Julian Sykes Wildlife Holidays

Ultimate Spanish Mammals

This is an opportunity to join a unique trip looking for some of Spain's endemic mammals with particular focus of the extremely rare Iberian Lynx and the endangered Iberian Wolf amongst a host of other species.

Our 10 night holiday starts in the one of the remotest areas of Spain, the 'Sierra de Culebra'. This one of the strongeholds of Iberian Wolf, and this reserve holds a major percentage of Spain's total population of 3000+ individuals. Time will be spent stood quietly waiting & watching for this very elusive mammal mainly at dawn and dusk when they are at their most active and likely to reveal themselves. However while we are there we should be also be looking to find Wild Boar, Red Fox, Red & Roe Deer. The days will be spent visiting the surrounding areas, especially Villafafila and it's adjacent low-intensive agricultural lands that has Spain's largest concentration of Great Bustard. The natural park of Arribes del Duero forms the natural border between Spain & Portugal as this mighty river carves a winding course through steep sided valleys, home to many breeding raptor species.

On the 4th day we will head southeast to the quaint La Manchan village of Alcoba in readiness for the following morning. One of the tour highlights will be a memorable half day in the little-known reserve of Los Cabañeros, a haven for wildlife. We spend the morning driving round this 'Serengeti of Spain' in specially adapted vehicles, which allow us into the more remote inaccessible areas of this excellent National Park.

Next we continue to drive south east into Andalucia spending one night in Cazorla, where our rural hotel could hold a surprise with feeding stations for both mammals and birds. The following morning will be spent in the Sierra de Cazorla where or targets will be Spanish Ibex, Red Squirrel and hopefully Lammergeier!

Our final destination is the Sierra de Andujar looking for Iberian Lynx, is the most endangered cat species in the world. However the pro-active Andalucian government have a strategic plan of conservation and re-introduction to help save this wonderful and iconic cat. The natural park currently holds around 70% of the world's population and is working hard to increase this figure. Also here Otter, Genet, Wild Cat, Moufflon, & Fallow Deer can be found along with good population of Spanish Imperial and Golden Eagle, Black and Griffon Vulture.

Red KiteDays 1 - 5 :- After your arrival into Madrid Airport,  you shall be met by your guide and we shall quickly load up our mini-van and drive straight through to our superb accommodation in the heartland of the Sierra de Culebra. During these four days we will be spend lots of time early morning and late evening searching for the Iberian Wolves as this is the time when they are most active in daylight hours. During this time of watching and waiting we should also see other mammals including Red Fox, Wild Boar & Roe Deer, some of the iberian Wolf's favoured prey.

Although a good deal of our time will be spent looking for our major target we shall also be spending a lot of time birdwatching around the forest and beyond.

Not too far away is an area of specifically developed, low-intensity agricultural land which holds Spain's highest density of Great Bustard with realistic chances of seeing literally 100's during a daily visit. Other species to be found on these undulating steppes could include Black bellied Sandgrouse, Rock & Tree Sparrows, Lesser Kestrel, White Storks, plus big numbers of larks, finches and sparrows. Common Cranes will be starting to arrive from the north and with luck we will first hear their very distinctive 'bugling' call as they head for their wintering grounds in this area. We will also visit the lagoons of Villafafila with it's waders and wildfowl, with this being an inland staging post it could produce the odd Spanish scarcity amongst the commoner waterbirds. With all this potential prey around there is a healthy population of avian predators such as Red Kite, Marsh & Hen Harriers, with Merlin and Peregrine regularly patrolling the wetlands on a regular basis.

One day will make an excursion south to Spain's third longest river - the Duero, an impressive water course that forms much of the border between Spain & Portugal. This deep-sided river is another excellent place for birds with lots of Griffon Vultures, both Golden & Bonelli's Eagles, Blue Rock Thrush, Southern Grey Shrike, Crag Martins, Grey Wagtail, Spotless Starlings and Raven. It is not only very impressive for wildlife but also the scenery is superb

Great BustardAfter breakfast on our final morning we set off south east to Castilla La Mancha where we head for Alcoba a small village situated on the edge of Los Cabañeros National Park.

The journey will be punctuated with birding stops en-route and of particular note will be another of Spain's National Parks - Tablas de Daimiel. This extensive reedbed and wetland is home to many sort after species such as Moustached Warblers, Water Rail, Black-shouldered Kite, Bearded & Penduline Tits.

We will continue south until we eventually reach Alcoba and if time allows we shall visit a local hide where we should find Black & Griffon Vultures, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure winged Magpies and Spanish Sparrows.


CabanerosDay 6 & 7:-  An early start as we swap transport for a special 4 x 4 vehicle, which will take us on safari for the morning. Apart from the main road that runs through the reserve vehicular access to here is restricted to this type of transport (or walking) and strictly governed. The huge plains and rolling hills, with Red Deer, Red Fox & Wild Boar and a very high concentration of raptors with reputedly 120+ pairs of Black Vulture alone, plus Spanish Imperial & Golden Eagles, Lapwing, Little Bustard, Southern Grey Shrike, Jay and Corn Bunting.

After lunch we will continue our journey towards Andalucia, which passes through some prime plains habitat and with luck we should find some roadside steppe species such as bustards, sandgrouse and larks. This then continues over the mountains of the regional northern border of Andalucia and on to an overnight stop at a fabulous hotel near the Sierra de Cazorla.

We have been working with the hotel's owners and have developed a couple of feeding stations for both mammals and birds with regular visits by Beech (or Stone) Martin, Fox, Red Squirrel, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Rock & Cirl Buntings. We will definitely be spending time watching these feeding areas in the hope of seeing something special at close range.

A full day will be spent exploring the fabulous Sierra de Cazorla where we should easily find our firstSpanish Festoon Spanish Ibex of the holiday. Although our time is limited we will be doing as much as possible and hope for a chance of seeing one of their famous Lammergeiers, which were part of a very successful re-introduction several years ago. Our day will be spent climbing up the mountain roads to Rambla Seca - a dramatic place where the weather and cattle grazing mould the vegetation and the landscape. Birds of prey cruise the limestone ridges with Golden & Bonelli's Eagles alongside Kestrels, Common Buzzards, Griffon Vultures and always the potential of a Lammergeier. The drive up we will make some stops in strategic watchpoints to try to spot one of the parks key resident mammals Spanish Ibex. They can be found picking their way with ease over the treacherous rocks and scree slopes, along with Mouflon, the high mountain sheep of the region. Our return journey may involve a stop at Linarejos where we will look for the unique and endemic crayfish of the Sierra de Cazorla.


Days 8 - 11 :- After breakfast we will pack up the minibus and drive the 1.5 hour joureny to the Sierra de Andujar, which is arguably the best place in the world for seeing the incredibly rare Iberian Lynx. Our timing will ensure we have our first try for this exquisite mammal that afternoon in the mountains of this wonderful reserve.

The next two days will be spent exploring the Sierra de Andujar, a contrasting regional park with some of the best representations of Mediterranean Forest still surviving in Europe. The Sierra de Andujar forms part of the Sierra Morena Mountains and has a landscape of hills and mountains formed from granite, quartz and slate, which is bordered by two rivers - the Jandula and the Yeguas. Yet another of Andalusia’s hidden treasures of a Natural Park; which is home to the elusive and highly endangered Iberian Lynx of which only 150 or so remain in the wild. We shall be spending every early morning and late afternoon searching for this secretive animal from strategic watchpoints around the sierra. The rest Lynxof the time will be spent walking and driving the roads and tracks within the reserve along with time to relax in the afternoon around the hotel complex before our evening vigil. This Natural Park is also home to the magnificent Spanish Imperial Eagle and many other sought-after raptors including Golden Eagle, Black Vulture, Goshawk and Peregrine. The tranquil rivers, separating a series of reservoirs, with dramatic dam walls that attract Black Wheatear, Rock Sparrow and Crag Martin, with Otters fishing the river below, will be in marked contrast to the lush vegetation of the rest of the trip. Everywhere we look there will be Azure-winged Magpies, Short toed Treecreepers, Firecrests, Nuthatches and Crested Tits. If time allows we shall even take a drive up to the Santuario Virgen de la Cabeza – a dramatic & historic building to which there is a pilgrimage in May that’s perched on top of a mountain in the centre of the reserve.

On our final morning will be dependant on flight times but there could be another opportunity to go out early to look for Lynx. However after breakfast we shall load the minibus and drive the 3 hour transfer back to Madrid, possibly stopping at one or two key sites en-route.


ACCOMMODATION OVERVIEW:
Both of our accommodations are perfectly positioned for easy access to the best areas for finding Iberian Wolf and Lynx, and not only is it a fantastic place to stay but the owners have up-to-the-minute information on the mammals and their where-abouts. Both places have made every effort to maintain a “natural style”to blend in with the surroundings.

What's been said...

Just to say a huge "thank you" for helping to make our recent trip so enjoyable and memorable. Both Tony and I had a really great time. I can't believe we packed so much in to 9 days, it seemed much longer than that!! Do hope you got home safely. It was such a long drive for you, especially when we went via the Picos! Not exactly a direct route for you but very well appreciated by us all. Hope to see you again.

Gill & Tony Fellus

I didn't really get the chance at the airport yesterday to thank you for , what was definitely, the best holiday ever. I kept looking skywards today only to see crows and magpies, boring. Your dedication to keeping  everyone  informed and happy was way beyond most people's expectations. Now that's the formal bit out of the way. Highlights....... the Golden Eagles, vultures, Black-shouldered Kite and Dartford Warblers. Thank you for the pics, it was brilliant to see them again and I will get down to some painting, promise. So to conclude, I have one last comment on my 'fantastic few days' SUPERB!!!

Sally Buckland

Just to say a big thank you from Caroline and I, we had a blast and most importantly, added wolf!!. Thanks again mate, superb place, birds, WOLVES! and company.

A & C Carroll

Caroline and I really enjoyed the trip and you didn’t seem grouchy at all.  We thought it was a really nice group of people – everybody was a lot of fun and easy to get along with.

D & C Brunton

 

 

Cost £1690
Based on sharing a twin/double room.

Single Supplement - £110
Deposit - £300
Maximum Group Size - 6

Price Includes:

  • 10 nights accommodation with en-suite facilities
  • All meals
  • All transport costs
  • Wolf watching permission
  • Information pack
  • Daily check list
  • Use of field guides & maps

Price does not Include:

  • Flights to Madrid
  • Extra food/drink to normal meal times
  • Travel & contents insurance
  • Items of personal nature
  • Tips/gratuities

Flights are not included in the prices quoted, however we are more than happy to help with finding suitable flights.

Train Travel - Train travel possible

18th - 28th Nov 2017

Highlights -

  • Two of the rarest mammals in Europe - Iberian Wolf & Lynx
  • Spanish Ibex, Otter, Mouflon, Wild Boar all possible
  • Sort-after raptors with Lammergeier, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Goshawk
  • Stay in a delightful converted old Roman staging post.
  • Mountains, wetlands, steppe - the very best of Spanish landscapes

 

Target Species:

  • Iberian Wolf
  • Iberian Lynx
  • Spanish Ibex
  • River Otter
  • Wild Boar
  • Red Deer
  • Fallow Deer
  • Roe Deer
  • Mouflon
  • Red Squirrel
  • Iberian Hare
  • Greater Mouse-eared Bat
  • Noctule
  • Schreiber's Bat
  • Daubenton
  • White Stork
  • White-headed Duck
  • Black Vulture
  • Lammergeier
  • Black shouldered Kite
  • Spanish Imperial Eagle
  • Golden Eagle
  • Goshawk
  • Common Crane
  • Great Bustard
  • Little Bustard
  • Pin-tailed Sandgrouse
  • Calandra Lark
  • Woodlark
  • Blue Rock Thrush
  • Dartford Warbler
  • Bearded Tit
  • Penduline Tit
  • Rock Sparrow
  • Rock Bunting

 




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