Over recent weeks, I have been writing about our experiences while on a tour of Morocco. A few days ago I wrote about our camel ride into the Sahara and our overnight stay in a tent in the desert. On our return to a hotel on the edge of the desert, we had a late breakfast overlooking the desert. After the meal, we boarded our tour bus and moved on to the next destination.
While having breakfast I was able to get some good photos of some of the local birds, as shown in today’s post. The first one above is of the Eurasian Collared Dove, a relatively common bird in this part of the world. It is found throughout much of Europe, Asia and northern Africa, including Morocco. It has been introduced into North America. I actually photographed one in our garden in South Australia a few years ago – click here to see the photos of a sub-species, the Barbary Dove.
The next photo shows a lovely portrait of a Southern Grey Shrike. This species is found in many parts of northern Africa, the Pakistan-Indian region and in Spain. This was the first time I had seen this species so it is a “lifer” for my list.
The third species, as shown below, was a White-crowned Black Wheatear, another “lifer” bird species for me. It was a lovely way to end our visit to the Sahara, and one of the highlights of a wonderful tour of Morocco.
While on the camel ride into the desert I did see several other bird species but I was unable to identify them. It was very difficult to take photos of them from the constantly moving back of the camel I was riding. Near out camp in the desert, I also saw a small flock of House Sparrows.
Over recent post on this site, I have shared photos taken on our visit to Morocco several years ago now. As an aside, I am enjoying looking at the photos taken on that trip and selecting appropriate shots to share here. There is nothing like a few trips down memory lane.
In my most recent posts, I have written about our camel ride into the Sahara Desert and our stay overnight in a Berber tent right out in the desert. We returned, again riding camels, to the hotel shown in today’s photos in time for a late breakfast. This just happened to be on Christmas Day; it is a celebration of this important day that we will never forget. It was so different, for we normally would attend church, followed by a family get-together for lunch and/or dinner.
Just like all of our meals in Morocco, this was delicious. They certainly know how to put on a good feast for tourists in the places we stayed. Along the way, we also had some great meals in restaurants and other food outlets, especially for lunch. While I occasionally ordered the types of food we enjoy here in Australia, I was also adventurous and ordered more Moroccan style food. Tasting the local foods is one of the delights of travelling overseas, and visiting a totally different culture is inspiring. Even though I am not normally very adventurous when eating out here in Australia, I was determined to be different when touring. I really enjoyed this aspect of our time in Morocco – and then in Spain, but more of that in later posts.
During our brief visit to the Sahara Desert on a tour of Morocco I took a series of photos of the desert, the plants of the desert and some of the tracks seen in the sand. I guess I expected the sand dunes to be pristine, perhaps a little windswept and certainly not covered in all kinds of tracks. Sure – a few footprints like those in the photo of our tour group shown above.
In some parts of the desert through which we travelled on our camel rides into and out of the Sahara I saw many wheel tracks as well. Some of the tracks were obviously those of people walking, larger ones were certainly camel tracks and yet others were motor bike and four wheel drive vehicles.
But what about those shown immediately below? Are they bicycle tracks? I didn’t see anyone riding a bike, but I guess that with the right tyres and plenty of energy it might be possible.
I have no doubt about the tracks shown in the following photo. I am almost certain that this photo shows the track of a small reptile, though it was obviously out and about before I had climbed the sand dune near our camp site. I have no idea what kind of reptile made this track. It may have been a small lizard or a skink or gecko. If my readers can identify this, please let me know in the comments.
Just as puzzling are the tracks shown in the photo below. Are they from a bird? They appear to be of a hopping bird but I am not totally convinced. The only birds I saw on our brief visit to this part of the desert were some House Sparrows near our camp site, and some blue-grey finch-like birds on the camel ride into the desert. Sadly, the motion of the camel I was riding prevented me getting an identifiable photo.
On our tour of Morocco we had the privilege of experiencing dawn over the Sahara Desert. On the previous evening we had taken a camel ride into the desert. I have written about that in recent posts here. We had a delicious dinner of lamb and vegetables cooked in tagines for Christmas Eve, all consumed around a roaring camp fire. It gets cold in the Moroccan desert at night in December.
Later we slept in a Berber tent but we were woken by our guide well before dawn on Christmas Day. We slogged our way to the top of a nearby sand dune to witness sunrise over the desert. It was an amazing experience. The photo above shows the rising sun over towards the Algerian border about 30 km away. Our guide said that the border there was in dispute and this was about as close as we could safely go on our tour.
The photo immediately below shows some of our tour group watching and photographing the rising sun and the desert. The photos below that show some of the desert plant life, set against the colourful sand.
There was only one downside to this day; sand in our shoes!
Plenty of it, too.
I suspect some even made it through Spain and home to Australia.
Go to my archives to read more about our trip.
On our tour of Morocco we spent the last hour or so of daylight on Christmas Eve riding camels into the Sahara Desert. I have already written about this adventure several times here on this site – just look back over recent posts – or check in my archives.
While I felt uncomfortable riding the camel – not my preferred mode of transport – I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being in the desert. This once-in-a-lifetime adventure was all I hoped it to be. The colours are astounding, especially just before and during sunset which was the time of day we entered the desert. Because it was mid winter the air was crisp and clean; very little pollution out there.
I have called this camel ride a once only experience. I would love to return to Morocco some day but at my age, time is probably against me. Besides, in the limited number of years I still have I would like to experience other countries and cultures. Sadly, ill health has restricted me a little over the last year, but I am still hopeful of travelling in the coming years.
In fact, one of the reasons we went on this particular tour was at the request of our daughter. (She features in earlier posts here.) She had just finished six months of volunteer teaching in Ethiopia. After visiting her there the three of us continued on into Morocco and then Spain (photos of Spain to follow in coming months). Later in 2016 she returns to teach in Ethiopia again, but this time for two years. During that time I hope we can visit again, and visit several more European and African countries. Time will tell.