Tavira and Ria Formosa: Your Nemesis Bird Destination

A 5 days Self-Guided Tour with Car based in one of the most typical and quaint towns in the Algarve, Tavira. The Algarve region is a famous summer resort, but is also an amazing site for nature observation, being home for hundreds of endemic bird species, and a wintering and feeding station for many others, which thrive in its rich wetlands, saltmarshes, saltpans, and woods.

We'll provide a route notebook with maps and detailed descriptions, and a rented vehicle to hit the road.


This professionally designed birding tour aims to show you the best of the diverse wildlife and flora in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, with detailed instructions and route notes.

The Ria Formosa Natural Park covers an area of around 16,000-hectares stretching from Manta Rota in the east to Ancão beach 60km west. The Ria consists of coastal lagoons, vast areas of tidal flats, saltmarsh and saltpans that are enclosed by a belt of sand dune islands and peninsulas.

It is of particular importance as a wintering area for many birds from northern Europe and as a resting and feeding station for birds migrating between Africa and Europe.

Classified as Nature Reserve in the 70s, this protection status was elevated to a Natural Park in 1987. The Ria Formosa is also classified under the Ramsar Convention as a Wetland of International Importance and as a Special Protection Area under the EU Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds.

Winter brings wintering waders, such as Oystercatchers, Avocets, Dunlins, Little Stint and Black-winged Stilts, amongst others. Species like Curlew Sandpiper, Red Knot or Ruff mostly pass through during the autumn migration. Wildfowl is also present in impressive numbers in the ponds and pools, and some of the most common species are Wigeon, Sholever, Pintail and Pochard. Other interesting birds to be found are Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black-winged Kite, Caspian Tern, Bluethroat, and the scarcer Penduline Tit. Slender-billed Gull has been regularly sighted in recent years.

Breeding birds include Purple Swamphen, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Collared Pratincole and Audouin’s Gull, which breeds regularly but in fluctuating numbers. The site has also the particular aspect of being the only one in Portugal where Lesser Short-toed Lark occurs. The barrier islands hold the largest colonies of Little Tern in Portugal, regularly seen fishing in the shallow waters, as well as a small population of Eurasian Thick-knee and Little Bustard. Interesting breeding birds also include Pallid Swift, Spectacled Warbler, European Bee-eater and Black-eared Wheatear.

In the surrounding woodlands, species like Great Spotted Woodpecker, Woodchat Shrike and Golden Oriole are present.

This self-guided birdwatching tour is great for nature photography in general and bird photography in particular; painting and illustration; scientific research; the pursuit of rarities (twitching), etc. Find with us an escape from the frantic daily life!

The route notes are designed to be a simple, easy to use field guide for all who enjoy watching birds in their natural habitat. Each itinerary is accompanied by a map and a description on how to get there, the most interesting species to be found there and various tips about the best way to visit.

We’ll make sure you have an unforgettable experience, with no time consuming search for places to stay, no research on the best birding sites - our tours are complete and most of all perfectly thought through and organised! The tour is designed to be enjoyed no matter your level of birding ability and expertise.

And in order to fully enjoy all the wonders of this tour you’ll be roosting in the centre of Tavira, just 2km away from the closest bird observation spot!

Spectacular birding in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, which comprises several habitats. It is possible to see a wide range of bird species, wild orchids in the spring, and in the summer months look out for Mediterranean Chameleon.
Traditional Saltpans with numerous tanks, channels, creeks, and drainage ditches, where salt is manually harvested. In autumn and winter the large tanks attract large numbers of birds, and at high tide are a popular roost for many species. In the surrounding woodlands, there are also many bird spotting opportunities.
Nature observation
A fantastic itinerary, developed and perfected by keen local birders, very knowledgeable of the region and birding sites.
The hospitality and warmth from the local population.
Portugal is known for its gastronomy and wines, and in the Algarve you’ll be delighted with the fresh fish and seafood.
Our self-guided tours are thoroughly designed and include all the information and services you need, from detailed route notes to a 24h hotline

The tour includes

5 days/4 nights

Complete route notes with descriptions of best birding spots, information on bird species most likely to be found, general information about the region, its culture and traditions.

Comfortable ensuite accommodation BB, next to the Ria Formosa and the sea, in the very heart of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.

Package with car included

Possibility of halfboard and single supplement

Hotline number for emergencies

Get your quote below:

Photo Gallery

Bird photographs by Peter Dedicoat