Staring at storks on summer’s day in Volubilis, Morocco

Stork's nest features prominently in the view of the Basilica
Remnants of a home in Volubilis, Morocco

Remnants of a home in Volubilis, Morocco

Even if you’ve never heard of Volubilis, it’s a place we’d put on anyone’s must-see list for Morocco.

Rolling hills and green pastures: Volubilis, Morocco

Rolling hills and green pastures: Volubilis, Morocco

With an idyllic setting akin to fields of green, Volubilis is a place to breathe deeply and listen carefully to sounds of gentle breezes, harvesters gathering wheat, and low-voiced scholars marveling at the mosaics in this city built by Romans in the second century, considered the ancient capital of the kingdom of Mauretania.

Roaming the remains of structures in Volubilis, Morocco

Roaming the remains of structures in Volubilis, Morocco

From this hill town, you can gaze at Meknes not so far away . . .

View of Meknes from the hilltop vantage point of Volubilis

View of Meknes from the hilltop vantage point of Volubilis

and watch as country settings worthy of paintings unfold before you.

A farmer with his donkey moves cuttings along a country road.

A farmer with his donkey moves cuttings along a country road.

People flock to Volubilis for its ruins — remnants of fine town homes with intricate mosaic floors still miraculously intact even after earthquakes in the 18th century rocked the foundations and looters carried off stones for the building of Meknes just over the hill.

Remains of the Arch of Caracalla at Volubilis stand tall against the sky.

Remains of the Arch of Caracalla at Volubilis stand tall against the sky.

Now, as a World Heritage Site, Volubilis commands the respect it deserves, and photographers, historians, and architects roam the grounds seeking insight into the past life of this olive-growing community nestled in the countryside.

But for all its remaining grandeur and historic lure, historic Volubilis lost out the day we were there to another sight, an unexpected one:  a rather large stork’s nest perched atop a marble column, home to a mother and little ones.

Stork's nest features prominently in the view of the Basilica

And unexpected sight:
a stork’s nest prominently perched on a column near the Basilica

In fact, most people that day were staring at the storks.

Sitting by the storks at Volubilis and taking it all in!

Sitting by the storks at Volubilis and taking it all in!

No matter how much the tourists wanted to look more closely at the mosaics or have their pictures taken as they posed in the archways of the Basilica, their attention just couldn’t — or wouldn’t — veer from that fascinating family of storks.

Some posing for pictures, some staring at storks at the archway in Volubilis

Some posing for pictures, some staring at storks at the archway in Volubilis

And when in Volubilis . . . well, we did the same.  After all, stork sightings are rare for us.  With the exception of a few in Romania, we can’t say we’ve seen these high-mounded nests anywhere else in the world, although we know they’re there.  We just hadn’t been fortunate enough to see them. Until this day.

Mother and babies -- the storks of Volubilis

Mother and babies — the storks of Volubilis

But here they were.  And here also was that family of storks.  Almost everyone in Volubilis that day did as we did:  We all watched for long periods of time, holding our cameras still, hoping to see that mama stork pop her head up and smile at the crowd between feedings!

The object of our affection at historic Volubilis

The object of our affection at historic Volubilis

And so it was.  We went for the ruins and the history and the countryside at Volubilis . . .

Looking back at Volubilis, but remembering the storks!

Looking back at Volubilis, but remembering the storks!

but what left us breathless (yet smiling) were storks. (And, as if this one nest wasn’t enough, we noted a whole tower of nests as we approached the highway headed to Fes the next day!)

A tower of storks in Morocco

A tower of storks in Morocco

We’re adding Stork Staring to our list of must-do’s when in Morocco!

— Bert and Rusha Sams

You can find more of Marvelous Morocco under Travel Series in the heading of our blog.

 

34 thoughts on “Staring at storks on summer’s day in Volubilis, Morocco

      1. restlessjo

        In the Algarve, staying closeish to home and it’s currently bucketing down! We need it, and I did the food shop this morning 🤣🤣

  1. lexi@thelifebus

    I’ve been thinking about going to Morocco for Christmas, or sometime in the near future. I have a good friend who went recently and loved it. Just wondering if you traveled on your own or with a group. If you went alone did you ever feel unsafe? The whole country sounds so amazing. I’m not usually sketched out traveling but just trying to get as much information as possible from travelers who were recently there. Thanks so much for any insight. Cheers, Lexi

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Although we didn’t see the whole country, what we saw was phenomenal. And the people were genuinely kind and helpful. We traveled with a guide and a driver the whole trip, so we were “protected” — well, as much as two people can protect two other people. But we never felt afraid even when we were on our own. It was during Ramadan, and many were worshiping and being mindful of their religious customs. In Marrakesh, we would not stay at Jamaa el Fna Square after dark — many do, but we decided not to. Crowds after dark where there are throngs of sellers, snakehandlers, and vendors kinda scare me. Also, we avoided city side streets after dark when we were alone. I’m not saying that anything isn’t safe. We were just cautious. Also, if you go into the medina in Marrakech or Fes, you would do well to have a guide. You can easily get lost in the labyrinth of narrow alleyways, and if you ask directions, especially of teens (we’ve heard), they will offer you bogus directions just for fun. Two of my friends were stuck in there for two hours on the advice of some young people. Travel safely. But with your eyes wide open. Morocco is one of my fondest memories in all of our travels, and I’d go again, for sure.

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Thanks for the compliment on my photography. I do try, but I’m no professional by any means. And yes, Morocco’s landscape is diverse. We loved Volubilis. When you leave the hectic sounds of the cities, it’s nice to come to a place steeped in history where you can roam quietly and observe nature, people, storks, etc. Thanks for visiting!

  2. Curt Mekemson

    And the storks stole the day! But you still did justice to the rest of the city, Rusha, capturing what was, and, with the man and his donkey, what is. I liked the beasties in the mosaics! 🙂 –Curt

      1. Oh, the Places We See

        We’ve now seen storks in Romania and Morocco. Who knows where we’ll see them next, if at all. But what an image I still have in my mind of those huge nests, the birds within them, and the way all of us tourists were just staring at the storks!!!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      We were mesmerized by those storks — mainly because we don’t see them at all where we live. I could stand there and watch all day. Since then, we’ve seen nests in chimneys and atop buildings. We started looking in earnest after this visit to Volubilis. Pretty neat!

  3. nancymaland5340

    LOVED reading this post! Oh lucky you to experience it!

    Keep writing and posting!!!
    Cheers!
    Nancy

    From: “Oh, the Places We See . . .”
    Reply-To: “the Places We See . . .”
    Date: Friday, January 4, 2019 at 2:34 PM
    To:
    Subject: [New post] Staring at storks on summer’s day in Volubilis, Morocco

    Oh, the Places We See posted: ” Even if you’ve never heard of Volubilis, it’s a place we’d put on anyone’s must-see list for Morocco. With an idyllic setting akin to fields of green, Volubilis is a place to breathe deeply and listen carefully to sounds of gentle breezes, harv”

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      You are so right — amazing. We couldn’t believe so many storks would build those enormous nests in such precarious places! We loved spotting storks’ nests — about like looking for eagles here in the U. S. (But we hardly ever find those!)

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Sue, you would love Volubilis! Plenty of opportunities to take pics — and all in a tranquil setting. I wouldn’t have picked it out of a tour guide, but our travel agent suggested it, and we were stunned at the great pieces left behind.

      1. Oh, the Places We See

        Sue, we stayed in Fez and traveled to both Meknes and Volubilis one day. I think it takes about an hour to get to each town, but oh, what memories we have of both places. We love ancient architecture, and they both filled the bill! We stayed in Riad Fes, a place we can highly recommend for its tasteful renovation, architectural beauty, and dynamic service.

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