Thursday, 12 January 2017

Moroccan New Year

26 December 2016 to 1 January 2017


We spent four days in the foothills of the wonderful Atlas Mountains, just south of Marrakech in Morocco. The days were sunny and warm, but the nights unusually cold, so cold we even had frost on a couple of mornings. We stayed in Lalla Takerkoust at the fabulous Capaldi Hotel. We walked around the deserts and hills and spent one day driving an incredibly scenic circular route into the High Atlas at Imlil, having lunch at Kasbah Toubkal overlooking the second highest peak in Africa, before returning through one of the most spectacular valleys I've seen. Every twist and turn in the road revealed another jaw dropping view including the most incredible geological feature imaginable.

Enjoying the views to the Atlas

Black Wheatear
A hillside village near Ouirgane
Part of a massive flock of 1,500 Alpine and Red-billed Chough over Mount Toubkal

The High Atlas
Panoramic view from Kasbah Toubkal, Imlil
Cattle Egrets nesting near Asni

The amazing folds and faults in the earths crust between Asni and Tamazirt - absolutely unbelievable. They run
for several miles along the hills, on top of a lunar landscape plain. Just has to be seen to be believed.
What a bird - Moussier's Redstart, is quite common around the foothills
Black Wheatears are quite common around the mud villages in the foothills

Blue Rock Thrush
Blue Rock Thrush
The Gorge that was home to the Blue Rock Thrush
Lovely little desert oasis, imagine this is full of birds in the Spring
Cattle Egret already nest building in Asni

Common Crossbill
All the birds showed long and deep bills, and barely responded
to playback of Common Crossbill

House Bunting - I really enjoyed these friendly little birds
Laughing Dove is surprisingly common now in the villages and gardens in Marrakech and to the west
Little Ow - common resident around the mud villages
Typical views of a Moussier's Redstart in the desert

You could never bore of this beauty

Rock Sparrow
Southern Grey Shrike

Thekla Lark
Thekla was very common and the only lark species encountered in this area

White Stork in the trees at Asni
And in the river at Asni

The breathtaking view on arrival at The Capaldi in Lalla Takerkoust
We spent three days in the centre of the crazy city of Marrakech, staying in a Riad within the myriad twisting enclosed lanes inside the city walls. We visited a number of the special gardens as well as enjoying the overall experience in the souks and around the city.

This was the stunning courtyard of a Marrakech city centre hotel 

The beautiful and serene La Jardin Secret
I really loved this peaceful place in the heart of the madness of Marrakech

The dry garden in La Jardin Secret

My favourite space - just serene 

Yves St Laurent's garden - Jardin Majorelle

The Bahia Palace
Another stunning hotel courtyard space
This wonderful hotel was through a small door behind a patisserie

The famous Koutoubia Minaret that dominates the Marrakech skyline
The gardens of The Mamounia Hotel

Riad Enija - hidden deep in the Souks