Discover the intrigue, rich birdlife, and dramatic landscapes of Morocco. Explore Marrakech’s famous Medina and Souk with your guide, journey across the highest pass in the High Atlas Mountains, bird the breathtaking Sahara, walk palm-fringed wadis for migrants, search for Egyptian Nightjar, Desert Warbler, Crowned and Spotted Sandgrouse, Hoopoe Lark, Cream-colored Courser, Fulvous Babbler, Lanner Falcon, and more. Witness sunrise over the high sand dunes—pure inspiration! Food is delicious and in typical Naturalist Journeys style, we have fun and soak in all of Morocco’s rich nature and culture.

The scenery along the route is other worldly, and we want to have time to take it all in—birds, history, geology, culture, and cuisine! This tour is designed to pair perfectly with our Spain Birding & Nature tour or runs well as a stand-alone.

This tour is designed to pair perfectly with our Spain tour or runs well as a stand-alone.

Tour Highlights

  • Arrive in Marrakech and get birding right away! Our hotel’s gardens are the perfect place to start your trip list
  • Experience the varied habitats of the High Atlas Mountains, from lush green vegetation to sparse steep slopes
  • Drive up to Oukaïmeden, a ski resort in the High Atlas Mountains, in search of high mountain species
  • Witness the Sahara Desert, with views that take your breath away
  • Experience small patches of greenery deep in the desert, magnets for migrating and resident birds
  • Watch elusive sandgrouse at a desert waterhole
  • Traverse the desert dunes in 4x4 vehicles
  • Take in the geologic wonder of Gorges du Dades, a stunning, deep-sided valley
  • Indulge a bit—we take time to enjoy the delicious culinary offerings along the way

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Tues., Apr. 1     Arrivals

Arrive today at Marrakech Airport, where you are met to transfer to our hotel. Depending on arrival times you can bird the hotel gardens or simply rest after a long day of travel. Booted Eagle, and Little and Pallid Swifts are regulars above the gardens. Gather for some late-afternoon garden birding and enjoy a welcome dinner with your guide and travel companions. Some may want to arrive early to explore the city; we are in an area that is quite comfortable to walk in and enjoy. We’ve blocked a few rooms for April 8;, contact us if you wish to use one.
Accommodations at Hotel Farah Marrakech or similar (D)

Wed., Apr. 2    Marrakech’s Medina & Souk | High Atlas Mountains

This morning we explore the famous Medina and Souk of Marrakech with a local guide that shares history and a passion for Morocco’s culture. Imagine the sights, sounds, and smells of this stunning market! We also enjoy lunch here, then head on to Morocco’s natural highlights, taking off on a scenic drive into our next lodgings in the mountains, with some birding stops in route, particularly to survey for the elusive Barbary Partridge.

The northern aspect of the Atlas Mountain range is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean; hence the vegetation is green and lush, but as we climb the landscape changes and vegetation clings to areas where water passes and becomes sparse on the steep slopes of the multi-colored mountains. As we go, we make stops that give us a leg stretch and a chance to find the elusive Levaillant’s Woodpecker. It’s a dramatic part of the country and we enjoy this landscape in depth.
Accommodations at Guesthouse Mamouchthke or similar near Oukaïmeden (B,L,D)

Thurs., Apr. 3      High Atlas Mountains Full Day | Oukaïmeden

Enjoy a full day of birding a scenic valley and national park of Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains, where the views are spectacular and varied. The area we visit also has a ski area, where we enjoy lunch at a café.

This part of the journey presents contrast to our desert experience; mountain specialties include finding possible Tristram’s Warbler, Atlas Horned Lark, Crimson-winged Finch, Seebohm’s Wheatear, Alpine Chough, and Red-billed Chough; we also hope for good views of Barbary Falcon and Moussier’s Redstart. Dipper and Common Rock Thrush might also be seen here along a rushing stream we explore; wildflowers are lovely here as well. Our previous visits and success at finding these key birds has ranged from very easy to difficult—much depends on the weather, so all things crossed the weather is kind and we have no difficulties finding our birds.

Views abound as do wildflowers in bloom. A great way to start our adventures.
Accommodations at Guesthouse Mamouchthke or similar (B,L,D)

Fri., Apr. 4     Travel Day – Tizi N’Tichka Pass

We return down the mountain grade today, then climb it again to negotiate another high pass of the Atlas Mountains. We can take a break for our lunch at the top of the pass and wander more in the alpine realm if we missed some species yesterday—or snap some scenic shots and continue onward. Rock Bunting and Rock Sparrow are possible here. It is a day of amazing scenery and wonderful birds.

We make our way to the gorgeous town of Ouarzazate, the gateway to the Sahara Desert and famous for its movie studios (Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here). We stop at river crossings where we may find green gardens and species such as Melodious, Bonelli’s, Subapline, and Spectacled Warblers along with many other species. Before getting to town, we explore a section of rocky desert with good chances of raptors, Trumpeter Finches, and more. This is our first contact with arid habitat species. We aim to arrive at our hotel with time for guests to relax and clean up before dinner and the run through of our bird checklist. Enjoy the rich texture of Moroccan rugs and furnishings and some local riverine birding.
Accommodations at Riad Tama or similar (B,L,D)

Sat., Apr. 5     Ouarzazate | El Mansour Barrage | Boumalne Dades

This morning we bird our way from our delightful riad visiting the El Mansour reservoir and the surrounding high steppe plateau. Here we view with scopes for a host of species including herons, egrets, and even Osprey. We may find Ruddy Shelduck, Little and Great-crested Grebes, both Black and Whiskered Terns, Great Cormorant, both Little and Great Egrets, and above us several swift species. The approach road should also produce birds such as European Bee Eater and Black-eared Wheatear that are en route to Europe.

The route is also a good one to watch the world go by as we drive; catch scenes of daily life for rural Moroccans tending fields, moving livestock, unloading their camels or donkeys, and enjoying tea and conversation along the roadside. We enjoy our lunch in the Boumalne area and then explore the rocky steppes in the famous birding area known as the Tagdilt track, walking out into open areas looking for Temminck’s, Thick-billed, and Greater Short-toed Larks, Cream-colored Courser, Red-rumped Wheatear, and a host of other species, including raptors. Time passes quickly; we settle into new lodgings, then enjoy our delightful Kasbah dinner, and a chance to catch up on our species list this evening.
Accommodations at Kasbah Tizzarouine or similar (B,L,D)

Sun., Apr. 6      Boumaine | Gorges du Dades | Draa Valley

We start early today, focusing on the best time window along the Tagdilt track that gives us the best chances for Sandgrouse, and all the other species not seen the day before. This morning we drive up into and through the Gorges du Dades, an amazing deep sided valley with equally amazing geological features. Our photographers can savor the rich colors and textures of this dramatic landscape as we stop for views and a chance to scan for birds. The road up the Gorge winds between villages with classic kasbahs and mosques, and many brick buildings with flat roofs. The gorge itself is quite steep; we watch for Crag Martin and Gray Wagtail, and hopefully find Tristram’s Warbler by walking up a small but steep, shrubby ravine at our turn-around spot, a small coffee shop.

Lunch is at one of our favorite spots today, in the garden of Riad Dades Birds in the Dades Valley. Here we enjoy wonderful food and hospitality and let the birds come to us, including a favorite of many, the Hoopoe! 

After a little break to freshen up or have a siesta at our hotel, we drive on to another stunning location nearby with cliffs, wadis, and rocky desert and a good area for Lanner Falcon, Atlas Long-legged Buzzard and Pharaoh Eagle Owl.
Accommodations at Kasbah Tizzarouine or similar (B,L,D)

Mon., Apr. 7      Boumalne de Dades | Todra Gorges | Sahara Desert. Erg Chebbi Sand Dunes

Today is largely a travel day, starting with a drive up and through the Todra Gorges for amazing geological formations. The cliff habitat provides an opportunity for martins, warblers, and raptors such us the Bonelli´s Eagle. As we leave the Draa Valley, an extensive river system lined by palmeries and small villages unfolds; it is also a main route for migrant birds arriving from the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert. We should find our first Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater here among other exotic migrants, so we need to be in our best “find the bird” mode as we head into the desert.

From this wonderful valley we head east and make our way to the largest sand dune complex of the Moroccan Sahara, Erg Chebbi. We make this unique area our home for three nights.
Accommodations at Auberge Les Dunes d’Or Merzouga or similar (B,L,D)

Tues., Apr. 8       Full Day in the Sahara

We spend a day in the desert, traversing the dunes and open areas in our 4x4 vehicles, searching for Egyptian Nightjar, Desert Warbler, Crowned and Spotted Sandgrouse, Hoopoe Lark, Cream-colored Courser, and Lanner Falcon to name but a few! The scenery is stunning, and we really are on an adventure day with birds.

Later in the day we enjoy lunch and then make our way to the countryside orchards and palmeries around Rissani. Walking along irrigated crops, we seek Fulvous Babblers, Rufous-tailed Bushchat Robin, Maghreb Lark, Isabelline and Olivaceous Warblers.
Accommodations at Auberge Les Dunes d’Or Merzouga or similar (B,L,D)

Wed., Apr. 9      More Time in the Sahara | Explore Igrane Gardens

We added another day to this area to take in some of the temporary wetlands and small pocket oasis for desert birding. This also gives us time to look for a few of the more challenging species such as Bar-tailed and Dunn’s Larks. Depending on winter rainfall we visit desert lagoons and if they are present then prepare for a wonderful selection of shorebirds including Marbled Duck, Ruddy Shelduck, and Greater Flamingo.

A visit to the Igrane gardens provides the perfect spot to enjoy the local and migratory passerines while walking through the shady palmeries and orchards.
Accommodations at Auberge Les Dunes d’Or Merzouga or similar (B,L,D)

Thurs., Apr. 10      Merzouga | Birding on Return to Ouarzazate

This morning we depart and take a leisurely drive to our next destination, a return to Ouarzazate. The journey provides places where we can stop to seek a few birds and we also pass through the Valley of the Roses, a famous region in Morocco where women’s cooperatives harvest rose petals and rosehips to manufacture cosmetics and lotions. If the group wants to view these products, we make time for stopping at a cooperative—a big hit for our group in years’ past.

We take our lunch at a desert Kasbah near to the town of Skoura, or journey onwards for lunch in Ouarzazate. We stop at a local reservoir for some water birds, viewing with scopes for a host of species including herons, egrets, and even Osprey. We may find Ruddy Sheldrake, Little and Great-crested Grebes, both Black and Whiskered Terns, Great Cormorant, both Little and Great Egrets, and above us several swift species. The approach road should also produce birds such as European Bee Eater and Black-eared Wheatear that are en route to Europe.

After our lunch we search a couple of green areas, cultivated by local villagers, to look for migrants such as roller and warbler species. Our hotel is up on a bluff with a fine view of an ancient Kasbah used as a film set for Game of Thrones. Those that wish can walk down the entry road to bird there, walking among planted dates and pomegranate trees, often an oasis for migrants passing through. Whinchat like the rocky hillside on our route and near the kasbah we might find Iberian Chiffchaff, White Wagtail (Moroccan race), both Spotted and European Pied Flycatchers, and European Turtle and Eurasian Collared Doves.

Hospitality at the Riad is memorable, we enjoy conversation perched in a sunny alcove with the taste and smell of fresh Moroccan mint tea. Local rugs and furnishings give a cozy feel. Dinner is one of the best of the trip, perhaps a tagine carefully crafted by the family from running this small property from their private recipes.
Accommodations at Hotel Riad Tamadakhte or similar (B,L,D)

Fri., Apr. 11       Return to Marrakech | Ounila Valley

Enjoy a fine breakfast at our Riad before we continue on our loop drive back up and over the Atlas Mountains. We pass a World Heritage Site and stop for views of it, the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou. Geology along this stretch is some of the best of the trip, with intricate colors and folds in the rock like our finest southwestern scenery. Follow the Ounila Valley for its length and then ascend to meet up with the road we first used to cross the pass. On stops we may find Coal Tit, Mistle Thrush, and Common Raven. Along the route we look for Tawny and Tree Pipits, Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Rock-Thrush, and we another chance for both Tristram’s Warbler and Rock Sparrow.

We chose this route, looping back through Marrakech both for scenery and due to road conditions, the alternate road crossing over to Agadir is dusty, bumpy, and slow. This route keeps us on pavement once we’re back at the pass. We look for birds along the way, finding possibly Little Owl or Woodchat Shrike, arriving toward evening at our familiar hotel.
Accommodations at Hotel Zalagh Kasbah Marrakech or similar (B,L,D)

Sat., Apr. 12     The Coast at Agadir | Shorebirds, Waders & Gulls

On a modern road, we can be in Agadir, a popular winter destination known for its beaches, on the Atlantic coast of Morocco in about three hours. We arrive in time for lunch and then spend the afternoon birding at the Oued Souss. Here we add a stunning variety of shorebirds and waterbirds, including gulls and terns to our list and we experience whole new habitats and vistas. About ten miles south of the city, we enjoy a leisurely walk along an embankment as we look for stilts and other waders. The mouth of the Souss River is a Ramsar site, indicating its international significance for conservation. We look for Barbary Falcon and keep an eye on surrounding trees for raptors. Laughing Dove and Maghreb Magpie are found as well as the wetland species.

We return to the city for time to freshen up, enjoy dinner and catch up on our growing species list.
Accommodations at Hotel Riad Agadir or similar (B,L,D)

Sun., Apr. 13      Oued Souss Massa National Park

The Oued Souss and Oued Massa estuaries are located at opposite ends of the 130+ square mile national park along Morocco’s scenic coastline. We have the full day to visit, as we seek out one of the rarest birds in the world, the Northern Bald Ibis. Three of Morocco’s four populations are protected here. The ibis nesting colonies and roost-sites are located on coastal cliffs within the national park and can be viewed safely with scopes from a distance. Coastal steppe habitats and fields are used as feeding areas and with luck we see them flying between areas as well. The park has a nature trail and visitor center. In addition to looking for the ibis, we explore the Massa River estuary which also has many great species, including Squacco and Purple Heron, Plain Martin, and European Thick-knee. We have the chance to use our scopes for some sea watching and as time permits, we may go inland a way to the local reservoir catchment of the Massa River. Black-crowned Tchagra is found here locally. Enjoy some fresh local seafood at dinner if you like and tally up our checklist.
Accommodations at Hotel Riad Agadir or similar (B,L,D)

Mon., Apr. 14      Oued Souss | Marrakech

We linger a bit at this wonderful coast to sample bird life at the Souss estuary. Established in 1991, the park is one of Morocco’s top birding locations so the more time here the better. Gulls may include Mediterranean, Slender-billed, and Audouin’s; out to sea we look for Northern Gannets diving. We scan the estuary and adjacent flooded fields, then return to pack up and depart. We then journey back to Marrakech on a modern comfortable road, birding along the way. At dinner we share tour highlights and favorite species—difficult to choose with so many vibrant memories!
Accommodations at Hotel Farah Marrakech or similar (B,L,D)

Tues., Apr. 15     Departures | or, Join Our Spain Tour!

Today is departure day and you may plan your flights at leisure and thus enjoy time to relax depending on your time for the homeward bound flight. Enjoy a very leisurely breakfast with time to pack or venture out to a local garden or park. Lunch can be available for those not leaving until the afternoon or early evening, although this is not included in the cost of the tour. Those linking this tour with our Spain Birding & Nature Tour depart for Madrid at your leisure today. (B)

 

  • Morocco, Morocco Wildlife, Wildlife Tour, North-African Wildlife, Birdwatching, Photography Tour, Birds of the World, Marrakech, High Atlas Mountains, Desert Landscapes

    Pool by Erica Olson

  • Morocco, Morocco Wildlife, Wildlife Tour, North-African Wildlife, Birdwatching, Photography Tour, Birds of the World, Marrakech, High Atlas Mountains, Desert Landscapes

    White Stork by Peter Verheij

  • Morocco, Morocco Wildlife, Wildlife Tour, North-African Wildlife, Birdwatching, Photography Tour, Birds of the World, Marrakech, High Atlas Mountains, Desert Landscapes

    Yarn & Spices by Erica Olson

  • Morocco, Morocco Wildlife, Wildlife Tour, North-African Wildlife, Birdwatching, Photography Tour, Birds of the World, Marrakech, High Atlas Mountains, Desert Landscapes

    Egyptian Nightjar by Peter Jones

  • Morocco, Morocco Wildlife, Wildlife Tour, North-African Wildlife, Birdwatching, Photography Tour, Birds of the World, Marrakech, High Atlas Mountains, Desert Landscapes

    Riad Tama by Peg Abbott

  • Morocco, Morocco Wildlife, Wildlife Tour, North-African Wildlife, Birdwatching, Photography Tour, Birds of the World, Marrakech, High Atlas Mountains, Desert Landscapes

    Desert Scape by Joseph Hunt

  • Morocco, Morocco Wildlife, Wildlife Tour, North-African Wildlife, Birdwatching, Photography Tour, Birds of the World, Marrakech, High Atlas Mountains, Desert Landscapes

    Desert Wheatear by Peter Verheij

  • Morocco, Morocco Wildlife, Wildlife Tour, North-African Wildlife, Birdwatching, Photography Tour, Birds of the World, Marrakech, High Atlas Mountains, Desert Landscapes

    Dades Gorge

Cost of the Journey

Cost of the journey is per person, based on occupancy: $5590 DBL / $6180 SGL*, from Marrakesh. Cost includes all accommodations; all meals as stated in the itinerary; group airport transfers; ground transportation; professional guide services; park, preserve, and other activity fees; and miscellaneous program expenses. Tour price does not include: roundtrip airfare to and from Marrakesh, or items of a personal nature such as laundry, porterage, telephone charges, or alcoholic beverages. Pair this Morocco tour with our Spain Birding & Nature Tour and save $200 per person. Don’t miss it!

*This tour was priced based on the exchange rate on April 22, 2024. If there is a significant increase in the exchange rate, Naturalist Journeys has the right to adjust pricing to accommodate.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival and Departure Airport: Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK)

Arrival Details: Plan to arrive April 1, 2025, at your leisure

Departure Details: Plans flights to depart April 15, 2025, at your leisure

Travel
Tips:  If you arrive early to rest up from your travels, we can book you an early night at our first night tour hotel. If you want to explore Marrakesh, there are plenty of things to see! Jardin Marjorelle is a beautiful botanical gardens that’s also good for birding. The Berber Museum is located within the gardens and has exhibits on the history and art of the Berbers, the most ancient people of North Africa. If you want to tour an extravangant palace that is a great example of Moroccan architecture, then visit Bahia Palace. The 19th century building has stunning tiles and artwork along with beautiful gardens and courtyards.

Entry Requirements: See "Essential Information" section under the "Know Before You Go” tab.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.

Morocco

  • Manuel Morales - Spain and Morocco Expert

    Since the beginning of his Environmental Sciences studies in Huelva, Spain, Manuel has combined the university with volunteering for SEO Birdlife and Doñana Biological Station, in addition to working as an environmental educator in the Odiel Marshes. Later, in 2007 he became an expert ringer by the EBD (Doñana Biological Station). Since 2012 he has been managing and acting as leading guide while teaching Zoology for the University of Huelva. Manuel has given numerous talks and taught courses for SEO Birdlife and worked in Doñana National Park in several bird banding and tracking projects for the Andalusian Government and Station Biological of Doñana (Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Black Kites, Black-necked Grebe…) Based in Tarifa, in the Cadiz region of Spain, he will lead tours to Spain and Morocco for Naturalist Journeys.

    Other trips with Manuel Morales - Spain and Morocco Expert

Map for Morocco: Birding & Nature

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • Make sure your passport is valid at least six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. See "Passports, Visas & Documentation" section below for details.
  • No Visas are required for U.S. citizens for stays of this length. If you are from another country, please contact the Embassy of Morocco website for guidelines.
  • Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Morocco and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health and Inoculations” section below.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance is REQUIRED. Full health cover and repatriation in case of serious medical emergency is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Plan your flight reservations arriving into and departing Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK). Send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Arrival into Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK)

Upon arrival at the airport, you will pass through immigration and customs and exit to the main terminal area. Your emergency contact (hotel information) handout will be helpful at Immigration when they ask where you are going.

When arriving at Marrakech airport, you will be met at the airport if the tour start date, if you arrive early we will set up a driver if possible or instruct you how to get to the hotel.

At the airport, there is an ATM to withdraw money and change desks where USD can be changed for Euros. It appears most are coming in early, so will also have access to city-based ATM’s. On this trip you should find ATM’s throughout your travels. For cash exchange the airport is handy.

Depending on arrival times, you can bird the hotel gardens or rest after a long day of travel. Those arriving before dinner are welcome to gather informally for dinner to get to know each other.

Please check the Travel Details tab of this tour for additional information and updates.

Departures from Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK)

You have to be at the airport about three hours ahead of your scheduled flight on this return, so we do not advise booking early morning flights; late-morning is fine.

We will provide transfers or arrange for taxis to the airport for all departures as needed for the departure day.

Whenever possible we will keep the group together for this transfer. Do remember you have to be at the airport about three hours ahead of your scheduled flight on this return, so we do not advise booking early morning flights; late-morning is fine.

The departure fee is now typically built into your airline fare.

Please check the Travel Details tab of this tour for additional information and updates.

Passports, Visas & Documents

Guidelines and regulations can change and compliance is the traveler's responsibility. It is always advisable to double-check the country’s documentation requirements 60-90 days ahead of traveling. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Morocco.html. If you are from another country, please contact the Moroccan embassy website for guidelines.

Passport: You must have a passport that is in good condition and is valid for six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted.

Visa: At the time of writing, a tourist visa is not required for stays the length of this tour. You will need proof of a return ticket. The necessary documents will be distributed by your airline while in flight or provided for you upon arrival. We advise that you bring your eContact list of hotels for use at immigration as well.

*Morocco customs: Entry involves filling-in a form with information such as name, address, passport number and profession. The import and export of Moroccan currency is prohibited. However, any amount of other foreign currency can be brought in. All general goods can be imported (including binoculars, telescope and camera), provided they conform to a regular tourist activity. In addition, each adult can import one bottle of spirits, one bottle of wine and 200 cigarettes. Customs officials may enter professional cameras, video recorders and other expensive electronic equipment on your passport and you will be charged 100% duty if you leave the country without them!

As a precaution for loss or misplaced travel documents you are carrying on your person during travel, it is wise to carry a color photocopy of your passport ID page, your travel visa and even the back of your credit card(s) in your luggage or a carry-on, as a backup. Also, leave a copy with your emergency contact person at home. You may want to take a photo with your phone and have a copy there, along with a photo of the BAR CODE on your luggage tag. This greatly expedites getting a new one if necessary – we hope everyone will keep it close at all times and losing it will not be an issue.

General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!

Health requirements for entry to any country can change. It is always advisable to double-check the country’s health requirements and recommendations 60-90 days ahead of traveling. A helpful website for planning is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for Morocco or by phone (800) CDC-INFO or (800) 232-4636.

We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of a medical emergency.

Vaccinations: Bring copies of your up-to-date vaccination records with you. The CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid, etc.) Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to your tour destinaton and consult with your doctor about vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip (in case there are any that require followup inoculations or time to become effective). 

Prescriptions: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage.  Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers. 

Allergies: To be prepared for environmental triggers to allergies or breathing difficulties, please bring your allergy and/or asthma medication(s).  If you have severe allergies talk to your doctor about carrying an EPI pen and notify your guides. It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.

Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for prevention or treatment of common ailments (such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach upset, cough, congestion, head or body aches, motion sickness, insect bites and sunburn); as well as ointments, moisturizer, sunscreen, oral rehydration salts, band-aids, moleskin for blisters, cotton swabs, nail clippers, and tweezers, etc.

Weather & Climate

April average temperatures range from mid 70’s when sunny and warm to low-50’s evenings in the mountains, with low to comfortable humidity. We don’t expect a lot of rain but it can occur. Come prepared with layers of clothing, including a light rain-jacket that can double as a windbreaker.

Food & Drinks

Moroccan food is quite delicious and delightfully prepared in a sanitary environment in all restaurants we visit! Follow your guide’s lead regarding drinking water in hotels – many provide filtered water, which is safe to drink directly. Safe drinking water will also be provided while in vans, and on particularly hot days be sure to increase your intake of fluids. As with any travel, minor intestinal problems are possible, so we suggest bringing a remedy for traveler’s diarrhea. Please discuss appropriate medication with your physician.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Please, pack light. And please, please pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your CARRY-ON. Dress is very informal and comfortable throughout the trip. You may wish to change for dinners, but casual dress is suitable at all locations.

Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight, long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation. But if you like to wear them, by all means bring some shorts. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy. A jacket should be enough in the cooler mornings and evenings. We strongly recommend neutral or dark-colored clothing for every area that we will visit on the tour. We advise that clothing should be unobtrusive, i.e. no bright yellows, reds or white, as this can disturb wildlife and makes us very conspicuous.

Laundry services can be arranged at some of our hotels. Your guide will provide information when you arrive. You may wish to pack clothing that is easy to hand wash and fast drying for washing in your room.

Spending Money

Currency in Morocco is the Dirham (DH) or Moroccan Dirham (MAD). 1 dirham = 100 santimat; 5 santimat = 1 rial;. The exchange rate was ~10 DH to the US dollar in January 2020. Using an ATM to obtain local currency has normally been the most convenient and usually provides better exchange rates. VISA cards generally work best, but other cards can be accepted, depending on location. The ATM will provide local money and your bank will convert that into US Dollars. Many banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey. Banks are numerous in all main towns and even in the smaller ones.

Credit cards generally are not normally taken as payment, this can catch many an unwary traveler by surprise. Where credit cards are taken, then Visa is normally the most acceptable. For the current exchange rate, please refer to online converter tool like www.xe.com, or your bank. We advise you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as the local currency, an ATM card, and a credit card. We also recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling in Europe to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges.

Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted. They can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you that you bring them as your main source of funds.

Many people ask how much money to plan to bring for spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Typical items people purchase include: local souvenirs and T-shirts, carvings, beads, textiles, artworks, drinks before or with dinner, maps, natural history books, laundry, and gratuities. Try to anticipate this ahead of time and bring what you feel you will need. It is recommended that you carry Euros to pay for drinks and other personal expenses.

Gratuities

Tipping is optional and completely at your discretion. If you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, lodge and hotel staff or anyone associated with this tour, it is entirely appropriate. Know that they appreciate anything you care to give and of course you can do more if you wish! Lodges normally have a box for tips that the staff share, and hotels you would just tip the maids as you do at home. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services.

Here is a standard suggestion for tipping on birding trips:

  • Birding tour guide: US $10.00 - $15.00 per day per guest
    Note: If there is more than one guide, this can be split among them, so that is a total, per person, per day
  • Tour driver if different from guide: US $5.00 - $7.00 per person/day
  • Lodge staff: US $6.00 - $10.00 per day per guest
  • Transfer (airport shuttle) driver: US $2.00 - $3.00 per person
  • Hotel & international airport bellmen: US $1.00 per suitcase

You may wish to bring small gifts for local people that you meet and enjoy (this is totally optional!). T-shirts, school supplies like pens and small notebooks, inexpensive watches and baseball caps are always popular. Your guides can pass along school supplies to a local school if you bring them. They also love any nature books/coloring books.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

Your guide is well connected and can help if any urgent communication need arises. However, it is highly recommended that you travel with a cell phone, if only as a precaution for the unfortunate occurrence of a medical emergency during an outing and needing swift accessibility to critical personal or medical contacts. 

You can make international calls from most of our hotels. The country code for the USA is 1: international calls to the United States: Dial 00 + (1) + area code + number.

Cell phone service is widely available in Morocco. Check with your carrier for coverage and turn on international service. If you bring the phone for internet and an alarm, but do not want charges, make sure you know how to turn OFF your cellular data function on your cell phone. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi is available at several of our hotels, at least in the public areas, but can be frustratingly poor/slow. If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Please contact your cell phone provider for further details. Another option if you have access to Wi-Fi, is to use smartphone apps like Skype, or Viber to send of text messages, and make voice calls, or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets, or laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free. If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.

Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone that you turn off your cellular data. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. Putting your phone in airplane mode if you mainly use it for photos will save the battery as well. 

Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests, plan on cell phone call use on your own time.

Local Customs & Language

As a guest, respect local traditions, protect local cultures, maintain local pride. When taking photographs, respect privacy, ask permission and use restraint. Respect religious and cultural places, preserve what you have come to see, never touch or remove religious objects.

You will be accepted and welcomed if you follow local customs: use only your right hand for eating and greeting. It is polite to use both hands when giving and receiving gifts. Loose, lightweight clothes are preferable to revealing shorts, skimpy tops, tight fitting action wear. Holding hands or kissing in public are disliked by local people. Be patient, friendly and sensitive. Remember you are a guest!

Moroccan Arabic is the official language. Knowledge of French can be useful. However, in the Atlas mountains and to the south, you will soon learn how the Berbers have a passing knowledge of Dutch, German and English! A few useful phrases are listed below and will no doubt cause laughter and appreciation: Eeyeh = yes. La = no. La bes = hello. Bslemah = goodbye. Shokran = thank you. Smeh lee = excuse me. Bsh hal = how much? Wakha = O.K.

Electricity

The standard voltage in Morocco is 220V, higher than in the United States (120V), with frequency of 50 Hz. Electrical sockets (outlets) in Morocco are "Type C and E" You will most likely need to bring a power plug adapter, and a voltage converter in order to use appliances or devices from the U.S. To be sure, check the label on your appliance. More information can be found at power-plugs-sockets.com.

Time

Where you will be traveling in Morocco is in the Western European Summer Time (WEST), which is 6 hours earlier than New York (Eastern Standard Time). Morocco is on permanent Daylight Savings Time, so there will be no time change in April. A great website if you want to tell someone to check ahead of calling you is www.timeanddate.com.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!

 

Pace & Protocols +

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of Read more

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role

Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.

Smoking

Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.

Transportation

As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.

Travel Insurance

You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global RescueWorld Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.

 

Packing List +

Please Pack Light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please Pack Light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure your name and address are printed on the inside of the bag as well as on the luggage tag. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, identification, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. Your carry-on bag must be able to fit under the seat, or it will be taken away by airline staff and put with the regular luggage. You will want a daypack for field trips, so this is the ideal carry-on. We recommend that you check with your airline a week or so before your departure regarding luggage weight and size restrictions.

In general, the weather during your stay should be pleasant, with highs averaging in the mid- to high-70’s, and lows in the mid- 50’s with low humidity. Morocco’s climate and temperatures will vary depending on topography. Expect minimum cloud cover and no rain in the desert region.

Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation.  To respect local etiquette, choose loose, lightweight clothes over skimpy shorts and tops, or tight-fitting action wear.  Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are easy to launder.  Loose clothing discourages insects and is very cool. A light jacket for the mountains is recommended and should be enough in the cooler evenings. 

Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors; though camouflage clothing is not recommended and in some countries, not legal to wear. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield Clothing collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.

Clothing and Gear

  • Lightweight long pants, 2 pair
  • Lightweight long sleeve shirts (2-3)
  • Shorts (optional – and if you bring them, please, not too short!)
  • T-shirts or equivalent (4-5 – remember you may be buying some!)
  • Personal underclothing and pajamas
  • Socks – lightweight and easy to wash and dry
  • Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, sundress, etc.)
  • Bathing suit (optional, but you will have multiple opportunities to use one!)
  • Hat with broad brim for sun protection
  • Bandana (gel bandanas work well to keep you cool)
  • Comfortable walking shoes (such as tennis shoes)
  • Lightweight hiking boots
  • Sandals for evenings, travel days (optional)
  • Sweater or jacket; fleece fabric is ideal, but a sweatshirt will do
  • Lightweight raincoat or poncho (great if this doubles as windbreaker)
  • Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets

Equipment and Miscellaneous

  • E-ticket verification
  • Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance info, money & credit cards.
  • A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person at all times (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
  • As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the  ID and entry stamp pages.
  • Small daypack to carry field gear while hiking
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Binoculars
  • Camera and charger/extra batteries, memory cards/film, lens cleaning supplies and instruction manual (optional)
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional – guide will have them)
  • Tablet/laptop for personal use and/or transferring photos, USB stick, USB cord and charger (optional). If bringing a laptop or tablet, bring a good dustcover to protect it at all times.
  • Adapters for three prong electronic equipment
  • Walking sticks (optional, but recommended if you usually hike with them)
  • Small flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Alarm clock
  • Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent (something containing DEET)
  • Toiletry articles
  • Water bottle (or you can use one of ours and refill during the journey)
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Earplugs (if hotel noise or roommates snoring may bother you; optional)
  • Laundry soap for hand washing, a couple of clothespins, travel sewing kit
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)
  • Steri-Pen or other UV water treatment device to help cut down on the use of plastic bottles (optional)

WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!

Medical and First Aid Items

  • Personal prescription medications
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments (Imodium or Lomotil, antihistamine cream or tablets, eye drops, etc.)
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed
  • Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Foot powder, lotions for dry skin, general “comfort” items
  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Copy of eyeglass prescription, copy of medical prescriptions, and any medical alerts
  • Insurance information and vaccination records (kept in a secure, document pouch with IDs, etc. listed above)
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts

 

Suggested Reading List +

  There are many titles of interest for Morocco; the following are a few that we Read more

 

There are many titles of interest for Morocco; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started:

Top Picks

Collins Bird Guide, The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe

Merlin App – North Africa Pack. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for North Africa.

Morocco - Culture Smart! The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

Field Guides

Birds of the Middle East and North Africa

Birds of Europe, North Africa & the Middle East

Where to Watch Birds in Morocco

Morocco – Michelin National Map 742

Geology

Continental Evolution: The Geology of Morocco: Structure, Stratigraphy, and Tectonics of the Africa-Atlantic-Mediterranean Triple Junction 

History & Culture

Arts and Crafts of Morocco

Women Artisans of Morocco: Their Stories, Their Lives

Lords of the Atlas: The Rise & Fall of the House of Glaoua

National Geographic Traveler: Morocco

A Year in Marrakesh

There is a good selection of books available for sale at visitors’ centers, and your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.

 

Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more

General

Sahara Desert

Morocco

High Atlas Mountains

Marrakesh

Tizi n'Tichka

Ouarzazate

Merzouga

Boumalne Dadès

Draa Valley

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Overview of Birding Morocco

Bird Checklist for Morocco

Morocco Checklists – bird, mammals, insects and more

African Bird Club – non-profit conservation

Selection of articles on birds of Morocco – Maghreb Ornitho

Flora of Morocco

Fauna of Morocco

Endemic Animals of Morocco

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Protecting the Biodiversity of Morocco’s National Forests and Parks

Convention on Biological Diversity – Morocco

International Fund for Animal Welfare

Balancing Culture, Livelihood and Conservation in Morocco – a common topic

Nature’s Frontline News & Information from Mongabay publication

Souss-Massa National Park

Geology & Geography

Natural Wonders of the Maghreb – An Expedition through Morocco’s Earth History (58 min movie)

Geology of Morocco: Overview

Geography of Morocco

Erg Chebbi

Dadès Gorge

Todra Gorge

History & Culture

History of Morocco

Medina of Marrakesh (UNESCO)

Guide to Marrakesh Medina, Morocco

Moroccan Peoples

Helpful Travel Websites

Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK)

National Passport Information Center

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Homeland Security Real ID Act

Foreign Exchange Rates

ATM Locator

U.S. Department of State International Travel Information - Morocco

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Morocco

Canada Travel Advice and Advisories – Morocco

Travel Health Pro (UK) – Morocco

Electricity and Plugs - Morocco

Date, Time, and Holidays - Morocco


Photo credits: Banners: Camel (NJ Stock), Dried Spices (NJ Stock), Cream-colored Courser (NJ Stock), Dades Gorge (NJ Stock), Bald Ibis (Stanislav Ferrao via Unsplash), Colorful Textiles (NJ Stock), Morocco Scenic (Peter Verheij) Thumbnails: Lizard (Peter Verheij), Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (NJ Stock), Barbary Macaque (Peter Verheij), Hoopoe (NJ Stock), Blue-cheeked Beeeater (NJ Stock), Little Owl, White Stork (NJ Stock), Fulvous Babbler (Peter Verheij)

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