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The scenery of the Spanish Pyreneeshas a pleasing grandeur and providesa setting that attracts many visitorseach year, but, with photography as ourfocus on this 8-day holiday to rural Aragónwe'll view the region's stunning cliffs,canyons and limestone erosions with amore artistic eye than the general tourist.Aimed at beginners and intermediates, youwill have a chance to hone your wildlifeand landscape photography skills in abeautiful and unspoilt setting, withbreathtaking Pyrenean scenery as abackdrop to your shots. The comfortablebase for our activities is a delightful 300-year-old property situated in the prettyhilltop village of Berdún which enjoys fineviews of the Pyrenees, surroundingfoothills, and valleys of the Veral andAragón Rivers. Our friendly hosts will makeus most welcome, keeping us well fed onlocal cuisine, while our tutor will beexperienced local photographer SergioPadura. Sergio fine-tuned his artisticappreciation with a B.A. in Art History atthe University of Barcelona, as well ascompleting a 5-year course at the Instituteof Photographic Studies of Catalonia. Nowbased in the Aragonese Pyrenees, he hastravelled widely, and works as aprofessional photographer in a variety ofdifferent sectors from architecture tolandscape. He has an open, friendlymanner and an excellent understanding ofhow to help people make the most of theirpotential as a photographer - whateverlevel they start at. This tour is designed forthose who want to learn more about thebasics of photography and who also havea keen interest in nature. Advances intechnology mean many of us now owndigital SLR cameras. If you have becomeaccustomed to setting the dial to 'AUTO',and have forgotten or are only dimly awareof such concepts as focal length, apertureand shutter speed, but have the kit and arekeen to learn (or remember) how to use it,this holiday offers such an opportunity!Sergio will teach you the basics, and moredepending on how fast you progress, thenhead straight off outside to help youpractise your new skills, with the naturalbeauty of the setting providing thebackdrop of scenery, birds, plants andbutterflies that will be the subjects of the holiday.On arrival at our 17th century guesthouse,after a short flight to Zaragoza, we'll havean introductory slideshow followed bydinner. Each day we'll make excursions tolocations within an hour's drive for thephotography course - to the highPyrenees and foothills, rounding off eachevening with a debrief of the 'day's work'and analysis of everyone's pictures. We'llaim to include a few early morning starts tocatch the best light, as well as making oneevening shoot of the stars. During theweek, in the field and back at ourguesthouse, Sergio will help youunderstand your camera and how toachieve the best results from it, startingwith finding your way around the camera'scontrols and picture composition. Attentionwill also be paid to depth of field, choice oflens and understanding exposure, as wellas editing and printing. The emphasis willbe firmly on helping you to look upon yourwork with a critical but constructive eyeand learning to appreciate the effect yourchoice of camera settings has on thefinished print.During our stay, we will explore the areaaround Berdún, where the Aragón andVeral Valleys and the spectacular BiniesGorge are home to an excellent variety oflow-level birds and plants. WhileLammergeier, Golden Eagle, Bee-eaters,Golden Orioles, Ortolan Buntings andEgyptian Vultures are among the birdspecies we are likely to see in the area,we'll tend to focus on photographing rathereasier-to-capture subjects such as RockSparrows and Griffon Vultures. We will visitthe beautiful Hecho Valley, enjoying thedisplays of flowers and their attendantbutterflies, and there is even a chance ofthe elusive Wallcreeper here though we'llneed some patience to try and photographone! The photographers who are keen tocapture shots of wild flowers in our partywill additionally find carpets of gentiansand Pyrenean Buttercups in the valleybottom, as well as numerous saxifragesand other rock-dwelling plants on thescree slopes above.The Pyrenees is an accessibly exoticlocation offering great scenery, goodweather and a wide variety of birds,animals, flowers and insects. Sergio willhelp you to be ready when that split-second opportunity arises to get a shot ofa Lammergeier overhead, but it will mostlikely be the spectacular scenery andwealth of insects, flowers and birds thatlinger long in your memory andphotographs!Wildlife Photography - in the Spanish PyreneesAn 8-day holiday offering a chance to learn and practise your photography skills in a spectacularPyrenean setting offering a wealth of birds, wild flowers and insect-life as subjects.Sunday 2nd June - Sunday 9th June Cost: £1,295 Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationJACAZARAGOZABERDÚNLOURDES TOULOUSE ANDORRA BILBAO MADRID ORDESSA NATIONAL PARK FRANCE SPAIN Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Zaragoza andtransfer to Berdún.Day 2/7A programme ofphotography tuition anddaily excursions tophotograph scenery,birds, insect-life andwild flowers from ourbase in Berdún.Day 8Fly Stansted.AccommodationA characterful 17th centuryAragonese dwelling, situated in adelightfully unspoilt village. Allrooms have private facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingGrade A/B. Day walks only.FocusWildlife photography (birds, plantsand insects); also walking.Leader Sergio Padura.Single room supplement£140.ExtensionsArranged on request.Web quick search: ESP25133Anso ValleyGuarrinzaValleyEuropean Green Lizard

There still remain corners of ruralSpain, far from the reality of this fast-developing and increasingly urban-dwelling country, that have been forgottenby time, largely abandoned by all but theolder generation, and which are beingreclaimed by a wildlife no longer sopersecuted by man. The MontañaPalentina - the Palentian Mountains - isone such place: a wild, unpopulated regionof high and chilly ridges, rounded summits,sweeping valleys and magnificentpanoramic vistas extending southwards tothe great plains of Castile and Leon.Nestling in the shadow of northern Spain'sCordillera Cantábrica, not far from thejagged limestone peaks of the Picos deEuropa, the Palentian Mountains aredominated by the majestic Sierra de PeñaLabra, essentially a high mountain ridgeboasting a handful of 2,000-metresummits, amongst them Valdecebollas(2,136 metres) and Pico Tres Mares (2,175metres) - Peak of the Three Seas. Araindrop falling on the latter could, intheory, end up in any one of the Bay ofBiscay, the Atlantic or the Mediterranean,such is the peculiar hydro-geographicaljigsaw that places this mountain at thesource of such mighty watercourses as theEbro and the Duero. The ancient Palentian villages of the regionare largely deserted, with hardly anoccupied house in each. For this reason,so too are the Palentian Mountains . leftfor reclamation by Wolves, Brown Bears,Wild Boar, and numerous Chamois, RedDeer and Roe Deer, not to mention a hostof smaller mammals such as Iberian andBrown Hare, Beech Marten, Pine Marten,Wildcat and the elusive Genet. Our base for this week-long exploration ofthis little-known mountain wildlife haven isin one such village. Here, our guide Tinoand his wife Rosa have sympatheticallyrestored three terraced farm cottages in aremote and tumbledown hamlet. Situatednot far to the north of Aguilar del Campo,the cottages lie on the doorstep of a trulywild landscape, comprising high mountainridges rich in alpine flora, jagged cragsand cliffs, and vast oak and Beech forestswhich support a high percentage of theendangered eastern population of theEuropean Brown Bear. Much maligned,these magnificent creatures are notoriouslydifficult to see, roaming elusively over vasttracts of difficult terrain. Nevertheless, wedo stand a chance of a sighting if we putin the effort at dawn and dusk, when theBears are most active. At these times, ourlocal Spanish naturalist guide, Tino, willuse his 4-wheel drive vehicle to take us toremote view-points for optionalopportunities to scan from chilly ridges for Bears, Wolves, Wild Boar and othermammals. Both guides will make us feel very much at home, sharing a richpassion for, and knowledge of, thesemountains . and regaling us with talesand photographs of their close encounterswith both Bears and Wolves. Interestingmammalian encounters are not reserved,however, for the distant valleys, for ourhosts will proudly show us images ofWildcat and Beech Marten taken by aremote camera not feet away from ourfront door (and will no doubt demonstratethis piece of kit during our stay)! The cottages are very much central to ourdaily outings, with the majority of each dayspent on foot, either walking from our base,or in quiet locations accessed by vehicle. Arange of habitats can be found in closeproximity, with a full suite of raptorspresent, including resident Golden Eaglesand Peregrines and both Griffon andEgyptian Vultures. Black and MiddleSpotted Woodpeckers both breed here, thelatter possibly being easier to see here thanthroughout much of the rest of its range. On one day we will drive further afield toexplore the steppes and plains of themeseta, home to Great Bustard, StoneCurlew and other grassland birds, and alarge (depending on rainfall) reed-fringedlake which supports large numbers ofducks, geese, waders and such interestingpasserines as Penduline Tit andMoustached Warbler. A short distanceaway, in the midst of Castile and Leon'svast cereal belt, a pack of Wolves hassecretly flourished, unbeknown to all but avery few keen Spanish naturalists andconservationists and a barking dog in thenearby village. If they are still in residence,an atmospheric vigil at dusk may revealthe Wolves as they tentatively venture outinto the stubble from their day-time home-the only spinney for miles around. Flexibility will be the key to this tour and,whatever time we arrive back at ourcottages, we can be sure that a heartymeal, freshly prepared by Rosa, will bewaiting for us on our return each day fromthe wilds of this forgotten corner ofEurope. It will be hard to leave!Wild Spain - La Montaña PalentinaAn 8-day holiday to enjoy the birds, plants, butterflies and mammals of this wild corner of Spain.Thursday 6th June - Thursday 13th June Cost: £1,195Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Santander; driveAguilar del Campo.Day 2/7Daily programme ofnatural history walksand excursions from ourbase.Day 8Fly Stansted.Accommodation Three old terraced farm cottages,beautifully restored. A mixture ofprivate and shared facilities.Food and wineAll included in the price.GradingGrade A/B. Day walks only.Focus Birds, plants, butterflies andmammals.LeaderByron Palacios, plus local naturalistguides.Single room supplement£150.Web quick search: ESP18134Call now or visit your free Trip ItineraryFRANCEPORTUGALSEVILLEBILBAOSANTANDERCORDILLERACANTÁBRICAAGUILARDEL CAMPOMADRIDATLANTICOCEANMEDITERRANEANSEASPAINApolloBluethroatPalentian Mountains