Sierra de Andujar National Park
On arrival at Malaga international airport, you will be met by your zoologist escort and your local biologist guide. We will then get transferred from the coast towards the hilly national park of Sierra de Andujar (~2.5 hours). This has become the leading destination for Iberian lynx watching and more sightings occur here than anywhere else. The drive north will take you past idyllic country villages as you head further and further into rural Spain. Along the way we will keep our eyes peeled for Spanish imperial eagles, European griffon vulture, black vultures, white & black storks and other birdlife that maybe soaring high in the skies riding the thermals. After we arrive at the accommodation, level – country hotel (Los Pinos Hotel) we will check in and have lunch before heading out to one of the two lynx view points. Like most wildlife the morning and late afternoons are the bets for lynx watching as they are most active in the cooler parts of the day. In fact the biggest question that your zoologist and local guides will face each day is which view point to try. There are two very good spots that offer the bets chances of seeing Iberian lynx and they are separated from each other by a couple of hours drive, so each morning or afternoon session we will pick one of these (based on recent sightings) and base ourselves there for a few hours of spotting. If the local conditions allow we may try our luck with a short spotlighting drive along some of the country roads after dinner to see if we can find some of the nocturnal wildlife, including garden dormouse, pygmy white-toothed shrew, ladder snakes, snub-nosed viper and of course the Iberian lynx.
Sierra de Andujar National Park
Over the next two full days we will spend the majority of our time searching for the Iberian lynx amongst the scrub grasslands and forests of this rocky landscape. Once again we will pick one of the two spots each morning and afternoon. One of the spots is close to a river where the lynx occasionally cross over via a man-made bridge or some large rocks. Whilst at this location we will have a good chance of seeing Eurasian otters as they hunt out small common carp. Also around here are the abundant and beautiful Azure-winged magpie. Endemic to Iberia (and some of China) these pretty birds are the first to pick over any leftovers from the picnic makers in the park. The other spot is along a winding country road which cuts through a very hilly region of the park, from the many lay-bys here we can sweep our scopes and binoculars across the landscape and pick up any movement. Alongside the Iberian lynx and otters, we will be guaranteed sightings of red deer, fallow deer, wild boar, European rabbits and mouflon. We will also keep our eyes out for red squirrels, Iberian hares, Egyptian mongoose as well as hundreds of bird species. The vultures and eagles here soar high in the sky whilst little owls, blue-rock thrushes, red-rumped swallows, black wheatears, woodpeckers and warblers flutter and feed between the scrub and trees. Also during one of these days we will spend some time around the dam here and find some of the bats that roost in the tunnel through the dam wall, common bent-wing bats, soprano pipistrelles and greater mouse-eared bats can all be found in the crevices of the cave. We will also search out some of the reptiles and amphibians such as European pond terrapin, Spanish terrapin, viperine water snake, midwife toad, spotted fire salamander and many more. Each night we will spotlight for a while if the local conditions allow before heading to bed and preparing for another early morning and hopefully a lynx sighting.
Torcal de Antequera
This morning we will have one more morning session with the lynx before heading onto one of the most spectacular landscapes in all of Europe (2-5 hours). Torcal de Antequera Natural Area is a dramatic, surreal landscape that looks more like a moon landscape than your typical Spanish habitat. This limestone plateau dates from the Jurassic period and is filled with deep gullies and weathered natural sculptures. This is a protected area for the many species of birds that are either resident or migratory species such as sparrowhawks, kestrels, peregrine falcons, black wheatears, red-billed choughs and crag martins. The main mammal attraction here is the enigmatic and majestic Spanish ibex and there is a good chance of sporting ocellated, spine-footed and southern wall lizards as well as ladder and Montpellier snakes. Also close to here is the largest natural lake in the whole Iberian peninsula, the Fuente de Piedra Lagoon, we will probably spend some time here today but if not we will visit this wonderful lagoon tomorrow. So after more wildlife watching at either Torcal de Antequera or Fuente de Piedra Lagoon we will have your evening meal at the accommodation, – 3* hotel (Villas de Antikaria). If local conditions allow we will try some spotlighting after dinner and dark.
Fuente de Piedra Lagoon
Today you will leave the accommodation, level – 3* hotel (Villas de Antikaria) after breakfast and split the day between the rocky landscape of Torcal de Antequera and the birding hotspot of Fuente de Piedra Lagoon. Depending on what we have already seen and what you are interested in trying to find we will leave todays activities up for discussion. Fuente de Piedra Lagoon is 2.5km wide and 6.5km long and home to over 170 recorded species; including the greater flamingo that nest here in large numbers. In fact the lagoon is home to Europes second largest colony of these large beautiful birds. The flamingos come here and join the already large cast of birds around the lagoon and nearby fields. Montagus harrier, black-winged slilts, white-headed ducks, little bitterns, red-crested pochards and black-necked grebes. Also found here and joining the migratory species are the residents such as short-toed eagles, black kites, crested larks and European hoopoes.
After breakfast you will be transferred to Malaga international airport (1.5 hours) so you can catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.