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  • Photograph of Bald Ibis

    Bald Ibis by Lee Dingain.

    SOUTHERN MOROCCO

    Best Wildlife in Southern Morocco

    Mammals
    Barbary Ground Squirrel. Cuvier's Gazelle has been reintroduced and a few can sometimes be seen above the village of Tafinegoult about 150 km east of Agadir, east of the Marrakech Road (R203).

    Birds

    Specialities
    Barbary Partridge, Bald Ibis, Cream-coloured Courser, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker, Black-crowned Tchagra, Bar-tailed, Desert, (Greater) Hoopoe, Temminck’s and Thick-billed Larks, Brown-throated Martin, Atlas (Pied) Flycatcher, Moussier’s Redstart, African Desert, Streaked Scrub and Tristram’s Warblers, Fulvous Babbler, Spotless Starling, (African) Crimson-winged Finch (alienus) and Desert Sparrow. Also a chance of Houbara Bustard (upward of 2000 are being released into the wild each year, mainly around Merzouga, as ‘game’ for falconers from Saudi Arabia), Crowned, Pin-tailed and Spotted Sandgrouse, Pharoah Eagle Owl, and Egyptian and Red-necked Nightjars.

    There are also distinctive forms of Great Cormorant (maroccanus), Long-legged Buzzard (cirtensis), Crested (macrorhyncha) and Shore (atlas) Larks, White Wagtail (subpersonata), Magpie (mauritanica), Mourning (halophila) and Northern (seebohmi) Wheatears, Olivaceous Warbler (reiseri), Blue Tit (ultramarinus) and Chaffinch (africana).

    Small Buttonquail also occurs in Morocco and Birdfinders run a short tour in early June to look for it, as well as Atlas Flycatcher, near Essouira.

    Photograph of Egyptian Nightjar

    A roosting Egyptian Nightjar in Morocco by Chris Townend.


    Others
    Ruddy Shelduck, Ferruginous Duck, Greater Flamingo, Balearic and Cory’s Shearwaters, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, White Stork, Osprey, Black-shouldered Kite, Bonelli’s and Booted Eagles, Barbary and Lanner Falcons, Black-winged Stilt, Audouin’s and Slender-billed Gulls, Caspian and Royal Terns, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Laughing Dove, Little Owl, Little and Pallid Swifts, (European) Bee-eater, (Eurasian) Hoopoe, (Desert) Southern Grey Shrike, Alpine and Red-billed Choughs, Brown-necked Raven, Greater Short-toed, Lesser Short-toed and Thekla Larks, (White-throated) Dipper, Common Bulbul, Firecrest, Zitting Cisticola, (Western) Bonelli’s, Sardinian, Spectacled and (Western) Subalpine Warblers, Black, (Western) Black-eared, Desert, Red-rumped and White-crowned Black Wheatears, (Common) Nightingale, Blue Rock Thrush, Alpine Accentor, House and Rock Buntings, Trumpeter Finch, and Rock and Spanish Sparrows. Also a chance of Golden and Short-toed Eagles, European Roller (late spring migrant/summer visitor), Eurasian Golden Oriole (late spring migrant/summer visitor), (Western) Orphean Warbler and Rufous Bush Chat (late spring migrant/summer visitor).

    Plants
    The best times to see the greatest variety of flowers are usually the second half of March and the second half of May (spring in the High Atlas). Superb heathlands on the Rif Mountains of the far north, which are usually at their best in late March-early April, and a great diversity of bulbs, also in the far north, which are usually at their best during late October-early November.

    Other Natural Wonders in Southern Morocco

    Dades and Todra Gorges
    These deep, narrow gorges in the High Atlas of central Morocco north of Boumalne have, in places, almost vertical walls, up to about 300 m (1000 ft) high in the Todra Gorge where, in places, the walls are just about 9 m (30 ft) apart.

    Sahara Desert
    The Sahara is the largest desert in the world, covering about a third of Africa, but it is only about a quarter sand. It has vast, shallow troughs made of sand (ergs) but it is largely made up of gravelly plains (regs), rocky plateaus (hamadas) and isolated mountains. It is the ergs which have some of the highest dunes in the world, some reputedly over 305 m (1000 ft) high. Although those in Morocco are much smaller they are nevertheless impressive, notably at Erg Chebbi near Merzouga.

    Photograph of Erg Chebbi, Morocco

    Erg Chebbi near Merzouga, Morocco at the edge of the Sahara by Chris Townend.


    Best Sites for Wildlife in Southern Morocco

    Photograph of Desert Wheatear

    Desert Wheatear by Chris Townend.

    Photograph of Moussier's Redstart

    Male Moussier's Redstart by Chris Townend.

    Best Times for Wildlife in Southern Morocco

    January-February, mid-March to early May when northbound migrants are passing through, and September to early November.

    Recommended Books etc. for Southern Morocco

    Collins Bird Guide by L Svensson et al. Collins, 2010 (Second Edition).

    Birds of Europe by L Jonsson. Helm, 1999.

    Finding Birds in Morocco: Coast and Mountains by D Gosney. Easybirder, 2011 (book and/or DVD).

    Finding Birds in Morocco: the deserts by D Gosney. Easybirder, 2009 (book and/or DVD).

    A Birdwatchers’ Guide to Morocco by P and F Bergier. Prion, 2003 (Second Edition).

    Collins Butterfly Guide by T Tolman and R Lewington. Collins, 2009 (Third Edition).

    Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East by S Aulagnier et al. Helm, 2009.


    Apps etc.

    Collins Bird Guide.

    Where to watch birds in Africa by N Wheatley. Helm, 1995.

    Don’t know which country/countries to visit in Africa? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them on the continent, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Southern Morocco

    Many trip reports, some for Southern Morocco, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Southern Morocco. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Southern Morocco' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Southern Morocco

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Southern Morocco

    Some Organized Tours to Southern Morocco

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and they are popular with people with partners with different interests. Individuals, partners and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more for a custom tour than an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours to Southern Morocco include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.