Sketching Holidays in Tarifa

Sketching Holidays in Tarifa

Creating your Nature Journal and drawing birds in flight

• Tour Dates: Nov 19-22 — Dec 5-8
• Duration: 4 days
• Lodging: 3 star Hotel in Tarifa
• Difficulty: Easy
• Group Size: Max. 7 people
• Price: 565€ per person (taxes included)


We propose you an interesting and different nature trip in collaboration with Birding the Strait and Diarios de naturaleza. A trip to experiment with your Nature Journal and drawing birds in flight.

The Strait of Gibraltar is one of the most interesting places to observe birds and nature in general. Combined with its unique scenery, it becomes one of the best places to start or develop your creative and observational skills and begin your Nature Journal. This is an optimal period to observe the griffon vulture migration and the arrival of the cranes as well as other wintering species. Of course, the Strait of Gibraltar is also the perfect place to practice drawing birds in flight!

We will explore the old Lagoon of La Janda, looking for other resident birds of prey such as the Spanish Imperial Eagle and the Bonelli’s Eagle. We will search for the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis. In this tour we will also have the opportunity to observe seabirds in one of the most privileged points in the area, the Island of Tarifa. The island is a restricted area that will offer us the best views of the Strait and its migrant birds such as Northern Gannet, Scopoli’s and Balearic Shearwaters.

The main goal of the trip will be to create our Nature Journal, an activity open to all levels and suitable for all ages, that does not require any previous experience. In the afternoon we will carry out practical workshops that we will test on the outings during the day. You will have the opportunity to learn to develop your imagination and creativity, and we will have fun creating our own Nature Journal. Here we will document our thoughts, discoveries and experiences throughout the journey.


The activities proposed below may vary depending on the weather conditions. We will adjust the itinerary in order to maximise our time in the field.

Day 1: Welcome to Tarifa.

We will meet in the afternoon of the first day in Tarifa. We will check-in at our hotel, where we will stay during the whole trip. Once the whole group is complete, we will make a short introduction for all levels about the Nature Journal. We will talk about the basic aspects and how to face our first and exciting pages of our journal, as well as the appropriate methodology to observe and investigate all nature that there is around us. We will talk about the necessary materials and we will do a first practice with trees from the area, to test our new work methodology and create the first page of the trip. Dinner at the hotel and rest of the afternoon / night free to get to know the surroundings or Tarifa.

Day 2: Between carnivorous plants, cloud forests and the Strait of Gibraltar.

After breakfast, we will go to one of the most incredible places in the Strait, the Cloud Forest. We will visit the Natural Park of Los Alcornocales, looking for plant species such as ferns, cork oaks and perhaps some mushrooms. We will fill our pages with the encounters that this wonderful ecosystem offers us. One of the stars of the day will be the fantastic carnivorous plant that lives in this area: Drosophyllum lusitanicum. This is a plant only found in southwest Spain, Portugal and northern Morocco. Here we will learn different ways of composing a page. After lunch we will move to one of the best lookouts in  the Strait of Gibraltar, with the spectacular Mount Moussa in Morocco visible on the other shore. Hopefully, we will be able to catch the majestic flights of griffon vultures, there might even be an opportunity to see large flocks of young vultures on the move. This will be a great opportunity to drawing birds in flight. Our field notebook will be enriched with birds, landscapes and even wind power mills. We will return to our hotel where we will have time together with a good coffee or infusion, to finish our sketches or complete our drawings with interesting information. We will also do a small practical workshop on how to draw birds in flight to prepare for the next day. Every day, we will make a mini exhibition of our results to also see what our colleagues have done and thus learn even more about them.

Day 3: La Janda and the Northern Bald Ibis

The third day of our trip we will head to the western area of ​​the Strait. We will visit the ancient lagoon of La Janda. Here we will see the first common cranes that have just arrived from their great migratory journey from northern Europe. We will study their poses, movements and behaviours, we will even be attentive to their evocative calls! They are also excellent subjects to practice drawing birds in flight. We will record everything in our Nature Journal. We will drive around La Janda in search of other bird species such as the Spanish Imperial Eagle, the Black-winged Kite and many waterbirds. Subsequently, and depending on the weather, we will move to the Barbate marshes. Here there is the option of looking for the very rare Northern Bald Ibis, that has been reintroduced in the area after its extinction. We will return to the hotel to complete our fieldnotes and discuss the most important aspects of the day, as well as carry out some practices and new techniques that we will apply the next day.

Day 4. The island of Tarifa, the southernmost point in Europe and Seawatching.

After breakfast, we will take advantage of the first hours to move to the island of Tarifa, a restricted area where will have access to observe the migration of seabirds such as puffins, auks, gannets, shearwaters and skuas. We can also make unique sketches of the interesting Limonium emarginatum, endemic to the Strait of Gibraltar. After lunch, we will share everything we have learned and share our experiences to say goodbye to our colleagues. Be are sure this trip will have a positive impact on your ways to experience and observe Nature as well as nurture your creativity.

Basic Materials

This is a list of basic materials for your Nature Journal. However, this is only a recommendation, not a shopping list. Use the materials with which you feel most comfortable and have the most fun. It is always better to start with those and then, as you gain experience, experience with other materials and find out which ones are most suitable for you. However, there are three considerations that you should not forget and that we recommend that you apply to any material that you are going to use: simplicity, lightness and portability. Try that all your materials stick to these three aspects. Each person has their favorite tools, so feel free to modify this list to your preferences. To this list it is interesting to add binoculars, spotting scope, a ruler and a magnifying glass (optional).

  • Notebook. Find a notebook that you like, preferably robust and with the appropriate page thickness if you use watercolors.
  • Pens and markers. Choose something to write and draw on, calibrated waterproof markers (especially if you use watercolor) are a good choice (0.2 to 0.5 mm are good sizes). With a couple of them you would have enough.
  • Graphite pencil HB or 2B, opt for an 8B to give shadows to your sketches
  • Eraser and pencil sharpener.
  • Color. Use the technique that is most comfortable and fun, colored pencils or watercolor are the most used. We like watercolor for its results and because they are very easy to transport. We will teach you how to create your palette so that it is small and light and the most basic techniques to get the most out of our paints. Do not use the watercolors that are called “school”, opt for something of better quality. Use a piece of cloth to clean the brush.
  • Brushes: One of the brushes that we like the most to travel are brushes with a tank. Being loaded with water, we save having to transport a boat or glass. With one of these brushes it may be enough, although there are different sizes.
  • White gel marker. It is interesting if you use watercolours to give brightness or depth to your drawings. If you do not know it, we will teach you how to use it throughout the trip.

What’s included

This trip includes:
  • Hotel accommodation in Tarifa (3 nights), in shared double rooms, with private bathrooms.
  • Full board. Normally the lunches will be menu type in local restaurant, breakfasts at the hotel.
  • Transport from Tarifa in a comfortable 9-seater van.
  • Tickets for all program activities.
  • Specialized guide with experience in ornithology, nature and drawing in the Strait of Gibraltar.
Not included in the trip:
  • Transportation to Tarifa (ask us for the best options from your place of departure).
  • Drinks.
  • Tips in accommodation, services and guides.
  • Personal luggage.

If you have any questions about the trip or other related questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 Tour Basics

  • Guide: Rafa Benjumea.
  • Length: 4 days.
  • Maximum number of participants: 7.
  • Price: 565€ per person in double occupation (all taxes included).
  • Single supplement: 60€.
  • Lodging: 3-star hotel in Tarifa.
  • Food: excellent local food.
  • Weather: Autumn can be very variable in the Strait of Gibraltar. Cool mornings and afternoons are expected with warmer temperatures in the central hours of the day if it is clear. We recommend a warm jacket and a waterproof jacket for possible rain and winds.
  • Difficulty:Easy, short walks at a slow pace. Numerous stops to draw and take our fieldnotes. Driving trips of no more than 40 minutes.

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