Birding La Mancha Humeda is a wonderful area located in East Spain. The region has often been overlooked as destination for nature tours. However, it is the home of a remarkable selection of species, and many of them are in danger of extinction.
In this Birding La Mancha Humeda tour, we will discover the less known part of Spain, beautiful orchids and butterflies, raptors and mammals in the Serrania de Cuenca and la Mancha Humeda. The Spanish Heritage will be also our aim, visiting the land that inspired 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 the Golden Oriole, Cetti’s Warbler and Woodpeckers. In addition, we will look out over the hotel’s fishing preserve for native fishes and Otters after having dinner.
After breakfast we will visit one of the most beautiful gorges of all Serrania de Cuenca. Here we are sure to see spectacular views of nesting Griffon Vultures and Alpine Swifts. Egyptian vultures are also very common in the area as well as Short-toed Eagle, Common Crossbill, Nuthatch and Short-toed Treecreeper. In addition, we could observe the strategy of an endemic insectivorous plant (Pingüicola mundi), located in the damp walls of the gorge. We will also look for orchids Narrow-leaved and Red Helleborine.
After having a picnic, we will visit the nearby lagoon. This beautiful lagoon with clear turquoise waters surrounded by different willow and poplar species. Water Lilies can be seen in the lagoon. The surrounding mountains are covered with Black Pine forests, these are home to Goshawk, Bonelli’s Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff and Blue Rock Thrush.
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, Alpine and Pallid Swift.
Later, we will visit a fish farm which belongs to the regional government; its aim is to breed native trout to restock the mountain’s rivers. After that, we will walk around the lagoon searching for Iberian Green Woodpecker, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Nightingale, Cuckoo, Crested Tit, etc. and Ocellated Lizards.
In the afternoon we will visit the Cuervo River and surroundings to observe many dragonflies, damselflies as well as birds such as Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Black-eared and Northern Wheatear, Hobby, Red Kite and Booted Eagle. In the area can be also found Green-winged and Common Spotted Orchid.
We will stop 20 minutes before reaching Belmonte to discover an eco-friendly game preserve that is teeming with wildlife where we might enjoy superb views of Eagle Owls.
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, etc. 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 species, such as the White-headed Duck and the Marbled Duck, are based in La Mancha Humeda. Another species that can be observed are Black-necked Grebe, Kentish plover, Little and Cattle Egret, Short-toed Lark, White Stork, Spoonbill, Bearded Tit, Red-Crested Pochard, Greater Flamingo, etc.
After visiting the lagoons, we will focus on the farmland and nearby “dehesa” where can be found Roller, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Lesser Kestrel, Spanish Sparrow, Black Kite, etc.
Now it is time to drive you back to the airport. 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: 900 €/people (4 people)
1000 €/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