see the Atlas Warbler and some rock species of interest such as the Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata). Xaluca Dadés for the night.

Day 7 BOULMANE DU DADÉS – OUARZAZATE

We will head to Ouarzazate, a zone to see another highly sought after species, the Maghreb Wheatear (Oenanthe halophila). If everything goes well we will see several specimens, both  males and females, as well as some other interesting birds such as Desert lark, Hoopoe Lark and Thick-Billed lark. We will overnight in Ouarzazate.

 

Day 8 OUARZAZATE – OUKAIMEDEM – MARRAKECH

Early morning we will leave towards the High Atlas, passing through the heart of the spectacular Valley of Ourika, with good possibilities of seeing Levaillant’s Woodpecker, African Blue Tit, the African race of Chaffinch and other forest birds. We will finally reach Oukaïmeden where we will focus on the typical birds of high mountains. We can see here  Horned Lark, Crimson-winged Finch , Chough and Alpine Chough, Alpine Accentor, Rock sparrow, Barbary  Partridge… Late in the afternoon we depart for Marrakech, where we will overnight.

 

Day 9 MARRAKECH – SOUS MASSA

Departure from Marrakech to Souss Massa, arrival at noon where we will eat in the area of Sidi Rabat and will make the most of the afternoon in the park to familiarise ourselves with the area. Night inside the Park by the seashore.
 

Day 10 SOUS MASSA – ESSAOUIRA

Morning dedicated to the Park, where our main interests will be the resident Bald Ibis, Black-crowned Tchagra and Moussier’s Redstart. We also will see many other interesting species in this unbelievable place that has an enviable ornithological richness. Here it easy to observe the Southern Grey Shrike ssp algeriensis, the Moroccan Magpie, Little Owl, Cream-coloured Courser, etc.…  In the afternoon we will head to the Pearl of the Atlantic, Essaouira, a port city with a medina which has been declared patrimony of humanity. Our accommodation tonight will be at Riad inside the medina.

 

Day 11 ESSAOUIRA – SIDI MOUSSA – EL JADIDA

In the morning we will continue heading north with magnificent views of the Atlantic and intermittent excellent habitats for water birds, especially the stretch of lakes that are found from Oualidia, to Sidi Moussa, finally overnight in El Jadida.

 

Day 12 EL JADIDA – MERDJA ZERGA

We will arrive at Moulay Bousselham and take a boat trip with an ornithological guide who will show us every corner of this emblematic place.  Merja Zerga hosts big flocks of up to 20,000 ducks, herons and flamingos, and more than 100,000 waders in winter.

Of interest, it was the last refuge of one of the rarest waders in the world which has not been reported in recent years and may possibly be extinct, the Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris).  We have a typical lunch at Moulay Bousselham, then return to Larache and go down to the estuary of the Loukos.  Here we can see interesting ducks, such as Marbled Duck, terns such as Caspian Tern and raptors such as Osprey.  Following the estuary inland we will see many species of waders and large numbers of Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) entering their roost.  Overnight at Larache.

 

Day 13 LARACHE – TARIFA

After breakfast at our hotel, another visit to the Loukos estuary and a walk along the beach where we can see groups of hundreds of gulls and waders.  Then back to the estuary in search of species such as Crested Coot (Fulica cristata) that can be seen in good numbers.  We may also come across some interesting Moroccan raptors, such as Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo ruffinus) or Barbary Falcon (Falco pelegrinoides).  At the end of the morning we travel back to Tangiers to get our ferry, and cross back over the straits, where our services end.

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