In the wild corners of Andalucia, Doñana National Park and Andújar Natural Park are the last remaining refuges of the rarest cat in the world, the critically endangered Iberian lynx.
An expert at slipping through scrubby habitat unseen, the Iberian lynx is the smallest of the world’s three lynx species. One of the hardest European wild cats to see, this trip is designed to maximise the chances, as well as learn about its ecology and conservation. You will spend time enjoying the mammals and birds within two, quite different, Iberian lynx habitats, based in truly beautiful and typical local villages which add an extra magical experience to the journey.
Day1: Fly to Seville, transfer to Andújar Natural Park
Fly from London to Seville and transfer to Andújar Natural Park, some three hours away.
Accommodation: Complejo Turístico Los Pinos, Andújar, 3-nights
Days2-3: Full day lynx, bird & mammal spotting in the Andújar Natural Park
Andújar Natural Park has some of the best preserved Mediterranean forest in the Iberian Peninsula. 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, it has a chance of survival.
In this quiet and relatively unpopulated region, others of Spain’s wild animals thrive. As well as Iberian lynx, there are otters, wild boar, mouflon and red deer to be found. These mountains also hold a large population of griffon vulture, as well as good numbers of the rare cinereous vulture and Spanish imperial eagle.
We'll explore these habitats slowly, watching for tracks and signs of lynx, and hoping for a sighting. But even if we are not lucky with lynx, there is plenty of Spanish wildlife to see in this wonderful habitat.
Day4: Drive west to El Rocio & Coto Doñana
Today we drive west to El Rocio, on the edge of the renowned Coto Doñana National Park. This extraordinary village fiercely preserves its own totally distinctive appearance and character. The wide sandy streets are lined with white houses, many of them ornately decorated by the religious brotherhoods from surrounding villages that come here at pilgrimage time. Often described as looking like a ‘Wild West’ town, El Rocio seems more reminiscent of old Mexico: the main form of transport is still horseback, with hitching rails provided outside the bars, shops and even the private houses. In the evenings riders pause outside the bars to sip sherry and chat on horseback, while pallid swifts and red-rumped swallows wheel about overhead.
Just beside our hotel lies one of the Coto’s fabulous marshes, which, even when dry, attracts birds. In the autumn, red deer stags can be heard roaring from the marshes in the early mornings.
Accommodation: Hotel Toruno, El Rocio, 4-nights
Days5-7: Lynx and mammal spotting in Donana National Park
The remainder of the Iberian lynx population lives in and around the Doñana National Park, 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 grow ever tighter as Seville and its suburbs expand.
Despite a slowly increasing population, the chance of seeing an Iberian lynx by chance here is very small, so we'll enlist the help of local guides, who will take us for excursions into the National Park and adjacent Natural Park areas where they know the best places to find tracks and signs of lynx.
With such an intensive itinerary, we also take a break from our lynx quest and head down to the coast for a day’s birdwatching along the shore and in its adjacent lagoons and saltpans. With a wealth of wintering and migrant birds, it’s always a rewarding experience, including flocks of greater flamingos plus numerous waders and gulls, and even with a good chance of Mediterranean chameleon too.
Day8: Return to Seville & fly back to the UK
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 8 daysfrom £1,495 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 8 daysfrom £1,295 pp
Single supplement: From £150
Group size: 12
Included in the price/package:
7 nights accommodation
Services of the leaders (2nd leader subject to minimum numbers)
After settling in Madrid in February 1997, John now lives with his family in the mountains there.
A freelance wildlife tour guide, author, translator and honorary member of the Extremaduran Association of Birdwatching and Wildlife Guides, his all-round natural history knowledge, affable personality and extremely sharp field skills have brought him a well-deserved loyal following.
Sergio González Asián
Nature lover and ornithologist, Sergio is an expert on both Coto Doñana National Park, and Sierra de Andújar Natural Park, and the species that live there.
His favourite species is the Iberian lynx, with which he has worked for over 12 years. Sergio’s passion for his region and its natural heritage is infectious, and his cheerful manner will make you enjoy the experience even more.
Situated on Spain’s southwest coast one hour from Seville on the north bank of the Guadalquivir River at its estuary with the Atlantic Ocean is Doñana National Park. This park is one of the largest in Europe and is famed for its pristine wetland habitats that attract large numbers of wildlife.
The Sierra de Andújar range is one of the last two refuges in Spain of the elusive and highly endangered Iberian lynx, whose population is estimated at around 80 adults, which produce some 35 cubs a year. It is also one of the few places in Andalucia where the increasingly rare wolf is still found.
Ideal for viewing: Iberian lynx, wild cat, otter, Spanish imperial eagle, black vulture