Nature & Bird Watching Experience in the Iberian Borderland
On this 8-day Iberian Nature & Birding Tour in southern Spain and Portugal, 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, the Egyptian Vulture or the Spanish Imperial Eagle.
"Birds & Nature of the Iberian Borderland" is a trip through different Parks and Nature Reserves of Spain and Portugal. This trip begins and ends up in Seville and is aimed at small groups with a maximum of 8 participants. There is the possibility of organising a second vehicle with a second tour-leader for larger groups.
A week-long package to visit in-depth these beautiful Iberian borderland of Spain and Portugal. We visit the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Natural Park, the UNESCO's Castro Verde Biosphere Reserve, the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve and the Special Protection Areas for Birds of Evora and Moura.
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 Seville Airport or any other meeting point in the south of Spain (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 Iberian 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: Birding Tour of Unexplored Portugal & Spain
Arrival at the airport / station / meeting point and transfer to the hotel in the Sierra de Aracena. Depending on the schedule, you can make stops along the way for bird watching in the countryside and the beautiful town of Zufre. Accommodation and dinner followed by a presentation about the trip.
It is time to stretch your legs and take advantage of one of the many walking routes that the Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche Natural Park offers us, a true paradise for hiking lovers. 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 with one of the centenary trails that start from Aracena, in this case towards the town of Corteconcepción along the 4.4-kilometre El Tornero road that will allow us to travel through 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.
Today we cross the border to visit the ZEPA 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 watercourses, 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 scattered 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 any human intervention. They are rich, steep and difficult forests, which still keep Noudar's greatest secret. The richness and diversity of this territory result 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 a 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.
The day begins with a visit to the Valle del Guadiana Natural Park, a protected area characterized by flat terrain where the vegetation cover is dominated by meadows of holm oaks and extensive areas of scrub and rainfed crops in which the embedded valleys of the Guadiana hide. and its tributaries, with a great diversity of small forest birds and cereal fields.
In the morning we will take a short walk to the Pulo do Lobo waterfall. Lunch in Mértola. In the afternoon, we cross 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 may be lucky enough to see a lynx at the end of the afternoon. Arrival at the accommodation in the Beja region and dinner.
It is time to visit the Special Protection Area for Birds that includes the plains between Évora, a World Heritage city, and Elvas, one of the most important areas in Portugal for steppe trees, although increasingly occupied by intensive agriculture but still important concentrations of bustards and curlews can be found. In the afternoon, we continue the trip to another SPA, that of Caia. It contains one of the largest wetlands in the region with excellent sites for observing waterfowl. The area includes a reservoir with smooth banks and devoid of vegetation, and a stretch of the Caia River where a colony of ardeidas forms in rainy years. Arrival at the accommodation and dinner.
On this day we move to the Sado estuary, the second largest wetland in Portugal, it is an area of enormous natural wealth and biodiversity. The area is located in the northwest of Alentejo and includes two Special Protection Zones and a Nature Reserve, whose area is approximately 23,000 hectares.
Although it is very important as a wintering site, it is also home to important breeding populations of purple heron, marsh harrier, stilt and tern. The estuary incorporates a number of different habitats, ranging from marshes, salt flats, rice fields, reed beds, and river beaches, to sand dunes, small dams, and slopes covered with cork oaks and pine trees. Hopefully you can see the family of bottlenose dolphins that live here.
On our last day in Portugal, we visited the Valle Gonzaliño Environmental Center through the territory of the Castro Verde Biosphere Reserve, classified by UNESCO for the values resulting from the harmonious relationship between man and nature, whose historical process of evolution of the occupation and use of the land has created an agroecosystem of high conservation value.
Among the extraordinary biodiversity that occurs here, a structured and diversified bird community stands out, with around 200 species, where the emblematic steppe birds stand out. Stop for lunch at Tickets. In the afternoon, we continue touring this area of the Lower Alentejo with special attention to the small mountains that dot the plain, since they are a resting and breeding place for the great eagles. We return to the hotel and farewell dinner.
It's goodbye, but if the departure time allows it, we could visit some other point of interest back to Seville, such as the Aracena reservoir. The Valle de las Buervas, the place where this artificial wetland was created, is of great interest to birds.
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.