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Tour Director
Practical Information

  • Discover the wildlife and landscapes of the Alentejo and Algarve regions of Portugal, experiencing spring flowers in bloom and a wealth of birdlife

  • Explore flower-strewn cliff tops, mountain peaks and coastal estuaries

  • Look out for the rich variety of plant and bird species, including cistus, mirror orchids, azure-winged magpies and great bustards

“Harriet was great; knowledgeable, accessible and fun to be with… her interest in wildflowers was infectious”

“Peter was an excellent tour leader – very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, but also very patient with those who were new to birdwatching”

- ACE customers who travelled with Harriet Allen & Peter Exley in 2022


This tour takes in the unspoilt landscapes of the Alentejo and Algarve regions, with their rich assortment of wildflowers and diverse birdlife (hoopoes and storks, as well as the possibility of migrating birds).


Extensive golden beaches, as well as the dramatic cliffs of Sagres and Cape St Vincent, dominate the coast, while further inland at Serra de Monchique, we will take in stunning views and discover contrasting vegetation to that of the coast.


The Castro Verde Special Protection Area is a region that protects the traditional working landscape of the Alentejo’s treeless plains, dominated by dry cereal fields and fallow land used as pasture for cattle. This is an open, steppe-like landscape, which provides the right habitat for year-round populations of great and little bustards, which we hope to see.


Further highlights will include the Salgados Lagoon, one of the most important freshwater wetlands in the Algarve, and the charming walled town of Mértola itself: one of our mornings will take us along the nearby Guadiana River, which commands beautiful views back towards the town.


We will stay first at the three-star Hotel Praia do Burgau situated in the small fishing village of Burgau overlooking the sea, before moving to the historical centre of Mértola where the group will be divided between the three-star Hotel Museu and the nearby three-star Hotel Beira Rio.


This tour will be led by Harriet Allen, MA, MSc, PhD, a geographer, and Peter Exley, BSc, an ecologist and ornithologist. Harriet is a Fellow and Director of Studies at Girton College, Cambridge, and has been leading field excursions for over 30 years, with extensive experience of flora and birds in many parts of the world including Portugal. Peter works for the RSPB and has also held posts with BirdLife International and the Albatross Task Force in South Africa. He has led many ACE tours, including to Portugal.


Tour Director Harriet Allen writes: “I am very much looking forward to introducing you to some of the places I have got to know in southern Portugal through more than 25 years of research and undergraduate fieldtrips. Away from the developed tourist areas on the coast, much of the Algarve and Alentejo remains a traditional and rural Mediterranean landscape.


My passion is in explaining how these landscapes, and their flora and fauna, have developed through the interplay of geology, evolution, climate and natural history. I would like to share this with you in the hope that you too will discover the rich diversity of these places.”


Tour Director Peter Exley adds: “It is a delight to be returning again to southern Portugal. Spring means we will hopefully be experiencing bird migration in full flow, as well as the chance to see some of the area’s year-round residents, from colourful bee-eaters and azure-winged magpies to white storks nesting on buildings and chimneys. There should be wildflowers in profusion too.


It’s particularly exciting to be including the Alentejo in our itinerary, with its very different set of wildlife, including some real specialities such as great bustards and rollers. As a naturalist, I can’t wait to explore this wonderful place on our tour together.”

Tour Code

We have availability in various room types.

Please call us to discuss on

01223 841055.

Included: return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded sea view room (Burgau), seven breakfasts, six lunches (mostly packed), seven dinners with wine, water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: travel insurance, twin/double sea view room (Burgau) for single use supplement £235.

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