New Year in Portugal: Dec 27, 2016—Jan 07, 2017

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Please contact us if you would like more information on upcoming departures for this tour.

Departs: Lisbon
Tour Limit: 12
Operations Manager: Greg Lopez
Download Itinerary: PDF (135.2 KB)

Route Map

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Tour Leaders

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João Jara

João Jara was born in Lisbon and studied biology at the Faculdade de Ciências d...


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Bob Sundstrom

Bob Sundstrom has led VENT tours since 1989 to many destinations throughout North America, a...


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Greater Flamingos, Hortas

Greater Flamingos, Hortas— Photo: Faisca

A holiday tour to tradition-rich Portugal promises marvelous wintertime birding and cultural highlights at a festive time of the year.

Our first-ever holiday tour to Europe visits charming Portugal, a country beloved for its cultural riches and enticing year-round climate. Unknown to many, Portugal is also a premier country for birding where resident specialties are joined in the winter months by thousands of birds from farther north. This is a birding trip garnished with cultural highlights. Our itinerary includes visits to Portugal’s most important birding areas and forays to famous historical sites.

The Mediterranean climate that people find so irresistible in the summer months is equally agreeable to birds during the winter. While songbirds are in a more limited supply at this season, the late December–early January period is a time for avian spectacles when coastal wetlands and interior grasslands host thousands of waterfowl, cranes, raptors, shorebirds, pipits, larks, and buntings. Consequently, we anticipate encounters with a wonderful assemblage of birds. Graylag Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Common and Red-crested pochards, and Tufted Duck are waterfowl highlights while wading birds are represented by White Stork, Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Spoonbill, and Squacco Heron. Other high profile species we’ll seek are Eurasian Griffon and Cinereous Vulture; Golden, Spanish, Bonelli’s, and Booted eagles; Red and Black-winged kites; Common Crane; Great and Little bustards; Pied Avocet; European Golden-Plover; Northern Lapwing; Black-tailed and Bar-tailed godwits; Common Greenshank; Common and Spotted redshanks; Audouin’s, Slender-billed, and Mediterranean gulls; Black-bellied Sandgrouse; Eurasian Hoopoe; Common Kingfisher; Bluethroat; Blue Rock-Thrush; Sardinian and Dartford warblers; Southern Gray Shrike; Iberian Magpie; Black Redstart; Spanish Sparrow and Rock Petronia; European Serin; Reed Bunting; and more.

Alfama, Lisbon

Alfama, Lisbon— Photo: Photo Archives

Around Lisbon we’ll visit the famous Tagus Estuary and Sado Estuary nature reserves, Portugal’s top birding sites for waterfowl and shorebirds. We’ll explore the Castro Verde rolling plains and the Guadiana Valley Nature Park; the hills, escarpments, and Cork and Holm oak and Rock Pine forests in the Alentejo region—the domains of bustards, vultures, eagles, and many passerines; and we’ll journey to the coastal Algarve, a scenic region of bluffs, hills, lagoons, and beaches, home to protected wetlands, nature parks, and reserves where some of the most localized European species are found.
 
The country’s rich cultural heritage is on display across the length of our route. At various times we’ll be joined by licensed historians who will guide us through the historic districts of Lisbon and Mértola, where we’ll wander serpentine streets through historic plazas and squares en route to an array of castles, cathedrals, museums, Roman ruins, and promenades. We’ll have numerous opportunities to sample Portugal’s many culinary delights, and, with a nod to the season, immerse ourselves in the excitement that comes with the start of the new year.

Very good accommodations and food; light physical demands; mild winter conditions expected.