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Brown bear looking from grass Spain

On The Trail of Bears in Northern Spain

  • TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY IDEA

Duration

8 Days

Prices Start from

£2,295pp (ex. flights)

Spend eight days exploring Northern Spain and some of the most extensive, unspoiled and intact forest ecosystems in western Europe. Explore the Cantabrian mountains and the forests of Asturias in search of bears and visit the rugged coastline of Cudillero . This is an immersive nature experience – guided by experts, supporting conservation and giving Steppes clients a privileged insight into Europe’s wilder side.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Bright blue glass like lake surrounded by mountains and grassy slopes with thatched shack on shores. 1

Spectacular Scenery

Explore beautiful, pristine wilderness of mountains, lakes and forests.

Bear, Cantabrian Mountains, Spain 2

Wildlife Conservation

Join expert guides in search of brown bears and gain a fascinating insight into local conservation.

Spanish Tapas, The Basque Country, Spain 3

Culinary Adventures

Visit boutique food producers and dine on fabulous regional food like queso de Cabrales.

Cantabria Coast, The Basque Country, Spain 4

Coastal Highlights

Explore the rugged Cantabrian coastline while staying at the fishing town of Cudillero

Why we like it

Encounters with Spain’s endangered carnivores are by no means guaranteed but by trekking in the mountains with researchers from Fundación Oso Pardo, you’ll be sure to have the best chances of wildlife sightings. As well as offering an immersive nature experience in remote and beautiful surroundings, this varied itinerary also includes coastal scenery and cultural visits. A donation to Fundacion Oso Pardo is included in the price of the trip.

This is not an off-the-shelf itinerary. It has been careful curated by the wildlife travel team at Steppes in conjunction with wildlife and conservation experts at The European Nature Trust. The itinerary can easily be changed to meet with your individual needs while still keeping the essential ingredients of privileged access and insight into the work of The European Nature Trust.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1-2

    Oviedo

  • Day 3

    Transfer to Somiedo

  • Day 4-5

    Guided nature walks in Somiedo Natural Park

  • Days 6-7

    Cudillero

  • Day 8

    Return to Oviedo

Day 1-2

Oviedo

Arrive in Oviedo, Asturias’s understated yet charming capital and check in to the Hotel de la Reconquista. On Day 2, take a guided tour of the city, sample the local queso de Cabrales and visit the excellent art museum.

Day 3

Transfer to Somiedo

Your driver and guide will take you to Somiedo Natural Park, approximately 85 kilometres away. Take time to stop en route to enjoy the dramatic Cantabrian scenery and visit local artisans. Check-in to your hotel for the next three nights, Palacio Florez Estrada in the heart of the park. This afternoon and the next two days will be spent taking guided nature walks and looking for bears using scopes.

 

Day 4-5

Guided nature walks in Somiedo Natural Park

Bear, Cantabrian Mountains, Spain

Spend the morning in search of more wildlife before heading to the coast for lunch and the chance to visit the spectacular coastline and blow holes at Bufones del Pria. Continue inland to your next stop and the chance to observe bears in the wild this evening, in the company of leading conservation experts Fundacion Oso Pardo.

Days 6-7

Cudillero

You will be driven to Cudillero, a journey of one hour and thirty minutes. Have this afternoon at leisure to enjoy the busy fishing harbour and the wonderful views. Tomorrow your driver-guide will show you the surrounding area, visiting the squid museum, Portizuelo beach, Barayo and Puerto de Vega.

Day 8

Return to Oviedo

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More details

Bears, The Cantabrian Mountains, Spain
Bears, The Cantabrian Mountains
Close up of brown bear face, Spain
Close up of brown bear

Brown Bear Conservation

Fundacion Oso Pardo was founded in 1992 with the aim of contributing to the study and conservation of the endangered brown bear in Spain. The Foundation consists of a team of scientists and experts in biodiversity conservation, environmental educators, communicators and rangers, all of whom have been integral to the protection and restoration of the brown bear population and its habitat in Asturias. Their work includes habitat conservation and restoration, monitoring bear populations, fighting poaching and educating locals to prevent conflict between bears and humans.

Somiedo village, Spain
Somiedo village, Spain
Lake surrounded by snow capped mountains and grassy slopes against blue skies.
Spain
Somiedo Peaks

Somiedo Natural Park

One of Spain’s oldest national parks and a Special Area of Conservation, Somiedo sits in the heart of the Cantabrian Mountains. Comprising of rivers, valleys, lakes and craggy mountain tops, this rugged landscape is home to some of Spain’s most charismatic wildlife, none more so than the Cantabrian brown bear. Walk through the lush valleys of Somiedo which during the spring and early summer months, are teeming with wild flowers, butterflies and birds. Climbing out of the valleys, your guide will lead you along mountain-side trails, looking for bears on the slopes of the craggy peaks and reaching vantage points for spectacular views of the villages and rivers in the valleys below

Somiedo Bear Spotting
Spain
Turquoise lake surrounded by mountains against blue sky with yellow flowers in foreground.
Somiedo National Park
Trekking, Somiedo, Spain
Spain

Expert Guides

Expert nature guides will be on hand to ensure the best possible wildlife sightings. Our partners have an intimate knowledge of this region and work closely with Fundacion Oso Pardo to give assistance in protecting the local population of brown bears. Your guide will set up a scope on a high vantage point looking across a valley to the sides of the mountains on the other side. With a well-trained eye, your guide will scan the vista for bears which during May and June, may well include a mother with cubs. Reaching this vantage point may well require a moderate trek but on some occasions, the viewing points can be accessed by vehicle.

Cudillero, fishing village in Asturias, Spain
Cudillero fishing village in Asturias

Cudillero

Cudillero is a hub for Asturias’s fishing industry and visitors wanting to enjoy the spectacular coastal scenery. On the harbourfront, you’ll find bars serving local cider and restaurants serving the catch of the day. Colourful cliff-top houses hang off the side of the cliff face that looks out across the Cantabrian sea. Soak up the ambience with a glass of Albarino and a plate of chipirones before taking the coastal path around the harbour to enjoy the sea air and the views.

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It all starts here

Let’s put that once-in-a-lifetime trip in your hands. Get in touch with the team and we will work with you at every step to make sure that it’s extraordinary.

01285 880 980

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creating your tailor-made holiday.

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How does this holiday make a positive impact?

Collaboration is key to achieving sustainable goals, both locally and on a global scale and this holiday is a great example of what can be achieved through working in partnership. The European Nature Trust puts Steppes in touch with Fundacion Oso Pardo, a conservation body committed to protecting endangered brown bears in Spain. We then work with local businesses to create an itinerary that showcases their work, generating revenue streams into rural Spain which give a vital economic value to local biodiversity. The circle is completed when you choose to book this holiday, which supports all of these stakeholders to continue making a positive difference.

Like much of Europe, Spain’s wild places are under threat from intensive agriculture which has led to forest fragmentation and desertification in some rural areas. Nonetheless, a large range of forest types are still intact in Cantabria, including some old-growth forest that gives sanctuary to large carnivores such as brown bears and wolves and rare birds like the capercaillie and griffon vulture. Our holidays to this region directly support local conservation projects and give economic value to the threatened wildlife in Cantabria and Asturias.

Protecting biodiversity and restoring endangered habitats is a key strategy in building resilience against climate change. Desertification due to over-farming and unsustainable irrigation practices has created major problems in southern and eastern Spain so protecting the north from similar afflictions is vital. Working with The European Nature Trust, this holiday celebrates the biodiversity of northern Spain, creating a circular business model that ensures all stakeholders have vested interests in protecting biodiversity rather than supplanting it.

A note on price

The below price is based on two people travelling to Cantabria and includes a donation to TENT’s conservation projects in the region. Contact our team for an individual quote.

This Itinerary
Price
From £2,295 Per person

When to travel

This itinerary is best carried out in May, September and October when the temperatures are pleasant, the days are sunny, and the light conditions are perfect for observation and photography.

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?


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