Wessex Continental Travel

Wildlife Express

On this short visit to Northern Spain we’ve been able to combine two interests, pelagic and terrestrial bird watching , and package a short visit to encompass both. Of course, we can’t guarantee that the advertised wildlife will appear on cue but no doubt this is something you’ve lived with for years. However, our expert Guides are confident that the dates selected are quite propitious for our purpose. We use a Spanish coach on this programme and everyone meets at the Ferry Terminal in Plymouth.

Asturias 5 days

This Province is undoubtedly one of the most scenic regions in all Spain. Golden beaches are backed by meadows and orchards, criss-crossed by tumbling streams and rivers which bring down fresh, clear waters from the mountain range behind the coast known as the Picos de Europa. Dairy farming and fishing are major industries resulting in superfresh produce at all times. Our accommodation is at the 3* Hotel de la Franca which sits on a secluded beach at Ribadedeva near Llanes. A fabulous and tranquil setting which has delighted our clients for many years.

We’ll set off from Plymouth’s Millbay Docks at 1545 on the flagship cruise-ferry “Pont Aven” to sail to Santander on Spain’s north coast. A 2-berth cabin is provided for both sailings. During the crossing, During the crossing, our guide, Paul Burley, will be on hand to spot and identify the wealth of wildlife as we cross the English channel and into the Bay of Biscay.
In June we can look forward to the wealth of wildlife that can be found in the English channel and into the Bay of Biscay where we can see good numbers of Manx Shearwater and occasional sightings of Great Skua, Storm Petrels and Cory's Shearwater. In September migration time in the Bay can be very productive with sightings of Great Shearwater, Cory's Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Arctic Skua and Sabine's gull to name but a few making this an opportunity not to be missed. We will have dinner together in Le Flora restaurant.
When we land in Spain on Monday at 1215 the local coach meets us at the Ferry Terminal and we drive out of the city and westwards to the Province of Asturias. Our first sightseeing stop will be in the pretty port and resort of San Vicente de la Barquera. We resume our drive in the mid-afternoon to La Franca where we check in for two nights on half-board terms to the Hotel Mirador de la Franca which sits on a secluded beach. Lots of seabirds will claim your attention if you don’t fancy an afternoon swim before dinner! Our local expert, Asturias ornithologist Javier Gil Vaquero, will meet us and have a chat about the ensuing days before dinner.

Tuesday Fuente De and the Alpine Birds Picos de Europa National Park, and especially the crags and pastures more than 1.800 m. above the sea level, is one of the easiest places to observe and enjoy alpine birds like alpine accentor, snowfinch, wallcreeper, red-billed chough, yellow-billed chough and much more. It is also the perfect place to see the Cantabrian Chamois All of them can be watched easily on the upland areas, but especially on the surroundings of the cable car in Fuente De, near Peña Olvidada and La Vueltona.
This morning we drive to Fuente De in the Eastern mountains of the Picos de Europa National Park where we will take the cable car up to the highest area on the south side of Peña Olvidada, nearly 2.000 m. above sea level. From here, in a simple walk along a path completely flat and in very good condition, we will enjoy these amazing groups of birds. Other species, like raptors such as the griffon vulture, egyptian vulture, golden eagle, booted eagle, common buzzard and ravens, crows and a great variety of little passerines can be observed. We return to the hotel in the late afternoon for some relaxation and then dinner.

Wednesday The Cares Gorge. The Cares River Gorge runs from Poncebos into the Picos de Europa National Park, and probably is one of the most breathtaking sceneries in Northern Spain. It is called "The Divine Gorge” and the path is carved into the rocks of the mountains. It is a wonderful journey where in addition to the marvellous landscape it is possible to observe some of the most representative birds of the Picos de Europa National Park, especially the big five raptors: Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, Short Toed Eagle and Lammergeier. Also possible is the observation of a great number of little mountain birds. The route begins in Poncebos with an incline,the only one during the trip. This part is the most difficult of the entire route. The top is the best place to observe our big five raptors in a single day, and here the most beautiful part of the route begins. The rest of the path is completely flat. The route is 3/4 km long on a very good path, and goes into the most representative and mountainous landscape of the Picos de Europa National Park. The entire route is fully accessible for anyone in normal physical health. However, if you feel that the climbing element may be too formidable for you there is an alternative option whereby the day is spent (with an expert Guide) around the lower area where the ground is more even. Please contact us if you have any doubts on this issue.

The guides: All the activities will be developed for professional English speaking birdwatching guides lead by Javier Gil Vaquero, biologist, Birdwatching Guide and Official Tourist Guide of Asturias. In the case of Cares Gorge, Birding Picos de Europa will provide at least two birdwatching guides and in any case, one guide for every ten people.

At the end of the bird watching element we travel to Santander where we board the ship for the 2115 sailing to England. Once again, Paul Burley will be on hand during the sailing to offer advice and assistance. As soon as we board we’ll have our final dinner together.
Enjoy the cruise homewards on the Pont Aven, especially as we pass the Isles of Ushant on the western tip of France where we hope to see good numbers of Balearic shearwater amongst some of the species previously mentioned. We’ll arrive at Plymouth on Thursday at 1615 .

The cost includes: travel by executive coach; ferry crossing with cabin; two on-board dinners; two nights 4* hotel accommodation with buffet breakfast and dinner each day at the hotel with wine; two packed lunches; excursions with local wildlife Guides; activity with Cetacean Guide as detailed.

Departure dates

DATES 2017PRICE
   
   
Sept 24th £415

Supplements : Single room and cabin - £80 Room with seaview £20
Non participants in the Wildlife guided element of this trip may deduct £50 from the cost shown. They may spend the day at the beach or join the non-Wildlife travellers.. Please advise when making a booking.

Online Booking click here

Meeting point : Plymouth Ferryport



Cantabria 5 days

Like neighbouring Asturias, this Province is another extremely scenic region. Golden beaches are backed by meadows and orchards, criss-crossed by tumbling streams and rivers which bring down fresh , clear waters from the mountain range behind the coast known as the Picos de Europa. Dairy farming and fishing are major industries resulting in superfresh produce at all times.

We’ll set off from Plymouth’s Millbay Docks at 1545 on the flagship cruise-ferry “Pont Aven” to sail to Santander on Spain’s north coast. A 2-berth cabin is provided for both sailings. During the crossing, our cetacean expert, Paul Burley, will be on hand with practical assistance and advice as we cross the Channel and thence through the Bay of Biscay. We will have dinner together in Le Flora restaurant.
When we land in Spain on Monday at 1215 the local coach meets us at the Ferry Terminal and we drive out of the city and eastwards to Isla. We check our 4* hotel. We then have lunch. In the afternoon our local expert, ornithologist Javier Gil Vaquero, will meet us and have a chat about the ensuing days before we stroll off to some serious bird watching near to the hotel. Dinner at the hotel this evening.

Tuesday Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park. This natural reserve is probably the most interesting wetland in Northern Spain. It is formed by the Ason River estuary, in the Santoña and Laredo area, and the salt marshes of Joyel and Victoria. This diversity of ecosystems make it an appealing area to a great number of migratory birds. Undoubtedly, here lies the presence of one of the largest numbers of Eurasian Spoonbill in Spain. One can also observe Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Great Egret, Waders, Ducks, Grebes, Rails, Crakes, Gulls, Terns and various passerines. After breakfast we drive to our first watching point at the seafront of Colindres. Colindres is a village close to Santoña and it is the best place when the tide is rising. Specially interesting for waders, sea gulls, terns...etc We now transfer to the El Arenal Observatory in Santoña . Especially interesting for spoonbills, herons...etc From here we drive to the Bengoa Marshes Eventually we return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.

Wednesday Oyambre Natural Park. It is located between the coastal villages of Comillas and San Vicente de la Barquera. The protected area includes the estuaries of San Vicente de la Barquera, La Rabia and a landscape full of cliffs, beaches, dunes, and marshes. In this area, the most important hotspots are the bay of San Vicente and the La Rabia marshes. Like Santoña, Victoria and Joyel Marshes Natural Park, Oyambre is a fantastic place to spot a great number of shorebirds and passerines, especially in migration. We leave the hotel after breakfast to drive to San Vicente de la Barquera, a pleasant port and resort where we will start the day’s activity. We spend about two hours here before moving on to Oyambre where we will finish off our bird watching programme before we return to the hotel in late afternoon. Dinner at the hotel.
We’ll have some sightseeing time here before we board the ship for the 2115 sailing to England. Once again, Paul Burley will be on hand during the sailing to offer advice and assistance. As soon as we board we’ll have our final dinner together.
Enjoy the cruise homewards on the “Pont Aven” , especially as we pass the Isles of Ushant on the western tip of France where we hope to see good numbers of Balearic shearwater amongst some of the species previously mentioned and we’ll arrive at Plymouth on Thursday at 1615.

The cost includes: travel by executive coach; ferry crossing with cabin; two on-board dinners; two breakfasts; coach travel in Spain as detailed; two nights 4* hotel accommodation with buffet breakfast and dinner each day at the hotel with wine; one lunch; two packed lunches; excursions with local wildlife Guides; activity with Cetacean Guide as detailed.

Departure dates

DATE 2017PRICE
October 15th £445

Supplements : Single room and cabin - £80
Non participants in the guided element of this trip may deduct £50 from the cost shown. They may spend the day at the beach or join the non-Wildlife travellers.. Please advise when making a booking.

Online Booking click here

Meeting point : Plymouth Ferryport