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  • Morocco Tourism - Sands And Birds

    Tue, Dec 15, 2009

    Morocco

    Country Info

    Morocco is located in North western Africa (a Northern African State) covering an area of 4,47,000 square kilometers and boasts of a population of 32. Morocco is bordered by Algeria in the east and Western Sahara to the south (sovereignty of Western Sahara is subject to dispute, however). The Strait of Gibraltar separates Morocco from spain in the north. Atlantic Ocean lies to the west and north-western side of Morocco while Mediterranean Sea lies to the northeast. The Canary Islands are located off the Moroccan coast. National capital is Rabat.

    Merzouga

    Merzouga is a small village located in the southeastern part of Morocco, just about 20 kilometers from the Algerian border. Merzouga is known for Erg Chebbi, one of the best tourist sites here (erg is a flat area of a desert covered with wind-blown sand and little or no vegetation).

    Erg Chebbi

    It is one of the two ergs found in the Sahara desert in south-western Morocco (Erg Chigaga is the other one)n and is roughly about 40 kilometres from the picturesque town of Erfoud in eastern Morocco. The erg is 22 km long and 5 km wide while its dunes attain a maximum height of 150 metres.

    Atlas Mountains

    The Atlas Mountains are a long mountain range (about 2,500 kilometres) in northwestern Africa that run through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Jbel Toubkal with an altitude of over 13,000 feet is the highest peak of these mountain ranges. Atlas Mountains feature Middle Atlas, High Atlas and Anti-Atlas. Lake Isli is a picturesque lake located in the eastern High Atlas region.

    Anti-Atlas

    The Anti-Atlas or Lesser Atlas (Jebel Saghru) is a part of the Atlas Mountains and covers a distance of 500 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean to the high-altitude city of Ouarzazate and Tafilalt (one of the biggest oasis in the world). The range borders the Sahara desert in the south and the High-Atlas Range in the east. The lake located in the south of the Atlas Mountains was created by El-Mansour Eddahbi Dam.

    Tafilalt

    An important oasis in Moroccan Sahara; Tafilalt is located along Ziz River in southern Morocco.

    Dayet Srji Lake

    The  located in the west of Merzouga. The small lake is mostly empty throughout the year but is filled up during the spring. The lake is home to great many bird species and is one of the main attractions of Morocco tourism.

    Birds at Dayet Srji

    Flamingos, ducks, sheldracks, plovers, Tristram’s desert warbler, Egyptian Nightjar, Arabian Buzzard, Falcons and the rare desert sparrows can be spotted in Dayet Srji. Red-necked Phalarope, Marbled Teal, Spoonbill can also be spotted.

    Animals

    Besides birds, Dayet Srji also features mammals like desert hedgehogs, desert gerbil, field mice, desert fox as well as reptiles like Algerian sand lizards, snakes and Berber skinks. Brown scorpions and scarab beetles are also found here.

    Reaching

    One can first reach Marrakech, the third largest city of Morocco, which has an international airport with flights from Europe. From those arriving from the US, Canada or Asia, get down at Casablanca. From Marrakech drive eastwards towards Erfoud, then southwards to Rissani and finally at Merzouga. This apart, one can reach Ouarzazate from Casablanca by flight and then take the Erfoud-Rissani-Merzouga route. Or one can also reach Errachadia and then head for Merzouga, just two hours drive away.

    Attractions at Merzouga
    • Camel ride

    • Camping at the sand dunes
    • Sunrise and sunset views
    Accommodation at Merzouga
    • Auberge Berberes (call: 212-6810-3178)
    • Les pyramides Hotel (212-67013-7673)
    • Auburge du Sud (212-3537-8631)
    • Auburge Oasis (212-6173-9041)
    • Auburge Les Dunes D’or (212-6135-0665)
    • Dar el Khamlia  (212-7091-34351)
    • Chez Julia (212-3557-3182)
    • Auburge Sahara Hotel (212-3557-7039)
    • Hotel Yasmina (212-3557-6783)
    • Morocco Sahara (212-1560-5886)

    Birding Safari

    • Day One
      Arrive at Marrakech. Touring the city and overnight stay
    • Day Two
      ascending the High Atlas and then descending towards Ouarzazate, the gateway to the huge Sahara Desert. The Toufliat area can also be viewed during this trip. Overnight stay at Ouarzazate.

    • Day Three
      Exploring Draa River to spot migratory birds. A variety of birds can be seen at Agdz like Yellow Wagtails, Blue-cheeked Bee eaters, White-cowned Black wheateater. Overnight stay at Zagora in the Draa Valley. Sahara Desert sands are a few kilometers south from here. One can feel the taste of the famous Berber culture in this place.
    • Day Four
      Revisit to the Draa River and a short adventure to the Bedoiun camp near M’Hamid. During the trip in the Draa Valley, encounter with laughing Dove, Blue-cheeked Bee eater and Common Bulbul is not unexpected. Desert warblers and Desert Lark could also be spotted. Stargazing at night here is a lifelong experience. Overnight stay at the camp.
    • Day Five, Six
      Trekking in the desert where Bar-tailed Larks, Crested Larks, Short-toed Larks and Brown-necked Raven can be spotted. Cream colourd courser, Trumpeter Finch and Desert Wheateaters are also species that one can expect to see in this region. Stay at Zagora. Sunrise view over the sand dunes of the Erg Chebbi is another memorable experience.
    • Day Seven
      Trip to Merzouga and Dayet Srji Lake and spot birds.
    • Day Eight
      Birding trip to spot Houbara Bustard, Sandgrouse, Egyptian Nightjars
    • Day Nine and Ten
      Birding at Tagdilt Track. Fulvous Babblers can be spotted here
    • Day Eleven
      Visit to places like Tifoultoute and Taddert and then back to Marrakech airport and bid adieu.



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