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On The Trail of Bears in Northern Spain



8 Days

Prices Start from

£2,580pp (ex. flights)

Spend eight days exploring Northern Spain and some of the most extensive, unspoiled and intact forest eco-systems in western Europe. Explore the mountains and forests of Cantabria and Asturias in search of bears, wolves and wild cats. 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.

Close up of lone wold walking straight towards camera with blurred out background. 2

Wildlife Conservation

Join expert conservationists in search of  brown bears, Iberian wolf packs and Cantabrian chamois.

Spanish Tapas, The Basque Country, Spain 3

Culinary Adventures

Visit boutique food producers and dine on fabulous regional food and wine throughout.

Cantabria Coast, The Basque Country, Spain 4

Coastal Highlights

Journey along the rugged Cantabrian coastline.

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

    Santander - Posada de Fontibre

  • Day 2

    Posada de Fontibre

  • Day 3

    Posada de Fontibre - La Chabola

  • Days 4 - 5

    La Chabola

  • Day 6

    La Chabola - Redes National Park

  • Day 7

    Caleao (Redes Natural Park)

  • Day 8

    Caleao - Oviedo

Day 1

Santander - Posada de Fontibre

Wolf, Cantabrians, Spain

Arrival into Santander and transfer to Posada de Fontibre. This evening there will time for some wolf observation.

Day 2

Posada de Fontibre

Two wolves stood on rock looking towards camera with woodland behind.

Wolves are most active in the early morning and again at dusk. Spend much of today observing wolves in the wild. Take time to relax during the middle of the day plus a visit to a nearby cheese makers. The wolf observation includes 4×4 transport car, expert guides and optic equipment.

Day 3

Posada de Fontibre - La Chabola

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 4 - 5

La Chabola

Lake surrounded by snow capped mountains and grassy slopes against blue skies.

Spend the next two days observing bears. Explore hidden valleys and traverse remote tracks by 4×4 and on foot, all whilst looking out for the incredible array of wild nature. Sightings are most likely during the mornings and evenings so the middle of the day can be spent at leisure or with visits to nearby cultural attractions as well as the beautiful lakes and scenery of Somiedo Nature Park.

Day 6

La Chabola - Redes National Park

The Cantabrian Mountains, Asturias, Spain

Today depart for Redes Natural Park, stopping en route for lunch at Villablino, a mining town situated on the southern slopes of the Cantabrian mountains. On arrival at your accommodation in Caleao there will be time to relax an maybe enjoy a spa treatment.

Day 7

Caleao (Redes Natural Park)

Cantabrian Mountains,Asturias, Spain

Today, embark on a nature hike, spending time tracking wildlife, checking camera traps and foraging. Stop at a scenic spot for a gourmet picnic lunch amidst the wilderness.

Day 8

Caleao - Oviedo

Street at historic part of Oviedo, Asturias, Spain

Travel to the city of Oviedo for lunch an a tour of the city before transferring to the airport for your onward journey.

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More details

Bears, The Cantabrian Mountains, Spain
Bears, The Cantabrian Mountains
Head and shoulders of brown bear poking above green foliage looking straight at camera.
Brown bear in Spain by Luke Massey

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.

Wild Cat, Cantabrian Mountains, Spain
Wild Cat, Cantabria

Cantabria & Asturias

With a rich mixture of rugged terrain, jagged peaks and extensive forests these regions provide some of the best-preserved habitat in Spain and are home to wildlife including the Iberian lynx, brown bears, wolves and wild cats plus some wonderful birdlife.

Turquoise lake surrounded by mountains against blue sky with yellow flowers in foreground.
Somiedo National Park

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 an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time. When available, guests will be joined by Luke Massey, an award-winning wildlife photographer and cameraman, described by Chris Packham as “an exceptional young man”. Together with his photography work Luke is an established nature guide.

Close up blurred image of woman drinking tea with mountain view and blue skies beyond.
Tierra del Agua view
Wooden decking with woman wearing cream bobble hat sat in wooden sided hot tub.
Tierra del Agua hot tub
Woman sat reading book at restaurant table with wine glasses in foreground and mountain view from window.
Tierra del Agua restaurant


Stay at homely, small lodges and hotels, chosen for the warmth of the welcome you will receive and their prime locations. Our favourite on this holiday is the privately owned boutique lodge, Tierra del Agua. Located in the beautiful mountain village of Calaeo, in the heart of the Redes Natural Park, this eco retreat is perfectly located for exploring the wilderness and wildlife before a spot of cider making, a riverside massage, a dip in the infinity pool or relaxation on one of the splendid terraces.

We're waiting to help you

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

Get in touch with our travel experts to start
creating your tailor-made holiday.

Start planning your trip

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 put together an exciting itinerary that showcases their work, creating important revenue streams into rural Spain which give a vital economic value to local biodiversity. The circle is completed when you choose to book a holiday such as this, 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 a group of six 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
From £2,580 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?

More about Steppes


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