Join Naturalist Journeys on this fun Portugal birding tour—one that includes some fun cultural and historical time blended in. A real plus is that Southern Portugal offers a fantastic diversity of habitats replete with birds in a relatively small geographic area; we visit several species-rich areas without having to travel long distances. Portugal hosts many of the most sought-after specialties of the Iberian Peninsula, such as Great Bustard, Cinereous Vulture, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Azure-winged Magpie (Iberian Magpie), Spanish Eagle and Great-spotted Cuckoo, as well as iconic European species such as Eurasian Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, European Roller, and Common Kingfisher. All seen while traveling in picturesque rural areas also prized for scenery and history.

With expert local guides and Naturalist Journey’s Steve Shunk, discover three fabulous regions of the country that include extensive wetlands around Lisbon, the expansive steppes of Alentejo to the east, and then south to the coastal Algarve regions.

Europe’s spring migration extends from late March to mid-May, and our timing on this Portugal birding tour is perfect for arriving shorebirds, raptors, and passerines. We will search for Palearctic shorebirds such as Pied Avocet, Little Stint, Common Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, and Curlew Sandpiper; and just a few of the raptors we might encounter include Bonelli’s Eagle, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Snake-Eagle, and Montagu’s Harrier.

By April, temperatures in the arid Alentejo are rising to delightful, and every day brings summer species from Africa. Coastal and sea birding from the Algarve is exceptional, with few birders and crowds. The country’s rich cultural heritage is on display throughout the tour with visits planned to some of the most interesting historical and cultural sites of Portugal.

  • “So many lifers! I haven't birded that much in Europe, so I saw 74 new species! A highlight for me was the boat ride to see seabirds and so many dolphins!” — Linda Cronkleton, 2023 Traveler
  • “I was eager to visit this beautiful country and see the birds there, especially those endemic to the Iberian Peninsula. Highlights for me were birding in the cork oak woodlands and learning about the cork harvest process and the delicious food and group camaraderie.” — 2023 Traveler

Tour Highlights

  • Enjoy charming accommodations in Lisbon; city fun, and within a half hour’s drive we explore two remarkable wetland areas
  • Find Great Bustard, Calandra Lark, Stone Curlew, and Black-bellied Sandgrouse in the Alentejo
  • Explore the bluffs and hills of the Guadiana Valley Natural Park, noted for Spanish Imperial, Golden, and Booted Eagles
  • Sample Portugal’s many culinary delights and great wines, including a fun wine-tasting event held amid grapevines and olive groves
  • Discover the Algarve, a region rich in protected wetland areas situated on a major flyway for migrants from Africa—fabulous for waders and passerines
  • Stand on Europe’s southwestern corner, Cape St. Vincent, as raptors in migration pass overhead;
  • Take a pelagic trip off Sagres to see a wide range of seabirds
  • Marvel at the colors of Eurasian Hoopoe, Common Kingfisher, and European Bee-eater
  • Walk through old Cork Oak forests
  • Blend birding and culture with a chance to walk through historic plazas and squares en route to an array of castles, cathedrals,
  • museums, Roman ruins, and promenades;
  • Experience Portugal’s rich cultural heritage at top historical and cultural sites in Évora, Mértola, Sagres and Lisbon.

Trip Itinerary

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

Wed., Apr. 2: Arrivals in Lisbon!


Welcome to Lisbon, Portugal. Today we travel to our lodgings in Alcochete (about ten miles from the airport). You may recognize the name of this small city for its association with Europe’s second longest bridge, the Vasco da Gama Bridge, which spans the Tagus River with its impressive cable-stay construction. It is a charming location and gives us close access to the Tagus Estsuary.
Accommodations in Alcochete (D)

Thurs., Apr. 3 & Fri., Apr. 4: Two Days Birding & Exploring Lisbon


Portugal offers a fantastic diversity of habitats—and consequently birds—in a relatively small area. It is hard to imagine how many species we find with ease at the Tagus Estuary and the Sado Estuary Nature Reserves—both within a half-hour drive of Lisbon city center and the international airport.

Our time in the Lisbon area will let you experience a variety of habitats within the Tagus Estuary Nature Reserve, including the inter-tidal mudflats and salt marshes of Hortas, the salt pans of Atalaya, Ribeira das Enguias, and Samouco, and the Barroca d’Alva rice fields and pastures. Other interesting sites and habitats in the Tagus Reserve include the open fields, reed beds, lagoons, inter-tidal mudflats and salt marshes of the Ponta da Erva area.

We also have some fun as we explore—enjoy a wine tasting at Companhia das Lezírias, as well as a birding visit to the cork oak woodlands of Pancas, still in the Tagus estuary. Finally, we explore the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve, namely the salt pans, inter-tidal mudflats and salt marshes of Mitrena, Mourisca, and Zambujal.

The protected wetland areas between the Tagus and Sado estuaries may reveal to us: Greater Flamingo, White Stork, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Squacco and Purple Herons, Booted Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Little Bustard, Collared Pratincole, Pallid Swift, Bluethroat, Dartford, Savi’s and Melodious Warblers, Iberian Chiffchaff, Iberian Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, Spotless Starling, Rock Sparrow, European Serin, Cirl Bunting, and an excellent selection of ducks, waders, gulls and terns.
Accommodations in Alcochete, across the Tagus River from Lisbon (B,L,D)

Sat., Apr. 5 - Tues., Apr. 8: Four Days of Exploring the Alentejo in Detail


Leaving the Lisbon-area wetlands in the morning, we continue our mix of activities to highlight birding, history and culture. We first head toward Mértola, in the Alentejo region, visiting the city of Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage site prized for its whitewashed houses, Gothic Cathedral dating to the 12th century, and other Gothic and Baroque churches including the unique Chapel of the Bones.

Along our route today, is a famous site, the Almendres Cromlech which contains several megalithic menhirs (standing stone structures) dating back to the 6th millennium BC. This complex has over 95 granite monoliths with a path winding through Association of these structures with others in the area suggest an astronomical function to the structures in alignments for the winter solstice.

Then it’s on to the great Castro Verde rolling plains and the bluffs and hills of the Guadiana Valley Natural Park, including Mértola, Mina de São Domingos, and Alcaria Ruiva. The expansive plains and hilly terrains of these regions support Great Bustard, Common Crane, Red Kite, Montagu's Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, Stone Curlew, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Great Spotted Cuckoo, European Roller, Calandra Lark, Tawny Pipit, Rufous Bush Robin, and many more birds.

The bluffs and hills of the Guadiana Valley Natural Park host species such as: Black Stork, Iberian Imperial, Golden and Bonelli's Eagles, Eurasian Black and Griffon Vultures, Turtle Dove, Eurasian Eagle Owl, White-rumped Swift, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Eurasian Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Golden Oriole, Spanish Sparrow, Hawfinch and Rock Bunting.

Based in the town of Mértola, we can enjoy time to visit the main museums, additional archaeological sites, and specialty shops. It is here that we experience some of the best local foods and wines of our journey. It’s a luxury to have four nights—unpack and settle in!

Here we are near the Spanish border on the confluence of the Guadiana and Oeiras Rivers. The town grew from its start as a fortified medieval village surrounding an impressive castle on its central hilltop. This is an ancient port city again with influence of early Phoenicians, then Romans, Moors and Christians during the Reconquest of Portugal. The whole town feels like a living museum of successive civilizations built upon each other.
Accommodations for four nights in Mértola (B,L,D, all days)

Wed., Apr. 9 - Fri., Apr. 11: On to the Scenic Southern Coastal Region


With just a short 45-minute drive to Tavira, we reach the coastal region of Algarve, a region rich in protected wetland areas and situated on a major fly-way for migrants from Africa, and notable in particular for waders and passerines. We are here at a key time in the migration period, and this area—including Salgados lagoon—offers abundant opportunities to observe migrating birds. Birding stops here will include the complex network of canals, saline flats and salt pans of the Castro Marim Nature Reserve and the Tavira area of Ria Formosa Natural Park. Other habitats of Ria Formosa including dunes, open water, inter-tidal mudflats, salt marshes, salt pans, reed beds, lagoons and pine in the regions of Olhão, Quinta do Lago, and Ludo.

During our time here, we also visit the Sagres and Cape St. Vincent areas, Cape St. Vincent being a natural bottleneck for migration and a splendid place to search for the endangered Balearic Shearwater as well as a few other species. A tour highlight experience is a pelagic trip off Sagres. Just a few miles offshore, we start to understand why the Algarve is considered such a crossroads, with birds moving along the coast west to east (Atlantic to Mediterranean) and north to south (Europe to Africa). Some of the species we may find during the boat trip include: a variety of shearwaters (Great Cory’s, Scopoli’s, Sooty, Manx and Balearic), smaller Wilson’s, Leach’s and European storm-petrels (Wilson’s, Leach’s and European Storm Petrels) and predatory skuas—all three being possible (Pomarine, Arctic and Great). We keep our eye open for rarities such as Audouin’s Gull amid the more regularly seen and sometimes numerous Northern Gannet, Kittiwake and Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Ria Formosa Park and Castro Marim, with their intricate maze of inlets and lagoons, are unique birding sites in Portugal for finding rare and highly localized species such as Audouin’s and Slender-billed Gulls and Lesser Short-toed Lark. These are also excellent spots for getting close views of scarce species like Little Bittern and Purple Swamphen. Common bird species in the Algarve include Little Owl, Red-necked Nightjar, Eurasian Hoopoe, Common Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, Sardinian and Spectacled Warblers, and Iberian Magpie.

Tavira, our base for three nights, dates back to the Bronze Age. Today it is a comfortable, small city astride the Gilão River at its junction with the Atlantic Ocean, Tavira is a delightful base from which to explore. It holds Roman Moorish and Christian influences. In its center, a medieval castle affords us great city views of old and new, whitewashed walls, tile roofs—all with the Atlantic Ocean behind. Across from it, Tavira Island has a long, sandy beach, plus salt pans that attract flamingos, spoonbills and other wading birds.
Accommodations for three nights in Tavira (B,L,D, all days)

Sat., Apr. 12: Return to Lisbon | Estuary and Ricefield Birding


Finally, we will return to Lisbon, using the travel day to explore inter-tidal mudflats, salt marshes and rice fields of Comporta and Carrasqueira, part of the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve.
Accommodations in Lisbon (B,L,D)

Sun., Apr. 13: Highlights and Historical Sites of Lisbon


We cap off our trip with a fascinating day in the city of Lisbon, with time to experience the main squares and avenues, downtown Baixa, some of the hilltop districts, the Castle of São Jorge, the cathedral, and, in Belém, the historic seafaring area from which the Portuguese caravels departed to explore the world. We will also see the Monument to the Discoveries and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the beautiful Tower of Belém and the Gothic-era Jerónimos Monastery.

Enjoy a great final dinner with time to recount our birding and cultural highlights of the journey.
Accommodations in Lisbon (B,L,D)

Mon., Apr. 14: Departures


Plan to leave at your convenience today but remember, for International flights, it is recommended that you be at the airport three hours prior to your flight.

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Cost of the Journey

Cost of the Journey is $TBD, based on double occupancy, per person.

The tour price includes airport transfers, 12 nights’ accommodations, all meals from dinner Day One through breakfast Day 13, professional guide services, park and preserve entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. *Pricing is based on the exchange rate on 8/3/2023. If this rate adjusts by more than 5% at the time that final payment is due, Naturalist Journeys reserves the right to adjust this price.

Cost of the journey does not include airfare from your home to Lisbon, Portugal or items of a personal nature, such as drinks from the bar, telephone, and local guide gratuities (at your discretion, we will give some guidelines).

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: Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) in Lisbon

Arrival Details: Plan flights to arrive April 2, 2024 at your leisure.

Departure Details: Plan flights to depart April 14, 2024 at your leisure.

Travel Tip: You may wish to arrive a day early and rest up from your travels. The easiest option would be to book an early night at our first night tour hotel, the Quinta da Praia das Fontes. Our hotel is about 25 minutes from the airport in Alcochete and can be reached via taxi or Uber. You can also work with your travel agent to find a hotel to suit your needs. We’ll visit a lot of fascinating sites in Lisbon on our last day of the tour, but if you want to explore the city even more, there are plenty of fun things to do! Oceanário de Lisboa is one of the largest aquariums in Europe and has over 450 different species. If you’re interested in art, then a visit to the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is a must-see in Lisbon. It has works spanning 5,000 years and is considered one of the most important private art collections in the world. Or if you want to stretch your legs after a long flight, Lisbon is a great city to wander around the cobbled streets and check out the delicious restaurants, architecture, and shops. And don’t forget to try the pastéis de nata, a delectable traditional Portuguese pastry.

Hotel Recommendations: If you wish to arrive early and prefer to stay in Lisbon, we recommend: Janelas Verdes. Convenient to just stay on, and it is in a great location. Lisboa Pessoa Hotel is another great choice in the city.

Visas: You will likely need a visa to visit European countries in 2025, as the European Union delayed implementation of the new visa system until spring 2025. Please visit the ETIAS website for more details.

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

Portugal

Map for Portugal: Fabulous Birding & Culture

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 is valid for three months AFTER your return date from Portugal. We advise having at least one blank passport page per entry stamp.
  • Visas are not required of US citizens for stays of this length. However, implementation of changes to entrance requirements in Europe is expected in mid-2025. More information is available at European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) website. See the "Passport, Visas and Documentation" section below.
  • Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Portugal and consult with your doctor about recommended travel vaccinations 4-6 weeks prior to departure. See the “General 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 Lisbon Airport (LIS). 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 into Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS), Lisbon, Portugal

Please note: If you are delayed in travel, please refer to your emergency contact list, and contact your ground operator, with a copy to our office. You may also phone or text your guide. Quite a few of your guides will set up a WhatsApp connection as an additional way to reach them.

Please plan to arrive in Lisbon's Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) at your leisure on the first day of the tour. Upon arrival in Lisbon, you will pass through immigration and customs and exit to the main terminal area. Your emergency contact sheet will be helpful at Immigration. At the airport, there are ATMs to withdraw money and change desks where US Dollars can be changed for EUROs. You may also do that ahead of time in most major airports.

We will coordinate your pick-ups close to your departure with operators and guides once we have all travelers’ completed travel information. Please make sure we have both your ARRIVAL and DEPARTURE information, so they can plan this. It is imperative that we have your correct TRAVEL information; we appreciate if you email us a copy of your flight reservation. They will check internet for your updated flight information.

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

Departures from Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS), Lisbon, Portugal

Plan departures at your leisure on the last day of the tour. Remember that you need to be at the airport three hours ahead of your scheduled flight on this return. We will provide transfers or arrange for taxis to the airport for all departures.

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

Passports, Visas & Documents

It is recommended to check 60-90 days before your tour departs for changes in documentation requirements. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at:  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Portugal.html. If you are from another country, please contact the tour destination’s embassy website for guidelines.

Passport: You must have a passport valid for three months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. Please check that expiration date! Your passport should have at least one blank page per entry 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 Embassy of Portugal website for guidelines.

Visa: At the time of writing, a tourist visa is not required of US citizens for stays of this length. However, the rules of travel to Europe are changing. Starting in mid-2025, travelers from over 60 visa-exempt countries are required to have a travel authorization to enter most European countries. Therefore, it is important that you check the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) website for ETIAS authorization requirements.

As a precaution for lost or misplaced travel documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep hard and digital backup copies of these documents 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: Bring your up-to-date vaccination records with you. The CDC recommends that all travelers be up-to-date with routine vaccinations (such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio and your yearly flu shot) and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please consult with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage for Portugal is helpful or you may reach them by phone at (800) CDC-INFO or (800) 232-4636.

Prescriptions: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage.  Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers. 

Allergies: To be prepared for environmental triggers to allergies or breathing difficulties, please bring your allergy and/or asthma medication(s).  If you have severe allergies talk to your doctor about carrying an EPI pen and notify your guides. It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.

Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for prevention or treatment of common ailments (such as diarrhea, constipation, stomach upset, cough, congestion, head or body aches, insect bites and sunburn); as well as ointments, moisturizer, sunscreen, oral rehydration salts, band-aids, moleskin for blisters, cotton swabs, nail clippers, and tweezers, etc.

Weather & Climate

Portugal generally has cool springs. Highs average in the low-70s°F, and lows in the mid-50s°F, with comfortable humidity. Rain and wind are both possible throughout. Come prepared with layers of clothing, including a rain jacket that can double as a windbreaker, and an umbrella. Bring walking boots for use in the day and more comfortable shoes for meals and relaxing.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Please, pack light!

TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field and have one day’s clothing change (including a change of underwear!). Also, Pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your CARRY-ON - NOT in your checked luggage!

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. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing, as they are more protective from sun, insects, and vegetation. Choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty – and things that are comfortable and easy. Please avoid white or brightly colored outerwear for the field.

Please consider bringing a water bottle or two; while we will have water at all times during our trip, an enormous amount of plastic waste is generated by beverage containers that can be avoided if you bring a bottle to refill.

Laundry services can be arranged at some of our hotels, those where you stay multiple nights. But it is most convenient if you are content with hand laundry.

Spending Money

The EURO is the official currency of Portugal. For the current exchange rate, please refer to an 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.

If you wish to exchange money before you leave on your trip, you may be able to 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 may be helpful to arrive with some local currency just in case you run into an “out of order” ATM or a local bank holiday.

You can also exchange your money in country. The easiest way is to withdraw funds from a local ATM. ATMs are widely available in both Portugal and will typically offer you the best exchange rate. The ATM will give 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 before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey. Hotels can also change money.

Credit cards are commonly accepted in Portugal. You will want to bring more than one brand of card (one Visa, and one MasterCard; American Express is less accepted), if possible. A EUROCARD or ACCESS sign displayed means the establishment accepts MasterCard. 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 to Portugal to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges. If you have a choice of cards, bring one with no foreign exchange fees. Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted and can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you use them.

Many people ask how much money to plan to bring for spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, artworks, drinks before or with dinner, maps, and natural history books.

Gratuities

Tipping throughout the tour is at your discretion. Some guidelines follow. At larger (mostly city) hotels, tip maids and bar service as you would at home. At eco-lodges, there is typically a staff tip box in a public area; the going rate per person is $6-$10 a day, which is shared among staff for maid service, and general staff service at the lodges. Gratuities for group meals are already included. Your Naturalist Journeys host will take care of smaller tips such field trip services by boat drivers, night drive outings, single activities. Your additional tip is encouraged for birding tour guides and drivers who are with you for several days or the full trip; $10-$15 per day per guest is standard for guide service, and half that for a driver. If you have more than one local guide at a location, they will share the daily amount. We encourage tipping for the local teams hosting you; anything extra for your Naturalist Journeys host is at your discretion.

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

You can make international calls from most of our hotels. The country code for the USA is 1.

International calls to the U.S.: Dial 00 + (1) +country code+ area code + number

To call Portugal, the USA exit code is 011, then dial 351 + phone number

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 or purchase a travel pass through your carrier. Or you can buy a local SIM card at the airport and insert this in your mobile phone (just make certain your phone can accept one).

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 if you have access to Wi-Fi, is to download and use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber to send text messages, and make voice calls, or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets, or 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 that you turn off your cellular data. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. Putting your phone in airplane mode if you mainly use it for photos will save the battery as well.

Electricity

Portugal uses northern European standards, with voltage at 230V, higher than in the United States (120V), and a frequency of 50 Hz. Electrical sockets (outlets) are primarily "Type F" and accept the standard continental European dual round-pronged plugs.

You will most likely need to bring a power plug adapter, and a voltage converter to use appliances or devices from the U.S. that do not automatically detect and convert voltages. To be sure, check the label on your appliance. More information can be found at power-plugs-sockets.com.

Time

Portugal is in the Western European Time Zone, which is 5 hours ahead of New York (Eastern Daylight Time). Portugal does observe Western European Summer Time (or Daylight Savings Time). A great website if you want to tell someone to check ahead of calling you is www.timeanddate.com.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com 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, with highs averaging in the mid- to high-70’s, and lows in the mid- 50’s. Rain and wind are both possible throughout.

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.

An offshore birding trip by rubber zodiac-type boat is often a highlight of this tour. Bring lightweight waterproof jacket and pants to maximize enjoyment, as well as waterproof coverings for cameras and backpacks.

Clothing & Gear

  • Lightweight long pants, 2 pair
  • Shorts (optional)
  • Lightweight long sleeve shirts (2-3)
  • T-shirts or equivalent (3-4 – 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 and pants (doubles as windbreaker)
  • Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • Airline tickets or e-ticket verification
  • Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance info, money & credit cards.
  • A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person at all times (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
  • As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the  ID and entry stamp pages.
  • Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
  • Umbrella (a great option for occasional rain as you can keep using your binoculars)
  • Walking sticks (optional, but recommended if you usually hike with them)
  • Small flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Alarm clock (or use your phone)
  • Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent
  • Toiletry articles
  • Binoculars
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional)
  • Camera and extra batteries/battery chargers, film or digital chips, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
  • Tablet or laptop for personal use and/or transferring photos, USB cord and charger (optional)
  • Chargers for cameras and/or phones, and three-prong adapters if needed
  • Waterproof "dry" bags to keep gear dry in wet weather and on the boat ride, preferably reusable
  • Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Phrasebook (optional)
  • Earplugs (if hotel noise or roommates snoring may bother you; optional)
  • Laundry soap for hand washing, a couple of clothespins, travel sewing kit
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)
  • Electrical transformer and plug adapters

 

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 & First Aid Items

  • Personal prescription medications
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments (Imodium or Lomotil, antihistamine cream or tablets, eye drops, etc.)
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van drives, etc.
  • Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Foot powder, lotions for dry skin, general “comfort” items
  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Copy of eyeglass prescription, medical prescriptions, and any medical alerts
  • Heath insurance and vaccination records (kept in personal pouch with other travel documents)
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts

 

Suggested Reading List +

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

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

Top Picks

Birds of Europe

Merlin App – Portugal 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 Portugal.

Field Guides

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

A Birdwatchers’ Guide to Portugal, the Azores & Madeira Archipelagos

Birds of Portugal: An Annotated Checklist

Finding Birds in South Portugal

Portugal Birds: A Pocket Guide to Familiar Species

Birds of Portugal

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

History & Culture

Journey to Portugal: In Pursuit of Portugal’s History and Culture

Conquerors: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire

The Portuguese: The Land and Its People

Rick Steves Portugal

Rick Steves Map of Spain and Portugal

Tales from the Mountain

The Book of Disquiet

The Lusiads

Portugal – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

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

Portugal – Encyclopedic Overview

Lisbon – Encyclopedic Overview

Mértola – Encyclopedic Overview

Tavira – Encyclopedic Overview

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Birds of Portugal

Birding Lisbon

Biodiversity of Portugal

Flora and Fauna of Portugal

Endemics of Portugal

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA, BirdLife’s partner in Portugal)

Flora & Fauna Conservation Efforts – Portugal

World Wildlife Fund – Portugal

Ecological Restoration of Native Forests and Species – Volunteer Program in Portugal

Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests

Guadiana Valley Natural Park

Castro Marim Nature Reserve

Ria Formosa Natural Park

Sado Estuary Nature Reserve

Arrábida Natural Park

Geology & Geography

Geology of Portugal

Geology of the Iberian Peninsula

Geography of Portugal

History & Culture

Portugal History and Culture

Évora Historic Centre (UNESCO)

Portugal Art and Tradition

Almendres Cromlech

Belém Tower and Monastery of the Hieronymites (Jerónimos Monastery) (UNESCO)

Helpful Travel Websites

Lisbon Airport (LIS) Humberto Delgado

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 - Portugal

Center for Disease Control (CDC) - Portugal

Canada Travel Advice and Advisories - Portugal

Travel Health Pro (UK) - Portugal

Electricity and Plugs - Portugal

Date, Time, and Holidays - Portugal


Photo credits: Eurasian Spoonbill, René Pop; Lisbon, Louis Droege, courtesy UnSplash; Great Bustards in Alentejo, jstmmphot via Flicker, public domaine; Algarve, Humphrey Muleba, courtesy UnSplash; Pied Avocets, René Pop; Dartford Warbler, P. Marques; Algarve, Anita Parry, courtesy UnSplash; Thekla Lark, René Pop; Cape St. Vincent, Nick Kane, courtesy UnSplash; Greater Flamingos, P. Marques; White Stork, René Pop; Alentejo, Jacek Ulinski courtesy UnSplash; European Bee-eater, anca-muresan on Unsplash; Hoopoe, Steve Shunk; Alentajo, Jacek Ulinksi on Unsplash; Church, Steve Shunk; Great Bustards in Alentejo, jstmmphot via Flicker, public domain; Northern Lark, Steve Shunk; Black-eared Wheatear, by P. Marques; Algarve, Anita Parry on Unsplash; Greater Flamingo, Steve Shunk; Crested Lark, Steve Shunk; Red-legged Partridge, René Pop; Eurasian Hoopoe, George Bakken; Common Kingfisher, Tom Dove; Great Bustards, Steve Shunk; Greater Flamingo, Steve Shunk; Kentish Plover, Steve Shunk; Little Owl, Steve Shunk; Northern Lark, Steve Shunk; Purple Gallinule, Steve Shunk; Squacco Heron, Steve Shunk; Vineyard, Steve Shunk; White Storks, Steve Shunk; White Stork, Steve Shunk.

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