Word is quickly getting out to birdwatching enthusiasts that the arid desert of southern Morocco is the place to go for seeing some truly rare and stunning desert species. And although experienced birdwatchers are a notoriously patient and persistent group, you won’t have a chance to get bored looking at all the species on offer—if you know where to go.
The so-called Tagdilt Track, a road covering a vast expanse of land in southeastern Morocco, is likely your best bet to tick off as many desert birds as possible on your list, including the stricking black and white mourning wheatear, the desert lark, Temminck’s horned lark and the cream-colored courser. In spring, shallow ponds occasionally appear and you can, if you’re lucky, even spot a flock of pink flamingos.
Located about an hour’s drive from Ouarzazate, a picturesque Berber town where films like Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator were shot, Tagdilt Track covers hundreds of kilometers of the area’s rocky desert terrain.
One impressed recent visitor wrote about the area:
Just on the outskirts of the town, you quickly enter some fantastic stony desert scenery, with wide open spaces, vast horizons and camels! Birding is awesome, with larks, birds of prey and wheatears predominating. We birded the area all afternoon, returning to the hotel after dusk, then again all the following morning.
Don’t miss two impressive gorges nearby, the Gorge du Dades and the Gorge du Todra, both beautiful and increasingly popular climbing destinations.
Four-wheel-drive vehicles are suggested for navigating the bumpy track and, perhaps more importantly, avoiding the odd camel which might wander in front of you.
For accommodations, the Hotel Soleil Bleu in the nearby town of Boulmane is highly recommended.
For more on birdwatching in the Moroccan desert, check out the indispensable Finding Birds in Morocco, by Dave Gosney.
Written by Aaron Hotfelder.
Photo by this is for the bird.