Birding in southern Morocco

Birding in southern Morocco

In addition to its amazing scenic, historic and cultural heritage, Morocco also offers some of the best birdwatching in North Africa. Steve Newman went birding in southern Morocco with us on our new trip to the desert, wetland and mountain habitats of the Atlas Mountains. Here is the first of his day-by-day accounts.

Day 1

Well, what a fabulous first day in Morocco, walking and birding with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays. High into the Atlas Mountains after a night in Marrakesh. We drove to over 3,000 metres and got stunning views, then descending into valleys and woodlands and back into the city. Over 16 species seen, and some good D-grade walking.

Jerry, our leader, is not only a superb birder but an old Morocco hand, who gave us lots of excellent advice. Into the old city tonight for a roof -top meal. 

Internet access so far is good, but as we get further inland then deep into the Sahara, that may change. Those dunes at sunset are going to be amazing.


Day 2

Left the big city and crossed the Atlas Mountains to head towards the Sahara. Very cold at night, but the food is fantastic! Our hotel for the next two nights is a traditional Moroccon auberge, only sleeping about 25, with amazing traditional lighting and furniture and those beautiful ceramic tiles.

Fab night’s sleep. Heavy blankets, and this morning the hand-held shower was hot! Our driver Abdullah is a Berber and does not like going slow! Am still translating everything into/from French for some people when we stop at shops to buy fresh bread, cheese and fruit for lunch.

Soup last night was some sort of tomato and vegetable with a wooden ladle to eat it with. Once again, chicken with fabulous steamed veggies but also with a harissa sauce. Most of the villages consist of ancient mud brick buildings long abandoned with modern concrete and brick dwellings mixed up amongst them.

The great stone desert was 19 degrees but I was wearing a fleece as the wind was so cold. We are seeing some fabulous birds. This country is incredible. The scenery is stunning and changing all the time, from steep river gorges to stone deserts sandwiched between mountain ranges capped with snow against the background of deep blue sky. The people are so friendly and pleased to see us, especially when I greet them with a “Salem Ali khum” in Arabic.

The only problem is when you go into one the many carpet/rug shops and you wish you had more money than sense!

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