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Spain - Birds & Wines of Navarra

Tour Code: ESP24

A 7-day holiday to sample the heady mixture of birdlife and wines found among the dense forests, uplands, steppes, canyons and wetlands of Navarra in northern Spain.

7 days from £1495(inc flights) Land Only Price: £1345 SRS: £150


The autonomous region of Navarra – a land of scented maquis, olive groves and vineyards – is a well-kept secret. It offers some fine wildlife habitats – its arid semi-deserts, limestone gorges and majestic rock formations, unspoiled wetlands and dense Pyrenean forests all providing a year-round haven for an impressive diversity of birds. Vineyards have been present in the province since Roman times and Navarra boasts a fine selection of rosés, whites, and both young and barrel-aged red wines, as well as desert wines. We’ll visit a couple of these vineyards, and also have plenty of opportunities to taste a good variety of wines, accompanied by the area’s manifold gastronomic delights!

  • A 2-centre holiday using comfortable hotels serving good food & wine
  • Visit the spectacular Bardenas Reales Natural Park
  • Find bustards, sandgrouse, larks (including Dupont’s), wheatears & raptors
  • Enjoy wine-tasting at two contrasting vineyards (artesenal & modern)
  • Explore Irati Forest, looking for White-backed & Black Woodpeckers
  • Pyrenean highlights include Lammergeier, Citril Finch & Snowfinch
  • Expertly guided by a Naturetrek ornithologist

 

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

Comfortable family-run hotels, all rooms with private facilities.

Dupont's Lark (Turismo de Navarra)

Dupont's Lark (Turismo de Navarra)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Bilbao; transfer Alfaro

Day 2/3 Exploration of Bardenas Reales, Pitillas and Olite from Valtierra

Day 4/6 Exploration of the Lumbier Gorge and Irati Forest from Isaba

Day 7 Transfer Bilbao; fly London

Despite its small size, the autonomous region of Navarra offers stark contrasts in scenery, from lushly forested Pyrenean hillsides, broad river valleys and towering limestone canyons in the north, to the plains of the Ebro River valley in the south; the latter enjoying a more Mediterranean influence — a land of scented maquis, olive groves and vineyards! A visit to this region gives one the feeling of having stumbled across a well-kept secret, and Navarra offers some fine wildlife habitats, its arid semi-deserts and majestic rock formations, unspoiled wetlands and dense forests all providing a year-round haven for an impressive diversity of birds.

We begin our holiday in the 42,000-hectare Bardenas Reales Natural Park, an extraordinary semi-desert landscape of gullies, rocky outcrops and plateaux sculpted by erosion. This rather surreal geology provides a splendid backdrop to our excursions within the park, where the steppes and plains are home to many bird species including the shy Dupont’s Lark, Stone Curlew, Great and Little Bustards, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, and many species of lark (Crested, Thekla, Short-toed, Lesser Short-toed, Calandra and Wood) and wheatears (Black, Black-eared and Northern). The park is also home to one of the largest populations of Griffon Vultures on the Iberian Peninsula.

Having explored the dramatic landscapes of Bardenas we head north towards the Pyrenees, stopping en route to explore the marshes and grasslands of the serenely beautiful Laguna de Pitillas, a large saline lake where Bearded Tits and Bittern may be found, plus a host of migratory species in both the reedbeds and surrounding steppe. A superb variety of birds is found here throughout the year and by May the air will be full of bird song. We’ll listen for such summer visitors as Hoopoe, Turtle Dove, Bee-eater and Nightingale, as well as the songs of resident birds, all proclaiming their territories among the reeds and surrounding wheat fields and woodlands. Egrets, Red-crested Pochard plus other duck species are among the many residents we’ll find here, while summer arrivals include Black-necked Grebe, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, the exotic-looking Black-winged Stilt and birds of prey such as Short-toed and Booted Eagle.

Before we leave the Mediterranean landscapes of south and central Navarra, we’ll sample the excellent wines of the area. Bordering the world-famous Rioja region, the vineyards to the south and north-west of the River Ebro form the centre of Navarra’s wine industry. Vineyards have been present in the province since Roman times and Navarra boasts a fine selection of rosés, whites, both young and barrel-aged red wines, as well as sweet wines. As we head north we'll visit a couple of these vineyards, and also have plenty of opportunities for tasting a good variety of wines, accompanied by the area’s manifold gastronomic delights!

For the remainder of our tour we will focus on the forested limestone gorges and uplands of northern Navarra. The Mediterranean influence of the plains and wine-growing south gives way to extensive oak and pine forest as we travel northwards towards our next location, the Foz de Lumbier. This spectacular limestone gorge, cloaked in Beech and Holm Oak woodland and low Mediterranean scrub, is home to such species as Blue Rock Thrush, Red-backed and Woodchat Shrikes, Melodious, Subalpine and Bonelli’s Warblers, and Cirl, Ortolan and Rock Buntings, while overhead Alpine Swifts, Crag Martins and abundant birds of prey may be seen. Lower down, in riverside poplar groves, Bee-eaters and Golden Orioles breed, and surrounding fields hold Crested Larks, Thekla Larks and Tawny Pipits.

Lastly, we’ll explore the higher slopes of the north-western Pyrenees. Here we will focus on the magnificent Irati Forest, the second largest and best-preserved Beech and Silver Fir forest in western Europe. Presenting a vast green mantle of some 17,000 hectares of pristine forest, this is a valuable refuge for a wealth of wildlife — a place where mature trees tower to 40 metres, making this a natural paradise for woodland birds, especially woodpeckers (among them Black and the rare White-backed Woodpecker). Nearby, among the rocky summits above the forest, Lammergeiers, Citril Finches, Snowfinches and Alpine Accentors may all be found, together with Chamois and Alpine Marmots and an abundance of glorious alpine flora.

This tour to Navarra offers you an exciting and varied range of little-explored European habitats and their associated wildlife, all washed down with some first-class wines. We’re sure you’re going to like it as much as we do!

Navarra scenery (Byron Palacios)Walking in Navarra (Byron Palacios)Ortolan Bunting (Byron Palacios)Birdwatching in Navarra (Byron Palacios)Little BustardNavarra (Byron Palacios)Navarra (Byron Palacios)Black WoodpeckerBaztan (Luis Otermin)Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Joseba del Villar)Lammergeier (Joseba del Villar)Foz de Lumbier, Puente del Diablo (Patxi Uriz)Black Woodpecker (Ricardo Rodriguez)Montagu's HarrierDupont's LarkBardenas Reales National ParkBardenas Reales National ParkAlpine Marmot (Byron Palacios)Olite (Byron Palacios)Olite, NavarraOlite Vineyards (Patxi Uriz)Enjoying the local wines (Byron Palacios)Naturetrek picnic lunch (Byron Palacios)Otazu Bodegas (Patxi Uriz)Black Stork (Jose Ardaiz)Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Jose Ardaiz)Common Cranes (Jose Ardaiz)Navarra  (Jose Ardaiz)Navarra (Jose Ardaiz)Navarra  (Jose Ardaiz)Navarra  (Jose Ardaiz)Navarra (Jose Ardaiz)Navarra  (Jose Ardaiz)Navarra birdwatching (Jose Ardaiz)El Planeron, Navarra (Jose Ardaiz)Navarra (Jose Ardaiz)Navarra (Jose Ardaiz)Navarra wetlands (Jose Ardaiz)Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Jose Ardaiz)Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Jose Ardaiz)Rock Ptarmigan (Jose Ardaiz)Sardinian Warbler (Jose Ardaiz)
R.B.
Wiltshire
Only using two locations worked well as did combining some wine tasting. The guide was excellent and took us to some great sites and provided good lunches!
Mr & Mrs S.
Guildford
Excellent birding knowledge of our guide (& other guests). We learnt a lot! Good planning of birding location/hotels so that we had 3 nights at each hotel. Holidays with a different hotel each night are not holidays!
D. L.
Wiltshire
Excellent two location holiday. Birding fabulous. Burguis hotel and food excellent.
BM
Buckinghamshire
Once again Byron had put together a terrific and varied trip. The variety of habitat was outstanding and his expertise in finding the birds was quite amazing. He was an excellent leader and host, his good humour, expertise, organisation and good taste made for a wonderful experience. The two centres worked well and accommodation in Bardenas was particularly good. The winery visits complimented the birding and provided a good experience of this important aspect of the region. Bodega Ruiz Jimenez provided a particularly agreeable and interesting visit and tasting.
G.C.
Moray & Nairn
Great birds, accommodation, scenery, leader, local guide; and good food and brilliant wine! Shame about the freakish weather but Byron has plan B and C and D so we didn't miss out on too much.
R.M.
Shropshire
A really splendid trip, despite the weather. Special congratulations to Byron for sorting out the best possible outcome. Julian was a most welcome addition.
H.C.
Birmingham
Byron and Julian were absolutely wonderful. They were knowledgeable in their field, kind, helpful and funny! We had a really lovely time. The accommodation was great, situated in a delightful village. The food was excellent, and the staff at the restaurant were helpful and attentive and very friendly. I cannot think of one adverse comment. Thank you all to everyone who made this such a delightful and memorable holiday.
J.C.
Birmingham
Byron is excellent. His knowledge and enthusiasm plus his lovely personality made it a great holiday. Julian and his team in Navarra are superb. The accommodation, food, wine and all arrangements were beyond comparison. I would recommend anyone to go on this trip.
R.P.
Hertfordshire
Byron and Julian were both excellent and friendly. I cannot praise them highly enough. Their joint knowledge of the areas we visited, the wines, history, customs, birds and other wildlife and their hospitality were second to none.
M.C.
West Midlands
Byron's knowledge and skills are superb as are his personality and sense of humour. What a lovely man. Julian's arrangements 'on the ground' were incomparable and his contacts and organisation can not be faulted - he seems to know everyone and be related to most of them somehow! Also his personality and enthusiasm for and local knowledge of the mountains and their special places and nature added greatly to the holiday. The Hospederia de Alves in Villafranca run by Pedro was lovely and Pedro's contacts in the wine business made our winery visits special. The Metsola Apartments in Izaba were excellent and the food at the Restaurante Tapia Jatetxea was unbeatable (as were the wines chosen and provided by Julian and Suzanne). It was so good that at both hotels the food was as Navarran as the wines. A real taste of a real country.
Mr & Mrs C.
Cambridgeshire
We thoroughly enjoyed this trip to Navarra and would like to thank everyone involved. Both leaders were brilliant at spotting birds for us and ensuring everyone had good views of them. Both they and everyone did their utmost to ensure we were all happy ... All in all, a wonderful holiday - full of contrasting scenery, from the fascinating desert-like landscapes of the Bardenas Reales Natural Park to those beautiful wooded valleys near Isaba. We understand this was the first ever Naturetrek trip to this area and we're quite sure it won't be the last. We would thoroughly recommend it - a perfect combination of wonderful birds, delicious food and fine wines - all co-ordinated with great skill and dedication by Byron and James.
P.S.
Suffolk
The wealth of experience and high levels of assistance from Byron, Julian and Suzanna made this a truly memorable trip with excellent cuisine, accommodation and of course those wines. On a personal level out of 113 species seen a total of 42 were first sightings! 10 out 10!!!!
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Wed 2nd May 2018 - Tue 8th May 2018

YES

£1495

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1345 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Spain

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Andy Tucker
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01962 733051

Tour Focus

Birds

Tour Reviews

Only using two locations worked well as did combining some wine tasting. The guide was excellent and took us to some great sites and provided good lunches!
R.B., Wiltshire