Holidays and Tours in Andalucia
    A wealth of birdlife in the La Mancha lakes and searching for the Iberian lynx in the Sierra de Andújar
Iberian lynx - Lynx pardinus © F. J. GarciaIberian lynx Lynx pardinus© F. J. Garcia

Iberian Lynx: Sierra de Andújar + La Mancha or Doñana

Tours from 5 - 8 days exploring the mammal and bird-rich Sierra de Andújar in Andalucía in our search for the rarest feline in the world, the critically endangered Iberian lynx. 5-day options take in some of the wealth of birdlife in the La Mancha lakes, while alternatively we visit the remarkable Doñana National Park on our longer tours, giving us a second option for seeing lynx in their only other stronghold.

For the longer 8-day option, combining looking for the Iberian Lynx in both of its strongholds, Doñana National Park and the Sierra de Andújar, please see the tour details and pricing on the Travelling Naturalist page.

Leader: John Muddeman for Spainbirds Nature Tours
2019 Dates:Sat. 26 Jan – Sat. 02 Feb   8-day tour (Travelling Naturalist)
Sat. 19 Oct – Sat. 26 Oct   8-day tour (Travelling Naturalist)
2020 Dates:TBC
 ANYTIME DATES (possible from 3+ days; please enquire)
Prices: Please enquire for IWT tours. Depending on requirements these usually include half-board, en suite accommodation at the different hotels, tapas / picnic lunches, minibus transport throughout, all entry fees, and the services of John Muddeman as leader. A single-room supplement may be applicable.
Please consult the Travelling Naturalist page for the 8-day tours.
  Click here for full details

Having once occupied a large part of the Iberian Peninsula, the Iberian Lynx suffered a drastic decline to near-extinction in the 1990s. This derived from land-use change, the enormous increase in the number of roads and other dispersal barriers, and above all, the catastrophic crash in the native wild European Rabbit populations. Andújar landscape plus the Jándula riverAndújar landscape plus the Jándula river© John Muddeman Indeed, viable lynx populations only survived in Doñana, where a dispersed and rather difficult-to-access nucleus survives in atypical lowland habitat, but a much larger and more accessible number remain centred on the Sierra de Andújar in northern Andalucía, albeit still only numbering around 220 individuals. Here they survive in some of the vast areas of low wooded and scrubby mountains in an area with low human density and, perhaps ironically, in areas principally maintained for large game hunting interests. Whilst the new reintroduced populations are increasing, painting a brighter picture for the future, they remain inaccessible for watchers.

Waiting quietly at one of the favoured viewpoints or even driving slowly along the small roads and pot-holed tracks in the area will give us our best chances for seeing this, and many other species, such as Red Deer, Wild Boar, and River Otter amongst other native species, plus the naturalised Fallow Deer, Mouflon and Egyptian Mongoose. The former become particularly obvious during the autumn rut which starts around late September. Spanish Imperial Eagle - Aquila adalberti © Santiago VillaSpanish Imperial Eagle
Aquila adalberti
© Santiago Villa
But we also aim to differ from others also looking for the species by taking a few walks through the region along the old drover's roads, in order to sample the habitats and character of the area more, and also to look for Iberian Lynx and other mammals' tracks and trails. Naturally, some of the best times for mammal watching are around dawn and dusk, but the Iberian Lynx shows the peculiarity of not being either particularly shy or indeed of closely sharing this crepuscular behaviour, though like us, they tend to avoid being active during hot midday conditions!

There is also a lot more to look for whilst waiting, too, with good numbers of Spanish Imperial Eagles in the general area, plus Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Eagle-owl, Thekla Lark, Dartford and Sardinian Warblers, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Blue Rock Thrush, Red-billed Chough, Iberian (Azure-winged) Magpie, Iberian Grey Shrike, Rock and Cirl Buntings, European Serin and Hawfinch. This is augmented in spring and summer by breeding Black Stork, Egyptian Vulture, Black Kite, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, the rare White-rumped Swift, Red-necked Nightjar, Red-rumped Swallow, Eurasian Crag Martin, Subalpine and Western Orphean Warblers, rare Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and Eurasian Golden Oriole amongst others.

On our 5-day tour we punctuate the journey down to the Andújar area with a stop in the La Mancha lakes area on the first day. This greatly increases the overall variety of birds to be seen, since it combines agri-steppe and lake areas, including seasonally-dependent opportunities for Montagu's Harrier, Great and Little Bustards, Flamingos and shorebirds in La Mancha © John MuddemanFlamingos and shorebirds in La Mancha© John MuddemanPin-tailed Sandgrouse and Calandra Lark in the former and Black-necked Grebe, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Little and Cattle Egrets, Greater Flamingo, Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Western Marsh Harrier, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Water Rail, Purple Swamphen, Cetti's, Great Reed and Savi's Warblers, Zitting Cisticola and Eurasian Penduline-tit in the latter.

Please note that the tour is principally centred on looking for the Iberian Lynx and as such we will spend the time we consider necessary to find the species, even if this means varying the itinerary from that shown. In addition, the birds indicated vary markedly over the seasons, and we suggest that you consult us for more details if required, since it is impossible to cover all the options here.

For a provisional itinerary, please contact me.

"Thank you for both of your emails [+ photos] which I was truly delighted to receive as I am not a great photographer and these bring back wonderful moments. I truly enjoyed the trip, and wonder at your wide knowledge. I can understand your love of this very special area. Inevitably, there are times when nothing appears to be happening but these are counteracted by wonderful moments. Although we did not see a lynx on our last afternoon/evening I really liked that venue and the excitement of being so close and yet. / The trip was very special and varied given the local difficulties, thanks to the knowledge and skills of John."

Patricia W. (UK)   October 2017

"I thought I'd drop you a line to again thank you very much for an excellent trip in Spain. I enjoyed it very much. Such a great range of wildlife. Seeing the lynx was excellent but also the birds were very interesting and I enjoyed very much chatting with you during our travels. Many thanks for those pics. Good to have the lynx one."

Chris P. (AUS)   November 2016
White-headed Duck - Oxyura leucocephala © John MuddemanWhite-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala© John Muddeman

Iberian Lynx: Sierra de Andújar + La Mancha or Doñana

Leader: John Muddeman for Spainbirds Nature Tours

2019 Dates:
Sat. 26 Jan – Sat. 02 Feb   8-day tour
(Travelling Naturalist)
Sat. 19 Oct – Sat. 26 Oct   8-day tour
(Travelling Naturalist)

2020 Dates:

ANYTIME DATES (possible from 3+ day tours; please enquire)

Price: Please enquire for IWT tours. Depending on requirements these usually include half-board, en suite accommodation at the Complejo Turístico Los Pinos or Villa Matilde Rural Guesthouse in Andújar and the Hotel El Toruño in Doñana, the different hotels, tapas / picnic lunches, minibus transport throughout, all entry fees and the services of John Muddeman as leader. A single-room supplement may be applicable.
Please consult the Travelling Naturalist page for the 8-day tours.

The cost is for a land-based tour. Flights and travel insurance (obligatory) are the responsibility of the client, though we can help with bookings. We start / finish at Madrid airport for the 5-day or tailor-made tours.

All payments have to be made in Euros to Spainbirds Nature Tours S.L.

For booking, please click on the Spainbirds Booking Form, or contact me directly (see my contact details below). The Spainbirds office will then advise you of the payment details and terms.

Booking information: contact John Muddeman for further details and a booking form, or indeed if you have any queries about this tour.

Office phone:(+34) 918 989195
Mobile phone:(+34) 649 608747
Address:  C/ Alcocer 1, 1-C
28214 Fresnedillas de la Oliva,

"I was just about to write to you to thank you most sincerely for a most enjoyable trip, but especially for looking after me so well in my hour of need. / Thank you very much for making our holiday such a success in spite of all the health problems we experienced between us! Although the lynx proved elusive, the wonderful birds and mammals we saw more than made up for their non-appearance. I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed birding more! The desert wheatear, the blue rock thrush, great bustards, marsh harriers at close range and the marvellous flamingos displaying. What a treat it all was! The hotel was great too - good local food and excellent, friendly service. Thank you once more for your expert guiding and understanding of our requirements. I look forward to more adventures with Spainbirds in the future."

Hugh D. / Olwen M. (UK)   January/February 2016
  Iberian Magpie - Cyanopica cooki  © John MuddemanIberian Magpie Cyanopica cooki© John Muddeman

Other tours in Andalucía or Extremadura:

Strait of Gibraltar: W Europe's main bird migration funnel
Coto Doñana & Extremadura: the best of SW Spain in spring

Related information:

Blog entries on Andalucía birds and other wildlife
Read about John Muddeman
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