Where to go Lynx watching

Lynxes tend to be found in remote areas some distance from human habitation. A smart move on their part, and for those who hope to see them in the wild, both a challenge and an incentive.
By booking a lynx watching holiday with a responsible operator not only are you directly supporting the conservation of this elusive and endangered big cat, you’re also going to be exploring the remote and beautiful landscapes where the big cats survive in much greater depth than you might on a regular wildlife-watching trip. Whether you’re tracking animals by their paw prints in the snowy forests of the Transylvanian Carpathians, or picking them out with a spotting scope against the rugged hills and scrub grasslands of the Sierra de Andujar National Park in Andalucía, the scenery becomes a living canvas that betrays constant hints of where the cats may be prowling through their tracks, dung or prey.

Iberia

Once thought almost extinct on Spain’s Iberian Peninsula due to hunting and habitat destruction, the Iberian lynx is making something of a comeback in the Sierra de Andujar National Park. As part of a small group you’ll accompany either a zoologist or biologist to track them down in the Andalucían highlands, by riversides where otters scavenge for carp in the background, or along peaceful country lanes where binoculars and spotting scopes come in useful, amid a cavalcade of other wildlife.

Here are red deer and wild boar, Spanish ibex, Egyptian mongooses and spotted fire salamanders, while above the surreally lunar-like terrain of Torcal de Antequera you’ll enjoy superlative birdwatching opportunities: sparrowhawks, kestrels, golden eagles and peregrine falcons dominate the skies. The Fuente de Piedra Lagoon is the largest natural lake on the peninsula and a birding paradise, with almost 200 recorded species and a huge colony of greater flamingos.
Lynx watching trips in Spain are predominantly vehicle-based and while they’re suitable for anyone aged 16 and up, you will want to avoid the scorching heat of high summer. As the lynx is a nocturnal animal, spotlighting is used where possible after nightfall. Information on sightings is passed on to SOS Lynx, while paying for access to farmland for birdwatching is a proven tactic in encouraging farmers against their needless slaughter of birds to protect crops, which is endangering many species.
Martin Royle from our operator Royle Safaris on the pleasures of lynx watching in Spain:

Expert guides

“Our expert guides, spotters and trackers are all picked for their backgrounds in biology or zoology. We do our best to make sure that all our guides are more than just the average wildlife guide and that they can give in depth explanations to why we see animals doing what they do and give a real insight into their behaviour etc.”

Sierra de Andjuar

“The areas around Sierra de Andujar as the ‘real’ Spain in my opinion, they are the rugged hills of dry scrub forest which are home to the last stronghold of Iberian wildlife. In the south this is the Iberian lynx, Iberian ibex, Spanish imperial eagle, Eurasian otters, Azure-winged magpies among others. The atmosphere is relaxed and slow, it is rural Spain and at the heart of everyday life is nature, the weather, the temperature. These factors dictate what the farmers do, what the land owners do and of course what the wildlife does. We spend nearly the whole day looking for wildlife, hiking and driving around the hills and scrub-forest, gaining an insight into the way Spain has looked and felt for centuries. The way of life for many people in these small farming communities has not changed. The biggest change in their lives has occurred recently in the form of tourism for the Iberian lynx. This has led to even more protection and respect for this animal and the overall environment.”

What to pack

“Good hiking boots, sun cream, sun hat and, if you are travelling outside of the summer months, a fleece as well (particularly in winter) as the temperatures can drop after dark and in the early morning. A spotting scope or a good pair of binoculars is also important. Our guide will have a good quality scope with him, but it is handy to have a second if the client already owns one.”

Responsible tourism

“The trip gives back to the local community, nearly everyone involved in the trip (expert guide, driver, hoteliers etc) are all local people, so very little money comes out of the local economy. Our main Iberian lynx guide (who has a small team of local guides) is a biologist and passes information about sightings, cubs, deaths etc to the researchers as and when he gets that data. This helps to understand and better protect the burgeoning lynx population better. We also have a good relationship with many private estates around here and in lynx habitat and by paying to be on their land to see lynx and other wildlife, these private estates are starting to stop their farming and other (more destructive land management practises) and focus on eco tourism; which is helping to build an unofficial protected area dedicated to lynx.”

Montenegro

There are thought to be between 20 and 40 adult lynxes in the Balkan area, especially in the Dinaric Alps. In Montenegro, the Prokletije National Park is one of the best places to seek these lone hunters out, along with other incredible wildlife including wolves, bears, chamois and jackals.

This is very much a research-focused trip where you will be working to support the Objectif Sciences International on scientific monitoring, setting camera trips in suitable locations, and keeping a record to pass on of any animal droppings, hairs and prints that you come across. This park is low on management resources, so your findings will be vital in helping to strengthen a database of the region’s wildlife.
Lynx watching in Montenegro requires a certain degree of fitness – you will be trekking every day for between four and six hours, covering elevations of around 600m. You’ll also need to be prepared to deal with quite basic, though comfortable accommodation, in shepherd huts. The upside? These hills are ideal for foraging: raspberries, blackberries and blueberries grow in abundance, so you can look forward to a tasty pie, and there are also plenty of edible mushrooms growing for a fresh pasta dish. At Responsible Travel we’re 100% behind eating local as much as possible, and you don’t get much more local than this.
Nikola Radovic from our operator Montenegro Eco Adventures on what to expect from lynx watching holidays in Montenegro:

Research

“We ask our travellers to help us during their stay in collecting evidence of animal presence, either on the ground or with photo traps. They also help us to integrate the indexes into the database.”

Katuns

“While in the mountains you’ll be accommodated in katuns, which were originally homes for shepherds. Today they serve as accommodation for guests. They are pretty simple with just beds. Certain places, depending on the locations have also a shower and toilet.”

Fauna

“During your stay, we will be monitoring and studying all the fauna found in the area including animals that are predated by the lynx (deer, chamois, hare, squirrel ...) and also other predators that compete with the lynx for prey species (wolf, bear, golden jackal) so there is a huge variety of wildlife to be seen.”

Our top Lynx watching Holiday

Iberian Lynx watching holiday in Spain

Iberian Lynx watching holiday in Spain

80% Success in seeing the critically endangered Iberian lynx

From £1495 6 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Lynx watching or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Romania

Transylvania’s most famous son is known to prefer the cover of darkness when on the prowl, as does a much lesser-known but at least 100% real resident, the lynx. Difficult to spot with the untrained eye, the cats can nevertheless be tracked by their prints when it snows, which is why you’re recommended to travel to Romania in winter, specifically between January and April. In these months snow is most likely, and it’s also mating season, when the lynxes are most active and can often be heard calling.
Tracking starts early, before sunrise, as the lynx is nocturnal, and you will also head out in the evenings. That leaves you with plenty of time to find other Romanian wildlife, including bears and wolves, and to dip into several Carpathian cultural attractions, such as Bran Castle, forever intertwined with the Dracula legend; tranquil medieval villages that appear frozen in time; architecturally rich Brasov with its stout Saxon walls, or the vast Zarnesti Gorge.
Rural guesthouses at the gateway to Romania’s magnificent Piatra Craiului National Park play host to tailor made lynx watching trips that typically average fewer than six participants. In such a remote area, during the evenings there is little to do but share recollections of sightings, read by lamplight, or play cards with your fellow travellers – absolute bliss. Areas like this are well off the tourist trail, and so even a modest growth in holidays here can have a significant positive effect on the local economy and therefore encourage a positive perception of lynxes among local people.
Simona Munteanu from our operator Absolute Carpathian explores lynx watching in Romania:

Responsible lynx watching

“Our guides pay particular attention to paw prints when tracking the lynx – notice the singular, as the animals are usually singular. The biggest threat they face here is of course humans – left alone they and the broader ecosystem here would do just fine. But the fact that responsible tourism is starting to put down roots in Romania can only be a good thing for the lynx, and in time we’re confident that trips like this will start to show rewards.”

Cultural attractions

“Besides the lynx tracking there is a huge amount of cultural attractions in this region. Within an hour’s drive of either Zarnesti or Brasov you have the famous Bran Castle, the Prejmer fortified church, Zarnesti Gorge, the Magura and Pestera villages. There is plenty of great hiking too. So while the lynx watching is the main focus of this holiday, towards the end of the itinerary there is time available to explore what else the Carpathians has to offer as well.”
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Vitalij Fleganov] [Top box: Krzysztof Parzych] [Iberia: Nicolas BALDECK] [Sierra de Andjuar: Antonio Granero] [Montenegro: Thomas] [Romania: Erik F. Brandsborg]
Convert currencies