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Moussierīs Redstart photo by Steve Bird.MOROCCO!
The Sahara to the
Atlantic Coast

March 21 - 31, 2020

Trip Cost and Travel Planning>    Registration Form>
Contact gina@sunrisebirding.com to reserve your space!

 

Situated in northwest Africa, Morocco has drawn travelers in search of adventure and the exotic for centuries. This incredible country is full of contrasting images and colorful sights and has a fascinating history and culture. From a birding perspective, Morocco offers amazing diversity in a variety of habitats from arid stony deserts (hammada), dry wadis (valleys), sand dunes, lakes, rivers, estuaries and the immense, snow-capped Atlas Mountains.


The critically endangered Bald Ibis by Steve Bird.With one of the most interesting avifaunas in the Western Palearctic, Morocco attracts bird watchers from all over the world with some very special species and near endemics. The critically endangered Bald Ibis, Cream-colored Courser, Levaillant’s Woodpecker, Moussier’s Redstart, Black-crowned Tchagra, Thick-billed Lark, Crimson-winged Finch and Desert Sparrow are just a few of the avian treasures on offer.

 

Our itinerary is efficient and easy paced with no long drives and a chance to experience some of Morocco’s distinct culture as we pass ancient ruins and Kasbahs on our way to palm fringed oases out in the desert. Timed to coincide with the spectacle of spring migration from Africa to Europe against the backdrop of picturesque scenery, our tour to Morocco promises a superb birding experience.


Morocco LandscapeJoin us for an unforgettable tour of magnificent Morocco!



ABOUT MOROCCO

Steeped in history, Morocco is a mystical land close to Europe but with its own distinct culture. It has a developing economy and modern tourist facilities are widely available. The landscape is rugged and mountainous in the interior with sea coasts on the Atlantic and Mediterranean and the Sahara desert in the south. Moroccan people are renowned for their friendliness. US citizens traveling to Morocco need a valid passport but no Visa and no vaccinations are required.


Crowned Sandgrouse by Cristain Jenson Marcet.

TOP BIRDS TO SEE IN MOROCCO
Bald Ibis, Desert Sparrow, Tristram´s Warbler, Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Moussier´s Redstart, African Crimson-winged Finch, Magreb Wheatear, Red-rumped Wheatear, Thick-billed Lark, Hoopoe Lark, Levaillant´s Woodpecker, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Egyptian Nightjar, Desert Lark, Bar-tailed Lark, Fulvous Babbler, Crowned Sandgrouse, Spotted Sandgrouse, Cream-colored Courser, Houbara Bustard, Desert Wheatear, Scrub Warbler, Barbary Partridge, Barbary Falcon, Lanner Falcon and more!


Above photos: Moussier´s Redstart, Bald Ibis and Levaillant´s Woodpecker by Steve Bird.

House BuntingITINERARY

 

Day 1, March 21: Welcome to Morocco!
Our tour begins today at Marrakesh-Menara Airport (Airport code: RAK). On arrival, our group will assemble and check for House Buntings around the terminal building. Outside the airport is an excellent place to start birding with Common Bulbul, Pallid Swift and Little Swift possible and migrant birds feeding in the gardens.  On the way to our hotel, we may be welcomed by the abundant White Stork. 

 

Before dinner we will take a short walk around the nearby gardens and there is an optional visit to Marrakesh city after dinner. House Bunting and Laughing Dove are likely to be seen inside the city. Overnight in Marrakesh.

 

Crimson-winged FinchDay 2, March 22: Visit to the high Atlas Mountains
This morning we drive up into the High Atlas Mountains and visit Oukaimeden. As we drive along the cultivated valley we should find a good mix of resident and migrant species such as Woodchat Shrike, Common Crossbill, Hawfinch, Brambling, House, Rock and Cirl Bunting and we may see the stunning Moussier's Redstart.

Slightly higher up among the rocky slopes we will search for Barbary Partridge, Blue Rock Thrush and the endemic Levaillant's Woodpecker. When we finally reach the ski resort of Oukaimeden we will take some time to admire the stunning scenery before beginning our search of the snow line for handsome Crimson-winged Finch. Other species here include Alpine Accentor, Rock Sparrow, Water Pipit, Atlas Wheatear, Red-billed and Alpine Chough and Shore (Horned) Lark spp atlae. Raptors to keep an eye out for include Golden, Bonelli’s, Booted Eagle, and possibly Long-legged Buzzard. Overnight in Marrakesh.

 

Lanner FalconDay 3, March 23: Marrakesh to Boulmane
Today, we will travel through the High Atlas Mountains where snowy peaks visible from miles away decorate the landscape. We will stop at an excellent raptor watch point where we will scan the blue Moroccan skies for resident and migrant birds including Lanner Falcon, Barbary Falcon, Lesser Kestrel, Black Kite, Long-legged Buzzard, Short-toed and Booted Eagle. We will stop at the scenic and impressive Tizi n'Tichka pass (7415 feet) to admire its fabulous geological rock formations before continuing on our journey to the stony desert. We will take our time, stopping at a few convenient locations for specialties such as Levaillant´s Woodpecker, Mourning Wheatear and Trumpeter Finch. We will stay for two nights in Boumalne at the edge of a desert plateau with impressive views of the Dades River.

 

Day 4, March 24: Steppes of Boumalne-Tagdilt
Today we will make an early morning visit to the famous (among birders) Tagdilt Track. Despite the nearby rubbish tip this is still an excellent area for some very special birds. Careful searching could reveal Cream-colored Courser, Black-bellied and Crowned Sandgrouse, Thick-billed, Bar-tailed, Desert and Temminck's Horned Lark, as well as Red-rumped and Desert Wheatear and Trumpeter Finch. We also keep watching Tristam's Warbleroverhead for Lanner, Long-legged Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Montagu's Harrier and other migrants.

In the afternoon we will head for the spectacular Dades Gorge, where the towering pink rock walls are home to Crag Martin, Pale Crag Martin, Alpine Swift, Blue Rock Thrush, Barbary Partridge, Rock Bunting and Bonelli's Eagle. In the open areas are Mourning Wheatear and Desert Lark, and here we have our first chance of North-west African endemic - Tristram's Warbler.

 

Day 5, March 25: Boumalne to Merzouga
After a last look at the Tagdilt Track we drive on towards our secluded hotel at Merzouga, situated right on the edge of the Chebbi dunes. The drive east will no doubt be punctuated with stops to check out the numerous wadis and palm-fringed oases, as we look for Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Lanner Falcon and migrants such as Subalpine Warbler, European Bee-eater and many others. A short walk before Merzouga will give us the chance to see the magnificent desert race of Eagle Owl in one of two places. We stay for three nights in Merzouga/Rissani area.

 

Days 6 & 7, March 26 & 27: 4x4 in the DESERT!! – Hamada and sandy deserts
Desert SparrowOur hotel is set in attractive gardens with surrounding palm trees which attract a good variety of migrants, and the immediate area is worth checking at every opportunity for species such as Hoopoe, Woodchat Shrike, Wryneck, Rufous Bush Robin or Nightingale. We will spend a whole day checking various sites around the edge of the red sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi - the largest dune system in Morocco. Our major prize should be found around the various cafes that are dotted about the landscape, elusive Desert Sparrow. Other species include Fulvous Babbler, Hoopoe Lark, African Desert Warbler and Brown-necked Raven.

Egyptian NightjarThere are sometimes seasonal lakes, which attract numerous wildfowl and waders - an amazing sight out here in the desert! It is always worth scanning the skies, and as the day warms up it is possible to see good numbers of storks and raptors rising on the thermals and heading north towards their breeding grounds. We will also spend some time at dawn or dusk searching for the rather unpredictable Egyptian Nightjar, which sometimes breeds in nearby wadis. Other species in this area include Short-toed and Bar-tailed Desert Lark, Desert and Black-eared Wheatear, Dartford and Spectacled Warbler, Trumpeter Finch, Southern Gray Shrike and possibly Spotted Sandgrouse. One early morning we drive through the desert areas near the Algerian border in the search of the scarce Houbara Bustard.

 

Day 8, March 28: Merzouga to Ouarzazate
Bonelli's EagleWe will drive through the Anti-Atlas Mountains, taking in the landscape of rocky hills, cliffs and deep gorges of volcanic geological formations. Roadside birding will produce migrants and lots of wheatears, and perhaps Bonelli´s Eagle. We will walk around Ouarzazate reservoir with a tremendous selection of birds on offer which may include Moussiers Redstart, Wryneck, Western Bonelli's, Western Orphean, Subalpine and Olivaceous Warbler, Desert, Northern and Black-eared Wheatear, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Rock and House Bunting. Birding around Ouarzazate also offers water birds as Osprey, Black Stork, Night Heron, Little and Cattle Egret, Ruddy Shelduck, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, and White Wagtail of the subpersonata Moroccan race. Overnight in Ouarzazate.

 

White-crowned WheatearDay 9, March 29: Ouarzazate to Agadir
After breakfast we head towards Agadir on the Atlantic coast. We will stop in the famous medieval Kasbah Ait Benhadou, where birding is first class and may include local specialties Desert Lark, Trumpeter Finch and Mourning Wheatear. After lunch in the scenic Tzin Izhsane we continue to the fertile Sous Valley, through scrub thickets and citrus groves where we could find European Roller, Black-shouldered Kite and Western Orphean Warbler. We could find anything from Black Kite migrating overhead, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater resting on roadside wires, to skulking Subalpine Warblers or a Lanner Falcon in a roadside promontory. Several stops will produce interesting migrant passerines, raptors, waders and storks. Overnight in Agadir, where we stay for two nights.

 

Day 10, March 30: Souss-Massa National Park
Bald IbisAn early start will see us head to the Atlantic coast where we spend the morning in the Sous Massa National Park, known for stellar bird watching! We walk here to see endangered Bald Ibis, one of the rarest birds in the planet, with an important population here. We search the vegetation along the water's edge for skulking Squacco Heron, while the distinctive call of Black-crowned Tchagra rings out from dense cover. More easily observed birds can include Marbled Duck, Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Black-shouldered Kite, Glossy Ibis, Squacco and Purple Heron, Ruddy Shelduck, Plain Martin and possibly Tawny Eagle. Other possibilities include Savi's, Western Olivaceous and Moustached Warblers, Zitting Cisticola, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Pallid Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Common Bulbul, and Spotless Starling.

After lunch we drive along the semi-arid steppes of the Sous valley with good chances for Lesser Short-toed Lark, Cream-colored Courser, Stone Curlew or sandgrouse. Later in the afternoon we will visit the Oued Sous - a delightful area very good for waders, terns and large flocks of roosting gulls, including Slender-billed, Audouin's and Mediterranean. Other species here include Greater Flamingo, Zitting Cisticola and Sardinian Warbler. At dusk we will check a nearby site for Red-necked Nightjar. Overnight in Agadir.

 

kasbahDay 11, March 31: Tamri and Departure
Time permitting we head to Tamri, to look again for Bald Ibis. We may also see Audouin's Gull, Zitting Cisticola, Barbary Partridge, Moussier's Redstart and Sardinian Warbler, before returning to Marrakesh for international flights out after 4 PM.


TOUR CODE:
This trip is not strenuous. If we need to walk in high places to see particular species, we will go slowly and perhaps split the group so some can stay at lower levels. Leisurely walking, very occasionally over moderately rough terrain, is the only physical requirement. All the hotels are 3 or 4 star. They are clean and offer good traditional meals. Some may be able to serve alcohol (wine, beer, etc) some may not. Remember that Morocco is a Muslim country and alcohol is not well seen by Muslims.

 

LEADERS: Gina Nichol, Steve Bird, & local guides

hoopoe Lark  Thick-billed Lark

Levaillant’s WoodpeckerMOROCCO!
March 21 - 31, 2020

Registration Form>    
Contact gina@sunrisebirding.com to reserve your space!

TOUR PRICE:  US$TBA per person, double occupancy from Marrakesh-Menara Airport (Airport code: RAK). Price based on exchange rates at the time the tour was posted (**see note below).

Single occupancy: $TBA per person.

Deposit: $500.00 per person per tour. Note: Tour deposits can be paid by credit card via PayPal.  Use this link to make your credit card payment.  Please advise gina@sunrisebirding.com when you have made payment. 

Included in cost:  Group transfer on arrival; All meals from dinner on day 1 to lunch on Day 11; Bottled drinking water at all times during the tour; All lodgings based on double occupancy during the tour; All national park and other reserve entrance fees; Detailed pre-trip materials and checklist; Services of local guide and tour leaders throughout the trip.

Not included: International airfare; Drinks other than bottled water; Items of a personal nature such as visa fees and personal travel insurance, special gratuities, telephone calls, laundry, etc.

RESERVATIONS: Contact gina@sunrisebirding.com to reserve your space!  Then follow up with your completed registration form and deposit of $500 per person per tour within two weeks to secure your place. Credit card deposits are possible with no added fees.   Please inquire.   Reservations are held with a deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.   
>Download and print the Registration Form 

Once the tour is confirmed to go ahead, we will send you information about booking your flights. Please do not book flights until you receive this information from us and are notified that the trip has sufficient numbers to run. Final payment is due November 21, 2019.

**Please note: Tour prices are based on quoted costs from ground operators (in their local currency), estimated fuel costs, and the rate of exchange the time of itinerary publication. The erratic nature to global financial markets makes it difficult to predict changes in costs and foreign currency exchange rates over the long term. Since tours are priced well in advance of the actual operation of the tour, tour costs, fuel costs and exchange rates can change, sometimes drastically. Depending on the extent of such changes, it may be necessary to implement a surcharge on this tour. If a surcharge is necessary, every effort will be made to minimize the amount.

Cancellations and Refunds: All cancellations must be made in writing. In the event that you must cancel your booking at any stage, all payments you have made to Sunrise Birding, LLC will be retained by us, except at our discretion. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur. There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour.

Insurance: Sunrise Birding, LLC recommends that you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. Travel protection plans can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more.

For more information on the available plans or to enroll, click on the link below or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 07-0025.

The product descriptions provided here are only brief summaries. The full coverage terms and details, including limitations and exclusions, are contained in the insurance policy. Travelex CA Agency License #0D10209. All products listed are underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. 11.17 E7N

Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at gina@sunrisebirding.com 
Phone: 203.453.6724