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Spanish Pyrenees 24 April – 3 May 2014

Spring at Berdún

A stunning landscape and a wealth of wildlife make the Spanish Pyrenees attractive in any season. In spring, with vultures soaring, birds singing and flowers in bloom, it’s a wildlife experience difficult to top anywhere in Europe.

Raptors often steal the show. The foothills of the Pyrenees, where we are based, are acknowledged as having Europe’s highest density of birds of prey. Red and black kites feed in the river valleys. Short-toed eagles hover as they search for snakes and lizards; booted eagles are regular too. There are three vulture species: griffons are easily the commonest and increasing, Egyptian vultures are getting scarcer here and everywhere. We are at the heart of Europe’s stronghold for the rare lammergeier.

The scenery is dramatic with the constant backdrop of snow-topped mountains. There are deep gorges that attract griffon vultures, alpine swifts and crag martins. High pastures have gentians and other early alpine flowers, and on lower slopes asphodels and early spider orchids are among the species to be found.

Berdún itself – host to Honeyguide holidays for 20 years – is a charming, fortified village perched on a hilltop in the Pyrenean foothills. Our base now is Casa Sarasa, where Peter Rich and Melanie Hallam offer a warm welcome and fine food.

The Pyrenees may sound quite strenuous, but our itinerary is actually fairly relaxed. Anyone reasonably fit will have no trouble keeping up.

Berdún
Berdún (Chris Gibson)

Birds

Those mentioned above plus golden eagle, bee-eater, hoopoe, crested lark, golden oriole, black-bellied dipper, Cetti’s, subalpine and Sardinian warblers, rock sparrow, spotless starling, chough, blue rock thrush, citril finch and many more.

Flowers

Lady and elder-flowered orchids, hepatica, amelanchier, trumpet and spring gentians, beautiful flax, wild daffodil, rush-leaved narcissus, tassel hyacinth, Pyrenean saxifrage, petrocoptis to name just a few.

Other wildlife

Mammals could include alpine marmot and isard – Pyrenean chamois – at the high tops, and red squirrel. Butterflies include Cleopatra, scarce swallowtail, Moroccan orange-tip and Spanish festoon. Spanish moon and giant peacock moths are often seen.

isards
Isards (Ivan Nethercoat)

Holiday details (2014)

Our coach trips take us to the monastery and pine woods at St Juan de la Peña, the high Pyrenees at Aísa or Portalet, the sandstone cliffs at Riglos and the gorges of Arbayún and Lumbier. Local exploration is equally rewarding to the rivers Veral and Aragón and to Biníes gorge.

Price: £1,520 per person in twin room for ten days (Thursday to Saturday)

Single room supplement: £120

Nine rooms, two of which share a bathroom, the rest have en suite facilities.

Flights: Scheduled Ryanair flights London Stansted to Biarritz

Deposit: £300

Group size, and if we need a co-leader, will depend on the mix of twins and singles in the group.

Casa Sarasa
Our holiday base at Casa Sarasa in Berdún

Leader

Chris Gibson is a marine conservation specialist for Natural England based in north Essex, an author of several wildlife books and has led many holidays for Honeyguide. He is an outstanding all rounder, from birds through flowers to moths, recognised as a ‘naturalist of distinction’ by the British Naturalists’ Association.

Conservation project

SUPPORTING

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The Sociedad Española de Ornitología (Spanish Ornithological Society) manages 1600 acres of steppe, one of the most threatened bird habitats both here in the Aragón region and in Europe. Dupont’s and lesser short-toed larks, pin-tailed and black-bellied sandgrouse and stone-curlews benefit from the establishment of this reserve at Belchite, near Zaragoza.

Spanish Pyrenees map

Holiday reports

Spanish Pyrenees holiday report 2014.

More Honeyguide holiday reports from the Spanish Pyrenees dating back to 1991 on our holiday reports web pages.

Berdún and Casa Sarasa

See Berdún and Casa Sarasa on YouTube here and a superb promotional video for the area here. Read two special 'moments' from Berdún here.

Our Berdún web page has more ideas about a holiday here ... for example, an autumn walking holiday on part of the Camino de Santiago.

We know they are there, but our experience is that wallcreepers can be tricky to find in the Spanish Pyrenees. Read more about wallcreepers here.

Lammergeier (Ivan Nethercoat)

Spanish Pyrenees photos

Gallery of photos, by Chris Gibson.

Hoopoe

A hoopoe in Berdún (Chris Gibson)

Pyrenean saxifrages (Ivan Nethercoat)

We know they are there, but our experience is that wallcreepers can be tricky to find in the Spanish Pyrenees. Read more about wallcreepers here.

Recommended reading: Crossbill Guide to Spanish Pyrenees and the Steppes of Huesca.

Crossbill Guide: Spanish Pyrenees and Steppes of Huesca, Spain Crossbill Guide: Spanish Pyrenees and Steppes of H...

 

Chris Gibson

A naturalist of distinction.  Any Honeyguider who has travelled with Chris Gibson knows this is an apt description, but now it's official.Chris was presented with a prestigious Naturalist Award on May 2009 by David Bellamy for the British Naturalists’ Association. This award is given annually to ‘a field naturalist of distinction’. Read more here.

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... where there are many holiday photos to enjoy.

Atol protected

The air holidays shown are ATOL Protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 3253. ATOL Protection extends primarily to customers who book and pay in the United Kingdom. Click on the ATOL logo if you want to know more.

Helping you enjoy wildlife – Helping you protect wildlife