Almeria could be described as Spain’s hidden corner. From a birding and wildlife perspective it is currently an under-explored and under-watched area that offers great opportunities to see iconic and special birds in spectacular areas with few tourists. It has just about every type of birding habitat that you could wish for within a couple of hours drive of each other, yet it is so far little known on the birding circuit.
Almeria is basically the south -eastern corner of Spain. Steeped in history and populated by whitewashed Spanish villages Almeria is a great place to visit. It is one of the driest areas of Spain and has around 320 days of sunshine per year. It is home to the only true desert in Western Europe. It offers freshwater and saline lagoons, steppes, plains, mountains and forests and miles of secluded coastline.
All of this variety means Almeria is great for birds. There are iconic species such as Trumpeter Finch, Marbled Teal, White-headed Duck and Bonelli’s Eagle with the potential to find Dupont’s Lark as well as a wide range of other species ranging from European Roller, Golden Oriole, European Bee-eater and Nightingale through to rare waders, herons, larks, other eagle and raptor species, warblers and steppe birds. Almeria is also visited by real rarities such as Solitary Sandpiper. It offers a great mix of opportunities and all very close to each other. The Fatbirder website highlights the eastern part of Andalucía – Almeria and Granada provinces – as having some of the best ‘badlands’ and dry plains in Spain with ‘unbeatable areas for discovering Larks and other arid area specialities’. It picks out two of Almeria’s best sites, Tabernas & Cabo de Gata as some of the best birdwatching spots in the whole of Andalucía.
Our tours of Almeria and the surrounding areas are available between March to June and September to November. We also offer a winter tour in February. We offer day tours (described elsewhere on our site) and tours of anywhere between two and seven nights.
Our itinerary will vary according to the time of year and the special birds that can be seen at the time. For Almeria we have provided three model itineraries as examples. We can also provide a range of bespoke tours in Almeria and surrounding areas to your specification, including a special two location birding and wildlife holiday in Almeria and Granada provinces in partnership with our friend Mick Richardson of Granada Wildlife. For details of how to arrange custom-tours please contact us directly.
Our local base is in Instinciòn in the Andarax Valley – a picturesque village of white-washed houses with pleasant and relaxing bars/restaurants. It is a friendly and attractive village and a great base for most of the sites we will visit. Instinciòn is only half an hour’s drive from Almeria airport and two to three hours from Màlaga or Murcia airports – we can pick you up from any local airport on arrival. We can also arrange your accommodation in local hotels including in nearby Alhama de Almeria and Canjayar.
Our Almeria Province Tours will be led by Paul Pearson with help from his brother Garry. Paul is based in Almeria for half the year running local tours and tours further afield. Garry lives in Instinciòn itself. We have been birding in Almeria for the last fifteen years and we both speak Spanish.
7-day tour (Spring)
Spring is one of the best times to be in Almeria. The birds we see all year round are joined by a wonderful selection of migrants including Golden Orioles, Bee-eaters, European Rollers, Nightingales, warbler species, returning eagles including Short-toed and Booted Eagles, waders such as Collared Pratincole, Little and Temminck’s Stints and many more migrant species. You will be able to sit outside your accommodation and listen to Golden Orioles in the Andarax Valley, see flocks of Bee-eaters hawking overhead and watch eagles drifting along in the blue skies above. The climate is warm and pleasant without being too hot and the days are long and relaxing. The area is at its prettiest with white-washed villages standing out against the hillsides in the Spring sunshine and the scents of orange and lemon blossom in the air.
To take full advantage of everything that Almeria has to offer in spring we recommend our 7-day tour with the following suggested itinerary:
Day 1: Amoladeras and Rambla de Morales – for steppe birds, larks, waders and waterfowl including Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Stone Curlew, Short-toed and Lesser Short-toed Larks, Bee-eaters, Montagu’s Harrier, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, White-headed Duck and Purple Gallinule and a great chance to find two of the area’s best birds – Marbled Teal and Rufous Bush-Robin.
Day 2: Punta Estinas de Sabinar and Las Norias – two great local wetlands offering a great day looking for waders including Collared Pratincole and Temminck’s Stint and waterbirds including Night and Squacco Herons, Cattle Egret and Flamingos, a great range of passerines including Yellow and Blue-headed Wagtails, Hoopoe, European Roller, Fan-tailed and Great Reed Warbler plus Terns including Whiskered, Gull-billed and Little Tern.
Cabo de Gata – we have described Cabo de Gata at our winter itinerary above but at this time of your it is an even more special place to visit with all the ‘winter birds’ still present and joined by migrant waders, eagles, warblers and other passerines.
Day 3: Sierra de Baza – a beautiful upland plains area which offers the opportunity to see displaying male Little Bustards, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Calandra and other Lark species, Black-eared Wheatear and Montagu’s Harrier. Driving slowly along the many tracks through the plains scanning for its special birds offers a truly memorable and exciting experience.
Day 4: Tabernas desert (morning) and an exciting evening trip – focusing on Trumpeter Finch but with a great chance to see all of Almeria’s Eagle species as well as visiting warblers and wheatear species. We will relax in the afternoon at a local beach or back at the hotel followed by an exciting evening expedition (optional) in search of mysterious and magical nocturnal birds such as Eagle, Scops and Little Owls and Red-necked Nightjar. It might even be possible to locate a visiting Cream-coloured Courser!
Days 5 and 6: We can offer a choice of two trips that both include an overnight stay. One option is Ferran Perez for plains, farmland and orchard birds followed by an afternoon and overnight at the secluded and charming beach resort of Agua Amarga and birding the surrounding area next morning OR a trip up into the mountains and forests of Sierra de Maria for eagles, vultures, warblers including Western Bonelli’s Warbler, plus Crested Tit, Cirl Bunting and Golden Oriole and other birds of the high sierras with an overnight stay in the lovely village of Velez Blanco.
[Both these trips include a supplement for additional hotel accommodation]
Day 7: Andarax Valley and surrounds (morning) – a gentle pace to end the week with the morning spent looking for and listening to Golden Orioles, Bee-eaters, Rollers, a good selection of warblers, Cirl Buntings and much more followed by break in the afternoon and an evening at one of our favourite local restaurants (optional) giving us all the chance to share our highlights of the tour.
Our 7-day tour is currently priced at only £765 per person – subject to the size of the group as above.
5-day Tour (Autumn)
Autumn is also a special time to be in Almeria with lots of summer migrants still in the area as well as other migrants passing through.
Our Autumn tours can include the options described for Spring according to your choice but we can also offer a morning sea-watching on the Cabo de Gata peninsula looking for Cory’s and Balearic Shearwaters and passing skuas followed by an afternoon on the reserve and we particularly recommend visiting the Tabernas Desert area plus a day at Punta Estinas de Sabinar.
Our 5-day tour is currently priced at only £600 per person – subject to the size of the group as above.
3-day tour itinerary (Winter):
Winter is a great time to visit Almeria. The weather is pleasant with lots of sunny days, there are few tourists so the cafes, restaurants and bars are quiet and there are plenty of special birds to see. Our 3-day Winter Tour is a great opportunity to connect with some great birds, enjoy the climate and have a relaxing break.
Day 1. Tabernas Desert and Amoladeras – looking for Almeria’s most iconic bird, Trumpeter Finch. We also have a good chance of finding Bonelli’s and Golden Eagles and Black Wheatear as well as Dartford and Sardinian Warblers, Black Redstart, wintering Stone Curlew and Iberian Grey Shrike.
The Tabernas Desert is one of the most dramatic landscapes in Spain. The only semi-desert in Europe with a surreal, lunar quality about its ravines, dry river beds and barren slopes – all bleached by the sun. Looking for birds in the Tabernas desert is a truly unique experience. Amoladeras is part of the Cabo de Gata- Nijar reserve area with its own unique flavour. It is an area of semi-desert and scrubland populated by cacti and sisal predominantly. If you’re an early riser then dawn may just hold the opportunity to find a Dupont’s Lark! We should also find Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Short-toed and Lesser Short-toed Larks and there is the possibility of turning up a Trumpeter Finch here too!
Day 2: Cabo de Gata and Rambla de Morales – Cabo de Gata (which translates as ‘Cat’s Cove!) is Almeria’s premier reserve and home to great birds all year round. It is one of Spain’s most important wetland areas for breeding and overwintering birds with saltwater lagoons that run parallel to the beach. Located between San Miguel and the Cabo de Gata headland, it is an area of outstanding ecological interest, particularly for birdlife. The salinas (saltpans) are the only ones still in operation in eastern Andalucia.
Cabo’s special winter birds include waders such as Black-winged Stilt and Kentish Plover, rare gulls including Audouin’s and Slender-billed Gulls, Flamingos, wintering Stone Curlew, Spoonbill and Black Wheatear.
The nearby wetland of Rambla de Morales will give us a great chance to find Penduline Tit wintering by the coast, White-headed Duck, a selection of waders and possibly Common Crane and Dotterel.
If time allows we will also visit Las Norias for wintering Bluethroat and other great birds including Night and Squacco Herons and a chance of Purple Gallinule.
Day 3: Fiñana and Charches or Puerto de La Ragua: looking for woodland, plains and mountain birds including Hawfinch, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Little Bustard, Chough, Calandra Lark and other lark species, plus Golden Eagle, Citril Finch and Crossbill.
Our day will start in the Fiñana area where we will have a great chance of finding Hawfinch in picturesque woodland areas. We will spend most of the morning here then move on to either Charches or Puerto de La Ragua (subject to weather as ‘La Ragua’ is inaccessible if there is snow). We have described these two areas as High Plains and High Sierras. Located on the border of Almeria and Granada provinces – within reasonable driving distance of our base – they offer two very different but equally special experiences and marvellous birding opportunities.
If you would like a longer tour we can add a visit to Granada to see Hawfinches and other great winter visitors including Firecrest in the magnificent Alhambra Gardens and combine this with an afternoon sightseeing and an overnight stay in one of Spain’s most historic and iconic cities. We also offer this tour as an individual tour (with overnight stay).
Please see our Day Tours list for more details of these and other great sites!
Our 3-day tour is currently priced at only £400 per person – subject to the size of the group. There is a small supplement for a single person only.
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5 Day Tour