Western Sahara: Birds & Mammals Tours

6 days / 5 nights

 Western Sahara is a territory of North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria in the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean on the west. Its surface area amounts to 266,000 km2. It is one of the most sparsely populated territories in the world, mainly consisting of desert flatlands. The largest city is El Aaiún (Laâyoune), which is home to over half of the population of the territory, the latter estimated at just over 382,000.

Most importantly, it also provides an easily accessible opportunity to observe some unusual and rarely seen desert specials such as Sudan Golden Sparrow, Golden Nightjar, Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Pharaoh Eagle-Owl, Dunn’s Lark, Greater Hoopoe-Lark, Cricket Warbler and Fulvous Babbler.

This new birding tour is a great adventure into a wonderfully scenic and remote corner of the Western Palearctic. Our itinerary combines a superb mix of coastal habitat and sub-tropical shallow bays with some simply stunning desert landscapes. The days will be spent birding the various migrant hotspot wadis, wetlands and desert landscapes and a good amount of time will also be spent looking for birds and mammals during the hours of darkness.

 Tour Dates 2022:

01 – 06 March 2022    (Spaces Available)

07 – 12 March 2022    (Spaces Available)

13 – 18 March 2022    (Spaces Available)

18 – 23 March 2022   (Spaces Available)

23 – 28 March 2022   (Spaces Available)

Tour Cost: 7-8 Participants 850€ per person

                     9-10 Participants 800€ per person

Group Size: Min. 7 / Max. 10 participants, if you are a tour company please let us know!

Tour starting/ending: Dakhla airport, Morocco

Tour Leader: Brahim Mezane

Price includes:

* Comfortable transport in 4×4 vehicles.

* 3 Nights hotel accommodation en-suite rooms (Hotel in Dakhla)

* 2 Nights camping in the deserts near Aousserd

* All meals

* Guiding services and general assistance where and when required.

Price excludes:

* International airfare

* Travel insurance

* Item of a personal nature and tips

Top Birds on this trip: Golden Nightjar, Dunn’s Lark, Cricket Warbler, Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Pharaoh Eagle-Owl, Greater Hoopoe-Lark, Bar-tailed, Thekla, Thick-billed, Temminck’s & Desert Larks, African Royal Tern, Mediterranean, Yellow-legged, Audouin’s & Slender-billed Gulls, Black, Desert, Red-rumped, Northern & White-crowned Wheatears, Trumpeter Finch, Cream-colored Courser, Fulvous Babbler, African Desert Warbler and Desert Sparrow.

Top Mammals on this trip: Fennec Fox, Desert Hedgehog, Lesser Egyptian Jerboa, Spiny-tailed lizards, Lesser Egyptian Gerbils, Horned desert Viper.

ITINERARY

Day 1: Meet and welcome you at Dakhla airport and transfer you to the hotel in Dakhla.
Overnight at hotel in Dakhla

Day 2: Today we will explore the various points around the bay that host gatherings of gulls, waders and terns. We shall be looking in particular for the rare Kelp Gull amongst the groups of Lesser Black-backed Gulls as well as more common species such as Slender-billed Gull and Audouin’s Gull. Caspian Tern and African Royal Tern should be fairly easy to find and waders should be plentiful. Given that it is prime migration season, the chances for something unusual are also high. We will also check any suitable habitat for passerines. If the sea is calm, a scan over the bay for cetaceans could be productive as there is a chance of the critically endangered Atlantic Humpback Dolphin.
Overnight at hotel in Dakhla

Day 3: After breakfast in our hotel, we will travel to the Sahara deserts of Aousserd. Here, we will get a feel for some of the best looking birding areas where we are sure to find some of the commoner desert species such as Cream-colored Courser, Crowned Sandgrouses, Greater Hoopoe Lark, Bar-tailed Desert Lark, Desert Sparrow, African Desert Warbler, Southern Grey Shrike, Wheatears including Black, Desert, Red-rumped and White-crowned. We should reach Oued Jenna towards the late afternoon, giving us our first opportunity to search for two further specials, namely the nervously hyperactive Cricket Warbler and noisy Fulvous Babbler.
Overnight near Aousserd.

Day 4: After breakfast, we will focus on trying to find the specialities of this great area focusing our effort for both birds and mammals. This region is often windy and so the more time we have to try for Golden Nightjars, the better! Other target birds will include African Dunn’s Lark, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Cricket Warbler, Black-crowned Sparrowlark, Golden Nightjar and Pharaoh Eagle Owl. During the night we will spotlight along the road and other areas where we have a good chance of finding Fennec Fox, Lesser Egyptian Jerboa, Lesser Egyptian Gerbil, Desert Hedgehog and Horned desert Viper.
Overnight near Aousserd.

Day 5: Today we will get back to Dakhla (night in hotel). We may decide to stop again at Gleb Jdiane but maybe you prefer to skip the latter and conclude the trip closer to Dakhla looking for waders at two-three good spots around the Bay and on the Atlantic. Out of experience, this is what people prefer to do (for a change and to complete the lists) but of course we can discuss the programme once in the field.
Overnight at hotel in Dakhla

Day 6: Departure day, If you fly out early in the morning there is no time for birding. However, if you fly out in the afternoon, we may spend the morning birding along the Dakhla peninsula, with lunch at the Oyster Farm overseeing the bay.

NOTE: This is a flexible itinerary which may be adjusted to allow for changes in arrival and departure times, weather conditions and other related factors.

MORE INFORMATION

Accommodation: We stay in a selection of good hotel in Dakhla near the airport for 3 nights, all rooms are en-suite and 2 nights camping in the deserts at the best birding spot at Oued Jenna near Aousserd. We have different tents for single for one person and double for couples well equipped and very good food cooked by our drivers.

Weather: bright sunshine, warm to very hot.

Habitats Covered: desert, acacia shrub, wetland and mudflats

Ease of Birding: targeted species, some are difficult

Suggested Airlines: Royal Air Maroc

Group size: Min. 7 / Max. 10 participants, if you are a tour company please let us know!

Route Map

YOUR LOCAL EXPERT BIRD GUIDE:
Brahim Mezane was born in the sahara desert of Morocco in 1986, having a Berber father and mother. He has been an enthusiastic birder since he was 15 years old and has been bird watching all over Morocco and Western Sahara. He has been working a several years of guiding for other companies and has led many very successful tours to all over Morocco. In 2013 Brahim created a bird guide company in Morocco called Gayuin Birding Tours to be able to offer his own tours and activities. He speaks English, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and Berber.