Souss-Massa NP, Cap Rhir, Toubkal NP, Haut Atlas Oriental NP & Ifrane NP, Morocco
£1,795 pp sharing
At a Glance
Dates: June 16th - June 24th, 2023
Extension: Three-nights in Tarifa and Gibraltar, priced at £1,295 pp with no single supplement.
Prices: £1,795 pp sharing (with no supplement), excluding international flights.
In a sentence: Morocco packs a real punch with its delicious food, warm hospitality and stunning scenery - but this tour reveals yet another strings to its bow with impressive and diverse wildlife-watching opportunities.
Morocco is undeniably a must-visit. The beauty of the High Atlas is hard to describe, smattered as it so often is with both snow and sand. The people are unfailingly kind and welcoming, and the food only too delicious. But the wildlife here is often overlooked, perhaps in part because of the absence of the 'sexy' predators that draw in so many tourists elsewhere on the continent. This is a shame, as the diligent wildlife-watcher draws great satisfaction from the smaller mammals so easily seen here. But if the promise of rats and bats aren't enough to tempt you, the diversity of what can be seen should. From truly wild Barbary macaques to reintroduced addax and scimitar-horned oryx to the plentiful cetaceans of the Strait of Gibraltar, Morocco should be towards the top of every naturalist's list.
On arrival into Marrakech Airport, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris tour leader and the rest of your group and transferred to your comfortable local hotel. There will be a pre-tour briefing in the hotel this evening, but the remainder of the day is at leisure, and we can arrange a city tour for you at extra cost.
It will be an early start this morning as we head south-west for approximately four hours to reach the Souss-Massa NP. One of Morocco's most developed national parks, Souss-Massa is a real birder's paradise, offering an excellent chance of spotting several rarities including the northern bald ibis. There is also a hive of activity when it comes to the reintroduction of threatened species here, with addax and scimitar-horned oryx present and living semi-wild in large enclosures. Dama gazelle and dorcas gazelle are also present, and guests may be lucky enough to spot cetaceans including bottlenose dolphin and Atlantic humpback dolphin off the coast.
After checking in to a nearby guesthouse, we will return to the area immediately outside the national park for a night drive, aiming to locate a number of smaller mammals that thrive in this rich environment between the Sahara and the coast.
Souss-Massa & Cap Rhir
This morning we return to Souss-Massa for further birding and mammal-watching before heading north through Agadir, where we stop for lunch, for approximately two hours to Cap Rhir. This point is best known for its impressive surfing, as large waves barrel in from the Atlantic, but the rock formations just inland are a reliable spot for aoudad, a hugely impressive wild sheep. We will spend the afternoon searching for these Barbary sheep, before overnighting at a local hotel.
Cap Rhir & Toubkal NP
We have several more hours around Cap Rhir this morning, aiming to locate the few aoudad that persist here, before we have a long drive ahead to the Toubkal National Park. We aim to arrive just before nightfall. If time permits, we will head out on a night drive near our guesthouse.
Toubkal NP & Askar
A pre-dawn drive allows for another opportunity to spot aoudad, this time in the beautiful foothills of Mt Toubkal, before another lenghty drive northwards to the town of Askar. A night drive this evening will focus on locating smaller mammals, including the entertaining North African sengi.
We have a full day around the town of Askar and Boutferda today, with key targets being the very few remaining leopard in Morocco (Boutferda is one of the few places from where recent sightings have been reported) as well as several species of sengi.
Haut Atlas Oriental NP
Today we embark on a scenic five-hour drive through the High Atlas to the Haut Atlas Oriental NP, a vast conservation area. After settling in to our local guesthouse, we will head out either on foot or by vehicle to seek out Cuvier's gazelle, and we may also get lucky with an aoudad sighting too.
Haut Atlas Oriental NP
A full day's hike in this proposed national park is not only truly stunning, but also offers another chance at spotting the elusive aoudad, as well as Cuvier's gazelle.
A 2.5 hour drive this morning takes us to Ifrane National Park. This park is a key stronghold for the threatened Barbary macaque, which has a highly fragmented habitat in North Africa. These entertaining primates are well-seen here, and we will be sure to spend several hours in their company, before continuing on to Rabat. Here, guests may be dropped off directly at the airport, or can spend an extra night in Rabat for additional cost. For those enjoying the extension, we continue on to Tangier.
Day Ten (Extension)
Tangier & Tarifa
This morning guests are welcome to explore the city of Tangier before we cross the Strait of Gibraltar by ferry to Tarifa in time for a 4pm whale-watching excursion. The most common species seen here are short-beaked common dolphin, striped dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, long-finned pilot whale, fin whale, sperm whale and orca. We will overnight in a local hotel.
Day Eleven (Extension)
Tarifa & Gibraltar
A 10.00 whale-watching trip this morning is designed to maximise your chance of spotting orca just off the coast of Morocco. Returning to land at 13.00, it is then just a one-hour drive to the British territory of Gibraltar. After going through customs, we will head directly for the famed Rock of Gibraltar, which we will walk at sunset, offering great views and the chance to see much tamer Barbary macaques than those in Ifrane! We will overnight at an excellent local hotel.
Day Twelve (Extension)
After a chance to explore Gibraltar a little this morning, you will transfer to the airport for your homeward flights.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may
occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in June 2023, aiming to coincide with the very best whale-watching conditions in the Strait of Gibraltar, as well as warm conditions in the High Atlas. This means that, at lower levels, temperatures will be very warm. The tour will run from June 16th to June 24th 2023, with the extension ending on June 27th.
The cost of this trip is £1,795 per person excl. flights, with the optional extension priced at £1,295 pp sharing. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Drinks are not included. There is no single supplement for this trip To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £650 must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Marakech or Rabat at the beginning or end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Rabat after 25.00 on your return, if leaving on the same day that you return to Rabat to avoid disruption to your plans.
British nationals do not require a visa to enter Morocco. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Morocco in June is hot and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 33 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 17 degrees Celsius. Temperatures in the High Atlas will be slightly cooler.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing local currency or Euros.
Safety and Security
There are no security concerns in any of the areas visited by this tour.