5 - 11 Sept. 2020

Day 1 / 5 Sept.: Malaga Airport* – Tarifa watchpoints – Zahara de los Atunes

Meet and welcome at Malaga airport then transfer directly to the Tarifa-Algeciras watchpoints (winds permitting!) to enjoy the first soaring birds moving South to Africa… Booted and Short-toed Eagles, European Honey Buzzards and maybe Black Storks in their post-breeding migration. Some other rarer birds, such as Rüppell’s Vulture and Long-legged Buzzards, might turn up at any time and so we keep our eyes open throughout the trip to look for these. Lunch in a nice local restaurant and evening birding in the vast rice & cotton fields of La Janda. This is a wonderful spot to see Montagu’s Harriers (different plumages), Black Shouldered Kites, Spanish Sparrow and dozens of White Storks. In the late evening transfer to the coastal charming town of Zahara de los Atunes where we will stay the whole week. Dinner and accommodation at Hotel Antonio.

*We recommend to our all guests joining this tour to stay (if possible) the night before in Málaga. Please ask to the office if you require further details to book hotel for that night

Day 2 / 6 Sept.: Zahara de los Atunes – Eastern Doñana Natural Park

A full day birding in the Eastern section of the well-known Doñana Natural Park, just across the “other” side of the Guadalquivir river. We will explore different locations which will include coastal tidal marshes, saltpans and fresh water lagoons. Our main targets today will be Little Swift (one of the rarest birds of Europe with the only known colonies existing in this area), Marbled Duck, White-headed Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Caspian Tern, Greater Flamingo, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin’s Gull, Western Osprey and a good selection of waders migrating including Curlew Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Pied Avocet, Little Stint and… with some luck, Red-necked Phalarope. Time permitting we will also dedicate some time explore some nearby vineyards where we might find scarce Rufous Bush Robin. Travel back home in order to have our dinner. Dinner and accommodation at Hotel Antonio (Zahara de los Atunes).

Day 3 / 7 Sept.: Zahara de los Atunes – Barbate Marshes – Sierra de la Plata range

We must remind our travelers that this itinerary might change at any moment depending of the direction and speed of the winds present in the Straits. Raptors and storks tend to fly lower and closer to observers with strong easterlies, being generally reluctant to cross the 14 km distance between the two continents, while westerlies are usually better for seeing active migration with birds generally high in the air. This will be considered by your guide during the whole trip and would even change plans attending to the best chances to enjoy the raptor migration which is the main aim in this tour. 

This might be a day to explore the Barbate Marshes, placed quite close to our hotel in Zahara! waders, gulls and terns will be our targets for the first half of the day. Low tides are usually better than high tides so our visit will mainly depend on this issue. After our lunch in a local restaurant we will dedicate the afternoon visiting the impressive Sierra de la Plata and its amazing views of Bolonia beach and the roman ruins of Baelo Claudia. This is the kingdom of the Griffon Vultures while we may expect passing by Montagu’s and Marsh Harriers, Sparrowhawks, Ospreys and maybe a wandering juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle. This is a usual good spot for Bonelli’s Eagle while Crag Martins, Rock and Cirl Buntings are also possible. If time allows we will quickly visit La Janda fields. Back to Zahara for an overnight at Hotel Antonio.  

Day 4 / 8 Sept.: Zahara de los Atunes – Boat Trip – Tarifa/Algeciras watchpoints

Transfer to Tarifa in the morning where we will start our boat trip between the two continents and two seas! This will be a 2-hour ride in a large tourist boat focus on finding sea mammals. In the many other trips made in the past we (nearly) always saw Pilot Whales and at least, one of the three species of Dolphins (Common, Striped and Bottlenose). In the last two years we were also rewarded with cracking views of Sperm Whales, however this is more unlikely to see. Besides, an indeterminate number of Orcas visit the area following the tunas in their migration, but this usually happens earlier in the year and the chance to see orcas are almost none. Amongst the birds we might find common Cory’s Shearwater and less usual Balearic Shearwater, but also European Storm-petrel, Great Skua, Pomarine Skua, Common, Sandwich and Black Terns are also possible while we have enjoyed occasionally raptors flying South right overhead. 

After the boat trip and a well deserved lunch we might stop in some of the local popular watchpoints to experience the raptor migration such as the known Cazalla, Trafico or Algarrobo watchpoints… this latest is ideal for passing Honey Buzzards by hundreds with Westerlies. In the evening we will return to our lovely hotel to enjoy another wonderful sunset from our restaurant. 

Day 5 / 9 Sept.: Zahara de los Atunes – Alcornocales Natural Park – Medina

Time to explore the most Southern section of Los Alcornocales Natural Park, which houses a wide variety of passerines and supports a strong community of raptors. On the days of strong winds many birds take refuge here while they wait for better weather conditions to cross to Africa. Amongst the most interesting species we must not forget to mention Firecrest, Crested Tit, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, European Serin, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Woodchat Shrike and Sardinian Warbler… After visiting Los Alcornocales we will try our luck finding White-rumped Swifts and then off to the lagoon of Medina, a good site for seeing Greater Flamingos, White-headed Duck and, with some luck, Crested Coot! Back to Zahara for our evening meal and an overnight at Hotel Antonio. 

Day 6 / 10 Sept.: Zahara de los Atunes – Benalup – La Janda

We will start a new day targeting one of the weirdest bird species present in the Straits! As part of an introduction project in the area we can now enjoy a healthy population of Northern Bald Ibis. The ibis have wonderfully adapted to this region and they currently breen into the wild in good numbers. All birds are still being ringed by the local scientists who are following the evolution of this gregarious species having its nearest wild population in the Atlantic coast of Morocco. The Spanish population has been in fact possible initially thanks to birds from the Moroccan population. Adults started to produce successfully youngsters which were afterwards released through a “hacking” technique. Northern Bald Ibis are now part of the European fauna and wonder on their owns once they finish the breeding season. 

The western section of La Janda (Benalup) is an usual good site to find resident species of eagles such as Spanish Imperial and Bonelli’s. A few juveniles from both species visit this area looking for some food. We will also look for Black-shouldered Kites, Montagu’s Harriers and perhaps, Purple and Squacco Herons hidden into the many rice fields of this vast area. In the late evening we will drive back to our hotel for our last night accommodation.

Day 7 / 11 Sept.: Zahara de los Atunes – birding on route – Málaga

For our last day we might dedicate time exploring new sites on route or, if our guide decides, we will newly visit the migration watchpoints. It would not be the first time that we have a wonderful highlights of many raptors crossing just by the last day of our tour. Then transfer to Malaga after lunch in order to arrive in the early evening to catch flights back home.

* The itinerary / activities planned might suffer changes due to the unpredictable winds present in the Strait of Gibraltar all year round



It certainly was an excellent week – thank you John – enhanced by your extensive knowledge of the area & your broad wildlife skills in the field. The Raptor passage was magnificent, a real day to remember. We both thoroughly enjoyed the week. Thanks again.
Audrey & John Spring (UK), September 2013

What a wonderful trip you gave me! Love it
Suk Kam Trippier (UK), September 2013

Once again a great trip, thanks for all your hard work!
Celia & Jeff Holmes (UK), September 2013

A memorable holiday! Raptors gallore, thank you so much…
Peter Hilton (UK), September 2013

Many thanks for the excellent trip, good birds and food!
Clive Holman (UK), September 2013

Thanks for a fantastic experience!
Dean Hancock (UK), September 2013

Thank you once again for the fabulous week of bird watching.
Adrian G. Adams (UK), September 2011

Another brilliant holiday! Many thanks. Hope to see you next year or sooner!
Celia & Jeff Holmes (UK), September 2011

Santi, I have not written before to say a Big Thank you for such a wonderful week and all the raptors… you always took us to the right places. I hope I can come with you again!
Betty Watts (UK), September 2011

“Señor Villa” was our courteous and cheerful guide for seven highly enjoyable days of migration watching in the Tarifa region of Spain. ‘Santi’ was very knowledgeable and had a good local network which brought us two life ticks in Rüppell’s vulture and Little swift. We saw over 100 species and took many pictures of the wildlife. A brilliant week that is to be recommended. Thank you Santi!
Phillip and Lesley Hassel (UK), September 2005


Rates per person sharing:

€ 1,475 / £ 1,310 / USD 1,610
Single suplement: € 200 / £ 180 / USD 220

Group size: Min. 4 – Max. 7 participants

* Pounds Sterling and US Dollars are given as an estimate based on 30th September 2019 exchange rates. All prices have to be paid in Euros to Spainbirds Nature Tours S.L.

GUIDE: Santi Villa 


What it is included:

– Ground transport from Málaga airport in modern, fully seat-belted, air conditioned 9-seat vehicles

– 6 Nights accommodation with en suite bathroom at Hotel Antonio or similar (Zahara de los Atunes)

– All meals inc breakfast, fantastic “tapas-raciones” lunches and evening meals + red wine

– Boat trip (aprox. 2 hours)

– Services of professional birding guide

– Basic travel insurance

Bird checklist (revised edition 2016)

– All taxes


What it is NOT included:

– Air fare (Easyjet, Ryanair & other companies operate daily flight from several UK airports)

– Extra drinks and other items of a personal nature

Target species in this tour:

Spanish Imperial Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, European Honey Buzzard , Osprey, Black Kite, Lesser Kestrel, White Stork, Black Stork, Bald Ibis, Egyptian Vulture, Audouin’s Gull, Black-shouldered Kite, Rüppell’s Vulture, Long-legged Buzzard (ssp. cirtensis), White-rumped Swift, Little Swift, Montagu’s Harrier, Red-necked Nightjar…

Spainbirds Nature Tours is a tour agent accredited by the Spanish Tourist Board with number CICMA 2517. This code allows us to operate under all international tourism regulations thus assuring all our clients the highest level of protection during their holidays.

Photos from our Strait of Gibraltar tour