Birdwatching and Wildlife Tour in the Ria Formosa

Birdwatching and Wildlife Tour in the Ria Formosa is a Self-Guided Tour with Car, designed by keen local birders. The Algarve is rightly famed for its golden sandy beaches, golf courses and wonderful year round climate but is still a secret destination for great birding. At almost any time of the year there is something of interest to see!

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


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This is a birding tour based in the Ria Formosa Natural Park and is designed to help you see as much of the avifauna and flora as possible. We’ll also take you to several small wetland areas in the Algarve.

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.

Amongst those occurring in notable numbers are Black-tailed Godwits, Ringed Plovers and Little Stints. There is also a diverse population of breeding birds that includes Little Bittern, Purple Swamp-hen, Purple Heron, Red-crested Pochard, Collared Pratincole, Kentish Plover, European Bee-eater, Red-necked Nightjar, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes and Little Tern. Marsh Harriers are resident as are a small number of Booted Eagles, now a regular sight in winter. To the west is the largest area of reed beds in the Algarve, where in season, Ferruginous Duck, Purple Heron, Black-winged Kite, Penduline Tits and Blackheaded Weaver can be found.

This self-guided birdwatching tour will allow you to take your time and engage in the activities of your preference, from the simple pleasure of observing birds in their natural habitats and their behaviour, colours and forms; 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 observation of and contact with nature are a true balm with countless benefits.

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.

Ria Formosa Natural Park
The park is an area of approximately 40 hectares comprising salt marsh, saltpans, Mediterranean scrub and pine forest, freshwater lagoons, beaches and mudflats. With such a range of habitats it is possible to see a wide range of bird species. If you are visiting in the spring look out for orchids in the wooded areas and in the summer months look out for Mediterranean Chameleon.
Traditional Saltpans
Numerous tanks, channels, creeks and drainage ditches form the Salinas where salt is manually harvested. In autumn and winter the large tanks attract large numbers of waterfowl and are a popular high tide roost for waders and gulls, and Greater Flamingos can usually be found.
Spectacular birding in the Ria Formosa Natural Park and other wet areas in Algarve
Amongst those occurring in notable numbers are Black-tailed Godwits, Ringed Plovers and Little Stints. There is also a diverse population of breeding birds that includes Little Bittern, Purple Swamp-hen, Purple Heron, Red-crested Pochard, Collared Pratincole, Kentish Plover, European Bee-eater, Red-necked Nightjar, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes and Little Tern. Marsh Harriers are resident as are a small number of Booted Eagles, now a regular sight in winter. To the west is the largest area of reed beds in the Algarve, where in season, Ferruginous Duck, Purple Heron, Black-winged Kite, Penduline Tits and Blackheaded Weaver can be found.
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

8 days/7 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
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