Cream-colored Courser
 

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Red-rumped Wheatear
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Little Owl
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Dar Chamaa



BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Desert Sparrow
Photo: Peter Jones




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Long-legged Buzzard
Photo: Pieter Verheij





BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Fulvous Babbler
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Temminck's Horned Lark
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
African Desert Warbler
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Foothills of Atlas
Photo: Peter Jones





BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Moussier's Redstart
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Lanner Falcon
Photo: Pieter Verheij



Morocco de Luxe -
The Atlas & Saharas



22-31 March 2018

Morocco is one of the most beautiful countries in the region and one of few places where you really can get the true 1001 nights feeling.

On this trip we focus on the inner of Morocco´s mountains and deserts. A road-trip for the adventurous who likes the idea of traveling a bit off the beaten track to see special birds and habitats. We will however stay in very comfortable Casbah style hotels and taste genuine, local food.
When we get to the real desert, we will be driven in 4x4 vehicles so we can move freely in the habitat and seek the birds we want. Our leader has done more than 40 trips to Morocco and know all the best sites for all the specialities. Upon that we also use local guides at times. Egyptian Nightjar, Cream-colored Courser, Desert Sparrow, Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Fulvous Babbler, are some of the birds we will seek for in the Sahara. Sandgrouse, Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, several species of Wheatears and Larks are also on the menu and of course the birds of the High Atlas like Crimson-winged Finch and Levaillents´s Woodpecker. This time of the year there´s also a lot of migrating birds around and any bush can hold interesting finds.


Day 1
We plan to arrive on the afternoon in Marrakech. It means we stay the first night in Marrakech to charge our batteries with a nice evening meal and a good night´s sleep.
The hotel has a lovely garden/park area where some birds can be seen. Night in Hotel Farah.


Day 2
After breakfast we will begin our journey across the Atlas Mountains south towards Ouarzazate, that is our first destination on the tour. But we will have time for many stops before that, especially up in the mountains where we will keep our eyes open for Levaillant's Woodpecker, Barbary Partridge, Tristram´s Warbler and Moussier´s Redstart.
Raptors to look out for are Barbary Falcon and Golden Eagle, but since it´s migration time, anything can come across. We will do stops on above 1.000 meters, so warm clothes can be good to have ready. We recommend you to bring a warm sweater, and a windstopping jacket & trousers, even if we only spend the first and the last days on this elevation. Pretty soon we will start to see the first ”exotic” Wheatears; Mourning Wheatear, Black Wheatear, White-crowned Wheatear and eventually perhaps the first Desert Wheatears.
Our base Hotel Dar Chamaa in Ouarzazate lies surrounded by palm trees with the Atlas mountains in the backdrop. There´s a pool and a nice terrace embed with trees and bushes. The weather varies a lot here between cool or balmy, mainly depending on the wind. Northerly winds will produce cold weather, but normally days are pleasant and nights are cooler this time of the year. (Today´s transfer is 198 km, effective travel time estimated to 2 hours, 52 min)


Day 3
Our journey continues south through palm tree plantations in the Agdz and Draa Valleys, where there could be all sorts of migrating birds around; Raptors, Wheatears, Warblers, Wagtails and Pipits. Maybe we have already seen the first Subalpine Warblers in the hotel garden before breakfast. Most likely also the first Common Bulbuls and House Buntings.
Temperatures down here will be considerably higher than yesterday and it will feel nice to stretch our limbs on a walk along the river to find some new birds. A first stop by a shallow lake is usually productive with Ruddy Shelducks, different Waders, Terns, Herons, maybe Flamingos, etc. We follow the valley and stop in different, small wadis where the green habitat can attract migrants. Laughing Dove, Spectacled Warbler, White-crowned Wheatear and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater are some of today´s target birds.
We will also look for Bonelli´s Eagle, Streaked Scrub-Warbler and Seebohm´s Wheatear.
Kasbah Sirocco is a charming and and comfortable hotel, surrounded by palmeries near Zagora. The bar area by the pool is a nice place for a get-together and to go through the list of birds we´ve seen during the day. We´ll then enjoy some good local cuisine in this nice as well as traditional environment. If weather is good we can sit outdoors. (Today´s transfer is 163 km, effective travel time estimated to 2 h, 46 min)


Day 4
Today we need to start early to make the 300 km we need to travel to reach the sand dunes of the Sahara. We we still have time for plenty of bird stops. We´ll keep our eyes open for birds like Trumpeter Finch, Lanner Falcon, Desert Wheatear, but also different migrants. White Wagtails of the handsome subspecies subpersonata are not numerous but we´ll certainly try our best to see some.
The open habitats is a tough challenge when it comes to spotting birds, but the more eyes…We might be rewarded with Spotted- or Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Fulvous Babblers, Cream-colored Courser and other good species. When we arrive there will be a little more choice on which activities you want to participate in, since we are staying two nights at Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua.
A small hotel with low buildings, named after the ruins of an old sufic shelter, built by traditional ”bricks” of straw and clay. A selection of tents and gazebos offer shelter from the heat and sunshine. Kasbah Derkaoua is surrounded by desert and a little oasis in its own right. It´s also the place that many travelers have used as a base for their desert adventure in Sahara spelled Erg Chebbi! - the famous sand dunes that have become a main image of Moroccan Sahara, but in fact isn´t a common habitat at all. Here the 150 meter high sand dunes rise just near the hotel and covers an area of 50 km. (Today´s transfer is 305 km, travel time estimated to 4 hours)


Day 5
Today we will explore the areas around the Erg Chebbi – so we will enter 4x4 jeeps and drive straight out into the habitat. The area around Merzouga is also interesting with the temporary lake Dayet Srji. If it holds water it attracts Flamingos, a variety of Ducks and Waders and other migrating waterbirds. However it can be dry for several years, so nothing is guaranteed. Nonetheless today we have good chances on seeing local specialties like Fulvous Babbler - not always easy - , African Desert Warbler, Cream-colored Courser, Hoopoe Lark and Spotted Sandgrouse.
The gorgeous little Desert Sparrow is naturally in focus here as well, because the vast, remote desert areas with small human settlements, is the true habitat of this species.
On the drive we pass tamarisk areas and small berber fincas, we look out for Sandgrouse, Brown-necked Raven, Bar-tailed Lark, Desert- and White-crowned Wheatears. As the desert changes in texture to finer sand and grass tussocks it´s time to look more carefully for one of the most charming species on the trip - Cream-colored Courser. Flocks of Trumpeter Finches, Desert Larks will most likely appear around us. As will the pale sandy brown desert form of Crested Lark that has just recently been separated to an own species named Maghreb Lark.
After lunch in one of the nearby villages, we go to look for Pharaoh´s Eagle Owl and/ or the bird magnet Dayet Sjri if it holds water. We will also do our best to find the enigmatic Egyptian Nightjar. On this destination we employ a local bird guide to find the rare birds.
Night at Auberge Kasbah Derkaoua. Here we can let ourselves be embraced by the silence, the sky, the sand and the infinity of the Sahara.


Day 6
A walk around the hotel garden - with old trees and green bushes, can produce migrating birds resting after their crossing of the desert. A nice pre-breakfast activity.
Today we hit the road again and head back west towards the Todra Gorge and Boumalne de Dades. We will travel through a good mix of habitats from Tinejdad to Boumalne de Dades with it´s extensive palmeries, lush wadis and the Todra Gorge just north of town. If we haven´t seen Fulvous Babbler yet, today is the last chance. Lanner Falcon is to look especially for here.
After lunch we will look through the stone desert areas around the famous Tagdilt track where we will look for specialties like Thick-billed Lark, Temminck´s Horned Lark and Red-rumped Wheatear. The last two have a good population here.
Hotel La Porte du Dades with it´s berber architecture is close to Tagdilt and have a nice view over the landscape, a traditional restaurant and lounge. (Today´s transfer is 260 km, travel time 3 h, 37 min)


Day 7
If we feel need for more stone desert birds we take another drive down the Tagdilt track with inhabitants like Thick-billed Larks and Red-rumped Wheatears, Long-legged Buzzards and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse. If we haven´t got proper views of Mourning Wheatear we will make a short detour to target them. We will try several small dirt tracks but will need a bit of luck with this tricky species.
The time should allow us to check the reservoir by Ouarzazate where Crested Coot and Marbled Teal can be seen. Good chances on raptors on migration as well.
The hills around Ouarzazate and Tiffoultote are covered with bushes and can attract tired migrants. We also look for Lanner- and Barbary Falcons.
Night at Hotel Dar Chamaa in Ouarzazate. (Today´s transfer is 117 km, travel time 1 h 50 min)


Day 8
On our way back up through the Atlas mountains we can admire the landscape as we have more chances to look for birds like Seebohm´s Wheatear, Levaillents´s Woodpecker, Barbary Partridge, African Blue Tit, and most likely some raptors. Maybe we fancy a stop at the ruins of Taddert or the highest pass of the Atlas. New for this year is that we go further up into the high Atlas. Our last destination of the trip is Oukaimeden – a ski resort on 2.650 meters elevation. A site known for good birds like African Crimson-winged Finch, Rock Sparrow, Atlas Horned Lark and more. There can still be some snow around this time of the year so make sure to bring gloves, a scarf and a hat. The reward will be some really fine birds and amazing scenery.
Night in hotel in Oukaimeden. (Today´s transfer is 229 km, travel time 4 h 30 min)


Day 9
We do as much bird watching as we can around Oukaimeden before we have to drive the last 80 km to Marrakech to get the afternoon flight back home. Check in around 12.00. Departure.


Guides

Daniel Green, Swedish guide and tour leader.
Peter Jones - our local guide has very good knowledge of Morocco and the destinations we visit on the trip.

The journey is a collaboration between BirdSafarisweden and Karlmark Travel. (Karlmark Travels holds the travel warranty insurance that covers this trip)


When: 22 - 31 March 2018
Price: 23.800 SEK (flight not included)
Single supplement: 2.775 SEK

Maximum number of participants: 12, minimum 8 participants

What's included: Full board in double room, English-speaking tour leader, local guide all the time, all transports, all possible entrances to nature reserves and parks.

Not included: Flight ticket to Marrakech. Transfer to the airport, insurance, (Note: The European Health Insurance Card does not apply here. Participants are required to have a travel-insurance covering accidents and illnesses.) Alcohol, souvenirs and other personal expenses, gratuities to tour leader, local guide / driver (we usually collect money for tips at the end of the trip if we are satisfied).

Other: This is a "mixed group" trip where Swedish- and English-speaking travelers are welcome.

Once you have registered you will receive an invoice of
3,500 SEK. The payment of that bill guarantees you a place on the trip.






booking form / interest   

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Erg Chebbi
Photo: Peter Jones




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Lanner Falcon
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Dar Chamaa



BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Cream-colored Courser
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Kasbah Derkaoua
Photo: Peter Jones




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN White-crowned Wheatear
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Thick-billed Lark
Photo:
Pieter Verheij


BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Hotel Casbah Chez le Pacha



BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Maghreb Wheatear
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Spectacled Warbler
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Hoopoe Lark
Photo: Pieter Verheij




BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Trumpeter finch
Photo: Pieter Verheij