Birdwatching in southern Spain

Explore ‘The Route of 100 Birds’ in spring with an expert guide on this BBC Wildlife reader holiday in May 2019.

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Our exclusive reader holiday covers what is known as The Route of 100 Birds, travelling around the triangle formed by the city of Málaga and the inland towns of Archidona and Ardales.

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Within that is included the Montes de Málaga, El Torcal and Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes (El Chorro) nature reserves, and the mouth and valley of the Guadalhorce River, possibly the most biodiverse region in Southern Europe, but one that is relatively unknown to tourists visiting the usual haunts of the Costa del Sol. 

You will visit El Torcal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You will visit El Torcal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Holiday details

  • Dates: 5 to 11 May 2019 
  • Costs: £855 per person (excluding flights or other travel to/from Spain). Non-refundable deposit: £160 per person. Full payment required prior to 15 April 2019.
  • To book: e-mail info@hotelhumaina.es or phone 34 952 641 025. Quote BBC Wildlife reader holiday
  • Please note: The tour requires a minimum of three persons to run. Your deposit will not be taken until the tour is confirmed. Please do not book flights or other travel arrangements until the tour is confirmed.

Hotel Humaina

This seven-day, six-night trip will be led by Luis Alberto Rodríquez (below), a wildlife guide situated in Málaga.

Guide Luis Alberto Rodrigues

Some of the highlights to watch out for during the trip will include griffon vultures, Bonelli’s eagle, greater flamingos, Spanish ibex, blue rock thrush, black-winged stilt, Mediterranean chameleon, great bustard, stone curlew and wild boar, among many others.

White-headed duck can be seen on this trip.
White-headed duck can be seen on this trip.

Your base during the stay will be the Humaina Hotel (below), an environmentally friendly hotel located in a secluded position right in the heart of the Montes de Málaga Natural Park.

However, as it is only 18kms away from Málaga city, it is easily accessible from the motorway and the airport. 

The Humaina Hotel

The hotel offers 11 standard double rooms and a suite within its tower, a swimming pool, lounge-library and cafeteria/restaurant, which serves regional and traditional food with a concept of ‘eco-craftmanship’ based on respect for the environment.

 

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The aim of the different day trips is to introduce a wide variety of local flora and fauna, with a special focus on the birds associated with each natural environment to be found in the provinces of Málaga and Osuna (Seville).

Book your place today to enjoy this exclusive offer.

What’s included

  • Six nights dinner, bed and breakfast in a double room (no single supplement).
  • Packed lunches on days 2, 3 and 5; lunch at a traditional ‘pescaito’ restaurant at Málaga beach on day 4, lunch at the hotel on day 6.
  • Mineral water, beer or wine with dinner.
  • Farewell dinner on day 6.
  • Five birding day trips with a guide. Use of a telescope and bird books will be available.
  • Entry fees, where applicable.
  • Free pick-up and drop-off at Málaga Airport.
  • All transport on trips.

What’s not included

  • Travel to Málaga (check tour availability before booking your flights)
  • Drinks apart from those specified above.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Other incidental expenses.
  • Gratuities.

Full itinerary

Day One, 5 May

  • Arrive at Hotel Humaina

Day Two, 6 May

El Torcal, a stunning karst landscape with a magical labyrinth of whimsically shaped rocks that host many Mediterranean migratory breeding birds.

  • 0700: breakfast
  • 0730: departure from hotel
  • 1230: picnic
  • 1530: arrival back at hotel
  • 1830: dinner

Bird highlights: griffon vulture, Bonelli’s eagle, Thekla lark, crag martin, nightingale, black-eared wheatear, black wheatear, blue rock thrush, rock thrush, W. Orphean warbler, Sardinian warbler, subalpine warbler, melodious warbler, W. Bonelli’s warbler, woodchat shrike, rock sparrow and rock bunting.

Other highlights: Spanish ibex, orchids.

Day Three, 7 May

Fuente de Piedra Lake for Greater Flamingo and other wetland and farmland birds.

  • 0700: breakfast
  • 0730: departure from hotel
  • 1230: picnic
  • 1530: arrival back at hotel
  • 1830: dinner

Bird highlights: red-crested pochard, white-headed duck, greater flamingo, lesser flamingo, Montagu’s harrier, lesser kestrel, little bustard, black-winged stilt, stone curlew, gull-billed tern, hoopoe, crested lark, short-toed lark, calandra lark, zitting cisticola, great reed warbler and Spanish sparrow.

Day Four, 8 May

Mouth of the Guadalhorce, the last stronghold of a vast marsh that covered the river delta in prehistoric times.

  • 0730: breakfast
  • 0800: departure from hotel
  • 1300: picnic
  • 1530: arrival back at hotel
  • 1830: dinner

Bird highlights: white-headed duck, little bittern, black-winged stilt, Kentish plover, yellow-legged gull, Audouin’s gull, pallid swift, red-rumped Swallow, Sardinian warbler, zitting cisticola, Cetti’s warbler, spotless starling and serin.

Other highlights: Mediterranean chameleon, Spanish terrapin.

Day Five, 9 May

Osuna and the wide plains and farmlands that are home to the heaviest flying bird in Europe, the Great Bustard.

  • 0700: breakfast
  • 0730: departure from hotel
  • 1230: picnic
  • 1730: arrival back at hotel
  • 1830: dinner

Bird highlights: red-legged partridge, Montagu’s harrier, black-winged kite, lesser kestrel, great bustard, little bustard, stone curlew, collared pratincole, gull-billed tern, whiskered tern, roller, crested lark, short-toed lark, calandra lark, red-rumped swallow, spectacled warbler, citting zisticola, Iberian grey shrike, woodchat shrike and Spanish sparrow.

Day Six, 10 May

Montes de Malaga, hills covered in Aleppo pine forest raised on bare slopes in the 1930s after a plague of the phylloxera aphid killed off the vineyards that had been a feature of this region since the 16th century.

  • 0900: breakfast
  • 0930: departure from hotel
  • 1230: lunch at hotel
  • 1830: farewell dinner

Bird highlights: short-toed snake eagle, booted eagle, W. Bonelli’s warbler, firecrest, crested tit, short-toed treecreeper, hawfinch, common crossbill and cirl bunting.

Other highlights: wild boar, red squirrel.

Day Seven, 11 May

  • Departure

Terms and conditions

The £160 per person deposit is non-refundable once the running of the tour has been confirmed.

Full payment is required on, or before, 15 April 2019.

Organised by BBC Wildlife Magazine in partnership with Birdaytrip and Humaina Hotel. Exact details of the reader holiday may be subject to change.

The activity consists on birdwatching at natural sites and its physical risks are limited to walks on country paths. However, clients must accept that this is a physical tourist activity, and there may be risks inherent to the activity and the possibility of accidents in what is a natural environment.

The use of appropriate walking shoes and outdoor clothing is recommended, according to the season and particular weather conditions. The use of binoculars and telescopes for birdwatching purposes is encouraged. Any other special equipment is not required, and the trip does not require specialist knowledge.

Clients under 18 must be accompanied by an adult (mother, father, or legal guardian).

Clients must follow the instructions given by the guides accompanying the group, as they are responsible for the direction of the group. Participants are also asked to abide by the general rules for environmental protection, particularly:

  • Not disturbing fauna and flora.
  • Not leaving of rubbish outside of litter bins.
  • Removing their rubbish from places where a bin is not available.
  • Avoiding fire risk.
  • Not producing undue noise.

Clients are asked to inform the tour organiser at the time of booking of any illness or disability that might affect the normal progress of the tour.

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Please inform the hotel of any allergies or special dietary requirements prior to arrival.