Posted on March 15, 2015


Everyone I know who has visited Morocco raised an eyebrow or two when I said I was headed for Agadir. I was met with responses like,

“There’s nothing in Agadir, better to stay in Essaouira.

“I was unimpressed, the medinas don’t have much to offer.”

“It’s for surfers and gamblers…”

It is actually on the verge of blossoming if it can continue to get investment and tourism. What does it offer? Well at the moment is appeals to casino-lovers, waterbabies and clubbers.  It’s further south, so the weather is warmer than in Marrakech and it is fast becoming a contender to knock Casablanca off its nightlife perch, not that we had time to test the clubs out..

My objective was not to party – did that already with the trumpet player. My reason for coming here was specifically to get outdoors and visit Souss-Massa National Park. It is a World Heritage Site famed for its wetlands and more than 200 bird species. I was craving to get back to nature after being medinad-out.

I arranged a guide for the following day and we managed to haggle a decent price for a private grand taxi one way. An hour later a skinny, chatty guy called Mohammed who is bird expert was leading us through a Berber village, into the main Massa gate and along the estuary. The terrain is rock and sand then it opens out to the ocean where we hiked along the cliff face for five hours in search of the endangered and elusive Bald Ibis. I am by no means a birder or twitcher but I am interested in wildlife and I was delighted how excellent his English was and his knowledge about the areas and birds. He also had a spiky sense of humour which was wonderful and came as a bit of a surprise.

Here there are four main species that bird enthusiasts come to see: bald ibis; brown trotted sand martin; marble duck and the blacked crowned tchagra.

Along our route we spotted Moussi’s red start; Sardinian warbler; Cattle irrit; grey heron; Audluin’s gull and many Moroccan cormorants (subspecies).

The sun and the wind were fierce and our trek although mainly flat was tough going. I love to walk and I think Mohammed was not prepared for how much walking we would do. The singer and I managed a five and a half hour hike before our feet and stomachs started to complain. The Ibis we saw from a distance – just two – Mohammed was determined to see if they would settle in the rock face where we could sit and observe them; but sadly the wind was too strong and they didn’t hang about.

On our way back we took two grand taxis and I was feeling rather chuffed that we had managed all this without too much agro that we even stopped for a pastry in the local bakery. Ha- spoke too soon. As soon as we left the taxi station I asked someone where Sidi Bouknadel was. I was asking for the street, but didn’t preface my question with the key word “rue” (road). Little did I realise that this is the name of a mountain. We were less than 5mins from our digs but our detour took an hour because all five people we asked kept sending us towards the mountains saying it was took late to get there by foot and too far. I was so confused. I knew we were being pointed in the wrong direction but couldn’t for the life of me understand why. Finally a man in the cab office waiting for his driver spoke English and explained to us we hadn’t used the work Rue Sidi Boukhal, so people thought we wanted to get to the mountain! Talk about lost in translation.