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Griffon Vulture Migration & Mountains Birding Tour, Andalucía, Spain - 7 Days

Griffon Vulture Migration & Mountains Birding Tour, Andalucía, Spain
1725

Birdwatching Tour in Spain focusing on Griffon Vulture Migration

This 7-day Griffon Vulture Migration tour offers the chance to experience two exceptional wildlife areas at the cusp of two seasons.  As autumn ends, hard-to-see mountain birds come down to within our reach amongst the forests and crags of the Serranía de Ronda. As days shorten, we´ll find ourselves in the midst of the unforgettable spectacle of thousands of Griffon Vultures crossing The Strait of Gibraltar to Africa.

We begin in the mountains above Málaga, a little-visited but stunning place hosting the densest raptor populations in Europe, including resident Griffon Vultures and Bonelli’s, Short-toed, Booted and Golden Eagle.  In late Autumn, hardy mountain birds are on the move south and to lower altitudes, and we´ll be on the lookout for Black Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, Rock Bunting, Alpine Accentor, Red-billed Chough, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Petronia and Black Redstart on the peaks and crags as well as woodland birds like Crested Tit, Hawfinch, Short-toed Treecreeper, and Firecrest amongst the thousands of acres of Mediterranean forest.

As well as a visit to the beautiful town of Ronda – its three historic bridges straddling the Tajo Gorge in spectacular fashion – you’ll have chance to explore the pretty hilltop villages of the area – we’d be particularly excited to show you the quirkiest of them, Juzcar, whose inhabitants voted to go against the grain and decorate the village blue!  As well as enjoying the gorgeous mountain location amongst Holm Oaks and Sweet Chestnuts, we´ll also be able to taste mouth-watering local food from the kitchen of an award-winning chef.

At the coast near Tarifa, we´ll use our local knowledge of wind and weather to bring you the very best of the late Autumn migration.  The vulture migration is particularly spectacular at this time of year, with as many as 2,300 birds recorded crossing the Strait in a single hour!  You cannot see this anywhere else in the world!

Short-toed and Booted Eagles, Black Kites and White Storks will still be piling through the area, looking for their chance to cross the 14km of water that separates Europe from Africa at the Straits of Gibraltar.  Seabirds too, are on the move, and this is a magical time to watch many thousands of Cory´s, Scopoli´s and Balearic Shearwaters migrating between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.  On the area´s wetlands, wintering waders will be building up and we should also be able to enjoy the first arriving Common Cranes.

There will also be time to explore the local area in and around Tarifa, where we’ll introduce you to some our favourite wetland, woodland and inter-tidal areas, and quite likely a couple of our favourite bars as well.

Highlights include:

  • Witness the amazing Griffon Vulture Migration only to be seen in The Straits of Gibraltar
  • Explore picturesque mountain villages hosting the densest raptor populations in Europe
  • Taste mouth-watering local food from the kitchen of an award-winning chef
  • A magical time to watch many thousands of Cory´s, Scopoli´s and Balearic Shearwaters migrating between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.
  • Mountain birds include; Black Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, Rock Bunting, Alpine Accentor, Red-billed Chough, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Petronia and Black Redstart
Day 1
Day 1 - Arrival | Malaga Airport | Sierra de las Nieves Biosphere Reserve

You begin with a flight to Malaga where we will meet you, we then transfer to our delightful lodgings in the quirky mountainside village of Juzcar.  Among the many picturesque whitewashed villages in the area, Juzcar stands out as its residents unanimously voted to paint the town blue!  As such it was featured in the feature film ‘Smurfs!’ and it’s adorned with Smurf murals a-plenty to this day.

En route we’ll take a picnic lunch in the magnificent Sierra de las Nieves Biosphere reserve, where we should be treated to views of Black Redstarts, Corn Buntings, Thekla and Crested Larks and Woodlarks and the odd passing raptor while we eat.

On arrival in Juzcar, we’ll settling in to our rooms at Hotel Bandolero, where there’ll be time for a little urban birding from the bar terrace before enjoying some of the best dining of the region laid on by resident award-winning chef Ivan.

Day 2
Day 2 - Los Riscos | Cueva del Gato | Cueva del Hundidero

Our first stop today will be at Los Riscos, an imposing rocky limestone outcrop at 1400 m above sea level. After enjoying numerous farmland species such as Cirl Buntings, Woodlarks and Rock Petronia in the lower altitude olive groves and cork oak trees we will spend time here looking for mountain specialities such as Crag Martins, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting and Alpine Accentor. We’ll take our picnic lunch at the picturesque caves and crystal-blue streams of Cueva del Gato. This awe-inspiring beauty spot – whose streams and pools are frequented by Black-bellied Dipper and Grey Wagtail – forms the downstream end of a vast eight kilometre cave system, of which we will be birding both ends today. The final stop of the day is at Cueva del Hundidero. This second cave lies at the base of a spectacular mountain gorge and forms the northern end of the Hundidero/Gato cave system. From our viewpoint at Montejaque dam, we will spend the afternoon observing the canyon’s nature, listening out for Cirl Buntings and Iberian Green Woodpecker as many species passed through and eventually come in to roost among the crags and scrub. Here we hope to add Rock Petronia, Black Wheatear and Red-billed Chough to our mountain list with even the possibility of observing Iberian Ibex bounding over precipitous mountainsides.

Day 3
Day 3 - The Straits of Gibraltar | Huerta Grande Eco-lodge

Today we say goodbye to our hosts David and Ivan, and travel coastwards to our second base in the Straits. On the way, we spent a morning in the charming historic town of Ronda where, as well enjoying breath-taking views of the historic town as it straddles the El Tajo gorge, we can scour its cliff faces for further mountain birds including wintering Alpine Accentor and passing raptors such as Bonelli’s Eagle. We then head to our second base at the charming eco-lodge of Huerta Grande. If conditions are suitable, we will spend the afternoon at a private farm nearby, where Vultures can often be observed if a carcass is present.  If they are, it should offer mind-blowing close-up views of resident and migrating Griffon Vultures and possibly a chance to see Rüppell’s Vulture.

Day 4
Day 4 - Los Lances Nature Reserve

We’ll spend the morning at Los Lances nature reserve, a small area of intertidal habitat on Tarifa beach. On the short walk across low intensity farmland, we may see Crested Lark, Short-toed Lark and Corn Bunting.  A boardwalk takes us out to a hide, from where we can look across the lagoons to see birds including Common Ringed and Kentish Plover, Sanderling and Little Stint.  There’s a decent chance of wintering Western Osprey here too, and Gulls and Terns can include Sandwich and Caspian Terns, and the once extremely rare Audouin’s Gull. Migratory movement is completely dependent on wind strength and direction.  Depending on whether birds are crossing or resting inland to gather strength for their onward journey, this afternoon will be spent at one of several local raptor watchpoints, making the absolute most of whatever the conditions bring us.

Day 5
Day 5 - La Janda

Today we’ll visit the farmland and wetlands of La Janda which is host to thousands of wintering Common Cranes. The huge area of low intensity farmland was once a vast wetland on a par with Donana in terms of its ecological importance.  It’s long since been drained for agriculture, but amongst the rice fields and managed pools and ditches, some real wetland gems remain, hinting at its former natural glory.  Amongst many hundreds of White Stork and Glossy Ibis, here we should see many waders, wildfowl and raptors, such as Purple Swamphen, Marsh Harrier, Black-winged Kite as well as a chance of Spanish Imperial Eagle and Bonelli’s Eagle whilst the farmland areas should yield Spanish Sparrow and Calandra Lark.

Day 6
Day 6 - Barbate Salt Pans

Today, alongside more raptor-watching at sites with stunning views across the Straits to North Africa, we’ll make a visit to nearby Barbate salt pans.  This area offers a fantastic selection of waders which change every day, as well as some real stars like Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo and Western Osprey. Also close by is the town of Vejer de la Frontera, where a successful reintroduction programme of the Critically Endangered Northern Bald Ibis took place in 2008.  From thirty pairs, the birds now number around 78 pairs, and we should be able to see these engaging and quirky birds foraging on surrounding farmland. We should again find ourselves in the midst of the Autumn Vulture migration, and will take our final chance to sit back and relax with a picnic and a glass of wine at a raptor watchpoint as the spectacular birds drift overhead.

Day 7
Day 7 - Departure | Malaga Airport

Today sadly our trip comes to an end, and it’s time to make our own separate journey from Malaga Airport.

Our mountain stay we look for Black Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Alpine Accentor, Thekla Lark, Rock Petronia, Red-billed Chough, Fieldfare, Redwing, Dartford Warbler, Bonelli´s and Golden Eagle as well as woodland birds like Woodlark, Crested Tit, Hawfinch, Short-toed Treecreeper, and Firecrest.  A massive vulture migration event is in progress at this time of year, and among the thousands of amassing Griffon Vultures we ought to be able to see many other raptors such as Black Kites, Short-toed and Booted Eagles, and White Storks.  Seabirds can include Audouin´s Gulls, Balearic, Cory´s and Scopoli´s Shearwaters, Great Skuas.  Farmlands and wetlands should yield a host of waders including Kentish Plover, Sanderling and Little Stint, as well as Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Spoonbills, Greater Flamingoes, Common Cranes, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black-winged Kite and the Critically Endangered Northern Bald Ibis.

What is included?

  • Price includes all accommodation
  • All meals and selected drinks
  • Guiding with a professional registered guide
  • Local insurances
  • Transportation with our modern 9 seater minibus
  • Local taxes and entrances

What is not included?

  • Personal travel Insurances
  • International flight and visa fees
  • Additional drinks and snacks
  • Items of a personal nature
Wildlife Reviews
5 stars
- based on 3  reviews
  1. The trip of a lifetime
    Catherine Quayle18 Oct 2019
    5
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    I loved, loved, loved the 5 days I spent birding with Simon & Niki in Andalucia during the fall migration. We saw thousands of Griffon vultures prepping for their epic migration across the Straits, perched on cliffs in the mist, and soaring gracefully above Tarifa. We saw red-billed choughs pew-pewing in a canyon while Iberian ibex climbed nearby on rocky peaks. We watched hundreds of white storks feeding in the rice fields while black-winged kites hovered above. We found critically endangered Northern bald ibis foraging among cows while juvenile flamingos waded nearby. I learned many dozens of new songbirds and met 3 new species of dolphins. Niki & Simon have a special knack for knowing when and where to find the birds, and they were full of fascinating info, well equipped with vehicles and scopes, and provided a beautiful locally sourced picnic lunch every day. The food was delicious, the lodging super cozy and the company always good fun. I especially appreciated their serious focus on local food, sustainable travel and minimizing our impact on the environment. I highly recommend this great team and hope to be able to travel with them again.
  2. Vultures and Specialities
    Wader World30 Jun 2017
    5
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    Simon & Niki are a joy to be with, they are warm, friendly , helpful and welcoming throughout. They made this tour an thouroghly enjoyable experience and can't be faulted. I have seen many Vultures at many sites but nothing allowed such good views or photographic opportunities as this trip. If you do fancy some "up close & personal" time and or photographic opportunites with Vultures then I can't think of any other better choice than to join a day or 3 with the Inglorious Bustards team, highly recomended
  3. Rapturous Raptor Watching October 2016
    perry haines14 Oct 2016
    5
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    ' Rapturous Raptor Watching October 2016 ' Birdwatching across the Straits in September 2016, was tip top, witnessing the fabulous Autumn migration flight path spectacle, with raptors galore in the air. It was at this time, ' The Inglorious Bustards ' Simon and Niki recommended that October is fantastic too, in particular featuring thousands of Vultures, taking their turn to make the epic voyage from Europe to Africa. Hungry for a second helping of such wonderful birding, we did indeed return to the ever hospitable Huerta Grande, in October, arriving on the 14th and staying until the 24th. Wow............ We were not disappointed, the good advice was spot on, the raptors passed overhead in great aerial armadas. A particularly memorable moment was spent with a magnificent Greater Spotted Eagle, that flew overhead on the 16th. Best day for us ? The 22nd, when 'panning' thru the many, many kettles of Griffin Vultures, we were rewarded with two Ruppell's Vultures and a Black Vulture. Over the time, we were treated to both quality and quantity of terrific birds, that also included: Short Toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Golden Eagle , Black Kite, Hobby, Montagu's Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Common Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Egyptian Vulture, and much more.... Not forgetting magical musters of White stork and Black Stork too. Many, many thousands of birds doing what comes naturally - Beautiful ! 'The Inglorious Bustards' truly do ''know their stuff'' ! Many thanks for all the good tips and knowledge shared, with some epic days birding !!!

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Why book with Inglorious Bustards?

We love birds and wildlife! But even more than that we love making sure you see it, experience it and have a fantastic time to boot. Between us we have a vast experience in nature conservation, ecology, tour leading and the hospitality industry, and we’ll use it to bring you fantastic wildlife spectacles alongside chilled-out birding and local culture and food. All our team fulfil these criteria: - Are professional naturalists with expertise and training in their speciality fields. - Demonstrate active conservation work both through tours and independently. - Have a proven track record of inspiring a love of the natural world through all generations. - Great no fuss problem-solvers where required, and always ensure the enjoyment and safety of our groups. - Have an exceptional background in the country they are leading in. - Are fully insured and compliant with the Travel and Tour regulations. - Patient, always helpful and inspiring teachers.

Do I need my own food and drink at lunchtimes?

We have you covered for all meals. At lunchtimes enjoy our sustainable picnic alongside choices of wines, juices (often homemade) and local spring water from our village. Of course you may however wish to additionally purchase a coffee or an ice cream. Please do bring a reusable water bottle and we can keep you topped up with spring water throughout the day - we don't like unnecessary single use plastic bottles - so we don't use them. Don't worry though we have some spares for loan too!

Who can join this tour?

Anybody! beginner to expert We warmly welcome children of any age (under 18) accompanied by an adult. Please do enquire directly on the suitability of the tour for you.

What is the weather like?

In the mountains of Andalucia clear nights can give way to frost and whilst the daytime winter sun is welcome there can often be an alpine feel to the days. In the Straits of Gibraltar we are protected both from the freezing cold and from the intense heat because of our location in The Strait. However some days can be windy, winds can go from a moderate or fresh easterly over the Alboran Sea (the western part of the Mediterranean) to gale force strength on the western side of the Strait. With our local knowledge we are able to read the weather and adapt our plans accordingly to ensure you have the best possible days with us.

What footwear should I wear?

We usually do all our watching from trails and paths so there should be no need for heavy boots - please do enquire directly.

Who can join this tour?

Anybody! beginner to expert we delight in bringing you first ever relaxing views of migration or searching out that special species you wish to observe. We warmly welcome children of any age (under 18) accompanied by an adult. Do enquire with us directly.

What is the accommodation like?

We proudly work with David and Ivan at the delightful mountain village of Juzcar and whilst the beautiful and comfortable en suite rooms are a delight, Ivan’s award winning cooking will not fail to impress whatever your dietary needs. Furthermore the mountains surrounding the hotel offer great all year birding opportunities. The village had been one of the traditional pueblitos blancos of Andalusia but in spring 2011, buildings in the town (including the church and gravestones) were painted smurf-blue by Sony pictures in order to create a setting for the Smurf movie. Our partners at Huerta Grande in the Straits offer a charming ecolodge in a delightful setting of the Nature Park. The hospitality is excellent, all the rooms en suite and the food from sustainable local and extensively produced ingredients. Huerta Grande is a Rural Eco-Resort situated in the hills above the Strait of Gibraltar, between the Parque Natural del Estrecho (Natural Park of the Strait of Gibraltar) and the Parque Natural de los Alcornocales (Natural Park of Cork Oaks). The 7 hectares of Huerta Grande are nestled within a forest of Wild Olive and Cork Oak trees. Here our visitors find the silence and peace of pure nature. Huerta Grande is the perfect spot for nature and you can witness from the resort the spectacular bird migrations in spring and autumn among the butterfly and bird filled woodlands. All accommodation is within log-cabins within the tranquil surroundings of the woodland or in one of the two houses that overlook the Straits itself and are surrounded by beautiful woodland and flowering shrubs. If you find a spare moment from exploring the migrations and several nature filled areas of the Straits or simply require some alone time with nature then one of the several walks available around the grounds will no doubt rejuvenate your spirits. The woodlands here are unique in botanical interest and offer refuges to passerine migrants and resident species. Due to the unique climatic conditions within the area the woodlands are lush and green and take on an other world feel.

Do I need binoculars ?

Free loan of binoculars on the trip if requested in advance from Inglorious Bustards trusted equipment supplier Viking Optical

Join Our Fixed Tour Starting Date

Tour Dates Tour Availability From Price Spaces Left
21/10/2021 - 27/10/2021 guaranteed EUR 1,725
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7 Days

Price & Availability

From
EUR1,725 / per person
Based on twin/double room
This tour is operated by: Inglorious Bustards
4.99 based on 28 reviews

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Operator Review Summary

4.99 Based on 28 reviews
Tours
Wildlife
Guides
Conservation
Location
Value

Tour Facts

  • Andalucia
  • Set Departure
  • Multi-Day Tour
  • Birds
  • 4 to 8px
  • 7 Days
  • October
  • + 10 years
  • Leisurely
  • Yes
  • English, Spanish, French
  • Malaga Airport or Malaga Train Station
  • Malaga Airport or Malaga Train Station