Few places in Europe are as full of wildlife and natural wonders as Spain. The vast Iberian Peninsula has a great diversity of habitats, from oak woodlands and sweeping grasslands to teeming river deltas, parched deserts, and craggy mountain peaks. Spain is home to over 400 bird species, including residents and African migrants. Old-world vultures share the skies with numerous raptors, including the Spanish Imperial Eagle. Some special birds like the Iberian Magpie live only here.
Spain is also rich in other fascinating wildlife. It’s possible to see Iberian Ibex in the mountains and, with luck, spot the rare Iberian Lynx. Delightful reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies are abundant across the country.
Join Wild Latitudes as we explore the regions of Andalucía and Extremadura in spring, from Seville and the Strait of Gibraltar to Granada and Madrid. You’ll have rich experiences in Spain's beautiful natural areas and countryside. Birds will be a major focus, but you’ll also have a great opportunity to learn about the overall natural history of Spain, including its geology, plants, and wildlife.
We’ll delve into some wonderful cultural highlights along the way, such as medieval castles, Moorish palaces, flamenco performers, Spanish wine, tapas, and other culinary specialties. You’ll come away from this trip with a deeper understanding of Spain’s long human history in addition to its natural diversity. And the trip is going to be a heck of a lot of fun!
Our adventure in Spain begins as we meet in the city of Seville. Once the entire group has gathered, we’ll drive out of the city to our lodge on the outskirts of Doñana National Park.
After an orientation at our lodge, we head out to bird and explore Doñanan National Park for the whole day.
We check out of our lodge and head into the field. We’ll first visit the Dehesa de Abajo. This is an open grassland and woodland habitat that should have abundant birds and spring wildflowers. We then head south towards Tarifa, stopping on the way to look for birds at the Bonanza salt pans, time allowing.
We have a full day to explore the Strait of Gibraltar! We are just a stone’s throw from Africa. It’s possible to see migrant bird species that are flying across the strait in this season. Possibilities are Short-toed Snake-Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Black Kite, European Honey-Buzzard, and more. Time allowing, we’ll head west of Tarifa to the Barbate marshes and beaches.
We now head east to the city of Granada. We’ll make one or two major stops to look for birds and to enjoy the scenery. The primary options are Fuente de Piedra and El Torcal de Antequera. The former is a lake that hosts a huge Greater Flamingo breeding colony. El Torcal is a fascinating landscape of limestone rock formations. We'll enjoy a traditional Flamenco performance in the evening.
This morning we visit the amazing Alhambra, a fortified palace that was the last bastion of Moorish culture in Spain. Time allowing, we’ll also have a little free time to walk around in the city’s old Jewish quarter, the Albayzín.
We have an exciting day ahead us, looking for birds and wildlife in the beautiful Sierra de Andújar. These mountains are home to many raptors and other birds. We’ll be on the lookout for the Spanish Imperial Eagle as well as species such as the Iberian Green Woodpecker, Rock Bunting, and Western Orphean Warbler. We will make a special effort today to find the Iberian Lynx.
On this very full day, we pass through the city of Cordoba on our way to the steppes of Extremadura. In Cordoba, we’ll have a tour of the amazing Mezquita, a medieval mosque that is one of the world’s most famous works of Islamic architecture. The town of Alange with its castle, old bridge, and reservoir will provide us with great afternoon birding sites.
The Santa Marta Plains harbor many birds and other animals that thrive in steppe habitat — a grass-covered expanse with few trees. We’ll do some pre-breakfast birding, scanning the fields for birds such as Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Southern Gray Shrike, and Great Bustard. We’ll spend more time on the steppe after breakfast, then head into the medieval town of Trujillo for some sightseeing.
We have a full day to explore the gorgeous landscapes of Monfragüe National Park, in the hills north of Trujillo. The cork and holm oak woodlands and Mediterranean forests here are among most pristine in Europe. Some birds we hope to see here include Cinereous Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Subalpine Warbler, and Blue Rock Thrush.
We head north to the Sierra de Gredos. One of our major stops today will be La Plataforma, where we’ll be at nearly 6,000 feet in elevation. Here, we’ll walk among rocky barrens, looking for Iberian Ibex and mountain birds such as White-throated Dipper.
We’ll enjoy a final morning of light birding around our hotel before checking out and heading east to Madrid in central Spain. We expect to have some free time to enjoy sites in the city before sharing our final dinner together.
We say our final goodbyes this morning as some catch early flights back home, while others may stay in Spain a bit longer on their own.
PRICE of TOUR: $4,595
START DATE: April 16, 2021
DURATION: 13 days
GROUP SIZE: Up to 14
TRIP FOCUS: Birds, Wildlife, and Culture
Ivan Phillipsen, Co-owner of Wild Latitudes, is a passionate naturalist with a background in scientific research. He holds an M.S. in biology and a Ph.D. in zoology. Natural history is Ivan’s true passion and what he is most excited to teach to others. Although he is fascinated by just about every aspect of nature, Ivan is particularly fond of birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, plants, and geology. Everything is interconnected in nature and Ivan takes a holistic approach when teaching about the natural world.
A true lover of the natural world, Steve Robertson has been a student of nature his entire life. First, as a little boy, who caught every creature he could for the mini zoo he kept in the garage, then later as an adult, leading scientific research expeditions into some of the most remote regions of the world, searching for rare species in such places as Tasmania, Madagascar and the upper Amazon Basin. With degrees in Wildlife Biology, advanced biology & education, Steve has worked in the field of Environmental Education for over 30 years. From 1998 to 2017, he served as the Education Director for the Audubon Society of Portland, creating a number of innovative programs including International Ecotours, a program that has won hundreds of accolades from around the country. During his time with Audubon, Steve personally designed and led Ecotours to over 20 countries, spanning six continents.
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