The landscape of Khenifiss National Park is far from uniform and is – arguably—one of Morocco’s most distinct national parks. Comprising a mysterious mix of a desert plateau, coastal dunes, lagoon and wetlands, Khenifiss supports a diverse ecosystem that’s a UNESCO and RAMSAR wetlands site.
The 1850 square kilometre national park runs parallel to the Atlantic Coast in southwest Morocco and sprawls inwards towards the windswept Sahara Desert plateau. Interestingly enough, the park is across the ocean from the Canary Islands, a popular tourist destination.
The Khenifiss lagoon is the largest lagoon on the Moroccan coast and is the park’s main attraction. Cocooning the lagoon is the magnificent RAMSAR wetlands site, an area supporting 20 000 nesting birds during the winter.
The wetlands and coastal dunes contrast the typically sandy Saharan interior, which is characterised by elegant dunes and limestone plateaus. Activities centre around ecotourism—birding is the main activity in the area, as well as hiking and visits to the salt pans.
Khenifiss is located between the towns of Tan-Tan and Tarfava. There’s a local airport in Tan-Tan, served by many of the big international airports. The National Route 1 intersects the park, making it quite an easy self-drive destination.
Khenifiss National Park is located close to the town of Tan-Tan where there is a local airport where various international flights are able to land. A well-maintained road makes for an easy self-drive excursion.
The park is a birder’s paradise with special species like the Marbled teal, Ruddy shelduck and Audoin's gull at the top of the list. Visitors can also spot hundreds of pink flamingos, white spoonbills, oystercatchers and several species of waders.
The major highlight of visiting the park is to see the population of resident and migratory wintering birds. The significant number of waterfowl descending upon the lagoon during winter is phenomenal.
There are three species of bird of global significance found in the area, which include the Marbled teal, Ruddy shelduck, and Audoin's gull. Visitors can also spot hundreds of pink flamingos, white spoonbills, oystercatchers and several species of waders. Birds are drawn to the wetland site because of the abundant fish life. The area truly is a treasure trove of ornithological delights.
Further inland, in the hardier desert landscape, visitors can spot porcupines, red foxes and the rare Cuvier’s gazelle. Because it’s the Sahara, there’s a high chance of spotting plenty camels.
The national park is a year-round destination. Visitors can enjoy nature and wilderness adventures any time of year. The summer period is from July to October, and temperatures do escalate during this time.
The coast regulates the inland temperatures, so the climate throughout the year is moderate. Winter is the time for birding activities, which is from November to March.
The most popular attraction in the park is the famous lagoon. It’s a major drawcard for birders from around the world, who flock to the region in pursuit of spotting a sea of pink flamingos, rare gulls and other lifers.
The lagoon is bordered and protected by dunes, and is best explored by boat. Boat rides introduce visitors to the spectacular array of birds on the shoreline and provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy a spot of fishing.
There are a few salt pans dotted around the area. Visitors can witness locals making salt, and photograph the exquisite natural surrounds.
There are so many accommodation options in Kheniffis National Park. The close towns of Akhfenir and Tarfaya provide several types of accommodation options, which are only about 20 kilometres from the park. For the more adventurous at heart, visitors can spend time camping in the desert.