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Attention! Epic Tour Offering in February 2025!

Embark with Saudi Birding on an extraordinary birdwatching odyssey through an array of captivating landscapes in Saudi Arabia. Join us as we explore the rich natural, cultural, and archaeological heritage of this intriguing country, from the biodiversity hotspots of the Kingdom's southwest to the stunning natural vistas of the northwest provinces.

Our 15-day itinerary will take us to the extreme southwest and northwest corners of the Kingdom for the best birding Saudi Arabia has to offer

Day 1 - Riyadh: Our adventure will commence north of the capital Riyadh, where vast desert expanses hold out the promise of seeing one of Arabia's more elusive bird species - Arabian Lark. We'll be on the lookout for this near-endemic along with the iconic Thick-billed and Temminck’s Larks as well as an array of interesting winter residents, such as Asian Desert Warbler. Cream-colored Courser can be encountered here as well. Later, we will explore nearby oases and sandstone wadis for Sand Partridge, Steppe Eagle, Brown-necked Raven, Arabian Green Bee-eater, White-crowned Wheatear, Blackstart, Desert Lark, and Desert Finch among others.

Day 2 - Al Bahah: We'll then venture into the southwest highlands, starting in the Al Bahah region, where our search for Arabian peninsula's endemic species begins. Our main target here will be Arabian Grosbeak as well as Arabian and Philby's Partridges. Several other Arabian endemics will be up for grabs during our morning effort, such as Yemen Thrush, Arabian Waxbill, and Olive-rumped Serin. After lunch, we'll immerse ourselves in the vistas around the storied Jebel Ibrahim, where we may find Verreaux’s Eagle, African Shrikra, Arabian Scops-Owl, Montane Nightjar, Arabian Woodpecker, inquieta Scrub Warbler, and Yemen Serin.

Day 3 - Al Bahah to Asir: In the morning we'll explore the farms and foothills surrounding the stunning Thee Ain Heritage Village, keeping an eye out for Arabian Straw-colored Fruit Bats, African Palm-Swifts, and an array of wintering and early migrant passerines. We'll then continue on to the Asir Region with a stop in Al Namas for the resident "Lilith" Owl, before wrapping up the day with an evening of nocturnal birding in Tanomah, where encounters with the Arabian Eagle-Owl, Desert Owl, Arabian Scops-Owl, and Montane Nightjar are possible.

Day 4 - Tanomah, Billasmer, and Billahmer: We're sure to hit the high-water mark for Arabian endemics with several stops around the picturesque towns of Tanomah, Billasmer, and Billahmer. Highlights of the day should include further sightings of Philby’s Partridge, the critically endangered Asir Magpie (Saudi’s sole endemic), Yemen Warbler, buryi Scrub Warbler, and the charming Yemen Serin. Arabian Woodpecker is reliably seen at two of our planned stops.

Day 5 - Coastal Birding from Al Birk to Either: Our journey will then take us to Al Birk via Muhayil, where several coastal specialties await us. We'll scope expansive mangrove lagoons and rocky offshore seabird roosts for Pink-backed Pelican, Brown Booby, Brown Noddy, Lesser Crested Tern, Swift Tern, Goliath Heron, Crab-Plover, Arabian Collared Kingfisher and many more. With luck, we may encounter Arabian Golden Sparrow, "Mangrove" White-eye, and "Mangrove" Reed Warbler before settling in to our accommodation in Sabya.

Day 6 - Sabya and Abu Arish: At sunrise the next morning we'll explore farms and fields around Sabya, where surprises may await at every turn. We'll tromp through knee-high grass, keeping our senses sharp for possible sightings of Harlequin Quail and Small Buttonquail. Horsfield's Bush-Lark and Zitting Cisticola are abundant here. Down tree-lined tracks through Sabya's farms we'll watch for Oriental Honey-Buzzard as well as flocks of Hypocolius, a smart-looking monotypic species high on most visiting birders' lists. Later, we'll venture to Al Sadd Lake for possible encounters with Helmeted Guineafowl, Greater Painted-Snipe, Yellow-billed Egret, Red-eyed Dove, Gabar Goshawk, Abyssinian Roller, along with possible vagrants like Cotton Pygmy-Goose, African Swamphen, and Wire-tailed Swallow. As night falls, we'll prepare for nocturnal birding around the lake, with possibilities of finding Arabian Eagle-Owl, Spotted Thick-knee, Nubian Nightjar, and Egyptian Nightjar.

Day 7 - Coastal Birding in Jazan and Habala Plateau: Before returning to the highlands, we'll explore the coast of Jazan proper, looking to clean up on any seabird, shorebird, or wader species we have yet to see. One of our stops will be the Jazan Heritage Village, which has played host to three rarities in the past - Intermediate Egret, Black-headed Heron, and Black Heron. We'll then journey to the Habala area in the Asir Region for Rufous-capped Lark, Yemen Serin, and Buff-breasted Wheatear. Verreaux's Eagle has made an appearance here recently, circling high above Habala's Hanging Village. We'll then make our way to Abha with a stop at the Abha reservoir for possible Red-knobbed Coot and the comical Hamerkop.

Day 8 - Raydah Preserve and Soudah Creek: Early morning on our last day in southwest we'll visit Raydah Preserve, where our quest for highland specialties will resume. Pre-dawn birding will allow further attempts for Desert Owl, Arabian Scops-Owl, and Montane Nightjar. We'll then descend into the preserve where we should encounter bands of Hamadryas Baboons roaming freely. With luck, we'll spot African Olive Pigeon among the juniper and wild olive trees of the upper escarpment and the further down, near the old stone forts of the Raydah village, we should have nice encounters with Arabian Shining Sunbird, African Grey Hornbill, White-browed Coucal, and Arabian Black-crowned Tchagra. We'll then pay a call to the Soudah Creek Preserve, one of the most reliable spots for African Stonechat, a resident charmer to beautifully punctuate our time in the highlands.

Day 9 - Sakaka Birding: After an overnight in Riyadh, we will take off for Sakaka and arrive in time for an afternoon of birding amidst the picturesque farms of the region. With luck, we'll have sightings of birds not easily seen anywhere else in the Kingdom, such as Common Wood-pigeon and Mountain Chiffchaff. As night falls, we'll head out for a thrilling session of nocturnal birding, with the possibility of encountering the uncommon Pallid Scops-Owl, a recently discovered breeder in Saudi, as well as Pharaoh Eagle-Owl.

Day 10 - Northwestern Arabia Exploration: Our prime target for this region will be See-see Partridge, with the hill country north of Sakaka hosting the only known population on the Arabian peninsula. We'll then traverse the Al Fusqanat desert to the east of Sakaka, where we should encounter a diverse array of larks and wheatears, including Bar-tailed, Arabian, Thick-billed, Temminck’s as well as Mediterranean and Turkestan Short-toed Larks. We'll then have an exciting drive across the vast Great Nafud Desert, surely to marvel at the stunning dunescape extending off in every direction, before spending the night in the archaeologically significant farming town of Jubbah.

Day 11 - Al Ula Exploration and Night Birding: On our journey towards Al Ula the next morning, we'll stop at Hubran along the way to observe one of Saudi's most significant nesting colonies of Eurasian Griffon Vulture. Promising desert areas on the road to Al Ula will offer further opportunities of finding Arabian Lark among other desert specialists. This wild region is where Golden Eagle is more often encountered in the country. We'll then settle in at our accommodation near Al Ula, renowned for its ancient Nabatean ruins, stunning canyon complexes, and basalt harrats, before venturing out for a night of birding, with further chances of spotting the Pharaoh Eagle-Owl and Desert Owl.

Day 12 - Canyons and Deserts Exploration: The next morning we'll explore the rugged canyons, deserts, and basalt plateaux around Al Ula, where regional specialties such as Sinai Rosefinch, Kurdish Wheatear, and Trumpeter Finch await amidst what are truly some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the Kingdom. We'll make a midday visit to Hegra, Al Ula’s premier UNESCO World Heritage Site, and then, after dinner at one of Al Ula's traditional restaurants, explore the farms in the evening for Western Barn Owl and possibly Pallid Scops-Owl.

Day 13 - Wadi Disah: The next day we'll embark on a leisurely drive through the mountains towards the coastal city of Duba, stopping at Wadi Disah, Saudi’s famed “Grand Canyon,” along the way. We'll keep our binoculars at the ready for Sand Partridge, Arabian Partridge, Sinai Rosefinch, Olive-rumped Serin, and Syrian Serin, Wadi Disah representing the furthest south this northwest specialty has been recorded in the Kingdom. Exploring oases farms in the canyon bottom, surprises will await us around every corner. Along the canyon walls we'll see examples of ancient Nabatean petroglyphs and inscriptions, and strolling through date palm groves we may find roosting Egyptian Fruit Bats.

Day 14 - Jebel Al Lawz and Tabuk Exploration: We'll head out early the next day to make it in good time to Jebel Al Lawz, renowned as the most reliable site for Syrian Serin, unknown in Saudi prior to 2020. Along the rocky slopes and ridge lines on top of the mountain, we'll scan for Chukar, this region the only place in the Kingdom where this species can be reliably found. On our journey to Tabuk, we'll stop to explore stunning red-rock canyons where wild Rock Pigeon can be found. We'll marvel at the pure plumage of the feral Rock Pigeon's ancestor against the backdrop of this remote environment, before continuing onward to the Tabuk area.

Day 15 - Tabuk Birding and Return to Riyadh: We'll savor our final day of birdwatching exploring the farms, plantations, and wetlands around Tabuk. Our primary targets will be Sociable Lapwing and Eurasian Dotterel, which might be found wintering in one of Tabuk's many pivot fields. We'll also have the possibility of adding interesting Mediterranean warblers such as Olive-tree, Eastern Bonelli’s, Sardinian, Eastern Subalpine, and Ruppell’s. Later that day we'll bid farewell to Saudi's wild Wild West as we head back east to Riyadh, concluding our unforgettable adventure amidst the rich tapestry of the Kingdom's nature, culture, and history.

Don't miss your chance to join us on this extraordinary birdwatching tour, where every day promises opportunities for discovery and adventure amidst the captivating landscapes of Saudi Arabia! Reserve your spot now and prepare for the journey of a lifetime.

Dates: February 14 - 28, 2025

Participants: Ideal group size 6 (1 spot remaining)

Cost: $4800 USD per person; single-room supplement of $730

Deposit: 20% to reserve your spot

Click HERE to complete the booking form. Be sure to select the February 2025 southwest tour along with the seven-day northwest extension.

Yellah! Let's go Saudi birding!

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