WESTERN SAHARA: Golden Nightjar & Sand Cat 2019

DATES & PRICES
Dates: Thursday 28th March – Thursday 4th April 2019 (Dakhla to Dakhla)
Tour Price:
£1,625 
plus flight 
Estimated Flight Price:
London to Dakhla via Casablanca approx. £400 return

Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: Approx. £150pp 
Deposit: £350 per person
Minimum Number required for trip to run: 5 people
Maximum Group Size: 5 people
Accommodation: 4 nights Dakhla and 3 nights in our simple desert house near Aousserd


Target Birds:
Golden Nightjar, African Dunn’s Lark, Cricket Warbler, Spotted Sandgrouse, Crowned Sandgrouse, Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Desert Sparrow, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Black-crowned Sparrowlark, Vagrants & more!
Target Mammals:
Sand Cat, Fennec Fox, Ruppell’s Fox, Lesser Egyptian Jerboa and Atlantic Humpback Dolphin

Conservation work that you will directly contribute to by joining this holiday:
Donations from this tour will go to our central conservation fund. More details on the projects we support can be found on our Conservation Projects page.

TOUR SUMMARY & FULL ITINERARY

This new 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. A good amount of time will also be spent looking for birds and mammals during the hours of darkness.Golden-Nightjar
Golden Nightjar by Peter Stronach
The recent exciting discovery of Golden Nightjars that appear to be breeding in Western Sahara will be high on our list of target species as well as other difficult species within the Western Palearctic region such as Cricket Longtail, African Dunn’s Lark and Black-crowned Sparrowlark . Of course, there will also be plenty of other desert specialities which we will also search for including Desert Sparrow, Spotted and Crowned Sandgrouse, African Desert Warbler, Pharaoh Eagle Owl, Greater Hoopoe Lark and Cream-coloured Courser, some of which can be found in larger numbers compared to further north on the usual Morocco birding circuits.

Finally, mammals will also play a large part in the focus of the tour as we have good chances of finding Fennec Fox, Lesser Egyptian Jerboa, Atlantic Humpback Dolphin and with luck the beautiful Sand Cat or Rüppell’s Fox. Unlike other tours to this region, we have access to a basic house in the desert (clean but simple) and there is no need to camp.

DAY 1
Arrive into Dakhla on a late evening flight and transfer to our comfortable hotel with views across Dakhla Bay. Overnight Dakhla Bay

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.
During the afternoon we will travel to the start of the Aousserd Road. 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 Greater Hoopoe Lark, Bar-tailed Desert Lark, Desert Sparrow and Southern Grey Shrike.
Overnight Dakhla Bay

DAY 3
We will spend the morning checking the areas close to our hotel for waders and migrants and explore some of the various bays and lagoons around Dakhla. After lunch we will head down the Aousserd Road travelling further than the previous day, this time reaching Oued Jenna in time for sunset and our first attempt for Golden Nightjar. We shall have some food in the desert before heading slowly back along the Aousserd Road spotlighting for mammals and other wildlife. Overnight near Aousserd

DAYS 4 – 5
During the next couple of days 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 and Pharaoh Eagle Owl. During the nights we will spotlight along the road and other areas where we have a good chance of finding Sand Cat, Ruppell’s Fox, Lesser Egyptian Jerboa, Lesser Egyptian Gerbil, Desert Hedgehog and both Horned and Sand Vipers.  Overnight near Aousserd

DAY 6
Today we slowly travel back towards Dakhla making a number of stops en route to check for any species that we are missing. Dependent on time, we may explore a track towards Bir Anzarane which can be productive for both birds and mammals, such as Temminck’s Lark and Cream-coloured Courser as well as both Sand Cat and Fennec Fox. If time allows we will visit Gleb Jdiane again for any newly arrived migrants and rarities. Overnight Dakhla Bay

DAY 7

We will leave our final day to focus on any species that we may be missing as sandstorms can sometimes cause problems and may have prevented us from visiting certain sites. We will explore the Dakhla Bay area again and in particular, we will visit La Sarga where we hope to find Lesser Crested Tern and Spectacled Warbler. This will also give us further opportunities to look for Atlantic Humpback Dolphin in the bay and to look for migrants and possible rarities that may be present in the nearby Taourta gardens. We should also have plenty of time to check the coastal bays for numerous waders, gulls and terns and anything unusual that may be amongst the commoner species.  Overnight Dakhla Bay
DAY 8
Early in the morning we will take the short transfer of 10 minutes to Dakhla airport for our return flight back to the UK where the tour concludes.

*Please note this itinerary may change slightly (to increase our chances of key species) dependent on the most recent information fro our local guides*

IMPORTANT HOLIDAY DETAILS
Leaders: Wise Birding Leader and local guides
Included in cost: All accommodation (see below), all meals (breakfast from day 2 to Evening meal on day 7), all water, ground transport and services of leaders
NOT Included in cost: International airfare, travel insurance, drinks other than water, any airport/visa fees and items of a personal nature
Accommodation: Basic but clean and comfortable house in the desert with mattresses, sleeping bags, running water and solar electricity. Plus Dakhla Hotel in ensuite rooms.
Food: Packed lunches and/or evening meals in the field dependent on our itinerary. Breakfast from day 2 to Evening meal on day 7.
Single Supplement: Approx. £99
Max. Group Size: 6
Transport: 4×4 vehicles throughout tour
Difficulty: Easy with the majority of birding done in close proximity to our vehicle.
Climate: Surprisingly pleasant temperatures in around the mid 20s degrees centigrade
Meeting Point: Dakhla airport, Western Sahara
Tour End: Dakhla airport, Western Sahara
Suggested Airlines: Royal Air Maroc
Note: This is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted in relation to arrival and departure times, weather conditions and other related factors.