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Morocco - A Bald Ibis Break!

Tour Code: MAR03

A relaxing 5-day holiday, based in a comfortable and exclusive beach retreat, to the Souss-Massa National Park, Morocco's finest birdwatching site and home to the endangered Bald Ibis.

5 days from £1195(inc flights) Land Only Price: £995 SRS: £175


The primary focus of this relaxing long weekend is the Bald Ibis – one of the Western Palearctic’s most enigmatic and endangered birds. The 33,800-hectare Souss-Massa National Park holds a wealth of bird species and, most significantly, it holds three of the four Moroccan breeding colonies of the Northern Bald Ibis. These three are located on coastal cliffs within the park and constitute just over half the world population! As well as looking for Bald Ibis we’ll explore the park’s wide range of habitats as well as do some bird watching from our wonderfully appointed hotel’s beautiful outdoor terrace, which overlooks the ocean.

  • 75 pairs of Bald Ibis within Souss-Massa National Park
  • Barbary Falcon, Marbled Teal, & Glossy Ibis among many other birds
  • Cory’s & Balearic Shearwaters at Cap Rhir
  • Red-necked Nightjar at the Royal Palace
  • Vagrants from southern Africa or the Americas possible
  • Splendid hotel within the Souss-Massa National Park
  • Turkish baths, fine cuisine & lavish furnishings at our hotel
  • Led by an expert naturalist guide

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

A very comfortable beach hotel (with private facilities), remotely situated in the national park and with fabulous views of the coastline.

Bald Ibis (Simon Woolley)

Bald Ibis (Simon Woolley)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Agadir; transfer Souss-Massa National Park.

Day 2/4 Souss-Massa National Park

Day 5 Fly London

Greater Flamingos (Tim Melling)

For many consecutive winters Naturetrek groups have been happily plying the Souss Valley westwards, from the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains to Morocco’s spectacular Atlantic coast south of Agadir. Here, in the autumn, late winter and spring, the nearby estuaries of the Oued Souss and Oued Massa are thronged with migrating waders, gulls and terns. We watch Red-necked Nightjars at the Royal Palace entrance (if the King is not in residence!), and sea-watch for Cory’s and Balearic Shearwaters at dramatic Cap Rhir. Yet it is the draw of one of the Western Palearctic’s most enigmatic — and endangered — birds, the Northern Bald Ibis, which has provided the highlight of so many previous tours, and will be the primary focus of this relaxing long weekend.

The 33,800-hectare Souss-Massa National Park was created in 1991. Lying between Agadir to the north and Sidi Ifni to the south, this Atlantic coastal site incorporates a variety of habitats, ranging from Argania spinosa woodland, cultivated fields and Retama and Euphorbia steppe, to dunes, cliffs, sandy beaches and wetlands. It encompasses the estuaries of the Oued Souss (the northern limit of the park) and the Oued Massa, a large and magical lagoon that has formed where the estuary is cut off from the sea by sand dunes. We long believed the Souss-Massa to be worthy of a tour in its own right, and it is within this national park, nestled between golden dunes and with splendid panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, that we found a wonderfully appointed hotel, the perfect base for a short, rewarding, yet relaxing birdwatching holiday. With Morocco’s rich heritage in mind, the owners have built and decorated their hotel tastefully, using a fine mix of traditional materials, local handicrafts and luxurious carpets and fabrics, all collected from Morocco’s varied and bustling souks. The lavishness of the beds and bedclothes, indeed of all fixtures and fittings, exude a feeling of calm and invite relaxation. We will have plenty of time to fully enjoy the hotel’s enviable location!

A relaxed five days is envisaged, for some of the best local birding is available from the hotel terrace! Together with an open-air pool, the hotel boasts a traditional Hammam (Turkish bath/massage room) offering a suite of health treatments, and fine cuisine (salads and grilled fish and meat being a particular speciality) to be enjoyed on a beautiful outdoor terrace overlooking the ocean.

The Souss-Massa National Park holds a wealth of birds, and the diversity of habitats within it ensure us of a wide variety during our stay. However, the park derives its greatest importance from its protection of three of the four Moroccan breeding colonies of the Northern Bald Ibis. These three colonies are located on coastal cliffs within the park and totalled 33 breeding pairs in 2000, or 52% of the Moroccan and world population. Several roost sites exist, and most of the coastal steppes and fallow fields are used as feeding areas at different times of the year. In addition, the park attracts a host of migrant birds, both on passage and during the winter. In fact, almost anything can and does turn up here and the chance of finding a vagrant from southern Africa or the Americas adds to the excitement of this locality. However, it is the plight of the Ibis which provides the principal focus on this tour. In the face of threatened invasive tourism development, several organisations, including the RSPB and BirdLife International, are working to protect the Northern Bald Ibis whose breeding population now stands at over 100 pairs, of which 75 pairs breed in the Souss-Massa National Park and 25 in the Tamri region, 60 kilometres north of Agadir.

On this holiday we will be following our usual Moroccan tour format, with our minibus being driven by our local driver in order to provide flexibility in our exploration of the park and to ensure a relaxed pace. Tamri will certainly be on our list of places to visit, a real stronghold for the Ibis. Barbary Falcons can regularly be seen around the cliffs here, whilst the beach often supports a flock of Audouin’s Gulls in a variety of plumages. At other times our focus will remain within the picturesque Souss-Massa National Park where, during the five days in which we explore its rich mosaic of habitats, a wealth of birds may include such species as Greater Flamingo, Bald Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Marbled Teal, Ferruginous Duck, Common Crane, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Tawny Eagle, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Black-winged Stilt, Laughing Dove, Alpine Swift, Plain Martin, Tawny Pipit, Black-crowned Tchagra, Zitting Cisticola and Moustached Warbler amongst many others.

For pleasant winter warmth and sunshine, good birding, an appreciation of conservation in action and authentic local hospitality, we think this holiday is hard to beat!

 

Bald Ibis (Bob Dawson)Oued (river) Massa (Toby Albrehart)Greater Flamingos (Toby Albrehart)Hotel Ksar Massa (Toby Albrehart)Greater Flamingos, Tamri (Tim Melling)Bald Ibis watching (Tim Melling)Greater Flamingos (Tim Melling)Bald Ibis flock (Tim Melling)Moroccan spice market (Simon Woolley)Long-legged Buzzard (Simon Woolley)Hoopoe Lark  (Tim Melling)Desert Sparrow (Simon Woolley)Cream-coloured Courser (Simon Woolley)Moroccan Coast (Tim Melling)Bald Ibises (Tim Melling)Bald Ibis (Simon Woolley)Bald Ibises (Toby Albrehart)Silene colorata (Toby Albrehart)Glebionis carinatum (Toby Albrehart)Hotel Ksar Massa (Toby Albrehart)
P.S.
Devon
Lear Massa was a wonderful hotel, staff were friendly, rooms clean and spacious and the food was divine! It really added the touch of luxury were looking for!
T.C.
Wiltshire
Overall an excellent and well organised trip. It certainly made me want to return! (which in my case is quite unusual, as there are so many places I want to visit … )
J.S.
Sheffield
We were met with nothing but kindness & efficiency in Morocco, a superb country for Naturetrek to visit.
A.K.
Northumberland
I thoroughtly enjoyed the 'winter sun' element of the holiday and also the excellent food and 'atmosphere' of the Ksar Massa Hotel. Chris Murphy was a very knowledgeable birder and his excellent hearing and familiarity with the bird species of the area enabled us to see and enjoy the avifauna of the area. He was a jolly leader and had many stories to tell and keep us amused.
R. & G.W.
London
We would particularly like to praise the beauty of the Massa valley and the timelessness of the villages and landscape within it, also the boundless enthusiasm of our guide…”
E.O.
Hampshire
Bob Dawson was an outstanding tour leader. He was very helpful, caring, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, observant and not a bit pushy or over the top. The Kasr Massa is also outstanding, with delightful people running it. The food was terrific, as was the service. Our driver (Mohammed) was another great plus – a calm and sensible driver, always polite and charming.
R.B.
Surrey
Bob was an excellent leader. His bird knowledge of the area was superb and he dealt with the admin side of the trip with control and calmness.
M.C. & C.O.
Essex
The tour leader, Bob Dawson, was excellent as a guide and had an amazing ability to identify birds at a great distance. He knew where to find the birds – in particular the Bald Ibis and we saw several dozen on the ground at close distance. The location of the Hotel in Souss Massa was excellent and we were not distracted by too many tourists or locals, which meant we could concentrate on the birdwatching.
E.I.
Leicestershire
Everything ran smoothly and efficiently. The hotel was amazing. The guide was understanding and very helpful with the birding side. It was great! He was great!..Fantastic overall.
J.C.
West Midlands
All in all a long weekend above my expectations with a small group who all got on well and an excellent tour leader who made everything very easy for us.
D.S.
Inverness-shire
Another excellent holiday/wildlife experience from Naturetrek; it was wonderful. We had some great birdwatching including super views of bald ibis. Our leader was first class and accommodation and food were sublime. A truly memorable trip for all the right reasons. I look forward to travelling with Naturetrek again!
S.B.
Hampshire
A great trip. Bob was an excellent leader, with his ability to communicate his knowledge and enthusiasm to our various levels of expertise. The Ksar Massa was a great location and the swimming pool was the final ingredient for my ideal holiday, so often missing in natural history tours. Marrakech and the Riad were an amazing experience.
M.C. & C.O.
Essex
The tour leader, Bob Dawson, was excellent as a guide and had an amazing ability to identify birds at a great distance. He knew where to find the birds – in particular the Bald Ibis and we saw several dozen on the ground at close distance. The location of the Hotel in Souss Massa was excellent and we were not distracted by too many tourists or locals, which meant we could concentrate on the birdwatching.
E.O.
Hertfordshire
Bob Dawson was an outstanding tour leader. He was very helpful, caring, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, observant and not a bit pushy or over the top. The Kasr Massa is also outstanding, with delightful people running it. The food was terrific, as was the service. Our driver (Mohammed) was another great plus – a calm and sensible driver, always polite and charming.
M.F.
Derbys
We especially appreciated the guidance and help of our trip leader Bob Dawson. His patience and gentle humour were enjoyed by us all. We were all impressed by our visit to the Houbara Bustard Conservation Centre and the welcome we received, thanks to Bob.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Tue 16th October 2018 - Sat 20th October 2018

YES

£1195

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Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £995 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Morocco

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Andy Tucker
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Tour Reviews

Lear Massa was a wonderful hotel, staff were friendly, rooms clean and spacious and the food was divine! It really added the touch of luxury were looking for!
P.S., Devon