On this wildlife holiday we visit three of the Canary Islands – Tenerife, Gomera and Fuerteventura – in search of the five endemic birds, many of the 600+ species of endemic plants, and other wildlife. On Tenerife we explore the pine forest and high slopes of Teide National Park, then we cross by ferry to the tranquil island of Gomera, where we will spend a full day exploring the marvellous Garajonay National Park. We finish with three nights on Fuerteventura, flatter and more arid than the other islands, and home to a totally different flora and fauna, more African than European. The unusual, exotic and magnificent subtropical Canary Islands with their endemic flora and fauna and spectacular volcanic scenery will make this a memorable and rewarding tour.
- Mount Teide’s fabulous volcanic scenery … plus endemic Blue Chaffinch & Tenerife Kinglet
- 5 endemic birds & 3 Macaronesian endemics: Berthelot's Pipit, Plain Swift & Canary
- Endemic Bolle’s & Laurel Pigeons in Gomera's ancient Laurel forests
- Fuerteventura Chat and Houbara Bustard on Fuerteventura
- Ferry to Gomera – and chance for whales, dolphins, Cory’s & Little Shearwaters
- Led by expert ornithologist & botanist guide, Tony Clarke
All included in the price.
Comfortable hotels with private facilities throughout.
Houbara Bustard (James Lees)
Day 2 Teide National Park and Teno Natural Park
Day 3 Gomera and Garajonay National Park
Day 4 Medano or Anaga Peninsula
The Fortunate Islands, so named by early buccaneers and conquistadors, are remarkable for their wealth of unique plant and animal-life. These seven islands have been isolated for long enough to have evolved an endemic flora and fauna, and now provide one of the naturalist’s greatest opportunities to appreciate the evolutionary process first observed by Charles Darwin in the 19th century. From a botanical point of view, the Canary Islands constitute one of the most interesting areas of the world, not only because of the variety of flowers but also because of the large number of endemic species — more than 600 — and their unique origin. During this tour to the Islands we will be certain to see many of the endemic Canary species of plants in flower. This is also the peak time to observe the five endemic breeding birds of this magnificent and diverse volcanic archipelago. On this tour we will visit three of the islands — Tenerife, Gomera and Fuerteventura — and cruise or fly between them. Our purpose will be to admire and observe all the endemic bird species and many of the endemic plants, not forgetting the fabulous marine-life!
Tenerife, our main base, presents an array of habitats of which the pine forest and high mountain zone of Teide National Park are most representative of the island. The pine forest has only one native species of tree — the Canary Pine (Pinus canariensis) — and an undergrowth dominated by Myrica faya and heather (Erica arborea). Curiously, this pine’s closest relative is found not in Europe or north Africa, but in the Himalaya! It is in this unique forest that we will be able to look for the two endemic species of Canary Island passerines that occur on Tenerife — the Blue Chaffinch and the Tenerife Kinglet. We should also see the endemic subspecies of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Rock Dove, Kestrel and Chiffchaff (all showing a high degree of differentiation).
The high mountain zone starts above the pine forest at a height of about 1,980 metres. Teide National Park encompasses the vast caldera called Las Canadas, with its inward-facing cliff walls that rise to about 500 metres, as well as two volcanoes which have obliterated the northern rim of Las Canadas — Pico del Teide (3,718 metres) and Pico Viejo. The proportion of endemic species of plants in the high mountain zone is amongst the highest for any region in the world. About a dozen species of vascular plants are found almost exclusively in Teide National Park, whilst a large percentage of the other plants found here are either restricted to Tenerife alone or to the Canary Islands as a whole. The vegetation of this high mountain zone is dominated by two species of leguminous shrubs — Teide Broom (Spartocytisus supranubius) and Adenocarpus viscosus — both Canary endemic species. It is in this national park that we will look for the three Macaronesian endemic bird species: Berthelot’s Pipit, Plain Swift and Canary. The Canary Lizard is very common in this zone and Mouflon (Wild Sheep) can sometimes be seen.
From Tenerife we will cross by ferry to the tranquil island of Gomera, where we will spend a full day. On the crossing we will have the opportunity to do some seawatching, for these waters are the yearround home of Short-finned Pilot Whales and Bottlenose Dolphins, as well as such seabirds as Cory’s and Little Shearwaters, and the rare White-faced Storm-petrel. On reaching Gomera we will explore the marvellous Garajonay National Park and its extensive ancient Laurel forests where a tremendous variety of flowers and butterflies may be found. This is also the home of two endemic birds — Bolle’s Pigeon and Laurel Pigeon — which we should see flying over the forest canopy.
We continue eastwards, now moving on to the island of Fuerteventura for a 3-night stay. This island presents a totally different flora and fauna, more African than European. Flat by comparison with the other two islands, Fuerteventura is considerably more arid, and provides an excellent home for such north African bird species as Egyptian Vulture, Barbary Partridge, Cream-coloured Courser, Blackbellied Sandgrouse, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Spectacled Warbler, Southern Grey Shrike and Trumpeter Finch. The star attractions, however, are the endemic Fuerteventura Chat and the endemic race of Houbara Bustard, a species that is becoming seriously endangered over most of its range. We should see most, if not all, of these species.
The unusual, exotic and magnificent subtropical Canary Islands with their endemic flora and fauna and spectacular volcanic scenery will surely make this a memorable and rewarding tour. Above all, we will be able to observe and appreciate the fascination of these islands by exploring the countryside beyond the tourist resorts.
Very impressed by Tony Clarke's all-round skills, knowledge and hard work.
Exactly what I wanted from this holiday - a good mix of birds, general nature and scenery. Tony Clarke's knowledge of the islands and his style of leading the trip was excellent.
Both leaders were fantastic. Amazing in-depth knowledge and enthusiasm. They did everything to ensure we got the most out of our time, and the picnics they provided were excellent.
We chose this trip as it covered a variety of interest, was somewhere that we knew little about and was warm at this time of year. It was a most interesting and enjoyable experience, well run and in our opinion very successful. The days were well organised 'full on' experiences with little time wasted or used un-profitably.
The full itinerary and the dedication of our two tour leaders meant we saw an amazing amount in just a week. Their knowledge and enthusiasm made for a very memorable and enjoyable trip.
We saw much of the three islands, a variety of habitats as well as many interesting plants and birds. Our guides were knowledgeable about both the bird and plant life.
I think the areas visited were the most beautiful and relevant that could have been arranged. Our leader, Tony, knows the language and the islands intimately. He is an excellent birder, and adapted to those who wanted general sightseeing, birds, plants and some relaxation. Our other leader, James, is quick and helpful and enthusiastic. He drove very well, is of calm temperament and has good leadership qualities.
A well managed and organised tour. The travel arrangements met my needs perfectly. Many thanks.
Particularly impressed that you were able to organise flights to and from Manchester for us.
I saw all the birds I expected.