A dusting of snow on distant sierras; European Bee-eaters hawking over the dehesas; hillsides pervaded by the heady scent of Cistus; and picnicking beneath pine trees topped by the nests of bill-clattering European White Storks... The distant rasp of a Little Bustard unseen in the grasslands; warm Spanish skies thronged with over a dozen species of birds of prey; the somnolent gaze of an Eurasian Eagle Owl squinting back at us from a crag in the bright afternoon sun... Our long-running holiday to the rolling steppes and rugged sierras of Spain’s ‘Secret Wilderness’ offers all this - and more!
Our May tour to Central Spain starts in Madrid, from where we head west to Extremadura - the wild heart of Spain. Our base for five nights here in the fabulous Spanish steppes is a small, beautifully renovated and privately owned country house hotel set amid rolling countryside. From seemingly endless horizons of evergreen oaks to the wide blue skies and broad sweep of glorious steppe grasslands, our days here are typically hazy, sun-drenched and memorable - filled with more birds than you could wish for!
Nowhere else in Europe do birds of prey breed in such numbers or variety, while the likes of Black Stork, Western Swamphen, Red-necked Nightjar, White-rumped Swift, Great Spotted Cuckoo, European Roller, Little Bustard and the spectacular Great Bustard are among a long list of other possible treats in store.
During our stay in Extremadura we’ll explore magnificent Monfragüe National Park. Western Orphean Warbler, Rock Sparrow and Iberian (Azure-winged) Magpie will occupy our time in the delightful woodlands as we keep a keen eye on the skies for Monfragüe's plentiful birds of prey. Black and Egyptian Vultures breed along with all five Iberian eagles, and hordes of Griffon Vultures throng the dramatic rock pinnacle of Peñafalcon. We’ll seek the elusive Black-winged Kite, scan the cliffs and crags for Eurasian Eagle Owl and the rare White-rumped Swift, and enjoy dinner one evening in the historic old town of Trujillo - its splendid medieval architecture adorned by nesting Lesser Kestrels, Pallid Swifts and European White Storks.
Our holiday concludes with two nights at a characterful and comfortable Parador, high in the Sierra de Gredos. With views out over the pinewoods - and a chance of Citril Finch on the lawn - these lovely mountains are another of Spain’s best-kept secrets! Melodious and Western Bonelli’s Warblers, Firecrest and Pied Flycatcher frequent the forests, while Ortolan Buntings serenade us from alpine slopes that are heavy with the scent of yellow-flowering Spanish Broom.
As the road winds higher, rare and imposing Spanish Ibex gaze down from the ridges aswe enter the realm of the exquisite Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Water Pipit and the localised Bluethroat - unusually, the birds found here have an all blue throat. It should all make for a thrilling finale to this wonderful two-centre holiday.
Join our highly rated English-speaking Spanish specialist Fernando Enrique - who has lived in Extremadura and knows the area well - for a 'five-star trip' that will introduce you to the best birdwatching in all Iberia - at the very best time of year!
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