Sample Itineraries #2

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Spring & Summertime – From the Coto Donaña to Tarifa

Andalucian Guides offers two of the best birding centres that covers such a variety of landscape and habitats. We travel from the mouth of the Rio Guadalquivir in Huelva province’s Atlantic coast to the Rio Guadarranque that flows down from the sierras to the Mediterranean.

Trips are for 7 nights (8days) from the beginning of February through to July. Book flights to and from Sevilla, Jerez de la Frontera, Gibraltar or Malaga.

Three nights El Rocio

We start at the wetlands of the Coto Donaña national park, based at our hotel at El Rocío. Here we will be looking for the rarest and most exotic birds, if the water levels are right.

Right from the start of our trip we should be able to spot Hoopoe, Sardinian Warbler, Azure winged Magpie, Bee-eater and Spotless Starling. Later we will have time to explore several different areas inside the vast park to look for Spoonbill, Black Stork, Squacco Heron, Night heron, Purple Swamp-hen and Glossy Ibis (amongst the marismas, northern marshes and ponds) together with Greater Flamingo, Avocet, Spotted Crake and Cattle and Little Egret.

Other beautiful birds are present such as the very rare Spanish Imperial Eagle and Golden Eagle. Different raptors include Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and Red Kite as well as the ubiquitous Black Kite.

Days 4-7

After a transfer from Huelva province, we head over to visit Andalucias other gems in Cadiz province. Passing the Lagunas of Medina and Taraje near Jerez de la Frontera we stop off to see what’s present. Marbled and White-headed duck, Black necked, Little and Great crested Grebe as well as Greater Flamingo and Purple Swamp-hen can be seen.

Our base for the next four days will be in the coastal town of Zahara de los Atunes. This peaceful town is the perfect base for the next few days birding. From here we’ll explore the beautiful Ojen Valley looking for Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Bee-eater, Serin, Red-rumped Swallow, Orphean Warbler and Black-eared Wheatear.

The plains and rice fields of La Janda offer White and Black Stork, Purple swamp-hen, Purple Heron, Black-winged Stilt, Kingfisher, Collared Pratincole, Marsh and Montagu’s Harrier, Spanish Sparrow, Tawny Pipit, Little Owl, Green Sandpiper and with a bit of luck Spanish Imperial Eagle.

The lagoons and marismas of Barbate and Santi Petri often reveal Caspian, Sandwich, Black and Little Tern, Mediterranean and Audouin’s Gull. Ringed, Little Ringed and Kentish Plover can be seen there too.

We’ll be visiting the beaches and river mouth of the Rio Jara near Tarifa , the fringes of the Sierras that lead down to the Atlantic and the beautiful Cork Oak forest and hills within Alcornocales natural park. Here anything can turn up from Short-toed Eagles and Black-shouldered Kite on the coastal fields to Balearic Shearwater out on the Atlantic waves. Whimbrel and Grey Plover, as well as a host of Gull and Tern species often roost on the long wide beach there.

Travelling from Tarifa to Barbate we can watch incoming Raptors, Bee-eaters and other passerines crossing the Strait of Gibraltar to the European mainland. All in all, a wonderful birding week with lots to see.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1

Arrival at either Sevilla / Jerez de la Frontera airport. (Depending on your own flight arrangements.) Transfer to Coto Donaña. Night spent at El Rocio.

Days 2-3

The Donana national park covers almost half a million acres and is one of the most important wetlands in Europe and is home to an abundance of wildlife, in particular resident and migratory birds. Rare birds such as Spanish Imperial Eagle, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill and Purple Gallinule are among some of the species we are hoping to watch.

The diversity of the park allows us to select different habitats where there is normally a large selection of species to see. If winter and early spring rainfall has taken the lagoons, marismas and various ponds and lakes to higher water levels, then we are in for a treat! We would then be in a better position to see such wonderful birds as Black-eared Wheatear, Short-toed and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Red-rumped Swallow, Grey, Purple, Night and Squacco Herons, Woodchat Shrike and Azure-winged Magpie, Red-crested Pochard, Marbled Duck, Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Red Kite, Dartford, Cetti’s, and Sardinian Warblers.

Four nights at Zahara de los Atunes

Travelling across into Cadiz province there will be opportunities to visit open farmland and irrigation canals and lakes including the Laguna de Medina near Jerez de la Frontera. We will arrive at the Hotel Almadraba for dinner.

The next five days will be spent exploring the very best birding sites inland
and on the unspoilt Costa de la Luz.

The wonerful Ojen Valley and surrounding valleys and sierras of the picturesque Alcornocales National park offers a chance to see many raptors including Griffon and Egyptian Vulture, Bonelli’s, Booted, Short-toed and Golden Eagles. There are also Common Buzzard, Goshawk and Hobby. Other species here include Hawfinch, Black-eared Wheatear. Blue Rock Thrush, Short-toed Treecreeper and Great-spotted Cuckoo.

We’ll also travel to the plains of La Janda and the farmland of the Benalup area of this rich birding area. Earlier in the year there is still the chance to see Little Bustard and Common Crane which over winter.  La Janda was once one of the largest natural freshwater marshlands and lakes in Europe, but has been drained and given over to rice, cotton maize and sunflower fields. Nevertheless the area still attracts huge numbers of resident and migrants alike. Here we can expect to see Purple, Grey and Night Heron, Cattle and Little Egret, Crested and Calandra Lark, Reed Warbler, Montagu’s and Marsh Harrier, White Stork and Black Stork. There is also a large breeding colony of Collared Pratincole that nest near Black-winged Stilt, Green Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail. Little Owl are usually prsent with a chance to see migrating Short Eared owl too.


We will also have a beach walk along Playa de los Lances near to the town of Tarifa. This is where the Rio Jara flows out on its last leg from the Alcornocales to the Atlantic. We can see almost anything here as the changing weather dictates what stays here for a few days or flies over, westwards or northwards. Caspian Terns can often be found sitting on sandbars amongst Audouin’s, Mediterranean, Slender-billed. Lesser black-Backed and Yellow-legged Gull. Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Little ringed and Kentish Plover can be found here too.

No trip would be complete without a visit or two to the Mirador over the Strait of Gibraltar to watch incoming flights of Griffon and Egyptian Vulture, Black Kite and Booted Eagle. Another great viewing point is directly below on the coast at Guadalmesi opposite Morocco. This gives us flexibility to change our viewing positions according to the weather in the Straits.

Sancti Petri island and the estuary there, is another destination that we can visit. We can quietly explore the tributaries and small inlets of this vast, rich, natural park. If the weather permits we may be able to land on the Island of Sancti Petri, once the site of a Phoenician temple, Roman fortress and later a Napoleonic gun battery now taken over by Hoopoes and Mediterranean Gull.

Day 8

We return to your airport of arival for an afternoon flight back to the UK.

Flight prices and holiday insurance are not included. 
All other holiday expences are fully inclusive : All accommodation, meals, wine, transport, entrance fees, guidance, tips & taxes. There are no hidden extras.

Accommodation is in twin-bedded and single rooms at a comfortable medium grade hotels at El Rocio and Zahara de Los Atunes. All rooms have private facilities. Lunches will usually be picnics.Transport by 4X4 or minibus (depending on numbers.) Walks short and easy, interspersed with periods sitting watching and waiting for passing birds of prey. Comfortable walking shoes and sunglasses are recommended. Birds: 110-130 species.

Cost: £660 *
Single supp. (2004): £ 120 *
Deposit: £200 per person.

2004 dates can be found here

To Book this tour please visit our “contact us” section to send us your queries regarding payment and terms. We will then send you full details of travel, climate, health, what to bring, bird list and a copy of our responsible tourism document.

* Flight prices and holiday insurance are not included.

To help clients, we have a list of airline operators that fly from the UK and Germany to southern Spain
To check flight cost and availability 
click here.