Visiting la Mancha Húmeda and Serranía de Cuenca is a perfect combination to enjoy a stunning diversity of birds, orchids and butterflies. These beautiful mountains and plains in the East of Spain, has been overlooked as a wildlife destination for many years. Every year more tourist visit this areas as it remains one of the wildest regions in Spain.
In this Birding La Mancha Húmeda tour, we will discover the real Spain, we will be away from any touristic area, visiting the lands that inspired Cervantes to write Don Quixote.
Welcome to Valencia airport before we head to our hotel in Villalba de la Sierra. After check-in, we will walk around our hotel located beside the Júcar river to see a waterwheel and the riparian forest, which is home to Golden Oriole, Cetti’s and Garden Warbler among other birds. We will also take the opportunity to see some wild orchids such as the Narrow-leave Hellboline, White Hellboline and Early-spider orchid.
After breakfast we will visit one of the most beautiful and interesting areas of the Park, the labyrinth of Los Callejones. This collection of mushroom-like limestone towers and pavements was featured in one of the James Bond film “The Word is not enough“. Some of the birds we hope to see includes the stunning Orphean Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Melodious Warbler or Egyptian Vulture. In addition, we will look for orchids like Champagne orchid or Orchis olbiensis among others.
After lunch, we will visit a couple of locations to try to add to our list some elusive species such as Iberian Green Woodpecker, Common Cuckoo, Black-eared Wheatear or Rock Thrush. The landscape is amazing, a beautiful contrast between the forested mountains and the turquoise waters of the rivers.
Today we will spend the day in the West part of the Natural Park. Our first stop will be at the popular “Ventana del Diablo” (Devil’s Window). It is a striking viewpoint looking down into the Jucar’s gorge, where we will look for Crag Martin, Griffon Vulture and Alpine Swift.
Later, we will continue driving towards Uña lagoon. Here we will search, Great Reed Warbler, Bonelli’s Warbler, Nightingale, Crested Tit and stunning butterflies. In previous trips we have seen over 20 species in just a couple of hours!! Some of the butterflies species we expect to see include several Fritillaries, Heath and Blues.
In the afternoon we will visit the spring of the Cuervo River. This is a major attraction in the Park and good place to look for wildlife. We will keep an eye to the Short-toed Tree Creeper, Firecrest, Raven as well as some interesting orchids.
We will stop 20 minutes before reaching Belmonte to discover an eco-friendly game preserve that is teeming with wildlife. If we have the same luck than in previous years, where we might enjoy superb views of Eagle Owls. Besides, the state holds a breeding pair of Booted Eagle and an Short-toed Eagle.
Then we will continue our journey to our hotel, a 18th century house . During the afternoon we will enjoy a visit to the Belmonte castle and the old town (optional). Later we will walk through the farmland near the castle searching for Little Owl, Rock Sparrow, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Thekla and Crested Larks.
To finish the day we will visit the 18th century windmills in Mota del Cuervo and a brackish lagoon where we will look for Gull-billed Tern, White-headed Duck, Black-winged Stilt and Pin-tailed Sandgrouses. This beautiful landscape will remind us of the most famous book written in Spanish, Don Quixote de la Mancha.
This Biosphere Reserve is a paradise for waders and wildfowl as we will discover. The main population of some endangered wildfowl, such as the White-headed Duck. Another species that can be observed are Black-necked Grebe, Kentish plover, Little and Cattle Egret, White Stork, Spoonbill, Purple Heron, Bearded Tit, Red-Crested Pochard, Greater Flamingo and the colourful Roller.
After visiting the lagoons, we will focus on the farmland and nearby “dehesa” where can be found Great Spotted Cuckoo, Lesser Kestrel, Spanish Sparrow, Black Kite, etc.
Time to leave toward the airport but before that, we will make a stop in Cuenca city to pay a visit to the Hanging Houses. The spare time in between flights could be spent in the Albufera de Valencia Natural Park.
This is a flexible tour and can be adapted to the client’s preferences, i.e. a tour just focus on wildlife or mixing Spanish heritage and wildlife. Trip report here
Price of the Birding La Mancha Humeda and Serrania de Cuenca tour: 1000 €/people (4 people)
1080 €/people (3 people)
1 person/ 2 people, please ask for a budget
Single supplement: 240 €
What is included:
– Travel from Valencia airport in modern, fully seat belted, air conditioned vehicles
– 5 Nights accommodation in two-three star hotels and country houses
– All meals included, picnic for lunch and traditional Spanish evening meals
– Tour guided by a professional bird guide
– Basic travel insurance
What is not included:
– Air fare (Low cost companies operate daily flights to Valencia from several European airports)
– Drinks and other items of a personal nature
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