Project Description

THIS TOUR IS FULLY BOOKED. REGISTER FOR WAITING LIST HERE.

Tour highlights

  • You should get to see a wild Lynx at least once in your life! We can provide you with what is probably the best opportunity so far
  • Well-proven photo hides for Iberian lynx, the World’s rarest cat, at the best location in Spain for it, during their most active period in the year
  • Other photo opportunities include Spanish imperial eagle, Black vulture, Griffon vulture, Otter, Iberian azure-winged magpie, Golden eagle and great hides for beautiful and plentiful Red deer. Also opportunities for Iberian ibex
  • Flexibility and freedom, as we stay at the same neat Casa Rural all the time and can alternate between hides, walks and safaris by car
  • We are the only Swedish tour operator that runs tours to this place
  • All in a fantastic Andalusian, ”Fernando the bull” landscape with idyllic pastoral sceneries and Cork oak forests, in a large private estate which is part of a larger ”Parque Natural”
  • Cosy three-star Casa Rural hotel with comfortable rooms, en suite bathrooms and good food
  • We contribute to conservation via the Spanish WWF ”Iberian Lynx Project”
  • The tour leader will show you his favourite sites and provide photographic advice, in a small like-minded group

ANDALUSIA
This destination is in Andalusia, in southern Spain, near Malaga. We head for a private reserve, which is part of a very large nature reserve close to Córdoba, called Sierra de Andújar, one of Spain’s larger remaining, relatively undisturbed areas. The pastoral landscapes are well-managed and protected. A mosaic of mountain ridges, Olive groves, Cork oaks and old pastures in wildlife-rich valleys, with mossy boulders. Eagles and vultures are silhouetted against the skies and the bushes harbour typical cork oak birds such as Hoopoe, Thekla’s lark and Iberian azure-winged magpies Red-legged partridge and Little owl. Red Deer are common, and Otters regularly show up in the meandering rivers.

THE MYTHICAL IBERIAN LYNX
is now a very rare, threatened species. In fact, it is one of the rarest cats in the world. It is hard to describe what it is like to meet this charismatic, elegant cat. It is like a cross between a Tiger, Leopard and domestic cat. Golden eyes that seem to stare right through you, with a fantastic coat and side-burns. When you see it walking, gracefully but powerfully, you realize that you are witnessing something extraordinary, that you will remember for the rest of your life. Most photographers get an extra kick out of framing an Iberian Lynx in their viewfinder. A real adrenaline boost!

Our tour is one of the first in Europe to offer specific focus on the Iberian Lynx, close up, at the best time and in the best way. Other tours in Spain might offer a chance of seeing an Iberian Lynx, often from vehicle, along a dusty roadside or at considerable distance. Here we try to bring them close, in good light against a nice background, from stationary hides. The hides are placed in spots that are often frequented by the Lynx, in a beautiful landscape. Not by some campsite or parking lot.

Just as with all wild animals, you never quite know what will happen, but we promise that you will not get better chances of photographing wild Iberian Lynx. In addition this is the time of year when they are most active, and we are in the place where they often pass by and hang out. About 8-9 individuals occur in the area, providing good chances. Normally the Lynx will appear at the hides often enough for someone spending three days in a hide to get to see them. Sometimes even more often than that, but you never know.

CRITICALLY THREATENED BUT ON THE WAY BACK
Many of the World’s wild cats are threatened in various ways, but hardly any of them more than the Iberian Lynx – with the possible exception of the Amur Leopard or Asiatic Cheetah. Just around 1000 Iberian Lynx live in the wild today, but even that is a great conservation success, as they were in a worse state ten years ago, with less than 100 individuals and very poor future prospects. Luckily, the EU and Spanish governments made a last minute decision not to let this species pass into history. Considerable resources have then been put into bringing the Iberian Lynx back.

The Iberian Lynx is one size smaller than the Nordic Lynx. The hind legs are typically longer than the front legs, and the tail is short with a black tip. The coat can have several shades of brown-grey and a pattern of black spots or circles. The chest and belly are lighter, as is the throat and chin. The ears have long tufts, and especially the males have side-burns and beards, almost like a small Lion’s mane. The eyes are fiery yellow, surrounded by a black- and-white accented eyeliner. Iberian Lynx prefers dry, woodland-bushy areas on sandy soil, where there are plenty of wild Rabbits – their favorite prey. Lynx used to occur all over Spain and Portugal, about 100 000 individuals, but are now limited to a few areas in southwestern Spain. In recent years they have returned to previous core areas also in Portugal, by Toledo and in the Sistema Central mountains. They have small home ranges of about 3-4 square kilometers.

Iberian Lynx live alone and keep intruders out of their territories. They really only meet during mating season, and when the mother is rearing the young. This elegant cat is specialized in hunting Rabbits, which constitute about 80% of their prey. One of the reasons for the decrease of Lynx numbers is the catastrophic decrease of Rabbits since the 1950’s. Otherwise the Iberian Lynx prey on rodents, Red-legged Partridge, doves, duck and even Fallow Deer kids. The most intense mating period is in January and February. The female will make her den in the trunk of an old Cork Oak. She gives birth to 2-3 kittens in March-April. After about 1-1.5 years the young will leave and head for their own hunting grounds about 10-20 km away. This is the most dangerous time for the young Lynx, and only about half will survive that year. The rest succumb to traffic, snares, drowning in wells, hunting etc. The Iberian Lynx is now classed as Threatened on the IUCN redlist. They have decreased by about 80 percent since the 1980’s, mostly due to catastrophic decline in wild Rabbit populations, through hunting pressure and disease, but also due to building development and habitat fragmentation. In addition, old Cork Oaks are declining – they are important for the Lynx dens.

PHOTOGRAPHING IBERIAN LYNX
Photographing one of the World’s rarest cats is of course no guarantee on this tour. We can only guarantee that we are probably at the best locality in the World to do that, during the best time of year, in well-proven successful hides. In addition we have a very knowledgeable local guide who knows which hides are the most frequented recently. Observation frequency is high, but can by no means be guaranteed.

Patience and perseverance are two qualities that will be useful during the stay here. Our aim is to be in the hides from morning to evening, because the Iberian Lynx can show up at any time. We have five full days in the reserve, in order to maximize the opportunities. Hides are placed at strategic places where many Rabbits occur, and where the Lynx often appear. If a Lynx does come along, it is because it has chosen to come to hunt or to find its partner.

The Iberian Lynx is relatively shy and only appears for short moments, but will at the same time sometimes just lie and enjoy the sun. It is sensitive to noise, so it is important to be as quiet as possible.

In addition, it is important to be observant and patient. Remember that you are waiting for one of the World’s rarest animals. This is no zoo, and that’s the way it should be.

SPANISH IMPERIAL EAGLE, GOLDEN EAGLE, BLACK VULTURE AND GRIFFON VULTURE
Apart from the Iberian lynx there is much more to see and photograph in this beautiful reserve. Well-proven hides for Black vulture and Griffon vulture and less frequently the spectacular Spanish imperial eagle, as well as reliable hides for Golden eagle. We will arrange possibilities to try and photograph Otters, and maybe you would like to try your luck with the Azure-winged magpies. Red Deer occur in many places on the reserve and most stags will still have their antlers on after the autumn’s mating season.

YOUR TOUR WILL HELP THE IBERIAN LYNX SURVIVE
As nature photographers it is our duty to try and support conservation work.
On this tour you will contribute in at least two ways. Firstly, by going there and paying a fair price locally, we practically demonstrate that the Iberian Lynx generates income, work and business. Secondly, 20% of the hide rental fees go towards the Spanish WWF Iberian Lynx project, so that it can be developed further, by accessing new land, making deals with landowners and by staffing various conservation actions. In addition, photographs we take and spread e.g. via social media contribute to making the World more aware of this lovely animal and the diverse landscape it lives in, and that this is well worth protecting.

By photographing the Iberian Lynx here, you will help it survive!

REGISTER FOR WAITING LIST

Itinerary

Day 1 (10/1) (Dinner)
Arrival Málaga. Transfer from airport to a lodge in the Sierra de Andújar area.

Day 2 – 6 (11 – 15/1) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Five full days in the field amongst the wonderful Andalusian nature, at a private, wildlife-rich estate. We can choose between various hides for Iberian lynx, Griffon and Black vulture, Golden eagle, Spanish imperial eagle and car safaris. In addition, Otters are regularly photographed along the river, without the use of hides (sometimes camouflage nets help), and the area holds Red deer, wild Rabbits and typical Cork oak birds.

The extremely rare Iberian lynx is relatively common here, and hides provide some of the best chances in Europe to see them at close range. They are regularly seen during car trips to and from the reserve in the attractive Andalusian landscape. Hides are well into the reserve and are about 45 min – 1 hr by 4×4 minibus from the hotel. Wild animals and birds are often seen on this trip, sometimes providing good photo opportunities too.

Day 7 (16/1) (Breakfast)
After breakfast we leave Sierra de Andújar for transfer to the airport in Málaga.

Travel facts

Staffan Widstrand, born in 1959 is a photographer and writer. Sony Imaging Ambassador.

Staffan is one of Sweden’s internationally most recognized photographers. In 2011, Outdoor Photography Magazine called him ”one of the most influential photographers in the world”. Appointed ”Wildlife photographer of the year” in Sweden and a winner of international photo competitions, such as:

Wildlife Photographer of the Year
European Nature Photographer of the Year
Emirates Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Årets Bild i Sverige
PGB Awards

Staffan has been on the jury of several international photo competitions and was one of the main jury members in World Press Photo 2013.

Published in most of the major magazines in the world, such as National Geographic Magazine, GEO, Stern, Der Spiegel, Le Figaro, La Repubblica, El Mundo, El País, Natur, Terre Sauvage, Animan, Veja Brazil, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, FOCUS, Yomiuri Shimbun och Shanghaibaserade The Bund Pictorial.

Staffan has had international solo or group exhibitions in Toronto, at the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo, at Tromsø Museum, at Bodø Museum, at the Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle in Bonn, Oslo City Hall, Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, the Swedish Embassy in Washington, in Mérida, Mexico, in Mexico City, in Salamanca, Spain, at the National Zoological Museum in Beijing, in Chengdu, Tianjin, Shanghai and Shenzhen, China, at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, the museum of Torino, Italy as well as major outdoor exhibitions in The Hague, Prague, Berlin, Madrid, Copenhagen and Stockholm. In Sweden, he has had exhibits at Kulturhuset in Stockholm, the regional museums in Kristianstad, Luleå and Malmö, at Fotomässan in Gothenburg and in Stockholm, as well as at the Skansen, Kolmården and Borås Zoos, at Hornborgasjöns Konsthall and at Bränneriet Art in Österlen.

Staffan has published 18 books, four of which have been winners of the WWF Panda book award.
A picture editor at Natur & Kultur publishers in Stockholm for 5 years, a nature tour guide and tour production manager all across the world for many years. Appointed as Visiting Professor at the Beijing Ministry of Culture Old University, and he is also one of the founders of a possible ”Wild Wonders of China” initiative.

Staffan is a member of the Swedish Nature Photographers Association (Naturfotograferna/N)

Webpage: www.staffanwidstrand.se

www.wild-wonders.com
www.rewildingeurope.com
www.de5stora.com
www.wildwondersofchina.com

Since we will be able to photograph many varied subjects, from landscapes to small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and amphibians, it might be a good idea to bring a range of lenses from wide-angle to telephoto. Zooms from 70-200 or 180/200-400 mm, up to a prime 500 mm or 600 mm are excellent for Lynx photography. Using a teleconverter will increase your focal length. A macro lens might come in handy on some occasions. A good torch or head-lamp, so that you can keep your hands free. Bring rain protection for your camera gear. If you have access to two camera bodies, bring both. A tripod is necessary in some hides, in others just the tripod head.

The hides are simple plywood constructions with large quality mirrored glass windows. These are excellent for photography, and animals on the other side will only see their own reflection. There is room for one or two people on collapsible chairs in each hide. There is a small shelf for equipment. Some hides have bird-baths, which might be visited by small birds such as Thekla’s Larch or Iberian grey shrike.

Mornings can be chilly. Days are often warm, with temperatures above 20 degrees. Rainwear or poncho might be useful to bring along. Warm sweater, thin woolen thermal underwear and woolen socks as we will be sitting still all day during hide days. Hiking boots. Sandals or sneakers are handy for use at the hotel.

We stay at a modern and comfortable 3-star hotel, a so-called Casa Rural, in two-bed rooms, with toilet, wifi, air conditioning and TV.  All food is included from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on departure day. Coffee and tea is available at the hotel and you can boil water in your room. Breakfast is served at the hotel, and we will be provided with brunch packages.  After a long photo day we will enjoy a real Spanish dinner at the hotel.

The hotel does not have a lift, and the rocky environment we will be in could be a bit limiting for people with decreased mobility. But generally this is a very relaxed and not at all physically demanding tour. Please contact us if in any doubt.

Share in double room and meals according to itinerary, all entrance fees, local guides, photo tuition, local transportation (minibus), transfer to and from Malaga Airport. Accommodation at a cosy, clean 3-star ”Casa Rural”, a good mid-range hotel.

Transportation to and from Malaga, tips, insurance, cancellation insurance, beverages, additional single room fee and personal items.

The tour starts at Málaga international airport (AGP) on 10th January 2022, and will end there on 16th January 2022.

Special terms apply. Regstration fee to be paid by invoice upon registration. The remaining fee to be paid latest 90 days before the tour. This terms differ from our regular terms.

As a EU citizen you should always bring your passport or national ID card when travelling within the EU or to/from Schengen countries (Norway, UK, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein). Flight check-in requires passports.

Contact your insurance company about travel insurance and cancellation insurance. We always recommend travel insurance that covers medical transports both at the destination and for transport home. For travel within the EU, we recommend that you bring your EU card, that gives you access to medical and dental care when in an EU/EES country. The card is only valid for medical or dental care thatcannot wait until arriving back home.

NB! The EU card does not cover home flights by e.g. ambulance transport. Therefore you need an additional private travel insurance.

Contact your doctor for advice.

Our tours are open to all nationalities, which means that the group can be international.
The tour guides on our trips speak Swedish and English.

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    Iberian Lynx in Andalusia, Spain 10-16th January 2022

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