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 have been overlooked as a wildlife destination for many years. Every year more tourists visit this area 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 tourist 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 a nice variety of wild orchids such as the Narrow-leave Hellboline, White Hellboline, and Early-spider orchid to name a few.
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 films “The Word is not enough”. Some of the birds we hope to see include the stunning Orphean Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Melodious Warbler, and Egyptian Vulture. In addition, we will look for orchids like Champagne orchid and Souther-early purple orchid (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, and Rock Thrush. The landscape is amazing, with 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 a good place to look for wildlife. We will keep an eye on the Short-toed Tree Creeper, Firecrest, Raven as well as some interesting orchids.
Today we will set off towards La Mancha Húmeda, We will be located during the following days in the village of Belmonte.
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 as in previous years, where we might enjoy superb views of Eagle Owls. Besides, the state holds a breeding pair of Booted Eagle and Short-toed Eagle.
Then we will continue our journey to our hotel, an 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.
We will spend the day visiting the National Park of Tablas de Daimiel and the surrounding lagoons of La Mancha Humeda.
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. Other 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 colorful 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 natural history, butterflies or only in birds. Wildlife Trip report here. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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