The Aousserd road isn't really your typical holiday destination yet. It's not just only not crowded, but in fact we haven't seen a single visitor during the two and a half days we spent around the road. The amount of bird species to see isn't staggering, but some of them do not occur anywhere in the so-called Western Palearctic, the bio-geographic area of Europe and surrounding lands which largely shares the same fauna. And the amount of individual birds is quite surprising for a place that is supposed to be in the heart of Sahara.
But let's let the pictures do the talking! Most of those were taken by my wife, because I was mostly preoccupied with photographing the actual birds.
After 1500 kilometers of driving through a sandy and stony desert from Morocco proper, the first hundred of kilometers of the Aousserd road doesn't show much promise of the landscape any greener.
At least there are some truly wonderful desert vistas to be had along the road.
Further inland the road gets even sandier, with a sandstorm blowing over the road, adding to the already intense adventure.
And then the landscape changes. At first it's just some grass in the desert ... and then you arrive at Oued Jenna.
Oued Jenna is a huge stretch of tall grass and acacia trees. It is clearly visible on satelite maps, forming a huge river-like system, but without any surface water.
This is how I always dreamed up Africa - only the big animals are missing, the largest things we saw were hares and maybe a fennec fox in the night. The lack of wildlife kills the African mood a little, but makes it really safe to just walk around and camp here (as long as you stick to areas that have human tracks and thus aren't probably mined).
All this greenery is here at the same latitude as the most hardcore deserts of Sahara. A true miracle. It is worth noting that although our pictures saw a wild landscape, there are camel and goat shepherds living in the area.
The flat wadis are surrounded by lovely rocky mountains that beg to be explored. However word is that those aren't safe from landmines, so we have only some very distant shots of them.
Just go ahead and tell me this isn't somewhere in the Rift valley.
Finally we come to the birds. Cricket Longtail, a sub-Saharan species, wasn't even known in Western Palearctic ten years ago. Now it breeds in Oued Jenna and some more acacia tree areas around the road, making it very easy to spot.
The Black-crowned Sparrow-lark on the other hand used to be common in southern Morocco decades ago. Now it thrives only in the depths of Western Sahara.