Transfer to Arenas de Cabrales, and settle into our lovely family run hotel. Immediately you will feel at one with nature as the hotel is set in the middle of the Picos de Europa with fantastic views which you can enjoy from your window. Your wildlife spotting can start immediately.
Taking advantage of our 4WD vehicle, we visit the high Eastern Massif of the Picos de Europa. Here we will find several examples of the unique flora of the Picos and if we are lucky we might see one of the rare Seoani vipers, endemic in the Cantabrian Mountains. In this part of the massif we are in chamois country and we would be unlucky not to see them. Make sure you keep your eyes on the skies as well as there are also opportunities to see many birds, including some incredible birds of prey.
Today we will walk along the Casaño River. This river, with its crystal clear waters, is the perfect habitat for the rare Pyreneen desman, endemic in northern Spain, along with otters and dippers. The surrounding woods are also home to Black woodpecker, Fire salamanders and newts.
Today is a free day for you to relax or visit the Green Coast. There are a number of activites that you can do from the hotel such as canyoning or caving (prices are in the optional activities). Alternatively, you could go on a self-guided walk through the Cares gorge. Your leader will be able to advise and help you.
Today we will walk through one of the most spectacular landscapes of the Picos de Europa. Starting at the higher station of the Fuente De cable car, at a height of nearly 2000m, we will enjoy the spectacular views over the Liebana Valley and the fantastic mountain vistas. Later we continue on a track into the spacious Aliva Valley. To complement the views there are many interesting flowers for us to admire including different varieties of gentians and lilies. We may also be rewarded with a sighting of a Wallcreeper with its striking plumage and extraordinary crimson wings. Again you will have the opportunity to spot some of the other species of birds that you may have missed earlier in the week. While following the trail into the valley, we might see chamois grazing on the rocky scree slopes and if we are very lucky, perhaps one of the very rare wolves chasing deer.
After a short drive to the spectacular La Hermida-Gorge, we will make several stops along the river at picturesque spots in the hope of observing dippers and the colourful flash of a kingfisher. We may also see signs of otter or even desman. Later we will follow a winding road leading us higher up the canyon through some pastures; here we will find a wide variety of orchids. The highlight of our day will be reaching the viewpoint high above the gorge; from here there are fantastic views over the gorge and parts of the Cantabrian Mountains.
Today's excursion will lead us to the lower Deva-Cares River where we explore the alluvial forests in the hope of spotting kingfisher, dipper, Sand martins, and Golden oriole among other species. The area is a playground for wildlife. The dense and damp woods are the territory for salamanders and the Marbled newt and the river is home to several mammals including otters, desmans, martens and Wild boar. In the afternoon we will visit the San Vicente Estuary and the Oyambre Natural Park, this is a well-known area for waterfowl. The focus of our visit will be to observe the very rare Black-shouldered kite. This area is home to the only known breeding pair in northern Spain.
After breakfast we will transfer back to Bilbao and catch our flight back to London. On the way we will stop at the Santoña estuary on the Cantabrian coast, one of the best places to spot birds in northern Spain. Here we will visit different viewpoints along the banks of the estuary, which is a very important resting place for migrating birds. Here you will have the opportunity to spot a wide variety of waterfowl. A checklist of some of what you might see is featured in the Trip Notes.