Birding & Nature Tour in the Alentejo and Western Sierra Morena
This is an 8-day Birdwatching Alentejo & Sierra Morena Tour will take you through different Parks and Nature Reserves of Spain and Portugal.
On this route, we will be able to observe some of the most emblematic birds of this territory that are found on the red list of threatened species, such as the Black Vulture or the Spanish Imperial and Bonelli's eagles.
This Birdwatching tour begins and ends up in Seville with accommodation in the Sierra de Aracena and the Sierra Norte is aimed at small groups with a maximum of 8 participants. There is the possibility of organising a second vehicle with a second guide for larger groups.
One week birdwatching and nature package to visit in depth western Sierra Morena in Spain and part of the Alentejo. We visit the Noudar and Herdade da Contenda Natural Park in Portugal, and the Dehesas de Sierra Morena Biosphere Reserve formed by the Natural Parks of Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche in Huelva, Sierra Norte in Seville and Hornachuelos in Cordoba.
Join us on this birdwatching tour of Portugal and Spain for an extensive checklist as we cover different habitats: from hills to wood-pastures and reservoirs; while we enjoy the local taste of the Portuguese and Spanish cuisine as this tour is all-inclusive. Transfers can be arranged from Seville Airport or any other meeting point in the southwest of Spain or 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 Barrancos area and western Sierra Morena.
- Stunning tour for raptor lovers.
- 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.
Would you like to combine mountains and wetlands in Spain, please check out our Birdwatching Tour of Doñana and Sierra Morena 8 days / 7 nights.
Alternative Tour Name: Birding & nature tour of western Sierra Morena and the Alentejo
Arrival at the airport / station / meeting point and transfer to the hotel in the Sierra de Aracena. Depending on the schedules you can make stops along the way to birdwatching in the countryside and the lovely town of Zufre. Accommodation and dinner followed by a presentation about the trip by your tour-leader.
Today we cross the border to visit the IBA of Moura and Barrancos. This site presents a mosaic of open-zone habitats with extensive cereal fields, meadows and mountains of holm oaks (Quercus ilex) and cork oaks (Quercus suber). Of the water courses, among which the Ardila River stands out, they have margins with riverside vegetation and some rocky outcrops. Sheep and cattle grazing abounds, and there are relatively small properties with olive groves and vineyards in sparse populations. In the morning, we visit the Noudar Nature Park, where a vegetation cover is maintained close to what would be original, as if there had never been human intervention. They are rich, steep and difficult forests, which still keep Noudar's greatest secret. The richness and diversity of this territory results from its geographic isolation, low human density and because it is located in a transition zone between Spain where the landscape of the Sierra Morena and the vast fields of the Alentejo plain mark the landscape. Stop for lunch in Barrancos. In the afternoon we will visit Herdade da Contenda, a public estate with restricted access where a local guide will accompany us. In this place there are more than one hundred species of birds inventoried, being an important area especially for many birds of prey, with an emphasis on vultures and large eagles. Transfer to accommodation and dinner.
It is time to stretch your legs and take advantage of one of the many walking routes that the Natural Park offers us in Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche, a true paradise for lovers of hiking. Depending on the time of year, we can start by visiting the castle of Aracena, in whose ruins some wintering birds take refuge. In addition, the hill where the castle sits is a watchtower that allows us to enjoy beautiful views and scan the sky to observe the awakening of the first raptors. Afterwards, our walk continues along one of the centuries-old trails that start from Aracena, in this case towards the town of Corteconcepción along the 4.4-kilometer El Tornero path that will allow us to travel a great diversity of landscapes; from holm and cork oak forests, to chestnut and olive trees and fruit orchards, passing through some stretches of riverside vegetation associated with the nearby Fuente del Rey stream.
On our last day in Sierra de Aracena, we return to perform a route by car with some walks through the Valley of the Buervas, better known today as the Aracena reservoir. This route will take us to know it from different accesses, making it possible to spot the osprey or enjoy the breeding colony of gray herons and great cormorants. The situation and breadth of the valley on which the reservoir sits make it a good enclave to see soaring raptors and other migrating birds. After lunch, we move to our other base camp in the Sierra Norte Natural Park making a stop in the Bajos del Jádraga, with beautiful views over the Viar river canyon whose north mouth can be seen from this viewpoint with enormous scenic appeal.
Unlike the Sierra de Aracena, where the best places to observe birds are scattered throughout the Park, in Sierra Norte there are places where we can see almost all the large birds that populate these mountains at a glance. This is the case of the Cañada Real de las Merinas livestock route in the municipality of Guadalcanal, in whose Llanos de Guaditoca we find one of the best places in Andalusia to see raptors. In the afternoon, we take another Cañada Real, that of La Senda, which penetrates the province of Seville surrounded by a landscape that participates both in mountain characters, as well as elements more typical of the pseudosteppes of Extremadura, in an open and dry valley where broom and oleanders predominate.
Our long route today will take us to the province of Córdoba. The Sierra de Hornachuelos Natural Park houses one of the most valuable representations of Mediterranean forest on the Peninsula, combined with meadows and pine forests. The Bembézar River and its tributaries, home to a threatened endemic fish (the Jarabugo Anaecypris hispanica), form the backbone of these mountains. Quality sightings of Black Vulture are almost guaranteed, although you can also see the Spanish Imperial, Golden and Bonelli's eagles, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Black Wheatear (in spring) or Dartford and Subalpine warblers. Deer are easily spotted, so is the gorgeous butterfly Charaxes jasius around the strawberry trees. After lunch, we continue our circular route heading back to the Sierra Norte.
On our last day in the field we will visit some of the most interesting points to observe nature in the Sierra Norte Natural Park. We start with the Cerro del Hierro Natural Monument, the best known and busiest place in the Sierra. Its unique and photogenic appearance is the product of spectacular karst modeling. We will walk under sharp peaks or needles that, like trees, form a kind of stone forest whose most exceptional inhabitants are the royal swift, the redstart and the black stork, accompanied by the Blue Rock Thrush, the Rock Bunting, the Rock Sparrow, the White-rumped Swift or the Red-rumped Swallow. This is also the best place in the region to look for orchids and see fossils. After visiting this unique place, we head towards Lora del Río to begin a walk of the Shrine of Setefilla, bordering the José Torán reservoir until we reach Puebla de los Infantes.
Farewell, but if time permitting, we could visit some other point of interest back to Seville, such as the valley of the river Viar and the Melonares reservoir, an artificial wetland of recent creation but of great interest to birds.
Possible birds for the checklist:
Residents: Bonelli’s, Golden & Spanish Imperial Eagles, Black & Griffon Vultures, Eagle Owl, Hoopoe, Little Swift, Blue Rock Thrush, Thekla Lark, Stonechat, Black Wheatear, Sardinian Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Green, Great & Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, Nuthatch, Firecrest.
Winter Birds: Common Crane, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Chiffchaff, Siskin, Bullfinch, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Song Thrush.
Summer Birds: Pallid Swift, White-rumped Swift, Redstart, Quail, Black-eared Wheatear, Egyptian Vulture, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Bee-eater, Melodious Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Black Stork, Spotted Flycatcher.
Migrants: Whinchat, Willow Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Rock Thrush, Northern Wheatear.
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.