If you’re looking for an easy day trip from Agadir during your holiday to Morocco with Journey Beyond Travel, travel a few kilometers south to the Souss-Massa National Park, which attracts bird watchers and offers a serene escape from the country’s bustling cities.
Morocco established the coastal park in 1991 to preserve the endangered northern bald ibis, which breeds on the site’s rocky cliffs. Once widespread in Africa, Asia and Europe, this declining breed now exists in few locations and has a conservation status of critically endangered. Visitors can recognize the migratory bird by its featherless red face, long bill and black-feathered body.
Attentive observers may also catch a glimpse of another threatened bird—the marbled duck. These medium-sized ducks have light brown and off-white splotches and tend to feed in shallow water. If you encounter one, move cautiously—they startle easily.
The park’s diverse mix of dense forests and wetlands, sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs and enormous sand dunes provides habitats for more than 100 species of birds, making this area Morocco’s premier bird watching site. Gulls and warblers make up a large proportion of the area’s feathered residents, and observers are most likely to spot Audouin’s gulls, Sardinian warblers and Tristram’s warblers. Other commonly sighted birds include spoonbills, thick-billed larks, red-necked nightjars, Barbary partridges and spotless starlings.
Bird watchers flock to the national park October through May, though you’re likely to see the greatest range of species in March and April due to migratory patterns. While you’re there, keep your eyes peeled for the many predators that hover over the habitats, such as Bonelli’s eagles and peregrine and Barbary falcons.
Even visitors without a particular interest in birds enjoy the park for its scenic estuaries, Oued Souss and Oued Massa, which indicate the northern and southern limits of the park, respectively. The nature trail in the northern part of the park offers clear views around Oued Souss and is suitable for hikers as well visitors who prefer a casual stroll. Those who opt to explore the park thoroughly reap the rewards of panoramas of coastal cliffs and towering sand dunes.
Naturally, birds aren’t the only residents here; commonly sighted mammals include hedgehogs, rabbits, squirrels, foxes and weasels. Watch for movement in the flora and fauna and you might stumble upon toads, frogs, geckos, lizards and other reptiles and amphibians. Curious visitors can learn more about the national park and its residents from the visitor center at Oued Massa as well as by keeping up with all the great information on our Morocco blog, written by our travel experts.
Written by Shelley A. Gable, instructional designer and freelance writer.
Photo by Michael Ransburg.