Choc n Pode

Discover Eleonora’s Falcons and Andalusian Hemipodes while enjoying vibrant Moroccan life.

7 days – 5th June – 11th June 2017

7 days – 12th June – 18th June 2018.

£1,195 per person (excludes flights)

Deposit: £240

Single supplement – £180

As well as being an under-explored Nature-lovers’ paradise full of hidden bird-watching gems, Morocco is a fascinating country full of rich colours and flavours and welcoming people.  This seven-day holiday takes in three diverse but equally enthralling bases, all within an easy drive of one another.  This will allow us to enjoy the very best of the local reserves and habitats while minimizing time spent on the road.  Apart from a refreshing boat trip on a tranquil lagoon, most of our exploring will be done by short walks on well-kept tracks.  We have plenty of room in our itinerary for relaxing in the shade with a mint tea, watching the vibrant tapestry of Moroccan life unfold in front of us.

There has been a fortress in Essaouira since 1506, but the modern day town was founded in 1760 by Mohammed III.  The town’s name in fact means ‘little fortress’, but can also be translated as ‘beautifully designed’.  It’s easy to see why as you wander the streets of the medina or old town, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Around the town, the port and the beach offer beautiful views of the coast and opportunities to see House Buntings, Common Bulbuls and Little Swift.

Essaouira, formerly Mogador, lies just north of where the beautiful Oued Ksob river reaches the sea.  Travel a few kilometres upriver and you will be treated to spectacular scenery where the river passes through magnificent gorges and valleys.  This area is host to local specialities like Moussier’s Redstart, Brown-throated Martin and Barbary Partridge .  Eleonora’s Falcons, which breed on the Île de Mogodor just offshore, use the river’s pools and meanders as bathing sites, and there are thrilling opportunities to observe and photograph their behaviour.

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Eleonora’s Falcon © Miguel González Perea

The pretty little resort of Oualidia spreads around a languid crescent-shaped lagoon fringed with golden sands and protected from the Atlantic surf by a rocky breakwater.  What better place to stay to explore a diversity of local habitats? From here, along the scenic road stretching north to El Jadida, rolling fields stretch right down to the coast to meet marshes, reedbeds, saltpans, sandy beaches and rocky outcrops.  The varied wetland sites we will visit on foot and by boat afford great opportunities to see Marbled Duck, Greater Flamingo, terns and stunningly close fishing Ospreys and a host of wading birds replete in their summer plumages.  As well as being extremely picturesque, the area is an important resting site for migrating birds and literally anything can turn up!

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On the neighbouring farmland, in 2007, a living Andalusian Hemipode was photographed for the first time in the Western Palearctic.  Thought extinct, the small population that breeds here was rediscovered in the 2000s.  It should go without saying that it is vitally important for the future of this population that bird-watchers keeping a respectful distance during the breeding season.  Luckily the many farm tracks through scrub and fallow land should give opportunities to hear and perhaps even see this most elusive of birds.  The farming here is traditional and non-intensive, so offers fantastic habitat for other resident and migrant species such as Turtle Doves and Speckled Flunkey Moth.

Marrakech, known as the ‘Red City’ for the vibrant colour of the walls of its UNESCO Heritage medina, is not to be missed.  Its thriving souks are a whirlwind of colour and spicy smells and there is architectural splendour all around.  House Buntings and Little Swifts can be seen flitting through and over the city’s exquisite gardens, intricately carved archways and ornate mosques.  At night the main square comes alive with performers, musicians, entertainers, dancers and circus acts, providing a sensational end to this vivid tapestry of a trip.

Click here for further information and itinerary