Morocco Autumn Migration tour description

When arriving at Marrakech-airport we will be waiting for you in the arrivals. After what we hope has been a trouble free collection from your flight, we head towards our hotel in the heart of Marrakech’s residential area, the “hivernage”. The hotel is an easy walking distance from the historical “Djemâa El Fna” central square, the “Koutoubia” minaret, the beautiful garden of “Agdal”, the royal “Menara” and the congress palace.
After lunch we can either relax at our hotel or enjoy the city! Of course the options are yours.
The souk in Marrakech is rightly famous and is a feature in the older part of the city. This market and its unique atmosphere is a must for anyone wanting a true ‘Moroccan’ experience! The hotel has a grand swimming pool and terrace, with of course a bar. Within the grounds, there are many birds such as Common Bulbul and House Bunting.

Day Two
After a relaxing breakfast in the tranquil grounds of the hotel we will set-off to our next destination Essaouira. The journey will take us through many different landscapes from grape producing areas to open desert and juniper woodlands. We will have time to stop on route for morning drinks and some birding. On arrival at Essaouira we will book into our hotel and take lunch at the beachside restaurant. The afternoon will be spent observing the Eleonora’s Falcon colony (675 breeding pairs recorded in 2001 which is 10% of the world population) and then visiting the Oued Ksob. The mouth of the river is a good place to find various gull and wader species, whilst the river holds good numbers of migrants. Plain Martin breed here and the chances are good for turning up rarities in the Tamarisk and junipers lining the river. Eleonora’s Falcons are often seen over the river feeding and we are hopeful of getting some close views.We will stay in Hotel Dar Nafoura-Mogado which is located in the heart of the city, Essaouira. This guest house is very welcoming and offers a traditional Moroccan atmosphere. The hotel is only a few minutes away from the harbour and beach. Various seabirds and sometimes Eleonora’s Falcon can be viewed from the roof terrace, where on a fine morning we can take our breakfast in style. Dinner will be taken in our favourite beachside restaurant.
Climate: Pleasantly warm days and normally enjoys comfortable and balmy evenings. Provided there are no strong winds, we will be able to enjoy our meals outdoors. 

Day Three
We anticipate an early/ish breakfast at around 0730 to allow for time to be spent at and around Tamri lagoon and shoreline before our lunch stop at Tamrhakh. The lagoon and marshes at Tamri are a favoured area for migrants and if we are lucky we might spot Bald Ibis on the surrounding dunes. Lesser Crested, Black, White-winged, Whiskered and Sandwich Terns are also some of the Tern family to use the area on migration. On our last visit here we had spectacular views of Barbary Falcon. Warblers normally include Spectacled and it is possible to find Tristrams here. After our lunch stop we continue through the wonderfully scenic Paradise Valley and we intend to have several stops along this route searching for not only migrant, but also resident species such as Black Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting and hopefully Bonelli’s Eagle.
We will eventually arrive at our Hotel Des Cascades for 2 nights in the Anti Atlas Mountain village of Imouzzer.The hotel and its terraced garden is a real favourite for us and the views from the terrace are stunning. It will be our base for the next 2 nights and the only problem we encountered on previous visits was our reluctance to leave! This small, quiet, unassuming and very friendly hotel has a homelike dining room, lounges and terraces affording stunning vistas.
The hotel has magnificent gardens leading to paths into the countryside. Breakfast is served on the large terrace. On a clear evening you can watch the sun setting over the Atlantic. The main dining room has a central log fireplace for the cooler months. Hotel Des Cascades is an idyllic place found clinging to the mountainside amongst a profusion of trees, shrubs and flowers of all colours with the constant sound of gurgling springs interspersed with pathways leading down to a knee in the hills.
Climate: At the time of our tour the days are normally warm. The evenings can be cool so some warm clothes should be close to hand.

Day Four
Here we are able to offer our travel companions options. The area is a wonderful place to wander and explore, mountain paths, woodland and incredible rock formations. If you want to take timeout from the group, then you have the option to wander around close to the village or simply relax in the hotel and its gardens. We will take journeys into the surrounding valleys and explore the mountain areas for such species as Bonelli’s Eagle, Barbary Partridge, Crossbill and Little Swift etc. We will take lunch at the hotel, so again there is the option to do half a day birding and an afternoon just relaxing in the hotel grounds etc.
We will drive into the mountain area behind the hotel during the afternoon and go a hunting Tristram’s Warbler and other exotics, although this route is a bit of a mystery tour as we have not had time to previously explore this particular area, so an adventure! Our intention is to arrive back at the hotel late afternoon to enjoy the terrace and surrounding scenery, of course keeping an eye to the skies for raptors! Time in the evening to tot-up our bird list and enjoy the superb food and drinks served by our hotel. 

Day Five
It’s an up and away morning, early breakfast a requirement so we have plenty of time to reach our next destination in the desert west of Guelmim. Our journey takes us around the eastern ring road of Agadir and we hope to have time to stop near the roadside a little further south for birding the Oued Massa. We will stop for lunch in Tiznit and then head towards Guelmim, but before we will look around Bouizakarne for White-crowned Black Wheatear. The area between Bouizakarne and Guelmim is good for lark species and we have also had Fulvous Babblers here. After Guelmim we head out into the desert and take a stop near to a small river, where we can walk a little way upstream looking for waders and warblers. The last time we visited here we managed to find Wood, Green and Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Greenshank, Little Ringed Plover, Common Snipe and Black-winged Stilt. Marsh Harrier and Long-legged Buzzards are also found here with both Red-rumped and Desert Wheatear being common. On the approaches to our Hotel Bou Jerif, set amidst a Bedouin Camp, we found Lanner Falcon and Little Owl. The camp provides a real taste of local life and the hotel provides the comfort! We found the food excellent here and the surrounding desert a great birding area
The hotel Bou Jerif, where we will stay again 2 nights, is some 9 kms away from the nearest road and reached by a good track. An old French Foreign Legion fort is but a short walk away and the whole complex is completely surrounded by open desert. Birds are attracted to the gardens of the complex and by water overflows, sometimes heavy falls of warblers have been observed. Electricity is supplied by generator, so beware of no power supply at least between 10pm and 7am!
Climate: Warm by day, but can cool at night.

Day Six
We will take a leisurely and relaxed breakfast and aim to leave the camp by around 0900. For early risers there are plenty of short walks into the surrounding desert to go looking for birds and we regularly have the African sub-specie of Magpie here. Yet again we are able to offer options for the day, although on this occasion we would recommend our day trip into the surrounding desert and visit to the beach Plage Blanche. For those who fancy walking along the track westwards there is an old and interesting Foreign Legion Fort (Bou-Jerif) and the surrounding desert makes for an ideal stroll from our base. Those who choose to stay around the camp and simply relax can take lunch in the restaurant here. We will journey westward through the desert and search for Desert and Scrub Warbler before reaching a wadi near to the estuary where we will have a short walk searching the area for migrants. We then propose to reach the beach for lunch and for the more adventurous a swim and beach walk. It is possible to do some sea watching here and we can also spend some time around the mouth of the estuary. We will get back to the camp by late afternoon to allow all our party time to relax before dinner and drinks. 

Day Seven
We are able to take a fairly relaxed breakfast and aim to leave the camp by latest 0900, but 0830 if the earlier hour suits the party. We leave and head for the area Sidi R’bat and here we can stop to take in the wadi and see the breeding site for a pair of Bonelli’s Eagle. We will then proceed to our next destination and hotel in the reserve of Oued Massa. The plan is to arrive at the hotel for lunch and check-in, the hotel is in a fabulous position and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and beach! Here we can relax and stroll down from the hotel gardens to the nature reserve of the Oued Massa checking on the open waters and marginal vegetation for migrants. The beach near the lagoon is well worth checking for unusual gulls among the many Lesser Black-backed and Yellow Legged Gulls.
Peter is offering a free drink to the first person who sees and points out Moustached Warbler, hearing their song and call does not qualify for the drink!
We will meet our local guide here and discuss our tactics for the next day. If people want to take themselves off for an evening stroll and view magnificent sunsets, then they are most welcome to do so.We will stay in Hotel Ksar Massa for 2 nights. The hotel’s own publicity gives its location as being somewhere between the ocean and the sky! The hotel is located on the Atlantic Coast in the Souss-Massa National Park with its bird sanctuary, about 30 miles south of Agadir down the state highway to Tiznit. It is surrounded by sand dunes and stands in its own grounds of some 6 hectares.
Climate: Normally warm by day and can become cool in the evenings/night. Being immediately next to the Atlantic Ocean breezes/winds are common.

Day Eight
Yes another relaxed breakfast, but with so many good sites close to our hotel we expect some of you to have had a good sized bird list before breakfast! Our local guide will join us for today and our targets will be Black-crowned Tchagra and of course Bald Ibis.The area north and east of our hotel is desert, so we will search this habitat as well as the wadi and marshes. It’s a fair bet we will pick-up a number of new species here as the area is a much favoured one for migrants as well as rare breeding residents. Again we will visit the reserve area and we will take lunch at our hotel. It is in such a magnificent setting we can again offer options to the group for the afternoon, for those wanting to wander off on their own or just sit around the pool sea watching at the same time, then we are happy to be able to let you make your own choices. For the rest of us, we will accompany our local guide for a walk around the reserve. We will return to the hotel by late afternoon for relaxation before dinner. 

Day Nine
We will leave our hotel as close to 0830 as possible, so an early breakfast will be necessary. We travel north towards Agadir and near to the royal palace we head to the mouth of estuary for the Oued Souss. The area offers some very good vantage points and a chance to find anything we may have missed at Oued Massa. From here we will make our way towards our next destination in Marrakech. The route takes us through the edges of the High Atlas and is scenically a beautiful route; we will take lunch early into our journey. With time for stopping and exploring likely areas we will travel at a leisurely pace to our hotel in Marrakech. We will stay in the same Hotel El Andalous, which we know already from our first day. Arriving by late afternoon there will be time for a drink and relax before preparing for our evening dinner. The alternative can be for those who did not do that before to visit the famous Souk and the historical “Djemâa El Fna” central square.

Travelling together as friends