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Wolf watching in Spain

Tour Code: ESP19

A 5-day holiday to a little-known and very rural corner of northern Spain in search of Wolves in the hills, and Common Cranes and Great Bustards on the plains.

5 days from £895(inc flights) Land Only Price: £775 SRS: £75


 

The area in which we search for Wolves during this tour lies in northern Spain, deep within the mountains of northern Palencia, where a landscape of sweeping ridges and broad valleys, together with an open habitat of extensive heathland and mixed forest, permit us to patiently scan wide areas for our quarry. The ancient villages in the rugged Palentian Mountains are today largely deserted, left for reclamation by Wolves, Brown Bears, Wild Boar, and numerous Chamois, Red Deer and Roe Deer, not to mention a host of smaller mammals. Our base for our exploration of this wildlife haven is in one such village, where our guide Tino and his wife Rosa have sympathetically restored three terraced farm cottages. From these, we will explore the mountains with Tino, spending the majority of each day on foot, either walking from our base or accessing remote valleys by 4WD, before returning each evening to a hearty meal, freshly prepared by Rosa. Over many years, we have built up a detailed knowledge of Wolf-watching in the area, and we offer you the best chance of sighting wild Wolves in Europe!

  • 80%+ chance of views of wild Iberian Wolf – one of Europe’s most exciting mammals
  • Wild Boar, Red Deer & Roe Deer regularly seen
  • Outside chance of Wildcat and Cantabrian Brown Bear
  • Great birdwatching, especially birds of prey (up to 12 species seen on most tours)
  • Over 100 Great Bustards possible in one day - less than an hour from Wolf Country
  • Tasty regional cuisine, with wine included

Food

Food and wine all included in the price.

Accommodation

Three old terraced farm cottages, beautifully restored. A mixture of private and shared facilities.

Iberian Wolf

Iberian Wolf

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Santander; transfer to the hills

Day 2/4 Daily programme of Wolf-tracking and/or birdwatching excursions

Day 5 Fly Stansted

‘It is very difficult to see the Wolf’, said Señor Mozo. Then, pointing to numerous points all over a large map of the area, he added ‘he can be anywhere’! Our chances of a Wolf sighting looked slim, yet, by the time of our first tours in March 2006, Naturetrek staff had paid 14 visits to the region and had successfully encountered Wolves on all but one of those visits. We have been delighted that this success rate has proved sustainable whilst visiting in groups, with 90% of our tours to date having seen Wolf. We have also seen Wild Boar and 16 species of birds of prey. Wolf-watching can, indeed, seem very difficult during the long hours that need to be put in to track down such a notoriously elusive animal, but we believe that on this tour you have as good a chance as any of actually seeing a Wolf in Europe!

The Cordillera Cantábrica and its outlying ranges hold the vast majority of Spain’s 2,500 to 3,000 Wolves and are the stronghold of the species in Europe. This is a population that has increased markedly since an estimated all-time low of just 500 individuals in 1970. The depopulation of Spain’s rural regions, as Spaniards have increasingly migrated into the cities, has benefited the Wolf, as has a changing attitude towards an animal that was once viciously persecuted.

The particular area in which we have been watching Wolves in recent years, and on which we focus during this holiday, is a region of rolling hills and broad valleys which affords excellent opportunities to scan wide areas of open land and which may easily be accessed via an extensive network of metalled roads and gravelled forest tracks. It is a landscape that is part Scotland, part New Forest; it is a rolling tapestry of conifer plantations, sprawling oak woodlands, extensive heaths, ancient grazing meadows enclosed by tumbledown dry stone walls, and damp grassy hollows marked by elegant poplar stands. Much of the birdlife here is shared with such similar habitats in Britain. Birds of prey are much in evidence, and include Red Kites, Hen Harriers, Sparrowhawks, Common Buzzards, Kestrels, Merlins and even the occasional Golden Eagle. Conifer forests are filled with Firecrests, Coal and Crested Tits, Jays and large and noisy flocks of Crossbills. The heaths hold Woodlarks, Stonechats and Dartford Warblers, whilst Ravens honk evocatively as they pass overhead. Good numbers of both Red and Roe Deer (the prey of the Wolf!) complete the picture. But, take a look around the traditional granite-built villages of the region and the Crested Larks, Black Redstarts, Southern Grey Shrikes, Spotless Starlings, Rock Sparrows, Serins, Cirl Buntings and Rock Buntings soon confirm that you really are in southern Europe ... as, too, do the Wild Boar that are common in this region.

Looking for Wolves requires a great deal of persistence, patience and stealth. It also requires a lot of luck, not least with the weather! We will spend much of each day (certainly the first and last three or four hours) touring the roads and tracks throughout the hills and stopping for variable periods at suitable viewpoints in order to scan for Wolves, and any other mammals and also birds that we may happen to see. We may also go out after dark to listen for Wolves.

En route to and from the hills we will detour to a very special area of rolling agricultural land. Here, low intensity farming is practised specifically to encourage birdlife, especially the Great Bustard. The area offers a bleak yet charming landscape, almost from a bygone age, its undulating plains stretching in all directions to the horizon, a mosaic of stubble, plough and set-aside grasslands broken by wild wetlands and traditional old farming villages, often of mud construction and each dominated by a giant church with statutory Storks’ nests adorning each imposing bell-tower. Lavish antique ‘pigeon houses’ and grain silos, both ornately fashioned from mud and clay tiles, further characterise the landscape. Here, Great Bustards occur in vast numbers, several hundred or more generally being easily observed within a single visit. We will also look for the flocks of Common Cranes and the thousands of Greylag Geese and other waterfowl that winter here, together with Marsh and Hen Harriers, Merlins, Red Kites and other raptors. Amongst a great many other species that we will hope to see may be Little Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and numerous larks, finches and buntings. So good is this site that it might even merit a full day’s excursion for anyone wishing for a break from the routine of our daily searches for Wolves, for, as Señor Mozo stressed, ‘it is very difficult to see the Wolf’… but a lot easier finding Bustards!

Iberian wolf (Thomas Mills)View of the hills (Ed Drewitt)Red Kite (Ed Drewitt)A traditional corrala (Ed Drewitt)Autumn in Spain (Ed Drewitt)Sunset (Ed Drewitt)Wolf territory (Ed Drewitt)Rural Spain (Thomas Mills)ScanningGroup scanning (John Walsha)Rising mist (Thomas Mills)Red DeerRolling hills (Thomas Mills)Local ShepherdWhite Stork (Becky Clews)Little Bustard (Thomas Mills)Spanish church (Thomas Mills)DovecoteInsect (Becky Clews)Wolf country (Becky Clews)Morning mist (Becky Clews)Picnic(Becky Clews)Little Owl (Thomas Mills)Local house (Thomas Mills)Our hotel (Thomas Mills)
J.R.
Leicestershire
Excellent trip and Byron tried really hard to find a Great Bustard, and to find Wolves! The whole trip was brilliant. Thank you.
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J.P.
Essex
Our trip was wonderful. Our guide, Byron was so knowledgeable and helpful and made our trip so enjoyable. We are very amateur (but keen) birdwatchers but we were not made to feel so.
Mr & Mrs R.S.
Kent
The accommodtion was nice and warm, food very good and local wine excellent. Lee and James were excellent, professional, expert and caring.
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L.F.
Berkshire
Lee and Jamers were brilliant - they organised the days well, depending on the weather. Both are very knowledgeable about the birds and mammals. They were particularly helpful with making sure the photographers in the group got the best photo opportunities.
L.B.
W. Yorkshire
Overall the whole experience was fantastic. This was my first trip alone and also with Naturetrek. I did not feel left out at any point and would certainly book another trip with Naturetrek.
Mr & Mrs F.W.
Northumberland
Our trip leader was outstanding. We greatly appreciated his skill and remarkable range of his knowledge. He was unfailingly courteous to all, helpful and good company.
J.B.
Devon
My main memory is of how good both tour guides were - efficient yet relaxed, friendly but not over-friendly, always approachable and knowledgeable ... Naturetrek's efficiency in arranging train travel to Spain and vegan food was very good.
R.R.
Dorset
This was a very good introduction to an area of Spain that I had not previously visited. It was very good to see the Great Bustard area and to see so many Harriers.
L.H.
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East Sussex
Good vegan food.
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Ms S
East Sussex
I thought the bird watching was brilliant - the Great Bustards and many raptors were magnificent. The hotel was very nice; if anything the pre-departure information undervalued the food, which was really good.
Mr N.
Fife
I chose the holiday primarily for the chance of seeing wolves, but there was an excellent balance between wolf watching and other wildlife.
J.P.
Norfolk
Brilliant holiday! I thoroughly enjoyed every day. Brilliant leaders, accommodation, sites and lunches; everything was excellent. The leaders were very friendly. I had a holiday I will never forget. I saw everything the itinerary promised and more.
R.G.
Hampshire
This was a really excellent trip. Byron was a charming, helpful and knowledgeable leader and guide and ably assisted by Ed. Our wolf sightings exceeded all expectations.
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P.W.
Surrey
Both leaders were very good and helpful. They showed a great deal of patience and both knew their subject. They give Naturetrek a good name.
A.B.
Essex
We had a brilliant time. Our guides were excellent - they couldn’t do enough for us. The rest of the group was good fun to be with. A really good trip! Thank you!
S.W.
Nottinghamshire
A superb short break. Breathtaking views of wolves - prolonged, pretty close, and in very good light! Lovely to see them doing their thing in such an unspoiled habitat. Plenty of time to relax in between the wolf-spotting sessions, too, which made the pace of the trip just right. The guides were brilliant - both Paul and Byron worked really hard to show us the wildlife and look after all our needs. They were very good at getting wolves and birds in the scopes for us so we didn’t miss anything. Both very nice people too! The wolves were the obvious highlight, but I was also delighted to see some new species for me, including Iberian Hare and Black-bellied Sandgrouse, and by far my best views of Short-toed Eagle, Lesser Kestrel and Black-shouldered Kite too. The Red Foxes were also wonderful. Overall, hugely enjoyable, so a big thank you to the leaders, and to the hotel owner for keeping us all so amused and entertained, and well fed, at meal times!
D.B.
Dorset
The tour leaders provided brilliant lunches, and really put themselves out to get vegan food for me, the food was imaginative and nutritious. Well done and thank you.
S.B.
London
Guides' attention to detail and personal attention was excellent. Their knowledge and expertise made the trip a great success ... Many thanks.
M.J.
Wales
A most enjoyable trip. A couple of wonderful views of wolves. Weather fabulous. Guides couldn’t have given us a better trip, they were first class. Thank you Naturetrek. You have come up trumps once more.
M. & D.N.
Essex
Our two guides were brilliant and very knowledgeable - all came away with a better understanding of the habitats, flowers, butterflies, birds and mammals - 100%.
S.G.
London
The tour leaders were excellent and the hotel very comfortable (good food, very clean etc.).
Mr. D.S.
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Highland
I just wanted to drop a line with regard to the tour report I received for my Wolves and Bustards trip last October - it was excellent. Our leader had clearly put a lot of effort into making it detailed and indeed personal to group members. I would be grateful if you could let Dave Pierce know that his work on it was much appreciated and it will serve as a valuable memento of a super trip.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Sun 11th September 2016 - Thu 15th September 2016

6

£895

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £775 More info

Room sharing options: Female sharing is available More info

Mon 26th September 2016 - Fri 30th September 2016

YES

£895

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £775 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Tue 11th October 2016 - Sat 15th October 2016

YES

£895

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £775 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Mon 24th October 2016 - Fri 28th October 2016

YES

£895

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £775 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Fri 23rd December 2016 - Tue 27th December 2016

YES

£895

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £775 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Sun 10th September 2017 - Thu 14th September 2017

YES

£895

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Sun 8th October 2017 - Thu 12th October 2017

YES

£895

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Mon 23rd October 2017 - Fri 27th October 2017

YES

£895

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Sun 5th November 2017 - Thu 9th November 2017

YES

£895

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £795 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Sun 24th December 2017 - Thu 28th December 2017

YES

£995

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are limited. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £875 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Spain

Detailed tour map

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Andy Tucker
Operations Manager

Email Andy

01962 733051

Tour Focus

BirdsMammalsShortbreak

Tour Reviews

Excellent trip and Byron tried really hard to find a Great Bustard, and to find Wolves! The whole trip was brilliant. Thank you.

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J.R., Leicestershire