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WILD ANDALUSIA

NATURE AND WILDLIFE IN SOUTHERN SPAIN

Southern Spain is a unique area, both in terms of avifauna and wildlife.

A trip for naturalists and photographers who love nature.

DURATA: 8 days
NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: min 6 PAX – max 8 PAX
ACCOMMODATION: Hotels and hostels
TRANSPORTATION: 4×4 Van – Car – Boats
MEALS: Restaurants – Hotel – Packed lunch
DIFFICULTY: Easy – Assistance from expert guides
INFORMATION: SKUA headquarters: info@skuanature.com – +39 0141 918349

ALWAYS CHECK “VIAGGIARE SICURI”:  http://www.viaggiaresicuri.it/ 
PRECAUTIONS AND VACCINATIONS: In accordance with the applicable health regulations: https://www.viaggiavventurenelmondo.it/info/covid

An expedition through the south of the Iberian Peninsula, where you will get to know the culture, traditions and scenic diversity of this region. Traditional fishing techniques, lighthouses that guide ships even on stormy nights, and unspoiled beaches in the south that are perfect nesting places for waders.

On our way to the lands of Don Quixote, we will discover the windmills that the knight mistook for giant creatures, and we will discover different ornithological sites in the steppes and lagoons, where we can observe bearded reedlings, little bustards, and white-headed ducks. We will visit different coastal villages like Trafalgar and Andalusian cities like Cadiz, characterized by their typical white architecture and bustling life. We will go on a sea expedition to observe pelagic birds such as Scopoli’s shearwaters and European storm petrels, and finish with a relaxing walk on the beach of Cadiz.

In Rocío, where the famous Romería festival is celebrated every spring, we will taste typical southern dishes. In the surrounding lagoons we will have a glass of wine at sunset, surrounded by flamingos in flight. We will visit Doñana National Park and follow the tracks of the lynx, the rarest predatory cat in the world, trying to photograph it along our route. Along the way, we will also go in search of the black-winged kite and the Spanish imperial eagle, as well as the many other birds that live in the Mediterranean forests.

We will end our adventure with a session in the photo hides of Alpasín to photograph the Bonelli’s eagle and the Eurasian eagle-owl, as well as many other species typical of these lands. 

  • Supervision by experienced wildlife and photography staff
  • use of professional hides for photography and wildlife observation – all land and water transfers
  • overnight accommodations with breakfast and all meals
  • accident insurance
  • Europassistance
  • all activities mentioned in the report
  • use of off-road vehicles, vans, special boats
  • access to optical equipment (telescope) and field guide
  • access to sites or activities requiring access permits
  • drivers, pilots and fuel
  • Round trip airfare
  • private room supplement
  • tips and any additional activities not described in the report and itinerary
  • Mediterranean ecosystem
  • nature
  • professional photo hides
  • support by experienced wildlife and photography staff
The itinerary may vary due to weather conditions and the presence of animals in the places we will visit.

Itinerary

Madrid – Alcázar de San Juan – Véjer de la Frontera – Barbate – Trafalgar – Chipiona – Cadice – Doñana National Park – El Rocío – Adamuz – Madrid

Day 1

The meeting point will be the Madrid airport, from where we will depart south to the Alcázar de San Juan (Royal City). We will arrive in the morning and immediately try to identify all the species we will see in the area. Among the lagoon birds we may encounter ducks such as the white-headed duck, heron, flamingo, glossy ibis, and Eurasian spoonbill. We will also find waders that year after year choose these lagoons as a stopover on their migration route, as well as small birds that live in the reed beds, such as the Eurasian penduline tit and the bearded reedling. Near the lagoons there is a small pine forest that is home to a shy, nocturnal bird of prey, the long-eared owl, which we will try to spot among the typical species of the forest. In the afternoon we will visit the Casa del Hidalgo (House of the Knight) Museum, where we will learn about the lifestyle of the nobles who inspired Miguel de Cervantes in the creation of the character of Don Quixote de la Mancha. In the late afternoon we will drive to the grain steppes around Alcázar de San Juan and Criptana, where we will focus on searching for species such as the bustard. In the evening we will reach our first accommodation in Alcázar de San Juan.

Day 2

 After breakfast and a visit to the lagoons and steppes of Alcázar de San Juan, we will visit the windmills typical of La Mancha before continuing our journey to Véjer de la Frontera (Cadiz), where we will arrive in the late afternoon. In Véjer, one of the stars of this trip, the hermit ibis, whose population has declined dramatically in recent decades, will be waiting for us. Only a few years ago, this picturesque bird was successfully reintroduced thanks to an elaborate conservation project. Véjer de la Frontera, which is located on a hill and can be reached via a charming road, is also considered one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. In Véjer we will not only look for the hermit ibis, but also enjoy a walk through the lively streets, squares, and pubs, surrounded by white walls. We will visit places like San Francisco Market, Plaza de España and the arches of La Segur and Sancho IV. Our accommodation will be in Véjer de la Frontera.

Day 3

After breakfast, we will drive to La Janda, a large former lagoon that was drained to create farmland after the Spanish Civil War. Despite this, La Janda still hosts a variety of interesting birds, such as the glossy ibis, the hermit ibis, and the Eurasian spoonbill. We will visit this enclave by car, making several stops to observe the birds that characterize the area. After our ornithological tour, we will drive to Barbate, a small fishing village, where we will stop at the Tuna Museum. Here we will learn more about the history and tradition of tuna fishing in southern Spain during a guided tour and we will taste local products. We will have lunch near the Trafalgar Lighthouse, a historic lighthouse with magnificent views. In the afternoon we will drive to Chipiona, where we will make a short stop at the port to get to know a small bird that nests there every year: the little swift. This bird, very similar to a swallow, is very difficult to observe in Spain and Chipiona is one of the few places where nesting has been confirmed. Next, we will visit Las Salinas de Bonanza, where various species of gulls, terns and waders gather to feed and cool off in a beautiful pink and white saline landscape. Later, almost at sunset, we will drive to the Cetina marshes, a great place to observe the collared pratincole, flamingo, pied avocet, and other water birds. After, we will drive to our accommodation.

Day 4

In the morning we will set out on a sea expedition to observe pelagic birds in the Gulf of Cadiz, near the Strait of Gibraltar. We will be accompanied by local guides experienced in seabird observation who will help us identify as many species as possible, including shearwaters, cousins of the great albatrosses we know from documentaries. We will also have the opportunity to observe tiny birds known as terns. In the afternoon, after our sea adventure, we will visit the city of Cadiz, where we will have lunch. We will stop at the Cathedral and explore the Barrio del Pópulo, located in the historic center of Cadiz and renowned for its narrow streets. Afterwards, we will walk along the promenade and visit Santa Catalina Castle and La Caleta beach, where we can swim and enjoy the local cuisine.

Day 5

In the morning we will leave for the Concertada Dehesa de Abajo Nature Reserve, near the Doñana National Park, where we will admire species such as the ferruginous duck and the marbled duck from the observation posts arranged around the lagoons of the reserve. Here we will also be able to observe another interesting species: the horned coot, which often goes unnoticed when it joins large groups of Eurasian coots. We will visit the breeding center of the Iberian lynx, the most endangered predatory cat in the world, where an enclosure has been set up that serves as an observation station. At lunchtime we will drive to El Rocío, a small village on the edge of the Doñana National Park, where every spring the Romería, the pilgrimage exhibition, takes place in the streets and squares. Here we will stop for lunch and enjoy the atmosphere of this small town. After lunch, we will go to the Centro de Interpretación Francisco Bernis, where we can observe birds such as the glossy ibis, the purple heron and the western swamphen on a large, elevated terrace with telescopes. Right in front of the Center, we will admire a 100-year-old cork oak tree that serves as home to a colony of different species of heron and little egret. After a walk, we will relax with a glass of wine in front of the Charco de la Boca, where we can enjoy the sunset surrounded by flamingos. We will have dinner in El Rocío and then return to our accommodation for the night.

Day 6

On this day we will take a guided tour in the Doñana National Park with special vehicles that will allow us to admire its great biodiversity. In the exclusive area of the National Park, we will be accompanied by a local guide who is an expert in ornithology and will help us find and identify all different species. Our priority will be to look for tracks of the Iberian Lynx and visit the hunting areas most frequented by this predator. The rest of the route passes through wooded areas such as pine forests, cork and olive groves, where we can observe birds typical to this environment, such as the great spotted cuckoo, short-toed snake eagle, black-winged kite and Spanish imperial eagle. We will also visit the Caño del Guadiamar marsh, where we can observe species such as the western swamphen, the garganey and the gull-billed tern, a species found only in the Mediterranean ecosystem. After this tour we will say goodbye to our guide and drive to the city of Adamuz (Córdoba). In Adamuz we will enjoy a variety of wildlife oases where we can observe interesting species such as the Eurasian eagle-owl or the Iberian Lynx, which we will be looking for again on our sixth day, splitting into two groups to facilitate the sightings. After the photo session, we will return to our accommodation on the outskirts of Adamuz, located in a quiet old monastery.

Day 7

We will spend the morning in different hides from which we can observe the Bonelli’s eagle, the golden eagle, and the Spanish imperial eagle. Alpasín, in the heart of the Sierra Morena, offers a great variety of wildlife, with perfect conditions for observation and photography. After lunch we will continue with another photo-hide session, this time equipped with a watering hole where we can quietly observe the different birds that want to cool off from the heat. After dinner we will divide into two groups to look for the Eurasian eagle owl and the Iberian lynx in the darkness of the night.

Day 8

After breakfast we will begin our journey back to Madrid. We will arrive at the airport around noon, where we will say goodbye until our next adventure.

Much of Spain’s geography is a perfect example of a Mediterranean ecosystem. Hot, dry summers followed by mild, rainy winters characterize the climate in this area of southwestern Europe at the gateway to Africa. Southern Spain offers an incredible variety of landscapes: vast grasslands and steppes, and coastal forests that disappear and reappear with shifting sand dunes. This ecological richness leads to an impressive diversity, not only in terms of fauna and flora, but also in terms of cultural and traditional environment.

Spain’s strategic position in maritime trade across the Strait of Gibraltar has historically led to a crossroads of cultures, which is still evident today in the magnificent architecture and diverse customs of the region’s inhabitants. 

Marbled duck, ferruginous duck, white-headed duck, Scopoli’s shearwater, European storm petrel, black stork, hermit ibis, collared pratincole, Eurasian spoonbill, Egyptian vulture, Spanish imperial eagle, short-toed snake eagle, black-winged kite, lesser kestrel, horned coot, western swamphen, great bustard, Eurasian eagle-owl, long-eared owl, little swift, rufous-tailed scrub robin, and much more. 

  • Binoculars.
  • Photographic lenses: for those interested in wildlife photography, focal lengths of at least 300 mm or duplicators suitable for this purpose are recommended. Other optics are recommended for photographing people and the environment.
  • Appropriate clothing for outdoor activities.
  • Headlamp.
  • Sunscreen and/or moisturizer.

Visits to national parks, cultural tours, birdwatching, nature photography, boat tours, photo hides, local food, scenic routes.

  • Check the required documents depending on the current health situation in Italy and in the host country.
  • If you book flights independently, given the health situation, it is advisable to choose tickets that include a refund in case of cancellation or change of itinerary.

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