Thursday 14 March 2013

Morocco - Rain in the Sahara with you

I awoke several times in the night thinking that it might be raining. Surely I was imagining it? Just like the snoring that I had thought I had heard but that had stopped every time I woke up. But when it came to our wake up call there was no doubt. Looking out of the bathroom window, it was chucking it down. Oh dear, this wasn't in the script, was it? I mean, Morocco is a desert country, everywhere we had been was dry, no water anywhere - the lake at Merzouga, the pool at Yasmina, most rivers we had driven past.

Out on Tagdilt it alternated between drizzle and downpour. Bollocks. No photos, and indeed no birding. Bang went my chances for Sandgrouse, so we went back for a muted breakfast at the Riad Soleil Bleu. It continued raining, and our minds were made up: abandon Tagdilt and head back west immediately - this way we would get over the Atlas in good time for birding the Ourika Valley from dawn tomorrow.


Unbelievable. Heavy rain overnight had created flash flooding, water running down from the mountains had made the main east-west road unpassable. Even large trucks were waiting, we didn't fancy risking our large deposit...... Nevermind we thought brightly, we'll go birding! So we spent several hours sat in the car whilst the desert became a series of lakes and rivers.....I did the decent thing and fell asleep in the front seat. Four hours later we were able to cross, but the damage was done, and our day of birding was finished. Somehow the flood had subsided almost as quickly as it had risen up, and although we still had to ford the crossing, and about 14 others en route, we were able to progress fairly easily, and made the Atlas pass by nightfall, and another delicious meal at another ridiculously cheap hotel. Tomorrow would be our final day, but would it be a productive one?

Richard is somewhere in this photo


  1. I had no idea that Morocco had snowy mountains. Live and learn.

    I was wondering if rain was really unusual there, but judging from the occasional greenery and the garb I see people wearing in your photos, it must be at least somewhat occasional.

    Once I took a visit to the California high deserts (Death Valley region) when it happened to rain and it was quite beautiful. The rain revealed lovely colors in the layers of the rock that made up the mountains and the grasses also turned very distinctive shades when they were wet. The smells were different as well.

    Anyway, birds or no birds, it sounds like an utterly foreign and fascinating experience. I will miss sandgrouse though... that sounds like a good bird.

  2. Hard luck on the birds, but those mountains are stunning.

  3. You made the decision that you were going to enjoy the outdoors with your family, today, on one of the few really beautiful days the season promises, before the cold of winter sets in.relaxing nature sounds