Located directly south of Soussa Massa reserve, rests the ecologically rich Oued Massa Nature Reserve of Morocco. The extensive Oued Massa lagoon takes centre stage in the nature reserve and has a protected status because of its abundant flora and plethora of avifauna. The Northern Bald Ibis—a threatened species—is localised in this area, and the reserve is home to one of the world’s few breeding colonies.
Framed by soft desert dunes, the Oued Massa lagoon is a prime birding destination. It’s relatively tricky to find the lagoon, which is why many visitors opt to hire a local guide for their expert area knowledge. Birders often combine a trip to the lagoon with a visit to the surrounding Souss-National Park, a region rich with wildlife.
Although access to the lagoon isn’t well signposted, getting to the area is easy. From the popular tourist town of Agadir, it’s an hour’s drive away. Agadir has an international airport—many visitors choose to stay in the major town and conduct day trips into the nature reserve.
Oued Massa Nature Reserve is a vitally important birding habitat and forms part of the migratory route for many birds. Migrating birds stop over in the lagoon for breeding and feeding, before heading south for the summer. There are also local birds inhabiting the area, which include the extremely rare and unique bald ibis, little crake, snipe and cranes.
Wading birds to spot include storks, flamingos, spoonbills and herons. There are also osprey, brown-throated martin, western marsh harrier and black-crowned Tchagra. In the dry land surrounding the lagoon, it’s quite possible to spot ostrich. Mammals are present in the area, and a few notable species in the area include oryx, Dorcas gazelle, mongooses, wild boars and jackals.
Oued Massa is a fantastic year-round destination, particularly for birding. The best time to visit is dependent on what birds visitors would like to spot. Spring sees a flurry of bee-eaters, shrikes and hoopoes. Spring is also the time when flowers come to life, providing a spectacle of colour.
Winter is from November to April, and summer is from June to August.
The main activity in the nature reserve is birding. Each area of the reserve offers unique sightings, so visitors are encouraged to explore the landscape in its entirety. Hiring a private nature guide or area specialist is the best option to take in all that the reserve has to offer.
Trekking is another common activity in the area. There are well-marked trails in the reserve. Trails meander around the lagoon, through fields and along the coast. It’s here where visitors can spot birds along deserted coastlines and on the banks of the lagoon. The authentic fishing villages on the banks are also worth exploring and provide insight into local life.
Tourists visiting Oued Massa Nature Reserve tend to stay in Agadir, which is brimming with luxury hotels, beach clubs, self-catering villas and budget accommodation. The smaller villages en route to the reserve offer camping facilities and home-stays. Agadir is the best option because of its location to the airport.