Tour Details

Dates:2nd of May - 9th of May 2025
Availability:9Guaranteed departure
Group Size:Minimum 4, maximum 15
Grading:Easy day walks
PricesFull price: £1,495.00 / person Single room supplement: £175.00 / person Deposit: £150.00 / person
Price includes: Accommodation, all meals, ground transportation, services of your guides, and a holiday report.
Not included: International travel, drinks and other personal items, holiday insurance.

Tour Highlights

  • See Andalusia from east to west with its spectacular scenery and wildlife, including butterflies that cannot be seen anywhere else in mainland Europe or are scarce elsewhere.
  • Around 60-70 species should be on the wing during the course of the tour.
  • Amongst them, the main targets are Common Tiger Blue, Monarch, Aetherie Fritillary, Spanish Festoon, Green-striped White, False Baton Blue, Spanish Fritillary, Provence Orange Tip, Black-eyed Blue, Spanish Marbled White & Sooty Orange Tip. With luck, we might also encounter Two-tailed Pasha, Desert Orange Tip & Chapman’s Green Hairstreak.
  • Our bases for the holiday will be Retamar, at the western end of Cabo de Gata, followed by Antequera, centrally situated to allow easier access to a range of top sites.
  • A donation will be made to the European Butterfly Group, supporting proactive research and conservation.

Tour Description

Spring comes early to southern Spain and, by the time we spend a week exploring the southern coast and inland areas of Andalusia, a plethora of outstanding butterflies will be on the wing in balmy, sunny conditions over swathes of nectar-rich wildflowers. There’s simply no better time to visit the area.

Our tour starts in the east of Andalucia, based in a small hotel on the outskirts of Almeria, overlooking lagoons upon which flocks of Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus calmly feed. That exotic tone is only enhanced by the butterflies we’re due to see in the days to come…

Within walking distance of the hotel we’ll start to see our first southern Iberian endemic, Green-striped White Euchloe belemia. Nearby, sheltered coastal valleys will yield abundant Spanish Marbled White Melanargia ines, Spanish Gatekeeper Pyronia bathsheba, and Black-eyed Blue Glaucopsyche melanops. Spanish Marbled White and Black-eyed Blue have a range that extends into northwest Africa – are they European species, or in fact originally from Africa? We’ll certainly be seeing other species during the course of the week that pose the same question, and can’t be readily found anywhere else in Europe but in the extremities of southern Spain. And, as the week progresses, we’ll see North Africa for ourselves, reminding us just how close Andalusia is to the African continent.

Areas of coastal scrub will yield a truly African butterfly species with a toehold in Europe – Common Tiger Blue Tarucus theophrastus is a tiny gem that’s happiest in hot places – it’s even found in the fringes of the Sahara Desert. Happily we won’t have to travel to quite such extremes to see this rare member of the European butterfly fauna…

Some species have made significantly longer journeys to make southern Spain their home. Monarchs Danaus plexippus, were originally a North American species, famous for their immense migration to their wintering grounds in Mexico. Some found their way across the Atlantic Ocean, and colonised the Iberian Peninsula wherever the climate was to their liking, and they found members of the Apocynaceae, their larval foodplant. Within sight of Africa we’ll see these immense, graceful insects for ourselves.

There’s a slim chance we may encounter a late Chapman’s Green Hairstreak Callophrys avis in the course of the week, but we’ll certainly be hoping to share arguably the prettiest European Lycaenid of all with our guests – Provence Hairstreak Tomares ballus, looking like the lovechild of a Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas and a Green Hairstreak Callophrys rubi!

Heading inland for the second half of the week, our base will be in an extremely fine hotel on the outskirts of Antequera. The countryside around here is less arid than down on the coast, and there will be some interesting spring flowers to distract us – notably the extremely scarce Iberian endemic orchid Ophrys algarvensis which grows on an outstanding hillside for orchids a few minutes away from our hotel, alongside Mirror Orchid Ophrys speculum, Woodcock Orchid Ophrys scolopax, Bumblebee Orchid Ophrys bombyliflora, Yellow Bee Orchid Ophrys lutea, Pink Butterfly Orchid Anacamptis papilionacea, and Small-flowered Tongue-orchid Serapias parviflora; and Wild Tulip Tulipa sylvestris.

However, our main attention remains focused on butterflies, for there are some fine targets to look for in the area. We’ll be hoping to find both Aetherie Fritillary Melitaea aetherie, and Spanish Fritillary Euphydryas desfontainii, a jewel-box of blues including Panoptes Blue Pseudophilotes panoptes, and False Baton Blue Pseudophilotes abencerragus, and such colourful spring delights as Spanish Festoon Zerynthia rumina, and Provence Orange Tip Anthocharis euphenoides.

As ever with our tours, the emphasis will be on a relaxed and easy-going pace. The terrain we’ll be exploring won’t be challenging underfoot. The butterflies, however, are guaranteed to sweep you off your feet!

(As this tour runs immediately after our Butterflies of Central and Northern Spain, guests may like to consider joining that tour as well for the ultimate start to their butterfly season…)

Tour Leaders

In the past decade David has devoted his life to butterflies - sharing them with guests, but also working proactively on the committee of the European Butterfly Group, and (until recently) as an identification consultant on the UK Butterflies website.

ButterflyFind Out More

Pau, from Gandia in Spain, has a lifelong interest in wildlife. He’s a professional ornithologist and wildlife guide, but finds time to work as a professor at the Universitat Politècnica de València, teaching Zoology and Wildlife Management.

ButterflyFind Out More

Juan Pablo is a biologist with an MSc in Conservation Biology. He has a particular interest in Iberian butterflies, and also enjoys photography and hiking - often all three interests coincide!

ButterflyFind Out More

Tour Location


Tour Itinerary

  • DAY 1

Meet at Malaga airport* and transfer to Cabo de Gata.

If time permits, we’ll stop en route to visit a known site for Desert Orange Tip Colotis evagore.

  • DAY 2

Villaricos & Albanchez.

Targets: Spanish Marbled White Melanargia ines, Desert Orange Tip Colotis evagore, Black-eyed Blue Glaucopsyche melanops, Spanish Gatekeeper Pyronia bathseba, Sooty Orange Tip Zegris eupheme, and possible Provence Hairstreak Tomares ballus.

  • DAY 3

Retamar & Cabo de Gata.

Targets: Common Tiger Blue Tarucus theophrastus, Green-striped White Euchloe belemia, Portuguese Dappled White Euchloe tagis, and Spanish Marbled White Melanargia ines.

  • DAY 4

Transit day

Cabo de Gata to Antequera. Targets (following arrival in Antequera): False Baton Blue Pseudophilotes abencerragus, Rosy Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus onopordi, and Provence Orange Tip Anthocharis euphinoides.

  • DAY 5

Mirador del alto de Hondonero, El Torcal de Antequera.

Targets: Spanish Fritillary Euphydryas desfontainii, Spanish Festoon Zerynthia rumina, and Lorquin’s Blue Cupido lorquinii.

  • DAY 6

Manilva & Tarifa.

Targets: Monarch Danaus plexippus, Provence Orange Tip Anthocharis euphinoides, Spanish Festoon Zerynthia rumina, possible Chapman’s Green Hairstreak Callophrys avis, and Two-tailed Pasha Charaxes jasius.

  • DAY 7

West of Ronda.

Targets: Aetherie Fritillary Melitaea aetherie, Spanish Festoon Zerynthia rumina, False Mallow Skipper Carcharodus tripolinus, and Cleopatra Gonepteryx cleopatra.

  • DAY 8

Depart Antequera and transfer to Malaga airport.

As with all of our tours, we want our guests to enjoy the very best views of the very best wildlife and, as such, we think it’s important to retain a little flexibility in the holiday itinerary. This means that we may choose to swap days around to take into account local weather conditions, or the timing of the flight or flowering season we find upon arrival at our holiday destination. Rest assured, we will ensure you visit all the best sites, and we have your best interests and comfort at heart!

*We’ll meet at the airport as this is a convenient travel hub for many. However, we appreciate that some guests may have chosen to come overland via rail to Malaga. The main railway station in Malaga is Maria Zambrano, and there is a frequent aerobus service linking the city centre with the airport.

Follow our tours on our Instagram!