Naturetrek no-flight wildlife holidays in Europe & the UK

January 21, 2020 | Naturetrek

Wildlife Holidays

Looking for a wildlife holiday this year but keen not to clock up any air miles? Specialist tour operator Naturetrek (www.naturetrek.co.uk) offers an array of itineraries to Belgium, Holland, France and Spain – as well as the widest selection of wildlife holidays within the UK – none of which require a flight to participate.

Making full use of the Eurostar, European rail services and the ferry routes between England’s south coast and France and Spain, these tours are an important element of Naturetrek’s commitment to the environment. This long-standing objective has seen the company offset carbon emissions on its clients’ overseas flights for the last 13 years – to the tune of over £400,000 in donations to date – and which it continues to develop and expand (more information at the end of this release).

Naturetrek’s collection of flight-free wildlife holidays for 2020 includes:

In EUROPE:

Holland in Winter: This five-day holiday goes in search of wintering geese, ducks and other birdlife, visiting a variety of habitats including the island of Scouwen-Duiveland (one of the top winter birding spots in Holland) for sightings of Red-throated Diver, Red-necked Grebe, Red-breasted Mergansur and more, plus Holland’s biggest lake, Ijsselmeer, where vast flocks of Smew, Scaup, Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck and Goosander can be found at this time of year. Departing 2 March, the price is from £1,095 pp*.

Extremadura by Sea & Rail: Discover the delightful Spanish region of Extremadura on this 12-day eco-friendly tour that, as well as being flight-free, also aims to use as little plastic as possible. Look out for whales and dolphins in the Bay of Biscay, explore sun-drenched steppes and cork oak woods, spot bird species such as Spanish Imperial Eagle and Great Bustards, and take in Madrid’s myriad cultural highlights. Departing 10 May, the price is from £2,295 pp*.

France – La Brenne: Experience one of France’s richest, if lesser-known, natural history destinations during an eight-day holiday that journeys in search of birds, plants and butterflies. Known locally as ‘The Land of a Thousand Lakes’, La Brenne harbours a rich tapestry of habitats including marshes, deciduous woods, dry heathland and farmland, all of which can be reached within a short drive of Naturetrek’s featured hotel, in Mézières. The tour is led by Tony Williams, Warden of La Brenne since 1982, who has an unsurpassed knowledge of the region, as well as unrivalled access to local private estates. Departing 20 May and 9 June, the price is from £1,595 pp*.

Belgium in Summer:  Explore the natural history of the Belgian countryside on this five-day summer sojourn which focuses on the wetlands and the Ardennes. Expect a feast of fauna and flora on visits that include the flat landscapes bordering Holland (where the Zwin Estuary has created an important maritime eco-system), Den Diel Nature Reserve (where 48 species of dragonflies have been recorded), the wonderful flora of the Hautes Fagnes Nature Park and some of Belgium’s finest woodlands, home to a wealth of butterflies and resident birds. Departing 13 July, the price is from £1,095 pp*.

Wildlife Holidays

Picos & Plains – The Best of Northern Spain: This ten-day tour begins with a ferry trip to Santander, sailing across the Bay of Biscay whilst watching out for cetaceans including Fin and Minke Whales, plus Common and Risso’s Dolphins, as well as seabirds such as Balearic and Sooty Shearwaters, skuas and petrels. On arrival in northern Spain, the Naturetrek group will head to the heart of the Picos de Europa in search of high-mountain specialist birds and animals – amongst them the Griffon Vulture, Water Pipit, Alpine Chough and Chamois – before travelling on to Zamora in the Duero plains. Departing 2 August, the price is from £1,695 pp*.

Bay of Biscay

Spain’s ‘Big Three’ – In Search of Whales, Wolves & Bears: Seek out three of Europe’s most iconic mammals in the contrasting habitats of northern Spain on this ten-day tour: the Bay of Biscay (for whales and dolphins), Somiedo Natural Park (for bears) and the rolling hills of Zamora Province (for two days of wolf-spotting). Bird enthusiasts can expect sightings aplenty of raptors, bustards and other mountain and steppe birds, before the holiday ends with a little light culture in Santander. Departing 22 September, the price is from £1,695 pp*.

Wildlife Holidays

In the UK:

The Forest of Dean: A three-day holiday focusing on the birdlife and other natural history of England’s second largest expanse of ancient woodland (around 100 square kilometres). From a comfortable hotel base in the heart of the forest, enjoy daily walks exploring the surrounding trails and, on one evening, head out in search of Wild Boar. Hawfinch, Mandarin Duck, Goosander and Brambling sightings are all possible on the winter tour, while the late spring itinerary promises Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Redstarts and Wood Warblers, amongst other species. Departing 28 February and 5 June, the price is from £325 pp*.

Suffolk in Style: Enjoy the late winter and early spring birds of Walberswick Marshes, Minsmere (one of Britain’s premier reserves, flagship of the RSPB) and the Suffolk coast during this weekend break, staying at a superbly appointed hotel overlooking Aldeburgh beach. Renowned as one of the best English counties for the variety of its birdlife, expect Bitterns, Marsh Harriers, Bearded Reedlings and Avocets amongst the breeding species here. Departing 20 March, the price is from £475 pp*.

Mull’s Otters & Eagles – A Photography Tour: A six-day wildlife photography holiday focusing on the ever-changing landscapes of this stunning Hebridean island, at a time of year when the transition of winter into spring is in full swing. Led by an expert photographer, expect sightings of majestic White-tailed Eagles plunge-diving into the water, playful Otters foraging just offshore and herds of Red Deer roaming amid the scenic glens. Departing 12 April, the price is from £1,695 pp*.

Northumberland and the Farne Islands: Explore a variety of localities along the picturesque Northumberland coast during this six-day birdwatching holiday, which is based in the fishing village of Seahouses. The itinerary includes a boat trip around Coquet Island, a full day on the legendary Farne Islands (ranked among the greatest seabird islands in Europe) and a visit to the Cheviot Hills, to observe upland birds as well as impressive ancient castles. Departing 2 and 9 June, the price is from £945 pp*.

Wildlife Holidays

Pembrokeshire in Early Summer: Visit the spectacular seabird colonies of the islands of Skomer (for Manx Shearwaters, Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins galore), during a five-day holiday that also goes in search of some of Pembrokeshire’s other natural history delights, including a variety of orchids as well as rare butterflies and dragonflies. Departing 8 June, the price is from £595 pp*.

Ardnamurchan – The Red Deer Rut: Experience one of Europe’s most dramatic wildlife events during this exciting five-day holiday that focuses on the annual Red Deer rut, benefitting from the expertise of the region’s top Red Deer manager as well as taking in some of the peninsula’s other wildlife and spectacular scenery. Departing 29 September and 3 October, the price is from £795 pp*.

Red Deer

*Prices are based on two people sharing and include flight-free travel in Europe (clients make their own travel arrangements for UK holidays), accommodation and the services of an expert guide/s, plus meals and excursions as per the chosen itinerary.  

In addition to its collection of flight-free holidays – a full list of which can be viewed here – Naturetrek’s expert team can advise on alternative travel options for clients wishing to join its regular programme of European wildlife tours, travel to and from which would usually be by air but may also be accessible by rail. Alternatively, its tailor-made holiday planning service enables eco-conscious clients to create a bespoke itinerary that suits their specific requirements, featuring flight-free travel as well their personal preference on departure date, duration, accommodation, excursions and wildlife theme.

Converting carbon into cloudforest – NATURETREK’S ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITMENT:

Naturetrek was one of the very first British tour operators to encourage its clients to contribute towards off-setting their carbon emissions, which it began doing in 2000. Since 2007, the company has been making these contributions at its own expense, donating £15 for every long-haul return flight and £5 for every short-haul return flight to Fundación EcoMinga, the Ecuadorian partner of the World Land Trust, and has donated over £400,000 to date in this way.

These funds have been used to purchase and protect critically endangered cloudforest in the Ecuadorian Andes, an area which has expanded over the years into a Naturetrek Reserve’, creating an invaluable forest corridor linking the Sangay and Llanganates National Park. Naturetrek’s protected area now covers almost 1,400 acres, twice the size of the City of London, and has been classified by WWF as one of the 200 most important wildlife corridors in the world, due to its high levels of biodiversity. Filled with locally endemic plants and rich in Andean species such as Spectacled Bear, Mountain Tapir, Cock-of-the-Rock and Giant Antpitta, the reserve is also home to two new frog species, which were discovered here.

Naturetrek encourages clients to match its own carbon offset donation when they book their holiday, in order to further reduce the environmental impact of their trip and to help grow the ‘Naturetrek Reserve’, locking in carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. Read more on the company’s commitment to Sustainable Tourism here.

To speak to the experts for more information on any of Naturetrek’s wildlife itineraries, or to request a copy of the 2020 brochure, call 01962 733051 or visit www.naturetrek.co.uk.

Press: For further information/photography, to discuss a press trip commission or for immediate comment on wildlife travel issues, please contact Karen Carpenter at Travel PR on 020 8891 4440 or email k.carpenter@travelpr.co.uk.

Notes to Editors:

  • Established 34 years ago, Naturetrek operates the largest selection of escorted birdwatching, botanical and natural history holidays in the world. Naturetrek can cater to any wildlife-watching wish in almost every corner of the globe.
  • Naturetrek holidays and short breaks are small group tours guided by expert British and local naturalists, ornithologists and botanists. There is also a broad range of specialist wildlife cruises, as well as trekking and photography options.
  • Tailor-made wildlife trips are also a speciality, more details of which can be found in a dedicated brochure.