Bird Watching, Beaches & Exotic Gardens in Morocco

Just outside of Kenitra is Mehdiya, a small town that has a decent beach brimming with Moroccan tourists during the summer months of July and August. While Mehdiya isn’t anything to write home about, per se, except for its ruined kasbah that overlooks an etuary, the Lac du Sidi Bourhaba makes a valuable day trip for those interested in bird watching in Morocco.

The Lac du Sidi Bourhaba is a freshwater lake that has a small jetty separating it. For bird-watching enthusiasts, the best place to view the wildlife is along this causeway, which can be accessed by foot. Don’t be surprised if you spot several marsh harriers above looking to swoop down for a meal on any number of the dragonflies colorfully skittering about. This pristine environment is also home to several types of frogs and toads, which can be heard best right before sunset.

Those wanting to travel to Lac Du Sidi Bourhaba don’t have far to go. If you are staying the night in Kenitra, then simply take public transport or hire a grand taxi to take you to Mehidya. From there, Sidi Bourhaba isn’t hard to find. Its long and narrow banks make it a wonderful place for an early morning or late afternoon stroll. In the summer, not too many Moroccans frequent the area, so don’t be surprised if you have the entire strip to yourself.

If you have the right photographic equipment, namely a wide-angle lens or especially a great telephoto, then taking photographs in Morocco will occupy much of your time. In the Lac du Sidi Bourhaba, shots of the warbler, the crested coot, or even the overly abundant kite are worth a few megabytes of digital film. If you are traveling near Kenitra in the winter months, particularly in February, then you are bound to spot flamingos, godwits, and, if you are lucky, the rarer African marsh owl. Plus, the springtime sees an influx of crocuses, brooms, and marigolds.

Closer to Kenitra, just about 14 miles away (22 km), is the well-known Plage des Nations and the equally impressive Jardins Exotiques. While the bird watching in these areas is limited, the beach makes a great mid-day escape before heading back to the marsh at sunset. Plage des Nations is easily found on the road that runs along the coastline. While those who frequent the beach know it well, others who want to enjoy a nice swim in Morocco’s safer waters shouldn’t venture here alone. The area, named to honor the diplomatic families who often swim here, is a relaxing getaway where even women in bikinis aren’t hassled as much as elsewhere. Plage des Nations is great for surfing, but visitors should pay attention to the areas of strong currents before jumping in. In the summertime, lifeguards patrol the central beach with all the equipment necessary for a rescue.

Another worthwhile experience is a quick visit to the Jardins Exotiques, which are located just three miles (5 km) from Plage des Nations. These exotic gardens were first started by a Frenchman named Francois in the 1950s, but were left in ruins until the latter 1980s when the Moroccan government began its restoration. The gardens are now back, flaring with beautiful and exotic plant life found nowhere else in North Africa. All of these different activities near Kenitra make it a region where you could spend a couple of relaxing days basking in the sun, watching the diverse birdlife, and taking a stroll through the beautifully restored exotic gardens.