Thursday 6th December -
Monday 10th December 2018
Leader: a local naturalist guide
Group Size Limit: 4
Potential photographic highlights
We are delighted to offer an opportunity to visit the first authorised photo hides for the world's rarest cat species, the magnificent Iberian Lynx. Located in another lovely corner of Spain, the Sierra de Andújar, our friends in Spain have been monitoring lynx movements in one of their last strongholds using camera traps and they have now made their hides available to photographers with some excellent results so far. In winter, from early December onwards, the otherwise nocturnal lynxes can be seen hunting regularly during the day.
Iberian Lynx was down to as few as 100 individuals in 2005 following a long term decline and range contraction but numbers are happily on the increase and its population was estimated at over 300 in 2013. Nevertheless it remains endangered and very rare indeed. It the 19th century it occurred all over the Iberian Peninsula and fossil evidence suggests that its range also formerly included southern France and northern Italy. Sadly it can now only be found breeding in two small areas of Andalucia in southern Spain.
The pretty Puerto Bajo estate in the Sierra de Andújar is a private hunting estate located to the north of Cordoba and has been owned by the same family for generations, managing the area mostly for deer and boar hunting. This undisturbed and undeveloped area of scrub and open woodland is perfect for lynxes and their favourite prey, rabbits. In fact one of the lynx's downfalls has been their inability to adapt to alternative prey when rabbits are scarce. Rabbits form more than 80% of their diet and they simply move on in search of them instead of turning to another prey source. The lynx has therefore suffered when rabbit populations have declined during outbreaks of myxomatosis and latterly rabbit haemorrhagic disease and animals moved more widely where they are vulnerable to road traffic. If this was not enough cases of feline leukemia virus and feline AIDS have also been detected in Iberian Lynx. Things are looking up though after tens of millions of Euros have been pumped into lynx conservation including a captive breeding and a reintroduction programme.
A rolling countryside of grassland interspersed with Cork Oak and Strawberry Tree woodland is a nice backdrop to the quiet estate and the photo hides are located at cross tracks where camera traps have shown that the lynx regularly pass by as they patrol their large territories. The Puerto Bajo estate is home to four lynxes at the moment, two males and a female and her offspring.
Lynx photo hides
The hides are of sturdy wooden construction and have 'photo-through' one-way glass windows for capturing the action without the danger of sudden movements scaring the cats and there is plenty of room for at least two photographers in each of the comfortable hides. The unique glass window is covered with a special layer that is not a one-way glass but it does reflect the photon spectrum of natural colours of the environment. The large glass panoramic windows make photography an unforgettable window to the action. Movements behind the glass generally does not disturb the cats. The special glass layering does not interfere with the contrast and sharpness of your photos so you can get near perfect results (though you do lose around 1.3 stops in light). Photo sessions can last up to nine hours and although the chances of seeing a lynx from the hides over the course of three days is good it is not 100% guaranteed.
Each lynx hide also has a small passerine feeding area in front of it, which offers something else to do during the long sessions. You will probably also leave with some of your best ever shots of common passerines such as robin, Dunnock and chiffchaff, although other interesting species such as Thekla Lark, Iberian Grey Shrike, Iberian Green Woodpecker and Black Vulture (the latter flying overhead only!) are also possible from the lynx hides from time to time.
Day 1 The tour will begin this afternoon in Cordoba, from where we will drive northeast to our comfortable hotel near Vegas de Triana for one night. We can also easily arrange transfers to our hotel from Malaga Airport but the easiest way to get to Cordoba is via one of Spain's fabulous new bullet trains from either Malaga, Seville or Madrid (less than 2 hours journey).
Day 2 Early morning transfer to the Puerto Bajo estate for two nights. We will have our first all day lynx photo hide session today. The cats can appear in front of the hides at any time during the day.
Day 3 All day lynx photo hide session.
Day 4 All day lynx photo hide session. Early evening transfer to our hotel for one night.
Day 5 The tour will end early this morning at Cordoba.
CUSTOM DEPARTURES AT OTHER TIMES
The lynx hides lend themselves to customized tours at any time during the winter season from December – February. We can happily book you a trip, focussing on lynx, and you will always be looked after by our competent local team on the ground. Please contact us if you would like us to put together a customized itinerary for you.
Accommodation & Road Transport: Accommodation near Vegas de Triana is in en-suite twin-bedded rooms in a comfortable hotel, where we will enjoy an evening meal of delicious Spanish food, for which this area is rightly famous, including locally pressed olive oil. Accommodation at Puerto Bajo is basic communal tented camping. Single tents are available on request. There are toilet facilities here with wash basins and you will also have access to a large kitchen attached to the main hunting lodge, which is a private residence, where breakfast and evening meals will be served. Lunches will be taken as picnics in the photo hides.
Road transport is by four wheel drive vehicle and although the country roads here can be a little bumpy the journeys are short.
Walking: The walking effort is very easy throughout.
Climate: Many days at this season are warm, dry and sunny, but it is usually cool or cold at night. Rain is possible but very infrequent.
Photographic Equipment: We recommend a 300-500mm effective focal length telephoto lens for the best results. The use of a tripod will be essential.
These are provisional prices
Important Information for Pound Payers: Kindly note that the prices shown here are based on post-EU-referendum exchange rate reality, unlike many tour operators who are still showing prices based on hugely higher and very outdated pre-referendum exchange rates. Consequently you can rest assurred that we will not have to adjust these prices upwards at invoicing, unless the Pound falls significantly further, and if there is a significant recovery by the Pound you will receive the benefit by way of a price reduction.
Tour Price: £1230, €1450, $1610 Cordoba/Cordoba.
Price includes all transportation, all accommodations, all meals, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees and local guide services. Price based on minimum 2 participants.
Base prices for this tour are determined in Euros, the currency in which we pay for most tour services. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = €1.180 and €1 = $1.110. For those not paying us in Euros, prices will be adjusted (either downwards or upwards) at the time of invoicing should there be a significant change in the exchange rate. See booking information.
Single Room/Tent Supplement: £32, €38, $42.
Deposit: £300, €350, $400.
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
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