Spain,

The Mammals and Landscapes of Wild Spain

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Group Tour
13 Days
From £2339
GEOIP Not Available
Big Cat Safari
Birding
Budget
Off The Beaten Track

Tour Introduction

13 Days from £2339
GEOIP Not Available
per adult. Prices based on rates applicable at the time of costing which may vary. Please ask for a definitive quote

This rewarding group itinerary takes you on a scenic journey through some of Spain’s wildest regions in search of its most charismatic and elusive mammals.

Starting with the Mediterranean scrublands of Ciudad Real, we will explore a wildlife friendly estate which is home to the endangered Iberian lynx. Patiently waiting in specially designed hides we will hopefully be treated to some intimate sightings of these beautifully marked felines. The dry landscape also protects the magnificent Spanish imperial eagle, little bustard and black-bellied sandgrouse.

We then travel north to the lushly forested, remote mountains of the southern Picos de Europa, one of the most spectacular and wild landscapes on the European continent. Here we have a fantastic opportunity to watch packs of elusive Iberian wolves returning to their dens with food for their cubs, as well as European wildcats hunting water voles in freshly cut meadows.

The mountains of the Picos are some of the most biodiverse in Europe, home to over 150 species of butterfly, magnificent raptors, sure-footed chamois, sounders of snuffling wild boar, endemic broom hare and many species of dazzling reptiles and amphibians.

After the mountains we visit the tranquil valleys of Somiedo Natural Park, last stronghold of the rare Cantabrian brown bear. Our visit is timed to coincide with the season when bears emerge from the forest to engorge themselves on berries and hazelnuts in the fertile alpine meadows. We will also explore the plains of northern Spain for flocks of great bustards and hunting raptors.

Join our small group of like-minded natural history lovers on a unique and comprehensive Spanish journey of exciting wildlife discovery. Click here for full tour details

Full Itinerary

Price from £2339
GEOIP Not Available
per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms
Day 1
Madrid - Santa Cruz de Mudela

Arrival into Madrid Atocha train station, where we will meet to take the AVE high-speed rail link (1.5 hours) to Ciudad Real. On arrival we transfer by road to our rural accommodation.

Staying at Hotel Casa Palacio . Includes Dinner.

Day 2
Peñalajo estate

Early this morning we transfer into the nearby Peñalajo estate, a 2,260-hectare Mediterranean parkland landscape of open holm and cork oak woodland interspersed with rocky outcrops, scrub and grassland.
We will spend our mornings and evenings here in private hides strategically positioned next to drinking pools regularly used by Iberian lynx families.

This is an excellent way for us to observe these elusive and endangered cats up close without causing disturbance. We will need patience and some luck, but we have very good chances of memorable and intimate lynx sightings here. The pools are also visited by a variety of interesting birds such as hawfinch and azure-winged magpies. During the warm middle of the day, we will have lunch at a local restaurant and enjoy looking for other wildlife.

Staying at Hotel Casa Palacio . Includes All Meals.

Day 3
Peñalajo estate

Another day for morning and late afternoon lynx watching from the purpose-built hides. Whilst driving through and scanning the scrubby landscape we will look out for other wildlife which includes the native European rabbit, various reptiles and butterflies and birdlife such as the rare Spanish imperial eagle, little bustard, little owl, roller, sandgrouse, hoopoe, red-legged partridge, and subalpine and Sardinian warblers.

The estate has collaborated with WWF and not only protects an important Mediterranean habitat and Iberian lynx population but also still produces olive oil and Manchego cheese.

Staying at Hotel Casa Palacio . Includes All Meals.

Day 4
Peñalajo estate

Another day for lynx watching and exploration of Peñalajo for its wildlife. The beautifully marked Iberian lynx is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula and is currently listed as the world’s rarest and most endangered wild cat, although its population is thankfully increasing.

Due to the conservation efforts of the estate the population of rabbits and red-legged partridge, the two key prey species of both the lynx and Spanish imperial eagle are now doing very well here.

Staying at Hotel Casa Palacio . Includes All Meals.

Day 5
Riaño and Zepa de los Oteros

This morning we depart the hotel after breakfast and transfer to the train station in Cuidad Real where we take the high-speed train back to Madrid. We then connect with our onward train to the city of Leon, where on arrival we will transfer by road to the remote mountain range of Riaño.

On the journey we will stop at the plains of Zepa de los Oteros and Zepa Jamuz, which supports the largest population of great bustards in Northern Spain. In addition to the bustards, we will also look for a variety of steppe birds including black-shouldered kite, Montagu’s harrier, lesser kestrel, calandra lark, European bee-eaters and stone curlew.

After some time to settle into our rural accommodation in the sleepy village of Boca de Huergano, we will set off for an evening wildcat watching tour.

The extensive forests and alpine meadows of this region are home to one of the highest densities of European wildcats in the world. During the late summer, the freshly cut meadows expose the burrows of montane water voles which creates ideal hunting opportunities for the cats. Although sometimes skittish, we have fantastic opportunities to watch these beautiful felines hunting from our 4WD vehicles.

Staying at Hotel Tierra de la Reina . Includes All Meals.

Day 6
Riaño Mountains

Today we will have early morning (0600 – 1100) and evening (1700 -2200) excursions by 4X4 into remote mountain valleys where our local guides have staked out wolf den sites.

Seeing wild wolves in Europe is an exhilarating and very special experience and until recently was extremely difficult. Thanks to the year round monitoring by local guides we have superb opportunities to watch a pack in its natural habitat here. Eight wolf packs have been identified in this region and at this time of year, we have the chance to see both the magnificent adults and their boisterous cubs close to their den sites.

Wolves have exceptional senses and rarely allow close observation in the wild, so our sightings (and any pictures) are usually at distance through telescopes. However, this gives us the opportunity to really study these wonderful animals and their interactions undisturbed, which is a thrill, particularly in such a beautiful mountainous landscape.

Staying at Hotel Tierra de la Reina . Includes All Meals.

Day 7
Riaño Mountains

Another day of morning and late afternoon wolf watching. We will also look out for wildcats in the fields and red and roe deer and sounders of wild boar along the woodland edges.

Staying at Hotel Tierra de la Reina . Includes All Meals.

Day 8
Riaño Mountains

Today is a flexible day, so those that wish to relax or explore independently can do so, and those that wish to have more wolf and wildcat watching can do so too.

During the middle of the day there will be some downtime and gentle woodland walks in search of local birdlife, butterflies and reptiles. We may spot the dazzling Schreiber’s green lizard, Iberian wall lizards and geckos around the village and hairstreaks and fritillaries in woodland rides.

Staying at Hotel Tierra de la Reina . Includes All Meals.

Day 9
Picos de Europa National Park

This morning we will travel further north into the spectacular Picos De Europa National Park and take the scenic cable car ride to Fuente De, at 2000 metres above sea level.

Here we will be treated to sensational mountain vistas and great alpine birdwatching with wallcreeper, alpine chough, alpine accentor, and the spectacular lammergeier and griffon vulture some of the highlights. This is also a great location to see the beautiful Cantabrian chamois which graze the alpine meadows.

Staying at Hotel Tierra de la Reina. Includes All Meals.

Day 10
Somiedo Natural Park

This morning we will pack up and set off for the scenic drive to Somiedo Natural Park arriving in time for lunch.

We will have some downtime in the afternoon, before setting off in the late afternoon by 4WD for our first excursion in search of brown bears in the wild Cantabrian Mountains. During September, bears emerge from the dense heart of the forests to feed on cranberries, blackberries and hazelnuts in the sub-alpine meadows making observation of these charismatic and endangered animals much more reliable.

Staying at Hotel Apartamentos El Meirel. Includes All Meals.

Day 11
Somiedo Natural Park

Today we will take both morning and evening bear watching excursions. We will use local knowledge to search the best spots where we hope to enjoy memorable bear watching through telescopes. Due to the bears sensitivity, we will usually be scanning and observing them at distances of 200 – 800 metres.

Despite this range, our observations can be very special, often prolonged, and highly rewarding. There can be also be opportunities to take pictures through telescopes. The areas we will search for bears are some of the loneliest and wildest mountain valleys in all of Spain and a stunning backdrop from which to observe one of the rarest brown bear subspecies in the world.

Staying at Hotel Apartamentos El Meirel. Includes All Meals.

Day 12
Somiedo Natural Park

We have another day of early and late bear watching excursions.

During the middle of the day, we will have some downtime and also spend time searching for other wildlife. This includes many striking butterflies, reptiles such as the Schreiber’s lizard and birdlife which includes resident griffon vultures and goshawks and migrant booted and short-toed eagles, honey buzzards and black kites.

Staying at Hotel Apartamentos El Meirel. Includes All Meals.

Day 13
Madrid

Today we will depart the hotel after breakfast, driving south to Madrid airport arriving at 1200 in time for departing flights or onward transport.

Includes Breakfast.

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Tour Accommodation

Spain Southern Spain

Hotel Casa Palacio

Overview

A typically Spanish and family run hotel in the quaint village of Santa Cruz de Mudela. The hotel features a traditional internal courtyard and homely bedrooms which combine both modern amenities and traditionally Spanish décor and furniture. All rooms feature en suite bathrooms, a flat screen TV, Wi-Fi and there is a charming restaurant serving regional home cooked food. Outside is a small swimming pool and terrace to soak up the surroundings from. Please note that English is not widely spoken at the hotel.

Swimming Pool
Yes
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
14
Facilities

All rooms feature private bathrooms, minibars, hairdryer, digital flat screen TV, plus a resturant, poolside bar, swimming pool and free Wi-Fi.

Local Wildlife

The nearby Peñalajo Estate supports one of the highest densities of Iberian lynx in the country. The estate is also a refuge for the Spanish imperial eagle and other birds include the endemic Iberian azure-winged magpie, little bustard, pin-tailed and black-bellied sandgrouse, hoopoe, little owl, hawfinch and migratory (May – August) rollers, great spotted cuckoo, bee eaters and many warblers.

Optional Activities

Wildlife watching and photography, food and history tours.

Spain Northern Spain

Hotel Tierra de la Reina

Overview

Located on the edge of the picturesque village of Boca de Huérgano, this is a small and simple but cosy and authentic rural guesthouse with plenty of atmosphere. All rooms have private bathrooms and a satellite TV. Facilities at the hotel include a restaurant serving local cuisine with three courses for lunch and dinner (set menu with vegetarian options). Please note that breakfasts generally consist of fresh toast and condiments, plus cakes, juices and tea and coffee only. The hotel is located on the edge of the sleepy village which is very pleasant to stroll around and there is a local bakery with biscuits and pastries to enjoy. The hotel is the best base for wildlife watching excursions within the surrounding Riaño mountain range and wildcats are often spotted in the fields close by. Please note that English is not widely spoken at the hotel.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
28
Facilities

TV and free Wi-Fi in the rooms, restaurant, bar and garden.

Local Wildlife

Europe's highest density of wildcats can be found close by. The remote hills of Riaño are also home to one of the highest densities of Iberian wolf in the country. Local guides regularly monitor their movements and den sites giving excellent opportunities for sightings. There are also good numbers of red and roe deer, wild boar, broom hares, chamois, otters, red squirrels, and a small population of brown bears in the region. The birdlife is also impressive with black and middle-spotted woodpeckers, white storks, dippers, goshawks, honey buzzards, golden eagles and griffon and Egyptian vultures.

Optional Activities

Wildlife watching and photography and walking.

Spain Northern Spain

Hotel Apartamentos El Meirel

Overview

Situated in the heart of the mountainous Somiedio Natural Park, and overlooking the Somiedio River, this traditional stone-built guesthouse offers an excellent base for exploring this wild and remote corner of the Cantabrian Mountains. The hotel is located in the charming village of Pola de Somiedo with beautiful walks on the doorstep. Rooms are small and quite simple, but all feature en suite bathrooms and flat screen TV’s and Wi-Fi is available throughout the property. There is a small restaurant serving tasty local Spanish cuisine and a terrace to enjoy the views from. Please note that English is not widely spoken at the hotel.

Swimming Pool
No
Air Conditioning
No
Rooms
10
Facilities

Private bathrooms, flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi, sun terrace and restaurant and bar.

Local Wildlife

Somiedo Natural Park is home to Spain's greatest population of the rare Cantabrian brown bear as well as wolf, wildcat, chamois, wild boar, red and roe deer and broom hare. Birdlife is very rich and includes numerous birds of prey with griffon vulture, golden eagle, northern goshawk and honey buzzard. Reptiles, amphibians and butterflies are another highlight as well as the wildflowers.

Optional Activities

Wildlife watching, walking and historical tours.

Route Map

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Hotel Tierra de la Reina: 42.973286, -4.927655
Hotel Casa Palacio: 38.641078, -3.467507
Hotel Apartamentos El Meirel: 43.092965, -6.256857

Departure Dates

Tour Dates
Adult Price
Single Supp
06/09/2021
£2083
£265
05/09/2022
£2083
£265

Travel Information

Are International Flights Included?

No. Please contact us for a quote if required.

Flight Info:

Fly to Madrid with British Airways, Iberia, Easy Jet, Ryanair on direct flights or take the train from London.

Best Visited:

September to October

Are you ATOL Registered?

Yes. This means we are legally able to book your international flights in conjunction with your ground arrangements so you can book with us with complete confidence. Read more about our ATOL license here.

Ian Loyd

Area Specialist

If you have any questions regarding this Tour, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965