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Lynx watching in Spain

Tour Code: ESP08

A 6-day holiday to the lesser known corners of the Coto Doñana and the rugged regions of the Sierra Morena, together the last refuge of the critically endangered Iberian Lynx, and home to a wealth of other mammals and birds.

6 days from £1195(inc flights) Land Only Price: £1075 SRS: £95


On this wildlife tour we spend our time enjoying the mammals and birds within these two, quite different, Iberian Lynx habitats. We begin in El Rocío, a delightful village that overlooks the lagoon, river and marshlands that lie within the Coto Doñana National Park. We will head out before dawn to ensure that we are in the best places for Lynx at the best time of day. We then transfer to the hills, completing our holiday with a 3-night stay in the Sierra Morena where we will spend much of our time scanning quietly from scenic viewpoints. Unlike in Doñana, sightings of Iberian Lynx and other animals here are often at long range, but the scenery is tremendous and the birdlife rich, with Azure-winged Magpies and Hawfinches particularly abundant.

  • Explore the last refuges of the Iberian Lynx – the world’s rarest cat
  • Take a 4x4 excursion into the Coto Doñana with expert local guides
  • Iberian Lynx seen on 80% of tours to date (4 out of 5)
  • Red & Fallow Deer, Wild Boar, Otter & Mouflon amongst other mammals seen
  • Purple Gallinule, Marbled Teal & Crested Coot amongst Doñana highlights
  • Black & Griffon Vultures & Spanish Imperial Eagle amongst many raptors
  • Expertly guided by local naturalists & a Naturetrek ornithologist/naturalist

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

A two-centre holiday using clean and comfortable village hotels.

Iberian Lynx (Herminio Muniz)

Iberian Lynx (Herminio Muniz)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Seville; transfer to Coto Doñana

Day 2/3 Coto Doñana

Day 4/5 Sierra Morena

Day 6 Return Seville; fly London

The Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus), the most endangered of the world’s 36 cat species, recently stood on the brink of extinction. Just a century ago, it ranged throughout over half of the Iberian peninsula. As recently as 1996 it still occurred in nearly a quarter of the region. Today, its range has shrunk dramatically to just two viable (but isolated) populations within Andalucía, where conservation measures in the last few years have seen its population rise to just above 400. A number of factors have combined to decimate the population of this delightful cat. First came myxomatosis, which devastated Iberia’s Rabbit numbers and deprived the Iberian Lynx of its chief prey species — 90% of its diet! As if that was not enough, a second disease — viral hemorrhagic pneumonia — hit the region’s surviving Rabbits. Habitat destruction and fragmentation has been a contributing factor, but worse, Spain’s entry into the EU and its astonishingly rapid transformation from simple rural economy to a highly developed and urbanised one has seen a surge in road construction and consequential traffic (and road-kills) that have wreaked havoc on Lynx communities.

In the rugged, dry and rocky hills and mountains of the Sierra Morena some of the best preserved Mediterranean forest in the Iberian peninsula is to be found. Primarily this is open and spacious oak forest, comprised of Holm, Gall and Cork Oak, though alder, ash and poplars are to be found at the margins of rivers, glades and meadows. In this quiet and relatively unpopulated region, Spain’s wild animals thrive. As well as Iberian Lynx, Wolves, Otters, Wild Boar, Mouflon and Red Deer are all to be found. These mountains also hold a large population of Griffon Vultures, as well as good numbers of the rare Black Vulture and Spanish Imperial Eagle. Amongst the oak forest that clads these hills are grassy glades and secluded valleys where the Lynx hunt Rabbits, rest amongst the rocks, and raise their young in ancient, hollowed oaks. Here live the majority (perhaps 70% or more) of the world’s remaining Iberian Lynx. Perhaps here, in a refuge from the modern world, the Iberian Lynx has a chance of survival.

The remaining 20-30% of the Iberian Lynx population lives in and around the Coto Doñana, a quite different environment of flat grasslands and pine forests where just a few individual oak trees or remnant patches of Mediterranean oak forest are to be found. This is an area besieged by the marching tide of Spain’s EU-funded agricultural revolution … and a noose of roads that grows ever tighter as Seville and its suburbs expand.

On this tour we will spend all of our time enjoying the mammals and birds within these two, quite different, Iberian Lynx habitats. Past experience suggests that, on average, Naturetrek groups have been rewarded with a Lynx sighting for every 30 to 40 hours spent within Lynx habitat. We therefore have a realistic chance of seeing this rare animal on this holiday, but we must look upon a sighting as a bonus to our enjoyment of the other wildlife of these areas, rather than a sole aim in itself.

We begin in El Rocío, a delightful and elegant village that overlooks the lagoon, river and marshlands that lie within the Coto Doñana National Park, one of the finest wetlands in Europe. With its whitewashed buildings (that include a magnificent church) and its unmetalled sandy streets, there is something of the American Wild West about this village! It also makes a fine base for our 2-night stay in the region, from where we will head out before dawn, and again in the afternoon, to ensure that we are in the best places for Lynx at the best times of day. Exploring the mosaic of marshes, Stone Pine woodland, and open grassland and heathland, we are likely to encounter Red and Fallow Deer, Hares and Rabbits, potentially all to be found on the menu of the Lynx. We will also enjoy the huge numbers of birds of prey that pass through the park, together with numerous other migrants, amongst them storks, herons, waders, ducks, gulls and terns. We will look, too, for some of the region’s specialities, amongst them Purple Gallinule, Marbled Teal, Crested Coot, the rare Spanish Imperial Eagle (seven pairs of which breed here) and Red-necked Nightjar.

We will then transfer to the hills, completing our holiday with a 3-night stay in the Sierra Morena where we will spend much of our time moving between scenic viewpoints. From each one we will be able to scan vast tracts of Lynx habitat. Unlike in the Coto Doñana, sightings of Lynx and other animals here are often at long range, but the scenery is tremendous, and the birdlife very rich, with Azure-winged Magpies and Hawfinches particularly abundant.

El Rocio (Peter Dunn)Lounge area of our hotel in El RocioAccommodation at our hotel in El Rocio'Territory of the Iberian Lynx - watch your speed' (Andy Tucker)Lynx tracks (Peter Dunn)Little Owl (David Morris)Purple Gallinule (Byron Palacios)Red Deer (Byron Palacios)Iberian Lynx (Herminio Muniz)Iberian Lynx (Byron Palacios)Black Kite (Byron Palacios)Ocellated Lizard (Byron Palacios)Crested Coot (Byron Palacios)Palacio del Acebron (Byron Palacios)Embalse del Rio Jandula (Byron Palacios)Crested Tit (Byron Palacios)Iberian LynxEurasian Hoope (Byron Palacios)Lesser Mouse-eared Bat (Byron Palacios)Woodchat Shrike (Byron Palacios)Common Quail (Byron Palacios)Iberian Lynx (J Lees)Eurasian Hoopoe (Byron Palacios)Woodchat Shrike (Byron Palacios)Iberian Lynx (J Lees)Embalse del Rio Jandula (Byron Palacios)Iberian Lynx, Peter DunnIberian Lynx, Peter Dunn
A.P.
Kent
The trip was a massive success even though we didn't see a Lynx. We saw pug marks and other wildlife. Both guides went beyond the call of duty to give us the best chance of seeing the elusive Iberian Lynx. Both Byron's and Julian's knowledge was very up to date. They tried everything and always remained positive and bright day in day out. If all the Naturetrek guides are like these two it's no wonder all the positive reports i've heard about Naturetrek are true. Well done guys, keep up the good work.
A.N.
Lincolnshire
I was impressed at the company's professionalism in taking such a small group. I guess we benefited from this logistically and in places where we needed to be quiet. I know this is not exactly under your control but weather good and warm - and delivered more wild flowers and butterflies than I would have expected.
D.L.
Cambridgeshire
Byron was an excellent tour leader - really good minibus too. The sit down picnic lunch provided in the Coto Donana was excellent in all respects. Dinners at Los Pinos were of a very high quality.
M.W.
Manchester
This was a last minute booking - so thank you for getting me what was probably the last seat on the plane. Wonderful holiday in every way! Really appreciate Byron and Kerrie helping us to always get the most out of this holiday.
T.D.
Lincolnshire
The service and food in both hotels was fabulous and far exceeded my expectations - especially for all my vegetarian options. Thanks to both hotels.
T.G.
Lincolnshire
We found both the hotel and apartments used were excellent. Food at both was also of really good quality, as was the service. Byron was a really good guide/trip leader; both friendly and attentive to our needs. Kerrie did a fantastic job considering it was her first trip.
N.M.
Gloucestershire
You should be commended for the quality of your guides; Byron is the finest I have encountered. The wildlife on view for Western Europe was outstanding. It was fantastic and great value for money, meaning our first trip will not be our last.
J.C.
Hampshire
Good sightings of Lynx in the Coto Donana and Sierra Morena.
F.B.
Kent
We both thoroughly enjoyed our trip. Byron is an excellent guide - Miguel also. The group got on well which made it more enjoyable too. Would definitely book again.
N.B.
London
Byron, the guide, was very excellent. He was thoughtful, kind, knowledgeable and well organised. Please promote him!
L.M.
Berkshire
The local guides were excellent and enthusiastic, and very flexible, changed the itinerary to suit the weather, and even squeezed in a bonus visit on the last morning to try and see the Lynx again for those of us that missed it. Their vans were very comfortable.
D.S.
Surrey
The local guides were excellent, knowledgeable, informative about local culture, and worked hard to show everyone the local bird specialities.
D.H.
West Sussex
It was a great trip, ably guided by the local guides. I carry with me still the images of my first sighting of flamingoes in the wild and the pair of Spanish Imperial Eagles on a telegraph pole. Thank you for putting together such trips. Thanks again for a great experience.
A.O.
Buckinghamshire
We both enjoyed the holiday, especially the excellent view of the Lynx. The Spanish food and catering were excellent.
R.R.
Nottinghamshire
A really enjoyable holiday. Andy was a very good leader, helpful and friendly, and also flexible. The local guides, Antonio and Abel, were knowledgeable and helpful. All the people with telescopes were very generous and everyone was happy to share their knowledge. Thank you for a worthwhile holiday!
S.R.
Yorkshire
A first class trip, lots of interest, excellent leaders and superb food.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Mon 23rd October 2017 - Sat 28th October 2017

FULL

£1195

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

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

Land only cost: £1075 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Mon 27th November 2017 - Sat 2nd December 2017

YES

£1195

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

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

Land only cost: £1075 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Mon 4th December 2017 - Sat 9th December 2017

YES

£1195

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

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

Land only cost: £1075 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Sun 14th January 2018 - Fri 19th January 2018

1

£1195

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

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

Land only cost: £1075 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Mon 29th October 2018 - Sat 3rd November 2018

YES

£1195

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

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

Land only cost: £1075 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Mon 19th November 2018 - Sat 24th November 2018

YES

£1195

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

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

Land only cost: £1075 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Mon 3rd December 2018 - Sat 8th December 2018

YES

£1195

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

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

Land only cost: £1075 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Spain

Detailed tour map

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Andy Tucker
Operations Manager

Email Andy

01962 733051

Tour Focus

MammalsShortbreak

Tour Reviews

The trip was a massive success even though we didn't see a Lynx. We saw pug marks and other wildlife. Both guides went beyond the call of duty to give us the best chance of seeing the elusive Iberian Lynx. Both Byron's and Julian's knowledge was very up to date. They tried everything and always remained positive and bright day in day out. If all the Naturetrek guides are like these two it's no wonder all the positive reports i've heard about Naturetrek are true. Well done guys, keep up the good work.
A.P., Kent