Complete Birding Tour in Southern Spain and Portugal
The complete 8-day bird watching in southern Spain and Portugal tour that takes us to visit several Important Bird Areas, Parks and Nature Reserves in the southwestern corner of the Iberian Peninsula. In this itinerary, we will be able to observe some of the most emblematic species of this territory, which are on the red list of endangered birds, such as the Black Vulture, the Egyptian Vulture or the Spanish Imperial Eagle. This trip starts and ends in Lisbon and is aimed at small groups with a maximum of 8 participants.
One week package to visit regions of Portugal and Spain. In bird watching in southern Spain tour, we visit the Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche Natural Park, the second largest protected site in Andalucia. In Portugal we travel through the territories of the Vale do Guadiana Natural Park; the UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve of Castro Verde, home of lots of Great and Little Bustards; the Natural Reserve of Lagoas de Santo André and Sancha, a freshwater wetland in the western coast; the salt marshes of Sado Estuary Nature Reserve and important areas for birds of Cabeção, the artificial reservoirs of Albufeira do Caia, Campo Maior, Moura and Barrancos.
Join us on this birdwatching tour of Portugal and Spain for an extensive checklist as we cover different habitats: from hills to steppes, and from lakes to salt marshes; while we enjoy the local taste of the Portuguese and Spanish cuisine as this tour is all-inclusive. Transfers can be arranged from Lisbon Airport or any other meeting point in the south of Portugal (railway station, hotel, etc.).
Top 5 Highlights:
- Two countries in one week with the company of a local expert.
- We visit the very best places for birds and nature in the Alentejo and western Sierra Morena.
- The collection of habitats we cover ensure an extensive checklist.
- Very informative and experienced leader who gives lots of tips on natural history as well as local history and traditions.
- All levels welcome. We adapt to the interest of each participant.
Are you looking for a tour more focused on Spain, please check out our Birdwatching Tour of Doñana and Sierra Morena 8 days / 7 nights.
Alternative Tour Name: Complete Southern Portugal & Spain Birding Tour
Arrival at the airport / station / meeting point and start of the journey from Lisbon to Alentejo. Depending on the schedules and the tides, on the way we can make a stop to observe birds in the Tagus estuary or visit the Fluviário de Mora where there is a collection of freshwater fish. Accommodation and dinner, followed by an informative session about the trip.
This morning we visit the Important Bird Area of Cabeção with a stop at the Gameiro Ecological Park where we can observe the birds in the stream of Raia and the surrounding fields. This classified area consists mainly of an extensive area of cork oak forest (Quercus suber), managed for the exploitation of cork, animal grazing and agricultural crops. Stop for lunch in the city of Estremoz
In the afternoon we continue our trip to the Important Bird Area of Caia, one of the largest reservoirs in the region and also the best place to observe water birds. The area includes the reservoir with steep banks and little vegetation and a section of the Caia River where in years of more abundant rainfall there is a colony of herons. Arrival at the accommodation and dinner.
This day we leave for Spain to the region of the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Natural Park located in the province of Huelva. During the morning we visit the Important Bird Area of Campo Maior. Open plain area with extensive cereal crops in rotation with some irrigated crops and scattered houses with low human density. It is one of the most important areas in Portugal for steppe species, despite being increasingly occupied by plots of intensive agriculture. Part of the habitat is still open land and wood-pastures of holm oaks (Quercus ilex). It also presents olive groves and areas for animal grazing. The area is crossed by the Xévora River where you can see some forest birds. Stop for lunch in the Elvas region. Then we head south, passing through the Spanish towns of Olivenza, Alconchel, Jerez de los Caballeros, Fregenal de la Sierra ending up the trip in the Aracena area. Arrival at the accommodation and dinner.
After the previous day's long trip, it's time to stretch your legs and enjoy one of the many walks offered by the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Natural Park. We visit the castle of Aracena, a watchtower that allows us to enjoy beautiful views and walk through the sky to observe the awakening of the first birds of prey. This Park is the second largest protected area in Andalucia and the interest in visiting this park is justified by the richness of landscapes. The meadows populated by holm oaks are replaced by cork oaks in some wetter areas, while at higher altitudes English oak and chestnut forests are frequent. In riverbeds like the Múrtigas, there are abundant large trees such as poplars, ash trees, willows and alders. This variety of forest provides an interesting wealth of fauna. Travel to accommodation and dinner in the Barrancos.
On this day, we visit the Important Bird Area of Moura and Barrancos. This site presents a mosaic of open habitats with non-intensive cereal crops, permanent pastures with scattered holm oaks (Quercus ilex) and cork oaks (Quercus suber). The watercourses, especially the Ardila River, have margins with aquatic vegetation and some shale rocks. Grazing, sheep and cattle are prevalent in the area, and there are relatively small properties with olive groves and vineyards. The existing houses are disaminated. In the morning, we visit the Natural Park of Noudar where there is still a vegetation cover close to what would be original, as if there had never been any human intervention. These are rich and rugged forests, hard to access, that still hold Noudar's greatest secret. The richness and diversity of this territory is the result of its geographical isolation, low human density and because it is located in a transition zone between Spain where it marks the landscape of Sierra Morena and the vast fields of the Alentejo plains. Stop for lunch in Barrancos. In the afternoon, we visit the Herdade da Contenda, a huge estate of public domain with restriceted access where we have the accompaniment of a local guide. More than a hundred species of birds are listed here, being an important area especially for many birds of prey, especially vultures and great eagles. Travel to accommodation in Mértola and dinner.
The day begins with a tour of the Vale do Guadiana Natural Park, a protected area characterized by a flat terrain where the vegetation cover is dominated by holm oaks and extensive areas of scrub and dry crops in which valleys the river Guadiana and its tributaries embed with a great diversity of small forest birds and fields cereals. In the morning, we take a short walk to the Pulo do Lobo waterfall or a visit to the Aracelis viewpoint. Lunch in the Mértola region. In the afternoon we walk through the vast plains passing through small typical villages of the Alentejo plain to the Iberian lynx observatory, where in addition to the great eagles we can be lucky enough to see a lynx at the end of the afternoon. Arrival at the accommodation in Castro Verde and dinner.
In the morning we go to the Vale Gonçalinho Environmental Center through the territory of the Castro Verde Biosphere Reserve, classified by UNESCO due to the values resulting from a harmonious millenary relationship between man and nature, whose historical process of evolution of the land occupation and use resulted in an agroecosystem with high conservation value. Among the extraordinary biodiversity that occurs here, a structured and diversified bird community stands out, with about 200 species, including the emblematic Great and Little Bustards. Stop for lunch in the Castro Verde region. In the afternoon we continue towards the coast to visit the Nature Reserve of Lagoas de Santo André e Sancha. 241 species of birds are recorded here and are considered one of the most important wetlands in Portugal. This site is a system of small freshwater lagoons formed in the depressions of the dunes. The Santo André and Sancha lagoons are representative examples of Mediterranean-type coastal lagoons, a protected site by the European Habitat Directive.
The Santo André lagoon has a succession of small lagoons in its surroundings, known locally as “wells”. The vegetation of the lagoons includes extensive reed beds suitable for the nesting of several species of small birds. Arrival at the accommodation in Santo André and dinner.
In the morning, we start our journey back to Lisbon passing through the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve. If the tide is favorable we can make a stop for bird watching. The return will be made crossing the Sado River by ferry. During the trip that takes about 30 minutes we can observe some sea birds and eventually be surprised by several cetaceans, specifically the species Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) that lives in the estuary. We will be back at the meeting point in the late morning.
Possible birds for the checklist:
Residents: White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Little Bustard, Great Bustard, Black Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Lesser Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Hoopoe, Blue Rock Thrush, Thekla Lark, Calandra Lark, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Azure-winged Magpie, Iberian Grey Shrike, Corn Bunting, Rock Bunting.
Winter Birds: Common Crane, Hen Harrier, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Skylark, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Alpine Accentor, Brambling, Siskin.
Summer Birds: White-rumped Swift, Black Stork, Quail, Black-eared Wheatear, Egyptian Vulture, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Bee-eater, Melodious Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Iberian Chiffchaff.
Migrants: Whinchat, Willow Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Northern Wheatear, Spotted Redshank.
What is included?
- All accommodation or lodgings based on double occupancy
- Single occupancy available for an additional charge
- Professional multilingual guide and support staff
- Specialist guide fees
- Local transfers and all ground transport throughout the tour
- Entrance fees to all National Parks, Nature Reserves and/or use of hides where applicable
- All meals
- Water throughout the tour
- All activities as specified within the tour itinerary
- Use of binoculars and telescopes
- Personalised checklists
- Accident insurance
- All applicable taxes
What is not included?
- All international or domestic airfares
- Travel & medical insurance (incl. personal equipment and repatriation)
- Airport departure taxes or visa fees (if applicable)
- Items of personal nature
- Excess baggage charges
- Laundry & telephone charges
- Optional tour extensions where applicable
- Tips & gratuities
- Any other drinks not mentioned above
- Anything else not mentioned in “What is included”
We are a progressive young company having several years of experience guiding and a vast local knowledge of the region. We love our land and love how wilderness, history and traditions come all together in this corner of the Iberian Peninsula.
As far as you can hop on and off the van you can join us on this tour. The itinerary involves some short walks but it does not matter how fast you can do it as we walk at a pleasant pace. We stop very often to look at the birds and interpretate the environment and history of the sites we visit, and there are benches in places you can use.
There is WiFi connection in all the accommodation and our tour leaders can also share WiFi connectivity (or hotspot) via local Spanish mobile network.
It does not matter if you are a beginner, ocassional birder or a twitcher, we just adapt to the way you enjoy the field most. In cases when you share the trip with others in a small group, we try to get a balance and pay attention on each individual interest. We have been doing this since 2005 with not bad results!
Yes, we can meet you at the airport or any other meeting point of your convenience near the start of the tour. At the end of the tour, we will bring you back at the same point.
This tour is all-inclusive so all your meals with one or two drinks are included. For lunch, we are taking picnics arranged by the hotels where we are staying in order to enjoy longer in the field and get some flexibility so all health and safety rules are fulfilled. These packed lunches normally include: one or two sandwiches, water, juice, fruit, cake and yogurt. We have carefully selected the hotels and restaurants we are using to give the the best local taste with the use of local products. Of course, vegetarian options are available on demand.