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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. This tour focuses on the southernmost autonomous region in Spain, Andalusia. The landscape here is almost tropical, with a mixture of palms, stone pines, and subtropical flowering trees. Birds from further north in Spain and beyond begin to flow southward at this time of year, filling the woodlands, wetlands, and coastline with both absolutely numbers and diversity. 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 autumn Spain birding and nature tour begins in the Sierra de Andújar near Cordoba in search of Iberian Lynx, before heading southwest to the wetlands of Donana (the most extensive wetland area in western Europe). Then, we continue to Tarifa near the Strait of Gibraltar to enjoy the spectacle of bird migration and finish our journey in the limestone karst scenery near Ronda.

  • “It was a fantastic trip. Due to our guide’s keen eye, local knowledge and passion for birds, we saw a large number of species. All during the migration south to Africa just a short distance across the straight of Gibraltar. While our focus was birding, I really appreciated the overall experience and cultural aspects of the trip.” — Charles Mahoney, 2023 Traveler
  • "Fabulous! Very well-organized with an extremely knowledgeable guide. Top highlights: Spanish Lynx, Griffon colonies around Tarifa, and whale watching.” — Jody Hallstrom, 2023 Traveler

Tour Highlights

  • 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 and Cordoba
  • 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
  • Search for the elusive Iberian Lynx, a highly Endangered wild cat that specializes in hunting rabbits
  • Witness the spectacle of fall migration near the Straits of Gibraltar, where shorebirds, raptors, and songbirds stage to cross the last stretch of water before heading into Africa

Trip Itinerary

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

Sat., Sept. 7 : Arrival day in Malaga

Please plan to arrive at your leisure during the day. We choose a hotel near the airport. It can be a day to relax after a long journey, but for those who do not want to waste any time, there is a famous birding site close to the hotel. The Guadalhorce Nature Reserve extends between the two branches of the Guadalhorce River. Comfortable hides overlooking pools provide shelter from wind, rain or sun, with very easy, level trails to follow around this small reserve. Birds one may see here include a variety of classic Mediterranean wetland birds such as White-headed Duck, Greater Flamingo, Pied Avocet, Audouin’s Gull, Eurasian Spoonbill, and Western Yellow Wagtail.

Also, a visit to the city center of Malaga or one of the nearby beaches might be an option. All are close and within easy reach.
Accommodations at the Campanile Málaga Airport Hotel, or similar, Malaga (D)

Sun., Sept. 8 – Tues., Sept. 10 : Transfer to Andujar | All Day Birding | Searching for Iberian Lynx

We transfer to the Sierra de Andújar, home to some of the largest areas of Mediterranean forest in Spain. We then enjoy two and a half days exploring this fascinating forest. Cork oak is the dominant tree species here, the very same tree responsible for most of the quality corks in wine bottles around the world. In more arid areas of the park, thickets of rosemary, lavender, and marjoram predominate. It is here that we home to observe the Iberian Lynx, a wild cat endemic to the Iberian Peninsula and listed as Endangered by IUCN. There are only two viable populations left in the world of this species, with Sierra de Andújar being one of them. This area is also very good for observing a variety of bird species, particularly raptors such as Golden Eagle, Eurasian Griffon, Cinereous Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, and (with luck) the regionally endemic Spanish Eagle.
Accommodations at Fuente Las Piedras in Cabra or similar (B,L,D)

Wed., Sept. 11 : Transfer to La Doñana

After breakfast, we drive to Villamanrique de la Condesa in La Doñana region to reach our next hotel. Here, we will meet with our next local guide.

After settling into our hotel, we visit 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. By around noon, we reach Dehesa Abajo. 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.

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 in Villamanrique de la Condesa (B,L,D)

Thurs., Sept. 12 : Doñana National Park

We dedicate our first 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.

We then we drive towards the paddy fields of Cantarita. We cross the characteristic rice plantations that dominate this region, before reaching the Brazo de la Torre and the boundary to the natural sanctuary of Doñana National Park. The elegant herons and egrets, the beautiful Collared Pratincole, the colorful Western Swamphen, the abundant Glossy Ibis – this is just a sampling of the extensive variety of birds that use this ecosystem during the different stages of rice cultivation.

We will have lunch in a local restaurant or a picnic lunch.

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

Sun., Sept. 13 : Doñana National Park

The Brazo del Este Natural Park is 17 kilometres south of Seville, where the main channel of the Guadalquivir forks off. This Special Protection Area is the result of modifications that man has been making to gain cropland from the Guadalquivir, one of the oldest branches of the river that runs through the marshes. Despite a large amount of human intervention, which started at the beginning of the last century, it has become an exceptionally important wetland for birds. With completely flat land, the channel is accompanied by rich water vegetation and a multitude of wetland species (especially in summer when Doñana itself dries out). Some of the species that we may encounter here include Garganey, Marbled Teal, Greater Flamingo, Northern Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Marsh-Harrier, Woodchat Shrike, Zitting Cisticola, and Spanish Sparrow.

If we have time, we will visit the nearby Salinas de Bonanza. These saltpans host large numbers and diversity of shorebirds and gulls, including Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Kentish Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Red-necked Phalarope, Green Sandpiper, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin’s Gull, and Little Tern.

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

Mon., Sept. 14 : Transfer to Tarifa | Bird Migration

After breakfast, we drive to Tarifa where we will meet our guide. Every year, Tarifa and its surrounding areas experience one of the greatest natural events that one can witness in nature: the spectacle of bird migration. Only a little over eight miles from the continent of Africa, this strategic location at the southernmost tip of continental Europe lies on the main migratory bottleneck that funnels millions of birds from Western Europe across the Straits of Gibraltar to Africa twice a year.

During our time in this exciting area, we focus our efforts on visiting several sites in search of migratory birds including Black Kite, European Honey Buzzard, Egyptian Vulture, Black Stork, and Lesser Kestrel. Where we go will depend on weather conditions, but we have an expert guide who will find us the best places

Accommodations at La Codorniz or Zahara de los Atunes (B,L,D)

Tues., Sept. 15 : Bird Migration in Tarifa

After breakfast, we enjoy a morning excursion by private boat to observe seabirds of the western Mediterranean (Great Skua, Northern Gannet, Cory’s Shearwater, and Balearic Shearwater) and cetaceans. We might see Long-finned Pilot Whale, Common Bottlenose Dolphin, and Short-beaked Common Dolphin. During the first half of September, it is also possible to see Sperm Whale and Orca (Killer Whale). In case of bad weather, we will visit a private island near Tarifa, which is also good for sea watching.
In the afternoon, we visit several areas to look for migrating birds and roosting areas for raptors. Again, where we go will depend on weather conditions, but of course we have an expert guide who will find us the best places.

Accommodations at La Codorniz or Zahara de los Atunes (B,L,D)

Wed., Sept. 16 : Visit to La Janda

La Janda represents a mosaic of habitats due to its many historical uses. There are large pastures, an important wild olive grove, rice paddies, and canals with marsh vegetation that together welcome millions of birds through the different seasons to rest and refuel. Why is La Janda so important? It is the last stop for birds before leaving Europe during their annual fall migration, making it a vital site for birds to regain their strength before continuing their journey across the Strait of Gibraltar into North Africa and beyond.

Birds we may see here include European Turtle-Dove, Collared Pratincole, Short-toed Snake-Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Woodchat Shrike, Calandra Lark, Sardinian Warbler, Northern Wheatear, and Common Redstart. Nearby, we have the opportunity to see the Northern Bald Ibis. Here, the population of this Endangered species is part of a reintroduction program and intensively managed to secure their numbers under Proyecto Eremita.

Accommodations at La Codorniz or Zahara de los Atunes (B,L,D)

Thurs., Sept. 17 : Transfer to Ronda

After breakfast, we drive to Benaojan near Ronda where we meet our next local guide.

After settling into our hotel, we go out for birding in the Serrania de Ronda in the afternoon. The nearby Rio Guadiaro is only one of two rivers in the area to flow year-round. This river system acts as a highway for migratory passerines on their southward journey, which attracts an accompanying set of migratory (and non-migratory) raptors. In fact, the geographical location of this river and the surrounding mountains makes this one of Europe’s best areas to observe concentrations of predatory birds. With a bit of luck, we should be able to see up to four species of eagle here—Bonelli’s, Booted, Short-toed Snake-, and Golden Eagle. Indeed, being so near the famous Straits of Gibraltar, this area features a rich assortment of bird species migrating south in autumn.

Accommodations at Molino del Santo (B,L,D)

Fri., Sept. 18 : Birding in the Sierra de Grazalema

Today, we visit the Sierra de Grazalema and adjoining areas. Established in 1977, this natural park offers spectacular, rocky scenery and a large number of limestone caverns. It is also home to an endemic tree, the Spanish Fir Abies pinsappo, a tree species that became isolated in these mountains since before the last ice age. Typical mountain birds we may observe in this area include the colorful Blue Rock-Thrush, dapper Black Wheatear, and intelligent Red-billed Chough. Throughout the park, there are large areas of Cork Oak Forests, often known as dehesas in Spain, which can hold good numbers of migrant warblers as well as resident passerines such as Crested Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, and Wood Lark.

It will be a relaxing day with your guide, who will be ready to explain not only the wildlife but also the culture and geology of this wonderful area.

Accommodations at Molino del Santo (B,L,D)

Sat., Sept. 19 : Departures

The final day of this trip. Depending on departure time of the flights, we can spend some time birding during our trip from Ronda to the airport in Malaga. (B,L)

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Cost of the Journey

Cost of the journey is $6290 DBL / $6890 SGL per person from Malaga, Spain, based on double occupancy.

Included: accommodations for 12 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 Malaga, airport transfers, or items of a personal nature such as: laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, or gratuities for porterage or personal services.

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: Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP)

Arrival: Sunday, September 7, 2024 at leisure. We recommend arrival in the morning if you wish to go birding in the afternoon (or plan to arrive the day before). The tour officially starts with the welcome dinner after this optional outing.

Departure: September 19, 2024 in the afternoon. We have a 1.5-hour drive to the airport, and you should be there 2.5 – 3 hours ahead for international flights so please book flights out after NOON.

Travel Tips and Extra Services: Our operator can book an early night (or nights) room at the Campanile Málaga Airport Hotel for you if you wish to rest up from travel or explore Malaga a bit. It’s a great small city with a lot to do, including the famous Picasso Museum. The internet is FULL of best things to do in Malaga, here is one link to spark your curiosity. https://theculturetrip.com/europe/spain/articles/the-10-best-things-to-do-in-m-laga/

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.


  • Manuel Morales - Spain and Morocco Expert

    Since the beginning of his Environmental Sciences studies in Huelva, Spain, Manuel has combined the university with volunteering for SEO Birdlife and Doñana Biological Station, in addition to working as an environmental educator in the Odiel Marshes. Later, in 2007 he became an expert ringer by the EBD (Doñana Biological Station). Since 2012 he has been managing and acting as leading guide while teaching Zoology for the University of Huelva. Manuel has given numerous talks and taught courses for SEO Birdlife and worked in Doñana National Park in several bird banding and tracking projects for the Andalusian Government and Station Biological of Doñana (Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Black Kites, Black-necked Grebe…) Based in Tarifa, in the Cadiz region of Spain, he will lead tours to Spain and Morocco for Naturalist Journeys.

    Other trips with Manuel Morales - Spain and Morocco Expert

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 Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP). 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 Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP)

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.

We recommend arrival in the morning if you wish to go birding in the afternoon (or plan to arrive the day before). The tour officially starts with the welcome dinner after this optional outing.

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

Departures from Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP)

We have a 1.5-hour drive to the airport, and you should be there 2.5 – 3 hours ahead for international flights so please book flights out after NOON.

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:


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. If you plan to exchange cash in country, bring large U.S. bill ($50 or $100) in good condition that will give you the better rate when exchanging to local currency.

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.


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. You keep it in airplane mode. 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 and will decrease battery usage as well.

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 it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests; plan on cell phone call use on your own time.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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 things that are comfortable and easy.

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


Spain’s Official Tourism Website

Encyclopedic Overviews of tour destinations:







Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Bird Checklists for Spain

La Janda Hotspot – eBird

Andalusia Bird Society

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

Iberian Lynx:

Encyclopedic Overview

International Society for Endangered Cats (ISES)

“Escaping Extinction: Captive-born Iberian Lynx  Released into The Wild” – 4 min. YouTube video

Endemics of Spain

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Doñana National Park (UNESCO)

Brazo del Esto Natural Site

Article, “The Rise and Fall (and Rise Again) of La Janda” – Andalucia Bird Society

Sierra de Andújar Natural Park

Sierra de Grazalema Natural 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

Helpful Travel Websites

Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP)

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 – Málaga, 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; Black Vulture; Seafood in Andalusia, Carlos Sanchez; Cordoba, Carlos Sanchez; Iberian Ibex, Carlos Sanchez; Common Chaffinch, Carlos Sanchez; Kingfisher, Tom Dove; Griffon Vulture; European Roller; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Serin; Spain group, Carlos Sanchez; Red Squirrel; Redwing; Spanish Imperial Eagle; Wildflower, Carlos Sanchez; Great Reed Warbler; Spotted Redshank; Eurasian Spoonbill; Fox; 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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