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Spain enjoys some of the richest and most exciting birding in all of Europe. It sits on a migratory pathway and with a wide variety of habitats, it is a top European birding destination. On this tour, our field days occur in scenic landscapes that include hilltop villages, historic churches, and shady groves.

We carefully crafted this tour with a good pace in mind. Spend several days each in three fabulous birding regions: Extremadura, Andalusia, and Castilla-La Mancha. Breeding birds are on territory as wildflowers come into bloom and paint the natural landscape. In addition to birding and natural history, we make time to experience the many cultural, architectural, and culinary delights that the lovely country of Spain has to offer.

Our spring Spain birding and nature tour begins in the mountains of Sierra de Gredos, a landscape of bottle-green pines, granite peaks, and alpine meadows. We then continue southward to the rolling grassland steppes and cork-oak forests of Extremadura, known for harboring the largest number and variety of nesting raptors in all of Europe. Then, we visit the wetlands of Doñana National Park, one of the largest and most important wetlands on the continent, in the region of Andalusia in southern Spain. On the last leg of our journey, we visit the Sierra Morena for the possibility of seeing Iberian Lynx, and to see the bird-rich lagoons of Castilla-La Mancha.

This tour is designed to pair perfectly with our Morocco tour.

"If you want a great introduction to birding in Europe, this is the trip for you. The variety of birds, habitats and cultural attractions, all at a time when the weather is pleasant, would be hard to match." – 2023 Traveler

Tour Highlights

  • Traverse through the unspoiled countryside of Extremadura, exploring the threatened grassland steppes in search of iconic species like Great and Little Bustard, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Great Spotted Cuckoo, and six species of lark
  • Witness the beauty of the granitic Sierra de Gredos while looking for Spanish Ibex, Ortolan Bunting, Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush, and more
  • Explore one of the largest and most important wetlands in Europe, Doñana National Park, and experience its rich diversity of water birds, including Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Spoonbill, Squacco Heron, and Collared Pratincole
  • Immerse in the exquisite Romanesque and Moorish architecture of historic Sevilla
  • Discover the great diversity of raptors (up to 20 are possible!) that Spain has to offer, with highlights including Cinereous and Egyptian Vulture, Spanish and Booted Eagle, and Montagu’s and Eurasian Marsh-Harrier
  • Enjoy the rich dance and folkloric music traditions of southern Spain with an evening Flamenco performance
  • Watch for the one-of-a-kind Bearded Reedling in the marshes of La Mancha, home to the famous windmills that inspired Miguel de Cervantes’s work Don Quixote

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Mon., April 22 : Arrivals in Madrid


Welcome to Spain! Please plan to arrive today at your leisure. We plan to assemble as a group for dinner this evening.
Accommodations in Madrid (D)

Tues., April 23 : Transfer to Almagro


We awake this morning in Madrid and enjoy our first lovely Spanish breakfast. Then, we pack up and work our way to our accommodations for the next three nights in Almagro in the region of Castilla-La Mancha. On our way, we make sure to pass by the Campo de Criptana to enjoy the windmills featured so famously in Miguel de Cervates’s work Don Quixote.
Accommodations at Hotel Spa La Casa del Rector (B,L,D)

Wed., April 24 : Calatrava Steppes | Navaseca | Alcazar de San Juan Lagoons


The region of Castilla-La Mancha features gently rolling grasslands dotted by vineyards and olive groves. Occasionally, shallow lagoons interrupt the landscape—some fringed with reeds, while others are barren and saline—where waterbirds nest in large numbers.

We dedicate the morning to the Calatrava Steppes for both Little Bustard and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, while also looking for other species of open country such as various larks (Greater Short-toed, Thekla, Crested). Afterwards, we visit the Navaseca Lagoon, which is home to a large concentration of nesting waterfowl, flamingos, and gulls, including the endangered White-headed Duck. Secretive waterbirds are often hiding amongst the reeds, so it pays to inspect the shore carefully for Water Rail and Little Bittern. Other birds that inhabit the lagoon include Eurasian and Great Reed-Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, and Zitting Cisticola.
Accommodations at Hotel Spa La Casa del Rector (B,L,D)

Thurs., April 25 : Tablas de Daimiel National Park | Calatrava Castle


We visit two major areas today in Castilla-La Mancha: Tablas de Daimiel National Park and Calatrava Castle.
Tablas de Daimiel National Park, our first point of exploration for the day, is a critically important remnant of floodplain wetland in the arid interior of Spain. Large numbers of breeding and migratory birds pass through this oasis. Despite being Spain’s smallest national park, it boasts over 80 species of breeding birds! Several new bird species we hope to see here today include Bearded Reedling, Eurasian Penduline-Tit, Moustached Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, and Reed Bunting. The Bearded Reedling is especially interesting, being the sole member of a unique songbird family with no close living relatives.

The Calatrava New Castle, the largest medieval castle in all of Spain, is part of the stunning Sierra Morena, a ridge of mountains traversed with rocky gorges and cloaked in Holm Oak forest. A host of interesting species occur in this beautiful and unspoilt place: Eurasian Golden Oriole, Hawfinch, Cirl Bunting, Black Wheatear, Rock Bunting, and Great Spotted Cuckoo are just some of the few. This ancient watch tower offers sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and countryside. We enjoy the castle until close to sunset to soak in the panorama.
Accommodations at Hotel Spa La Casa del Rector (B,L,D)

Fri., April 26 : Almagro to Doñana


Today, we head out early to Doñana with a cultural stop in the heart of Córdoba. This ancient city was originally a Roman settlement, exchanging hands multiple times over the course of its history. The historic center of Córdoba, home to many notable pieces of Moorish architecture, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Afterwards, we continue our scenic drive south into Andalusia, the southernmost autonomous community in Spain. The landscape becomes progressively more tropical, with more palms, stone pines, and subtropical flowering trees. We arrive at Hotel Ardea Purpurea around noon just in time for an exquisite lunch. After lunch and a siesta, we visit Dehesa Abajo only thirty minutes away. This portion of the park features a good example of the primitive original forest that once blanketed large parts of Andalusia, Spain. This woodland attracts numbers of European Bee-eater. Surrounding wetlands attract large numbers of Red-crested and Common Pochard, Greater Flamingo, Great Crested Grebe, and more. We search through these large rafts of waterfowl for less common ones such as Marbled Teal, White-headed Duck, and Red-knobbed Coot.

Accommodations at Hotel Ardea Purpurea at Villamanrique de la Condesa (B,L,D)

Sat., April 27 : Doñana National Park


Doñana National Park, one of the largest and most important wetlands in Europe, encompasses thousands of acres of marshes (marismas) at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River. This park has over 127 breeding species including many that are globally threatened such as White-headed Duck, Spanish Eagle, and Marbled Teal. Over the next few days, we have an opportunity to visit many of the habitats in this area to sample the high diversity of species.

On our first morning, we visit several birding sites just south of Seville. Our first stop is the Laguna La Mejorada at Los Palacios y Villafranca. In the early morning, a large variety of normally shy birds perch out on open branches and sing, including both Common Nightingale and Western Olivaceous Warbler. This small site also functions as a migrant trap, attracting increasingly uncommon migrants such as European Turtle-Dove. Further south, we spend time at the Salinas de Bonanza to observe large numbers of Greater Flamingo, Pied Avocet, Slender-billed Gull, and a rich supporting cast of migratory shorebirds. Nearby, the town of Chipiona has one of the few colonies of Little Swift in all of Europe.

After a delightful lunch and a rest, we head to the wetlands that flank the Caño del Guadiamar. This productive area is home to hundreds of herons, egrets, spoonbills, storks, grebes, terns, and more! The reeds and tamarisks are full of both singing Eurasian Reed-Warbler and Great Reed-Warbler. Waterbirds include Western Swamphen, Purple Heron, Whiskered Tern, Great Crested Grebe, and Glossy Ibis.

An optional night walk may produce some exciting nocturnal species: Eurasian Scops-Owl, Little Owl, Tawny Owl, and Red-necked Nightjar.
Accommodations at Hotel Ardea Purpurea at Villamanrique de la Condesa (B,L,D)

Sun., April 28 : Doñana National Park


We dedicate our second morning here to visit a restricted area of Doñana National Park. Here, we find two important ecosystems: the Mediterranean woodland and wetlands. Our goal in the pine and cork oak woods is Iberian Lynx, one of the most endangered wild cat species in the world. The population is in decline due to sharp declines in rabbit populations (it preys exclusively on European Rabbit), as well as fragmentation of habitat. Doñana is one of the two last strongholds for this species.

Afterwards, we drive to La Rocina Visitor Center of Doñana, which features forests of stone pine (the main source for pine nuts used in pesto!), lush ponds, and Mediterranean scrub. We enjoy a variety of songbirds in this forest mosaic, including Eurasian Golden Oriole, Iberian Magpie, Savi’s Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Dartford Warbler, and others.

After a sumptuous seaside lunch, we stop along the way to the lodge at the Bird Center of SEO/Birdlife in El Rocío (Spain’s strangest town) to walk along the edge of the wild lagoons and marshes of Doñana National Park. This is one of the best birding spots in the region. A nice visitor center and several trails allow us to explore the surrounding area and sample the birdlife in both the woodlands and marshes: Greater Flamingo, Pied Avocet, Eurasian Reed-Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Little Ringed Plover, and others. This is also an opportunity to visit the Hermitage of El Rocío, the destination site for an annual pilgrimage that brings together roughly a million people each year to venerate the Virgin of El Rocío.

In the evening, we attend a flamenco show. This professionalized art-form has clear traces of both Spanish and Arabic folk melodies. The dance itself is known for its emotional intensity and rhythmic stamping of the feet.
Accommodations at Hotel Ardea Purpurea at Villamanrique de la Condesa (B,L,D)

Mon., April 29 : Odiel Marshes


Today, we visit the Odiel Marshes Nature Reserve. Declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1983, this protected area is a paradise for birds with its salt pans, lakes, sandbanks, tidal channels, and rivers. Eurasian Spoonbill, the emblem of the reserve and the species responsible for the area’s protected status, is featured among the many other bird species we hope to see here.

Along the coast, we search for two rare gulls typical of the Mediterranean region: Slender-billed and Audouin’s. The Odiel Marshes are also an important area for charismatic European shorebirds, and we hope to see a nice sampling: Kentish Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Stint, Common Redshank, and more.

At some point during the day today, we have the option to visit the place where Christopher Columbus organized his voyages of discovery to the Americas—a monastery where Columbus sought the aid of Franciscan brothers in advancing his idea.
Accommodations at Hotel Ardea Purpurea at Villamanrique de la Condesa (B,L,D)

Tues., April 30 : Doñana to Trujillo


After breakfast, we journey north this morning to the region of Extremadura. We enjoy a picnic lunch at Magacela Castle, the ancient remains of a Roman fortress and home to several birds that enjoy the rocky outcrop—Red-billed Chough, Blue Rock-Thrush, Black Wheatear, and Black-eared Wheatear. As we continue northward, we visit the steppes near Zorita in search of Bonelli’s Eagle, Great Bustard, European Roller, and more.

It does not take long after Zorita to arrive in the city of Trujillo, the city of conquistadors. We watch the sunset atop Trujillo’s most prominent castle, allowing us to enjoy magnificent views of the town and plains that stretch out beyond it as far as the eye can see – and which we explore in the days to come. Eurasian Jackdaw nest in old crags of the castle, while European Goldfinch and Serin feed in the weedy patches around its base. Even here in the middle of town, there is so much bird life!
Accommodations at Palacio de Arenales & Spa (B,L,D)

Wed., May 1 : Monfragüe National Park


The landscape in and around Monfragüe National Park features a park-like woodland of cork and evergreen oaks (called dehesa), a result of centuries of traditional, low-intensive farming. Ruins and rocky cliffs dot the park, while rivers and reservoirs irrigate it. All these features result in a rich and varied animal life, making Monfragüe probably the best location for birding in Extremadura—a region known for harboring the largest collection of raptors in both number and diversity in all of Europe!

We enjoy this 70-square mile park and all it has to offer over the course of the day, from its ancient castle to its high concentration of Eurasian Griffon Vulture, one of the largest in all of Europe. We are also on the lookout for Spanish and Bonelli’s Eagles, Cinereous and Egyptian Vultures, Black Stork, Rock Bunting, Woodchat Shrike, and many more in this picturesque and birdy area. We also have a good chance to observe and photograph the regionally endemic Iberian Magpie. Incredibly, this bird’s closest relatives are found in East Asia!
Accommodations at Palacio de Arenales & Spa (B,L,D)

Thurs., May 2 : Plains of Trujillo & Cáceres


Lying between the two historic towns of Trujillo and Cáceres, the Llanos de Cáceres y Trujillo have been declared Special Protection Areas for Birds (SPAB) because of their high ornithological value. Traditional farmers herd their sheep to graze in these grasslands, as they have done for hundreds of years, for the production of cheese and wool. Due to this sustainable land use, many bird species that are rare elsewhere manage to thrive here. Raptors continue to play a prominent part of our birding as we explore the steppes: Montagu’s Harrier, Short-toed Snake-Eagle, Red Kite, and more. By scanning the fields in the early morning, we hope to also see the statuesque Great Bustard, colorful European Roller, and elusive Great Spotted Cuckoo.

After lunch, there is time to explore the central square of Trujillo, featuring many churches, museums, and a prominent castle. There is great potential for interesting birding even here—Pallid Swift, Lesser Kestrel, Black Redstart, and White Stork are all possible around the ancient buildings. As the day cools off, we head out again into the steppes to enjoy any birds we may have missed in the early morning.
Accommodations at Palacio de Arenales & Spa (B,L,D)

Fri., May 3 : Trujillo to Sierra de Gredos


After breakfast, we make the relatively short drive north to the Arrocampo Reservoir to see waterbirds. Created to supply cooling water to a nuclear power station, this large body of water with its many bays, inlets, and marshes provides excellent habitat for myriad water birds such as Purple Heron, Savi’s Warbler, Western Swamphen, and Eurasian Marsh-Harrier. To make viewing easier, there are several hides we can use at different locations.

Then, we begin to gain elevation as we reach our final site: Navarredonda de Gredos. We venture into the nearby forest in the afternoon in order to search for White-throated Dipper, Citril Finch, and other high elevation specialties. We may also see Ocellated Lizards sunning themselves on the rock walls.
Accommodations at Hostal Almanzor Gredos (B,L,D)

Sat., May 4 : Sierra de Gredos


Set high in the mountains, our hotel offers lovely views of distant snowy peaks and lush pinelands. This morning, we drive up to “La Plataforma” of the Sierra de Gredos Natural Reserve. Black Redstart, Northern Wheatear, Rock Bunting, and Water Pipit are common breeders in the alpine meadows found in the higher reaches of the park. By hiking slowly, we also hope to see less common denizens such as Rufous-tailed Rock-Thrush, Ortolan Bunting, and Spanish Ibex. Areas of extensive broom even hold an endemic subspecies of the lovely Bluethroat. In the late morning, we should also see our first Eurasian Griffon soaring overhead.

After a delicious lunch, we walk along a nearby pineland trail that hosts a large variety of classic European woodland species: European Pied Flycatcher, Eurasian Jay, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Firecrest, Goldcrest, Eurasian Blackcap, and more. Many of these species either do not occur or are much less common further south, reaching the southern limit of their distribution here.
Accommodations at Hostal Almanzor Gredos (B,L,D)

Sun., May 5 : Departures


Today, we bid farewell to this lovely area with some optional pre-breakfast birding from the terrace before heading back to Madrid. We say farewell at the Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Baraja International Airport, full of memories of an incredible wildlife and cultural experience in Spain. Please schedule departures after 2:00 PM. (B)

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Cost of the Journey

Cost of the journey is $5990 DBL / $6590 SGL per person from Madrid, Spain, based on double occupancy.

Included: accommodations for 13 nights, meals as specified in the itinerary, professional guide services, local guides, local park and reserve entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. 

Not included: roundtrip airfare to or from Madrid, airport transfers, or items of a personal nature such as: laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, or gratuities for porterage or personal services. This tour was priced in Euros, on September 11, 2023. 1.00 Euro = 1.0739919 US Dollars / 1 USD = 0.931106 EUR. If a significant shift in this rate occurs, we will need to adjust tour pricing accordingly, up to the time that final payment is made.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival and Departure Airport: Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD)

Arrival Details:  Plan flights to arrive April 22, 2024 at your leisure.

Departure Details: Plan flights to depart May 5, 2024 after 2:00 PM.

Travel Tips: If you arrive early to rest up from your travels, we suggest booking an early night at our first night tour hotel, the Hotel Agumar. You can book this online and send us the confirmation number with the goal being you don’t have to switch rooms. There are also many hotels close to the airport if you wish to stay in that area after your flight. We have some recommendations below. If you are interested in exploring Madrid and want to stretch your legs after the long flight, consider a visit to Parque del Retiro, a large park in the center of Madrid. It features many walking paths, a large pond, and is also good for birding. Just a 5 minute walk from Parque del Retiro is the Prado National Museum, which has one of the largest art collections in the world featuring world renown European artists. And if you’d like to see the largest palace in Europe, the Royal Palace of Madrid is also in the downtown area. It has fascinating architecture, an extravagant interior, and an impressive collection of art and historical artifacts. The easiest method of transportation in Madrid is a taxi, although Uber is also available. 

Hotel recommendations near the airport: Hilton Madrid Airport Madrid Marriott Auditorium

Visas are not required of US citizens for stays of this length. Expected changes to entrance requirements in Europe have been delayed until 2025. More information is available at European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) website.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.

Spain

  • Carlos Sanchez

    Guide and client-favorite Carlos Sanchez has deep experience guiding in Central and South America (and in Spain!) for Naturalist Journeys. Carlos has also birded Thailand many times and he guides for us there as well. Before joining us, he was a resident guide in both Brazil and in Ecuador. A Miami native and Northern Virginia resident, he leads the new-and-notable Homestead, FL, Christmas Bird Count, is active in the Tropical Audubon Society and contributes to the blog 10,000 Birds.

    Other trips with Carlos Sanchez

Map for Spain: Birding & Nature

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • Make sure your passport will be valid at least six months AFTER the date of your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • Visas are not required of US citizens for stays of this length. Expected changes to entrance requirements in Europe have been delayed until 2025. More information is available at European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) website.
  • Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Spain and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “Health and Inoculations” section below.
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Plan your flight reservations arriving into Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas (MAD). Send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Arrival in Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas (MAD)

Please note: If you are delayed in travel, please refer to your emergency contact list, and contact your local guide, with a copy to our office. Quite a few of your guides will set up a WhatsApp connection so you can also reach your guide by phone.

Madrid is a large city with fairly heavy traffic, and in our experience the best way to get to your downtown airport is via taxi or Uber. As of this writing, the taxi fare from the airport is fixed at 30 euros, but please do verify the price when you enter the taxi. The Uber fare may be slightly lower. Expect a commute of 20-30 minutes. Please make your own way to the hotel (see your eContact list for details). We plan to assemble as a group for dinner. Please make yourself at home at your first night hotel– the front desk staff will assist you.

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Departures from Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas (MAD)

You have to be at the airport about three hours ahead of your scheduled flight on this return. Please book a flight after 2 PM.

We will provide transfers or arrange for taxis to the airport for departures for the departure day.

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Passports, Visas & Documents

You must have a passport that is in good condition and is valid for six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top; pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will NOT be accepted. If you are from another country, please contact the Spanish embassy websites for guidelines. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Spain.html

It is recommended to check for changes 60-90 days before your tour departs but, at the time of writing, a tourist visa is not required of US citizens for stays of this length. Requirements requiring visitors from more than 60 visa-free countries (including the U.S.) to get a travel authorization when entering Europe for brief stays have been delayed until 2025. Learn more at European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) website.

As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep hard and digital backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a hard copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), the airline barcode on your luggage. This will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary – we hope everyone will always keep travel documents close so that losing them will not be an issue.

General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!

We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency. 

Vaccinations: The CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip.  Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for other helpful information or reach them by phone at (800) CDC-INFO (800-232-4636). 

Common Ailments: Although general medicines may be readily available, travelers are advised to bring their own supply for the duration of the visit.  We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for common ailments (such as upset stomach, headache, motion sickness, diahhrea, etc.).  Altitude sickness can affect some and, if there is a concern, be prepared.

Prescriptions and Allergies: You should bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicine as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad.  It is a good idea to pack  any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage and an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers.  It is also a good idea to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies or chronic medical problems so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.

Weather & Climate

The weather in Spain is generally mild and pleasant, though it gets hot in the summer months. The spring and fall have the mildest temperatures, ranging from the high 70°F into the low 80°F, while evening temperatures can be in the mid 60°Fs. Winter is characteristically slightly cooler, dipping into the high 50°F. Year-round, humidity is generally low. We don’t expect a lot of rain, but there can be an occasional shower here and there. Come prepared with layers of clothing, including a light rain-jacket that can double as a windbreaker and, handy for field work, an umbrella.

Food & Drinks

Spanish food is quite delicious! Food and water standards in Spain are comparable to those in the U.S. As with any travel, minor intestinal problems are possible, so we suggest bringing a remedy for traveler’s diarrhea. Please discuss appropriate medication with your physician.

Tap water is safe to drink, but if you prefer to drink bottled water, you can purchase it as it is readily available and inexpensive. The water is also okay to use for brushing your teeth. On particularly hot days be sure to increase your intake of fluids.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Please, pack light. And please, please pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your CARRY-ON. Dress is very informal and comfortable throughout the trip. You may wish to change for dinners, but casual dress is suitable at all locations.

Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight, long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation. But if you like to wear them, by all means bring some shorts. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy. A jacket should be enough in the cooler mornings and evenings. We strongly recommend neutral or dark-colored clothing for every area that we will visit on the tour. We advise that clothing should be unobtrusive, i.e. no bright yellows, reds or white, as this can disturb wildlife and makes us very conspicuous.

Laundry services can be arranged at some of our hotels. Your guide will provide information when you arrive. You may wish to pack clothing that is easy to hand wash and fast drying for washing in your room.

Spending Money

The Euro (EUR) is the currency in Spain. For the current exchange rate, please refer to online converter tool like www.xe.com, or your bank. We advise you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as the local currency, an ATM card, and a credit card.

You may want to exchange money before your trip. You can do so through your bank or an exchange office. Possible locations are your departing airport in the U.S., a travel agent, or a AAA office. It might be helpful to arrive with some local currency just in case you run in an “out of order” ATM or a local bank holiday.

You can also exchange your money in Spain. The easiest way is to withdraw funds from a local ATM. The ATM will give you local money and your bank will convert that into US Dollars. Many banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank for departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey.

Credit cards are widely accepted in Spain. We suggest you have more than one card available, if possible. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (Visa, and MasterCard are more commonly used; American Express and Diners Cards are used less frequently). Not every shop will accept every card. Some smaller shops and restaurants require cash, so it is always a good idea to ask before making a purchase. Also, we recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling in Europe to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges.

Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted. They can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you that you bring them as your main source of funds.

Gratuities

Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for your hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this can be split among them.

*Please note that these suggested tips are quoted in U.S. Dollars. You will want to convert and tip in Euros.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Ask for “international roaming” to be activated on your phone.

If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Please contact your cell phone provider for further details. Another option when you have access to Wi-Fi is to use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp or Viber to send text messages and make voice or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets and laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free. If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.

Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone for calling that you turn off your cellular data. Keep it in airplane mode. This will decrease battery usage as well. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. You can still use it for photos, ebird and everything else not requiring cell reception.

Your hotel and lodges provide Wi-Fi at least in their common areas. Although it is generally a reliable service, it can be affected by adverse weather conditions due to the remote location.

Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless there appears to be an emergency; this disrupts other guests.  Plan on cell phone call use on your own time.

Electricity

The standard voltage in Spain is 230V, higher than in the United States (120V), with frequency of 50 Hz. Electrical sockets (outlets) in Spain are "Type F".You will most likely need to bring a power plug adapter, and a voltage converter in order to use appliances or devices from the U.S. To be sure, check the label on your appliance. Helpful information can be found at www.power-plugs-sockets.com.

Time

Where you will be traveling in Spain is in the Central European Time (CET) Zone, which is 6 hours earlier than New York (Eastern Time). Spain observes Daylight Savings Time. A great website if you want to tell someone to check ahead of calling you is www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/spain.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!

 

Pace & Protocols +

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of Read more

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role

Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.

Smoking

Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.

Transportation

As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.

Travel Insurance

You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global RescueWorld Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.

 

Packing List +

Please Pack Light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please Pack Light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle. It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

In general, the weather during your stay should be warm and pleasant (75-80°F), but perhaps 20° cooler in the early morning and evening. Check your favorite weather website closer to your departure to better predict what the weather will be on your adventure.

Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long-sleeved shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation. But if you like to wear them, by all means bring some shorts. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and that is comfortable and easy to wear.

Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors, though camouflage clothing is not recommended. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent, such as Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.

Clothing & Gear

  • Lightweight long pants, 2 pair
  • Shorts (optional)
  • Lightweight long-sleeved shirts (2-3)
  • T-shirts or equivalent (4-5 – remember you may be buying some!)
  • Personal underclothing and pajamas
  • Socks – lightweight and easy to wash and dry
  • Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, sundress, etc.)
  • Bathing suit (optional)
  • Hat with broad brim
  • Bandana (gel bandanas work well to keep you cool)
  • Comfortable walking shoes (such as tennis shoes)
  • Lightweight hiking boots
  • Sandals for evenings, travel days (optional)
  • Lightweight sweater or jacket; fleece fabric is ideal, but a sweatshirt will do
  • Lightweight raincoat or poncho (great if this doubles as windbreaker)
  • Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • E-ticket verification
  • Passport, and a photocopy of your passport ID page to be kept in a separate location
  • Money pouch, or someplace to carry your money and passport with you at all times
  • Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
  • Umbrella – compact and not brightly colored
  • Walking stick – we find that many travelers appreciate a walking stick on trails, sporting goods stores carry collapsible models that pack easily in your suitcase (optional)
  • Small flashlight with fresh batteries.
  • Alarm clock, or use your cell phone
  • Sunscreen/lip balm
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent (something containing DEET)
  • Toiletry articles
  • Binoculars
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional)
  • Camera and extra batteries, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
  • Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Sink plug (often not available, a flat universal one is easiest to use)
  • Washcloth (again, available some places and not at others)
  • Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing – detergent sheets pack great
  • Earplugs – in urban and even rural areas barking dogs and traffic noise can be annoying
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)

 

WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!

Medical and First Aid Items

  • Personal medications
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van drives, etc.
  • Personal first aid kit, including medications for general ailments, colds and stomach ailments (Imodium or Lomotil, antihistamine cream or tablets, eye drops, etc.) and antiseptic cream or wipes.
  • Copy of eyeglass prescription, copy of medical prescriptions, and any medical alerts
  • Insurance information
  • Vaccination records
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
  • Band-aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Antibacterial gel, small vial

 

Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Spain; the following are a few that we Read more

There are many titles of interest for Spain; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

Top Picks

Birds of Europe

Merlin App – Europe Pack. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for Europe.

Field Guides

Collins Bird Guide, The Most Complete Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe

The Birds of the Iberian Peninsula

Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East

Mammals of Britain and Europe

Collins Butterfly Guide: The Most Complete Field Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Europe

Butterflies of Britain and Europe: A Photographic Guide

Wild Plants of Southern Spain: A Guide to the Native Plants of Andalucia

Site Guides

Where to Watch Birds in Southern & Western Spain

Where to Watch Birds in Spain: The 100 Best Sites

Collins Bird Guide App: The Ultimate Field Guide. (iPhone and iPad)

History & Culture

Wild Spain: A Traveller's Guide

DK Eyewitness Guide Seville and Andalucia

Spain - Culture Smart! The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

A Traveller’s History of Spain

Iberia, Spanish Travels & Reflections. James Michener

Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook

Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.

 

Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more

General

Spain – An Encyclopedic Overview

Spain’s Official Tourism Website

Madrid – An Encyclopedic Overview

Almagro - An Encyclopedic Overview

Seville – An Encyclopedic Overview

Cordoba – An Encyclopedic Overview

Trujillo, Cáceres – An Encyclopedic Overview

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Bird Checklist of Spain - Avibase

Birdwatching in Spain

Andalusia Bird Society

Laguna de Navaseca – eBird hotspot

Birding Alcázar de San Juan Lagoon – Avibase Checklist

iNaturalist (Comprehensive Database of All Species around the World) - Spain

Llanos de (Plains of) Trujillo – eBird hotspot

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Doñana National Park (UNESCO)

Las Tablas de Daimiel National Park

Odiel Marshes Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO)

Monfragüe National Park

Llanos de Trujillo Y Caceres – Conservation Area

Sierra de Gredos Regional Park

Biodiversity Information System for Europe – Spain

The European Nature Trust – Conservation Projects in Spain

Article in the Journal for Nature Conservation, “Biases in Conservation: A Regional Analysis of Spanish Vertebrates”

News Articles on Conservation in Spain – Mongabay.com Environmental News

Geology & Geography

Geology of Spain and the Iberian Peninsula

Geography of Spain

History & Culture

History of Spain – An Encyclopedic Overview

Spain Timeline Profile – BBC

Spanish Culture

Spanish Cuisine – A Culinary History

Calatrava la Nueva Castle (Sacro convento-castillo de Calatrava la Nueva)

Magacela Castle

Article: “Trujillo, Historic Cracle of the New World” –Spain Is Culture.com

Helpful Travel Websites

Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD)

National Passport Information Center

Homeland Security Real ID Act

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Foreign Exchange Rates

ATM Locator

U.S. Department of State International Travel Information - Spain

Center for Disease Control (CDC) – Spain

Canada Travel Advice and Advisories - Spain

Travel Health Pro (UK) - Spain

Electricity and Plugs – Spain

Date, Time, and Holidays – Madrid, Spain


Photo credits: All photos courtesy of by Pieter Verheij Photography, Spanish Nature unless noted otherwise. Griffon Vultures; Greater Flamingo; Fox; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Booted Eagle; White Stork; Lesser Kestrel; Eurasian Spoonbill; European Roller; Azure-winged Magpie; Greater Flamingo; European Bee-eater; European Roller; Hoopoe; Purple Heron; Crossbill; Spanish Imperial Eagle; Great-crested Grebe by Greg Smith; Black Vulture; Black-eared Wheatear; Spanish Imperial Eagles; Hawfinch by Gerard Gorman; Pin-tailed Sandgrouse; Greater Flamingos; Fox; Eurasian Spoonbill; Chaffinch; Bulls of Guisando by Carlos Sanchez; European Greenfinch by Carlos Sanchez; Iberian Ibex by Carlos Sanchez; Lizard by Carlos Sanchez; Seafood in Andalusia by Carlos Sanchez; Tortoiseshell Butterfly by Carlos Sanchez; White Stork by Carlos Sanchez; White-headed Duck by Carlos Sanchez.

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