Southern Portugal : Apr 08—15, 2019
Spain & Portugal Aboard the Sea Cloud Pre-trip
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A land-based pre-trip to our Spain & Portugal cruise aboard the Sea Cloud visits lovely Portugal, featuring spectacular birding and beautiful landscapes with touches of history and culture.
VIDEO: Watch a trailer for a documentary about biodiversity in the Castro Verde region of Southern Portugal, by Daniel Pinheiro of Wildlife Films.
Lying on the western edge of Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is a beautiful and popular travel destination rich in art, architecture, food, and landscapes. Bordered on two sides by water, Portugal sits at a geographic crossroads that both people and birds have found irresistible since time immemorial.
This land-based pre-trip to our Spain & Portugal cruise aboard the Sea Cloud visits some of the most important birding areas and landscapes of southern Portugal while providing exposure to some of the country’s vivid history, shaped over thousands of years by the rising and falling tides of some of the world’s greatest civilizations. Marvelous birding is assured, with good chances for a number of Europe’s most special and highly sought birds, as are visits to famous historical sites.
We’ll spend two days at the famous Tagus Estuary outside Lisbon, one of Portugal’s premier locations for waterfowl and shorebirds; we’ll travel to the Alentejo region of the Portuguese interior where we’ll seek a range of bustards, hawks, larks, and other open country birds amid rolling plains adorned with spring wildflowers and interspersed with Holm and Cork oaks and Olive trees; and we’ll explore the granite hills and forests of the Guadiana Valley Natural Park where Spanish and Bonelli’s eagles occur.
Our trip is timed for the height of spring migration and the onset of the breeding season. We anticipate encounters with a wonderful variety of birds, including Great and Little bustards, Black Stork, Red-legged Partridge, Cinereous Vulture, Short-toed Snake-Eagle, Booted Eagle, many shorebirds and waterfowl, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, European Roller, many species of larks and wagtails, Iberian Magpie, and Eurasian Golden Oriole.
Intermingled with our natural history pursuits will be a sampling of Portuguese history, a history populated with Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, Christian “Reconquistas,” and the larger-than-life figures that appeared during the golden Age of Discovery. We’ll be joined by licensed guides who will lead us on walking tours of historic Évora—A UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring megalithic monuments and a Roman cathedral—and Mértola, where we’ll visit a castle, the Islamic Quarter, and the museums of Islamic Art and Sacred Art. Complementing our days in the field will be opportunities to sample Portugal’s culinary delights including its famous wines.
Very good accommodations and food; birding-oriented activities infused with two guided tours and visits to historic sites; light physical demands; mild weather conditions expected, but with possibilities for rain.