House Bunting Emberiza striolata, Marrakech, Morocco. A common resident in cities in Morocco
The desert from Cafe Yasmina, beyond Erfoud, Morocco. A migrant hotspot and a good place for desert birding
Said Ahmoume is based in Taroudannt and speaks English, Berber, Arabic and French. Email [email protected]
The following information was received from a club member. I have found a very good Berber mountain guide in the Marrakech area called Mohamed Zaki who can be contacted by mobile on 00212 6665 69392 or by email at [email protected]
Trip reports can be found at www.go-south.org.
Updated 3rd April 2006.
General: Morocco is a friendly country with a good road system connecting many of the top birding locations. It can be visited with an organised tour although a number of correspondents have rented a car and visited the best sites themselves. Many of the sites are within range of major holiday destinations such as Agadir and Marrakech.
Flights: there are many international flights to Morocco on a variety of airlines. The expansion of tourism has been brought about in part by a number of budget airlines operating from Europe, including France and the UK to Marrakech.
Visas: you should check with your local embassy but visas were not required for UK nationals at the time of writing.
Vaccinations: your local doctor should obviously be consulted about health matters and the range of inoculations which is advised.
Driving: the major roads connecting the main centres of population are sealed. On a recent trip in central Morocco, key birding areas could all be reached by sealed roads except to the south and east of Erfoud where a 4x4 is necessary to reach the desert areas and search for species such as Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata and Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor.
There are plenty of cheap buses but they do not reach many of the birding sites, so this is a country where a personal vehicle is more or less a must for keen birders visiting on their own. It is wise to choose a car with good clearance and suspension and to beware of reckless drivers. The roads in the mountain passes are narrow and dangerous so great care should be taken.
Currency: the local unit of currency is the Dirham with an exchange rate of 15.9 to £1 sterling at the time of writing. You should note that it is not possible to take Dirhams into or out of Morocco. Exchange facilities exist at the main airports and there are ATMs in main cities. Large hotels can also change £, $ and Euros into the local currency.
Timing: There will be good birds to see in Morocco at all times of the year. A trip in March is a good time for migrants especially along the river valleys flowing from the Atlas mountains, and the weather is sunny without being too hot during the day. You should note however that it can be very cold in the high mountains and the deserts in the early morning at this time of year.
Most safety and health issues are no different from those in many north African countries. Guidebooks, travel companies and websites provide much of the advice one needs, but key points warrant repetition here: always ensure you have sufficient water and some method of purification; do not underestimate the danger of being in the sun for too long, ensure you use sun-block, drink plenty of water and wear a hat; ensure that you take a reasonably-equipped first-aid pack with you including supplies of hypodermic and suturing needles; do not take the risk of driving after dark. See the following 2 websites for the latest safety and travel information: US Travel and UK FCO.