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Butterflies of Morocco's High Atlas Mountains

Tour Code: MAR02

An 8-day holiday in search of the butterflies of the High Atlas Mountains. A wealth of other wildlife, mountain walks, spectacular scenery, and the colourful culture of the Berber people are amongst other holiday highlights.

dates & prices to be confirmed Land Only Price: £ SRS: £

Our trip centres in the High Atlas, a beautiful mountain range that is as high as the Alps and stretches for 700km across Morocco. From our base at Ouirgane, a little village in the heart of the High Atlas foothills, we’ll make day-trips to look for many of the butterfly species special to the country including Moroccan endemics such as Vaucher’s Heath, North African endemics and localised subspecies such as Green-veined White. We’ll be hoping to find about 45 species during our trip, including as many as six of the eight Moroccan endemics. There are many birds of interest in the High Atlas and we’ll also find time to look for species such as Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker and Crimson-winged Finch, as well as enjoy leisurely picnic lunches and the splendid scenery around us.

  • Moroccan endemics such as Moroccan Meadow Brown & Moroccan Copper 
  • North African endemics include Giant Grayling, Dark Giant Grayling & Moroccan Hairstreak
  • Look for localised subspecies Moroccan High Brown Fritillary & Martin’s Blue
  • Will best suit those who enjoy mountain walking, though walks will be at a gentle pace
  • Very reliable warm weather & sunshine, ideal for butterflies!
  • Single-centre holiday based in rustic & comfortable Berber-style inn, with pool
  • Atlas Flycatcher, Moussier’s Redstart, Tristram’s Warbler & Seebohm’s Wheatear
  • Enjoy colourful flowers in the High Atlas 
  • Tasty traditional Moroccan & French food served at our inn
  • Led by expert naturalist guide


All included in the price.


A small, rural hotel set in large grounds with a swimming pool and spectacular views. The comfortable rooms all have private facilities.

Moroccan Orange-tip (Jim Asher - Butterly Conservation)

Moroccan Orange-tip (Jim Asher - Butterly Conservation)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Marrakech and transfer Ouirgane

Day 2/7 Butterfly and natural history excursions in the High Atlas

Day 8 Fly London

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EM>Moroccan Orange-tip by Jim Asher/EM>

/TD>/TR>/TBODY>/TABLE>The High Atlas is a special place — a fertile, self-sufficient Berber ‘fortress’ whose snow-capped summits rise to over 4,000 metres above the hot and dusty plains of Marrakech and, to the south, the arid stony deserts and rugged hills of the pre-Sahara. Home to the endangered Barbary Sheep, such regional avian specialities as Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker, Seebohm’s Wheatear, Moussier’s Redstart, Tristram’s Warbler and Crimson-winged Finch, and the allembracing culture of the colourful and likeable Berber people, the High Atlas offers all the intrigue and atmosphere of an unfamiliar and fascinating Third-world environment that, it is hard to believe, is just a 3-hour flight from London.   Unlike the longer trekking holidays that we have been operating in the area for over 20 years, this single-centre butterfly holiday is based in a charming and comfortable rural hotel built to traditional Berber designs and set within six hectares of private grounds. Indeed, it would be easy to enjoy this beautiful area with its fabulous scenery, clear mountain air, wonderful sunsets and tasty local cuisine without venturing far! However, it is our aim to explore and enjoy the natural history (especially the butterflies) of the High Atlas around the Mount Toubkal National Park during daily wildlife excursions into the mountains and their lush valleys. The flora, too, will not go unnoticed, for at this season in the High Atlas it is at its best.   We begin our holiday with a flight to Marrakech, from where we will drive south, up into the High Atlas Mountains, to our hotel near Ouirgane. Our first excursions will focus on walks around the hotel gardens and the vicinity of the hotel, where good numbers of butterflies include such species as Bath White, Atlas Blue, African Babal Blue, Swallowtail, Scarce Swallowtail and Cleopatra. The bubbling, melodic songs of Common Bulbuls fill the air whilst, amongst other bird species to be seen are Woodchat Shrike, Sardinian Warbler and Red-rumped Swallow. We will also visit the nearby Azzaden Valley, where we will explore the riverbed area and stop at the viewing platform overlooking a reserve established to protect the endangered Barbary Sheep. Such butterfly species as Cardinal, Red Admiral and 0 Ilex Hairstreak may be seen as we ascend the trail here, as well as such birds as Rollers, Golden Orioles and a variety of birds of prey, including Booted Eagle, Long-legged Buzzard and perhaps even a Lammergeier.

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EM>Cardinal by Jim Asher/EM>


On two days we will visit Oukaimeden, one of the higher regions of the High Atlas that can be reached by road. The lush green basin at Oukaimeden is unique within the High Atlas, and we will spend one day exploring it, and another enjoying the many road-side habitats encountered as the road ascends through them. In the basin, or ‘mountain sanctuary’ of Oukaimeden itself, Southern Marsh Orchids and Star of Bethlehem are numerous and, amongst the butterflies at this altitude, we may find Vaucher’s Heath, Dark Giant Grayling, and both Mazarine and Amanda’s Blue, whilst birds found here include Rock Sparrow, Seebohm’s Wheatear, Shore Lark, Moussier’s Redstart, Alpine Chough and Crimsonwinged Finch. Of further interest is a selection of prehistoric rock carvings on the granite boulders.   Other high regions we will explore include two mountain passes. The first of these, the Tizi n’ Tamatert (at 2,279 metres), to which we will walk from the roadhead village of Imlil, offers tremendous views and good numbers of butterflies, especially on the lush, damp slopes on the walk in and out. Swallowtails, Clouded Yellows and a variety of whites, browns, blues and skippers are to be found, as well as such birds as Barbary Partridge, Moussier’s Redstart, Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker and Tristram’s Warbler. We will reach the second pass, the Tizi n’ Test (at 2,092 metres), after a scenic mountain drive. Wild thyme abounds around the pass and is likely to be covered in 0 Ilex Hairstreaks. Many other butterflies will be seen en route, and Quail may be heard from the barley fields, whilst finches, buntings and warblers feed along the stone walls, hedges and irrigation ditches. Before returning to our hotel we will visit the twelfth century Mosque de Timnel, the oldest in Morocco.   We will also explore the lush valleys of the High Atlas. The Oued Nfis valley is one such, its flower-filled riverside fields alive with butterflies such as Clouded Yellow, Berger’s Clouded Yellow, 0 Ilex Hairstreak, Moroccan Orange-tip and African Babel Blue. We may also be lucky enough to find a family of Barbary Ground Squirrels playing amongst the rocks and see such birds as Bee-eaters, Rollers, Black Wheatears and Short-toed Eagle. We will enjoy a picnic lunch at a Berber farmhouse in the village of Ait Zitoun where we may share a cup of Moroccan mint tea with our host.   After leaving our hotel on the last day we will stop at Asni and visit the colourful weekly market. After taking in the sights and sounds we must leave the mountains and return to Marrakech for our midafternoon flight back to London.

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I did enjoy the holiday and everyone involved did their best to please. Thank you.
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We will be running this tour in the near future but as yet have not finalised dates and prices. To register your interest and be added a waiting list to be informed when details are confirmed, please contact us or phone 01962 733051.

Visiting: Morocco

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I did enjoy the holiday and everyone involved did their best to please. Thank you.
M.L., 942