Secrets of the Pyrenees



June 6th to 13th 2016

Tour Cost


Single room supplement


Group size

7 people one guide - 12 people two guides

Tour leader

Josele J Saiz & Amanda Borrows or other botanist



What´s included

All ground transport, all meals, services of guides and reserve entrance fees.

What´s not included

Transport to / from UK and any overnight stay that may be involved, travel insurance, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature.

Tour code

Josele J. Saiz and Amanda Borrows will guide a group of enthusiasts on this birds and orchids tour. Thanks to our local knowledge you will be exploring impressive remote mountain areas where you will find a good number of orchids (30 different orchids found in 2008) and an amazing variety of birds including most alpine & steppe specialities.

Selected species list

Red Helleborine - Frog Orchid - Lady´s Slipper Orchid - Dark Red Helleborine - Common Tway Blade - Black Vanilla Orchid - Lyzard Orchid. Wallcreeper, Lammergeier, Alpine Accentor, Snow Finch, Citril Finch, Alpine Chough, Rock Thrush, Wryneck, Pin-tailed-Sandgrouse, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Little Bustard, Dupont´s Lark

More information


We present one of the tours characteristic of our style which cannot be found in any other catalogue. We will take you to the most unexpected places where you can enjoy beautiful landscapes and the most spectacular views of the Central Pyrenees. A visit, deep into some unknown Pyrenean valleys where the abundance of flowers is just unbelievable. The areas visited are a veritable wonderland for a botanist and an expert botanist from the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology will fulfil all your expectations. High up in the mountains the spring flowers such as Alpine Snowbell, Soldanella, White Parnassus-leaved Buttercup, Alpine Pasque flower, Dog´s-tooth Violet, Pyrenean Squill, Alpine Aster and many others are still in flower. The damp-rock faces shelter Long-leaved Butterwort , up on the cliff faces are Ramonda and the white cascades of Pyrenean Saxifrage. The meadows contain drifts of delicate Pyrenean Hyacinth, Alpine Forget-me-not and many orchids. On the road side verges you can see another interesting amount of flowers including Alpine and Sticky Flax, Pyrenean Bellflower, Blue-grass Lily or the beautiful Alpine Toadflax. Bird life is not abundant but interesting, some birds we can see are the most sought-after in the Pyrenees including a visit to a Lammergeier feeding station and a Wallcreeper nesting spot. There are also numerous species of fauna including a good number of butterflies and some of the most emblematic birds of the Pyrenees; Snow Finch, Alpine Accentor, Citril Finch and Black Woodpecker, many Chamoix and Alpine Marmots live in these high mountains. On the way to he high Pyrenees and back from the mountains we will pass through the best mediterranean habitat and pre-pyrenean landscapes, where mediterranean birds and raptors are abundant.


Day 1  – Welcome to BOLETAS - We'll meet you at Barcelona airport, birding en route with good chances for raptors and several species of steppe birds, followed by a welcome dinner and overnight at "Boletas" in Loporzano.

Day 2 - Loporzano to Ordesa N, P, - Walk from Loporzano to a nearby riverbed with good chances for a wide range of birds: from Lammergeier to Black Wheatear and Golden Oriole to Tawny Pipit. Walk along one of the most emblematic rock faces of the Sierra de Guara Natural Park. Several stops on the way at interesting spots situated in the heart of the park. Large groves of holm oaks, mediterranean scrub and pine woods. The ravines of the rivers Flumen and Mascún are regarded as the most rugged and inaccessible of all in the pre-Pyrenean ranges. Spectacular rock formations with abundant birdlife. Numerous raptors, mainly Bonelli´s (last pair in the central Pyrenees), Short-toed and Golden Eagle ,Lammergeier, a large colony of Griffon Vultures, Egyptian Vulture, Red-legged Partridge, Scops Owl, Eagle Owl, Alpine Swift, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Wryneck, Thekla Lark, Black Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Thrush, Tawny Pipit, Firecrest, Dartford, Spectacled, Sardinian, Subalpine, Orphean Melodious, Olivaceous, Bonelli´s, and Garden Warblers, Golden Oriole, Southern Grey Shrike, Rock Sparrow, Spotless Starling, Red-billed Chough, Rock Bunting and Ortolan Bunting. After lunch we will drive to Ordesa National Park. Overnight .Overnight in the area.

Day 3,4,5,6.- Ordesa Valley and Hecho Valley. Transition of mediterranean woodland to alpine woodland in San Juan de la Peña with good population of raptors and one of the best sites to watch Black Woodpecker & Citril Finch. We spend five days exploring remote valleys above 2000 mts in the central Pyrenees. With our expert botanist we will spend time identifying flowers and orchids while Josele J Saiz will work to see the most emblematic birds of this tour: Lammergeier, Wallcreeper, Black Woodpecker, Snow Finch, Alpine Accentor, Citril Finch and Alpine Chough. There are many raptors in the area but Red Kite and Black Kite are numerous. Overnight in the areas of Ordesa and Hecho.

Day 7.- We then head south through the plains of Aragon for a complete contrast. In Riglos, incredible sandstone towers pierce the sky. Here we see vultures at the nest, Alpine Swift, Short-toed Eagle, with Dartford Warbler, Rock Sparrow, Linnet and Black Redstart in the stony scrub. On the way to the Ebro Steppes we will look for Black Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Crested Lark, Montagu's Harrier, Spotless Starling and Thekla Lark. In the Ebro valley steppes we will search for Little Bustard, Black-bellied and Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Roller, and many more including Eagle Owl, Hoopoe, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Calandra Lark, Short-toed Lark, Bonelli's Eagle, Lesser Short-toed Lark and Spectacled Warbler. Overnight in Boletas Birdwatching Centre.

Day 8.- Before returning to Barcelona airport and time permitting we will explore a wetland with chances of some waterfowl such as Shelduck, Collared Pratincole, Audouin´s Gull and Purple Swamp-hen.



List of orchids present in the area

  • Pyramidal Orchid - Anacamptis pyramidalis
  • Narrow-leaved Helleborine - Cephalanthera damasonium
  • White Helleborine - Cephalanthera longifolia
  • ---------------------- Cephalanthera pallens
  • Red Helleborine - Cephalanthera rubra
  • Frog Orchid - Coeloglossum viride
  • Lady´s Slipper Orchid - Cypripedium calceolus
  • Spotted Orchid - Dactylorhiza elata
  • Common Spotted Orchid - Dactylorhiza fuchsii
  • Early Marsh Orchid - Dacylorhiza incarnata
  • Heath Spotted Orchid - Dactylorhiza maculata
  • Broad Leaved Marsh Orchid - Dactylorhiza majalis
  • Elder Flowered Orchid - Dactylorhiza sambucina
  • Dark red Helleborine - Epipactis atrorubens
  • Broad –leave Helleborine- Epipactis helleborine
  • Small Dark red Helleborine - Epipactis microphylla
  • Fragrant Orchid - Gymnadenia conopsea
  • Common Tway Blade - Listera ovata
  • Birdnest Orchid - Neotia nidus-avis
  • ----------------------- Nigritella gabasiana
  • Black Vanilla Orchid - Nigritella nigra
  • Fly Orchid - Ophrys insectifera
  • ------------------------ -Ophrys lupercalis
  • Woodcock Orchid - Ophrys scolopax
  • Early Spider Orchid - Ophrys sphegodes
  • Bee Orchid - Ophys apifera
  • Early Purple Orchid - Orchis mascula
  • Pale Flowered Orchid - Orchis pallens
  • Lady Orchid - Orchis purpurea
  • Burnt Orchid - Orchis ustulata
  • Lesser Butterfly Orchid - Platanthera bifolia
  • Greater Butterfly Orchid - Platanthera chlorantha
  • Small White Orchid - Pseudorchis albida
  • Autumn Lady´s Tressers - Spiranthes spiralis





Many thanks once again for a most enjoyable tour. The orchids exceeded our expectations and I have attached a list with thumbnail photographs in pdf format for your web site as requested. I have checked a few of the species with Guillermo via e-mail but if anyone finds any errors let me know and I will make the necessary changes.

I have done the butterfly list and have added Amanda's Blue from a photograph that I took. If anyone has any unidentified butterfly or moth photographs then please e-mail them to me for identification (if I can!) before I pass it to Josele.

That's all for now.

Best wishes Keith . 2008



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