Morocco. Coast, Desert and Atlas (12 days)

Morocco, Coast, Desert and Atlas (12 days)

 
Day 1. TARIFA – LARACHE

We take the last Ferry in the evening and cross the Straits of Gibraltar. 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. Dinner and accommodation.

 

Day 2. LARACHE – 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 the way to Midelt.

 

Day 3: MIDELT – 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 and sandgrouses 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. 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 theSahara. Night in Kasbah in front of the dunes of Erg chebbi.

Day 4: Merzouga – Erfoud – Rissani.

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 in the Rissani area the rare desert eagle owl. Night in our Kasbah.

 

                     

Day 5: Rissani – Sahara Desert

In the morning we will continue with the surroundings of Rissani, this time focusing in the missed species we have in the area, fulvous babbler, Maghreb Wheatear, sandgrouses… After lunch, we’ll go by camel into the deepSahara, through the dunes looking one of the stars of this tour, the SALIDUN, name with which is known by the inhabitants the rare Desert Sparrow. Overnight in “Moroccan tents” into the desert.

Day 6: Merzouga – Tinejdad – Boumalne du Dadés

After take a relaxed breakfast we’ll go back to Merzouga with our camel, then we will head to Boumalne du Dadés but not before taking a small detour in Tinejdad to see another small much desired bird, the elusive Scrub warbler. Night at the area of Boumalne du Dades.

Day 7: Tagdilt Track – Amerzgane

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. After lunch we will head to Amerzgane, 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 the area of Amerzgane.

                      

Day 8: Amerzgane – Ourika Valley

Early morning we will leave towards the High Atlas, passing through the heart of the spectacularValleyofOurika, 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… We’ll overnight at the Valley with the intention to spend the first hours of the next morning at the area of Oukaimeden.

                      

Day 9: Ourika Valley – Marrakech

After spending the morning around Oukaimeden departure to Marrakech. Here, accompanied by house buntings, Common Bulbuls and Little Swifts we’ll visit the largest traditional market in the country and one of the busiest squares inAfricaand the world ,Jema El Fna Square, where we have dinner. Our accommodation is located in the old city, a few minutes from the Square.

Day 10: Marrakech – Larache

In the morning, after our breakfast, we leave Marrakech to turn northward, spending most of the day to our movement. Arrive at Larache where we overnight in our already known hotel.

Day 1: Moulay Bousselham – 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.  Merdja 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 and go back to the lagoon of Merdja Zerga.  This park is home of the last palearctic population of Marsh Owl (Asio capensis), of which there are only about 20 pairs.  We dedicate the evening to search the immense marshes.  During this time we can see the Barn Owl (Tyto alba) and Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) which share this hunting territory.  Overnight at Larache.

Day 12: Larache – Tarifa

After breakfast, short 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.

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