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14 nights
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Spain's Wilderness

Search for the rare Iberian Lynx and explore remote regions where the Iberian wolf still runs wild

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  • Wildlife Tours/ Natural World
  • Picos de Europa

Prime wildlife viewing is not what comes to mind when one considers a trip to this great and storied country. But, in fact, Spain is the last stronghold of several large mammals that have all but disappeared in the rest of Europe. Begin this 15-day journey visiting two remote regions of Northern Spain, staggering in their pristine beauty. Here, the Iberian Wolf and Cantabrian Brown Bear still run wild. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, their numbers are creeping back, and these are the best spots on earth to see them. Stop in at Gredos National Park to feast your eyes on the massive-horned Ibex, before heading south to Andalucia, to the last two bastions of the rarest cat in the world, the Iberian Lynx. The wetlands of Coto Doñana are also a birder’s dream, harbouring 500 resident and migratory species, including the endangered Spanish Imperial Eagle. Get to know the unknown Spain on Apex’s thrilling journey into its most remote and untouched corners.

We are delighted to be working on this tour of Spain with our US associates, Apex Expeditions. 

Apex Expeditions specializes in biologically and culturally unique travel experiences that explore the world’s most fascinating places. Their expeditions are inspired by a passion for true exploration and a desire to better understand our ever-changing and increasingly threatened planet.

They seek the hard to find, the elusive and endangered. They tread lightly and engage locally in small groups led by expert leaders who impart their knowledge and experience with passion. Itineraries designed to bring curious, like-minded travellers together for the ultimate wildlife encounters and cultural exchanges.

Useful Links & Travel Advice

Please find a selection of useful websites to refer to for information from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, on visa requirements, NHS travel health advice and other useful travel tips.  

  • Apex Expedition Leader

    Gerald Broddelez

    Gerald Broddelez
    Gerald has been leading wildlife-focused expeditions to some of the planet’s most rewarding destinations for over 30 years. As a veteran Expedition Leader and lecturer on expedition ships, Gerald has travelled on all the world’s oceans, spending most of his time in the high Arctic, Antarctic and Polynesia. His life-long passion for nature and conservation has taken him to over 170 countries and every continent, during which he has seen over 8,000 species of birds, over 1,000 mammals and most of Europe’s butterflies. Gerald also helped produce natural history documentaries, both as a cameraman and a writer, for Belgian, British and Azorean television networks. In recent years, Gerald has also been involved in field training courses for nature guides, working closely with local tourism boards in several European counties. Belgium is home and in addition to speaking his first languages of French and Flemish, he is also fluent in English, German, and Spanish.

    More information
  • Amended Booking Conditions

    Please note that amended booking conditions apply for this tour which can be downloaded here.

    More information

Spain's Wilderness

Apex Expeditions, who we are working in association with for this tour, always source the best available accommodation in the region and whenever possible aim for four or five star hotel.  The hotels used for this tour are mentioned in the itinerary but please note they are subject to change. 

View accommodation details

Itinerary

Day 1 - London to Madrid, Spain.

Fly by scheduled flight. Arrive in Madrid and transfer into the heart of the city to your hotel, located inside a restored palace. Meet your fellow travellers and expedition leader this evening for a welcome dinner and briefing.
Accommodation: Madrid, URSO Hotel & Spa

Day 2 - Picos de Europa.

After breakfast, drive north through the high, dry plains of Castilla y Léon and into the spindly peaks of the Picos de Europa Mountains. Picos de Europa is Spain’s oldest National Park with dramatic limestone mountain scenery, Atlantic forests and meadows that are home to a rich diversity of fauna and flora. Your base for the next three nights is in the southwest end of the park, an area with several packs of Iberian Wolf. The goal is to have time to watch the wolves while they engage in their social activities such as playing, territory marking and feeding.
Accommodation: Picos de Europa, Three nights at Hotel Presa.

Days 3 & 4 - Picos de Europa.

Spend two full days appreciating the astounding beauty of the Picos. Through a combination of 4x4 vehicles, used to access the various mountainous areas in the park, and hiking, you will reach viewpoints where the search for the wolf packs begins. Keep watch for the variety of wildlife to be found in the area, including Chamois and Red Deer. Griffon Vultures soar overhead, Booted, Short-toed and Golden Eagle are also occasionally seen, whilst at your feet the meadows dazzle with flowers and a range of butterflies. Enjoy a short but spectacular journey on the Fuente Dé cable car. Here among the spectacular scenery, search for high mountain specialists such as Alpine Accentor, Snow Finch, Wallcreeper and Citril Finch. In the late afternoons and evenings, search for the shy and elusive Wildcat that can be seen hunting for rodents on the freshly cut hay meadows.

Day 5 - Picos de Europa & Somiedo Natural Park

After breakfast, drive west into the Cantabrian Mountains in the verdant province of Asturias. Here, Somiedo Natural Park consists of 150 squares miles of jagged rock formations, pristine valleys, ancient beech and oak forests, rivers and crystalline lakes, and wildflower meadows. It is home to one of Europe’s largest populations of wild bears, and the next two days will be spent looking for the Cantabrian Brown Bear, among much other wildlife. In the late afternoon, stretch your legs with a short trek and acclimate to the crisp mountain air and the tinkling of cowbells.
Accommodation: Somiedo Natural Park, Three nights at Casa Mino.

Days 6 & 7 - Somiedo Natural Park.

You have two full days to take in the astounding beauty of Somiedo and watch for its prolific wildlife. See the native goat antelope, or Chamois, and Red and Roe Deer ambling in the meadows on morning and evening game drives. Watch for some of the area’s more than 100 bird species, including Alpine Accentor, Wallcreeper, the exceedingly rare Grey Partridge and Black Woodpecker. Wild Cat, Pine Marten, Genet, Broom Hare, otter, boar, and several species of bats all live here, and are commonly seen by visitors. In the late afternoons, watch for the park’s most famous (and hardest to spot) inhabitant, the Cantabrian Brown Bear, from special vantage points. Search the streams for the shrew-like Pyrenean Desman and the endemic Golden-striped Salamander. There will be time midday to explore the rest of the park on foot and look for butterflies and reptiles like the beautiful Green Shreiber’s Lizard.

Day 8 - Somiedo Natural Park & Sierra de Gredos.

After breakfast, head to the colossal granite Sierra de Gredos range in Avíla Province, due west of Madrid. Its highest peak is the 8,200-foot Almanzor, set amidst sheer gorges and Europe’s southern-most glacial valleys. Wildlife is abounds here, almost 1,400 plant species are represented, including 11 unique to Sierra de Gredos, and an estimated 60 percent of Spain’s animal species, most notably the endemic Western Spanish Ibex. Long the hunting grounds of Spain’s kings and dictators, Gredos is now a protected Regional Park and the once-scarce ibex is plentiful again. After settling into your hotel, trek along the park’s main trails and watch for heavy-horned ibex. Also endemic to the park are the Almanzor Fire Salamander and Gredos Toad. Birders, keep an eye out for Black and Griffon Vultures, eagles, Western Honey-Buzzard, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Great Spotted Cuckoo, and more. Dinner and overnight at the stunning El Milano Real.
Accommodation: Sierra de Gredos, Casa Mino

Day 9 - Sierra de Gredos & Coto Donana.

Enjoy another hike in the Gredos this morning before heading south with a stop in Sevilla for a guided tour of Spain’s most charming city. Arrive in Coto Doñana National Park this afternoon. The 209-square-mile park is one of Europe’s most important wetland reserves, consisting of salt marshes, shallow streams, and sand dunes in the Guadalquivir River Delta. These varied ecosystems shelter a biodiversity that is unique on the continent. Thousands of European and African migratory birds, Fallow and Red Deer, Wild Boar, European Badgers, otters, rabbits, Egyptian Mongoose, and endangered species such as the Spanish Imperial Eagle and the Iberian Lynx, the most endangered of all wild cats, call Doñana home. Get settled into your hotel, then venture out to the marshes to watch for water birds. Dinner and overnight at El Toruño Hotel.
Accommodation: Coto Donana National Park, Three nights at El Toruno Hotel.

Day 10 - Coto Donana National Park.

Access to the park is strictly controlled to limit impact. After an early breakfast, enjoy a ranger-guided 4x4 tour inside the protected portion of Coto Doñana. Explore the park’s three ecosystems and watch for signs of Iberian Lynx (there are 25-35 in the park), along with many marsh birds, including herons, sandpipers, snipes, and wagtails, and raptors such as osprey, kites, and eagles. The tour ends with a visit to the park’s main headquarters at Acebuche, with a variety of boardwalks linking several bird hides that look out across the lagoons. Spend time here watching the smart and beautiful Azure Magpies that frequent the area. After lunch, explore the wetlands outside the park, and head to the Atlantic to see shore birds and watch for whales as the sun sets.

Day 11 - Coto Donana National Park.

Today, visit different birding areas to the west and north of the park. See lagoons teeming with flamingos, egrets, spoonbills, and wild horses. After lunch, take the short trip to one of the best-preserved wetlands in Iberia, Marismas del Odiel, which provide a fantastic collection of habitats—saltpans, lakes, forest, sandbanks, tidal channels, rivers—for over 200 bird species. Though the spoonbill is the historic emblem of Odiel, another bird has taken center stage here in recent years—it is Spain’s principal wintering site for Osprey, with around 30 individuals represented, half of Andalucia’s entire population. Before returning to the hotel, explore the remarkable village of El Rocío. Its dusty, sand-blown streets and sweeping verandahs evoke the American Wild West more than southern Spain.

Day 12 - Sierra de Andujar.

Drive today to Sierra de Andújar Natural Park with a stop to explore the ancient cobblestone streets of Córdoba. The gently rolling 18,500-acre Andújar, part of the vast Sierra Morena range, is densely wooded and boasts one of Andalucia’s best-preserved expanses of Mediterranean forest and scrubland. It is inhabited by an impressive number of endangered species, such as Iberian Lynx, Iberian Wolf, Black Vulture and Imperial Eagle. Check into your hotel and freshen up. The gardens of the hotel are often alive with butterflies—look especially for the beautiful Cardinal Butterfly. Acquaint yourself with the park with an introductory drive this evening.
Accommodation: Sierra de Andujar, Three nights at Los Pinos

Days 13 & 14 - Sierra de Andujar.

Two full days will be spent viewing the area’s wildlife. For the best chances of spotting Lynx, curly-horned Mouflon Sheep, Wild Cat, and otters, be prepared to hunker down at dedicated vantage points and scan the open woodland for long periods. The area is also incredibly rich in birds of prey. Spanish Imperial Eagle has its largest density here. Both Griffon and Black Vultures are common, as are Southern Grey Shrike, Stonechat, and Red-legged Partridge. The rocky outcrops are good for Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting and Short-toed Eagle. Walk through a small tunnel that is home to Greater Mouse-eared and Geoffroy’s Bats. Depending on the first day’s success, explore the same area or visit another part of the park, to the north, the following day. Optional night drives offer a different view of the park, and up your chances to see Genet, Egyptian Mongoose, badger, Lynx, and Wild Cat. On the last night, toast to your journey and the animals seen at a farewell dinner and overnight at Los Piños.

Day 15 - Sierra de Andujar to Madrid to London.

Enjoy a full morning drive back to Madrid before your return scheduled flight to London.

Dates and Prices

Prices per person based on double occupancy
19 September 2017 to 3 October 2017
Category Price
Twin £8995
Single £10495

Tour Reference Code: LASPAIN

Price Includes: Economy class scheduled air travel, 14 nights accommodation as described, all meals, local beer and wine with lunch and dinner, activities and excursions as described, services of an Apex Expedition leader and expert local guides throughout the itinerary, gratuities, entrance fees, transfers.

Not Included: Travel insurance.

NB. Please note that amended booking conditions apply for this tour which can be downloaded here 

Spain's Wilderness

Apex Expeditions, who we are working in association with for this tour, always source the best available accommodation in the region and whenever possible aim for four or five star hotel.  The hotels used for this tour are mentioned in the itinerary but please note they are subject to change. 

 

Apex Expedition Leader

Gerald Broddelez
Gerald has been leading wildlife-focused expeditions to some of the planet’s most rewarding destinations for over 30 years. As a veteran Expedition Leader and lecturer on expedition ships, Gerald has travelled on all the world’s oceans, spending most of his time in the high Arctic, Antarctic and Polynesia. His life-long passion for nature and conservation has taken him to over 170 countries and every continent, during which he has seen over 8,000 species of birds, over 1,000 mammals and most of Europe’s butterflies. Gerald also helped produce natural history documentaries, both as a cameraman and a writer, for Belgian, British and Azorean television networks. In recent years, Gerald has also been involved in field training courses for nature guides, working closely with local tourism boards in several European counties. Belgium is home and in addition to speaking his first languages of French and Flemish, he is also fluent in English, German, and Spanish.

Amended Booking Conditions

Please note that amended booking conditions apply for this tour which can be downloaded here.

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