Bear 7 Days 3+ People Season: spring and fall


The native Pyrenean Brown bear population is now unfortunately extinct. However, they have been reintroduced primarily on the French side of the Pyrenees with bears from Slovenia showing a rise in numbers to between forty and fifty bears for the time being on both sides of the Pyrenees.

Nevertheless, in the 90’s, the western side of Spain showed a population of around 70 native brown bears, but luckily, and after some good management, this situation has change, and the number is up to 300 bears, with the majority of the population located in the western group, mostly in Cangas de Narcea and Somiedo.

Therefore, this is why we will spend six days exploring these mountains looking for bears as well as other interesting native mammals along with butterflies, birds, and orchids. Furthermore, there are also many appealing human heritage sites such as the historical mountain shepherd huts, which we will visit while on the tour, offering a broader view and prospective of this appealing region.

The perfect time for the sighting of bears is ideally during their mating season or in late summer, when wild berries are ripe. The best time of the day is early in the morning or either late in the evening using a scope or binoculars. Depending on the season, the bears will be in different locations. With this knowledge at hand, the guide will be able take the visitors to the exact spot for optimum viewing.

From April to May, the males can be seen entering new territories looking for females. The females will be very alert to them and on the defensive if still with their cubs as the male will try to kill the cubs. The female will defend her cubs to the death, which can also end in hers. The male will carry out this heinous act of infanticide so as to bring the cubless female back in heat and have her looking to mate anew, which of course will leave him as a suitor. So interactions like this may be seen taking place over this crucial time in spring. However, their behaviour will be of a more relaxed nature come late summer when they are primarily feeding on berries, and they are only worried about getting fat before the winter arrives. This is when it can be possible to find several animals passively sharing the same slope for food.

During our time here, get ready to have your taste buds tickled as we sneak in a wine and cheese tasting tour, delighting the senses with these local delicacies, thus enhancing the overall flavour of the one week visit, while at the same time offering the opportunity to take samples home with you. Alternatively, visit a local handcraft museum where you can admire the exquisite creations of the local artisans whose skills have been passed down from generation to generation.

During the tour we will use a comfortable 7-seat minivan to get around in. Dark or drab, all-weather clothing should be worn during sit-outs while waiting for bear to appear so as not to stand out and so potentially spooking bears thus defeating the whole purpose of your stay. Moreover, wearing brightly coloured clothes may have the opposite effect and attract them to your hideout. Not an ideal scenario. It is also highly recommendable to bring a good pair of binoculars even though a good scope is provided by the guide for anyone who wants to get right up close. As the animals we are in search of are in the wild, observations are expected but unfortunately not guaranteed. In fact, this may imply quite a lot of patience as well as the willingness to get up early on cold mornings exposing yourself to the elements. Remaining quiet and still is a must so as not to disturb the animals’ natural movements while respecting the other people in the group at the same time. The level of difficulty along the trails is not demanding making them suitable for all and everyone keen to view the animals in their natural environment.

The observations will be done relatively close to the road and in fact there will be times when sightings from the town itself may take place as the animals actually share the same habitat as the local inhabitants. We must bear this in mind at all times by showing utmost respect towards these places to ensure a low touristic impact thus maintaining the dynamic of the area.

Food will be provided as either sandwiches and/or tapas while dinners will vary depending on the day.


The pick-up point will be at Oviedo airport and we will drive for an hour and a half up to Somiedo Natural Park. We will go on a short tour of the town and then on to our first historical hotel; Palacio Florez Estrada. This first evening we will get our first chance of a potential sighting near the Pola de Somiedo location, which will invariably depend on the schedule. If we have enough time up our sleeves, there is a nice, easy path starting right from the hotel which can be taken to view the bears provided they want to be seen.
Up and off to an early start, depending on the season, but generally speaking leaving at about 7am from the Hotel, we will drive just a few minutes up the road to reach the locations where we will begin our search for Bears. Usually there is about a 3 hour window in the mornings, allowing enough time to try a second location if the first one should prove unfruitful. Naturally, we will be outdoors and exposed to the elements so don’t forget to put on your warm, drab clothing to stay well hidden without getting cold. In the afternoon, we will stop for a much welcome coffee break to take the weight off our feet and top up with energy for the next part of the day. After this mid-morning sojourn, we will explore the Saliencia Lakes near the Farrapona road. There is a nice walk down to the glacier lakes where we should get sightings of chamois and local birds such as the wallcreeper, alpine chough, alpine swift, alpine accentor, crack martin, blue thrush, mistle thrush, melodious warbler, bluethroat, ciril bunting, short toed eagle, egyptian vulture, lammergeyer, common buzzard, rock bunting, yellowhammer, whitethroat and northern weather. We will stop to have lunch in Veigas. At dusk, we will try for another bear sighting from the hide near our lodgings and then walk back down to the hotel in Pola de Somiedo for a sumptuous dinner to top off the day. All of this being within comfortable walking distance of each other.
At dawn, we will sit and wait in the hope of further bear sightings in the surroundings of Somiedo. After a coffee break, and depending on the weather conditions, we could try and search for Wild cats in La Peral town. Alternatively, we will either go to explore the traditional town of Villardevildas and its valley, or go on a walk up to Braña de Mumian. These braña constructions are age-old, traditional, shepherd mountain huts made of stone and thatch. They are definitely worth a visit. These possible walks and drives will depend upon the fitness of the group and/or the weather conditions over the course of the day. The bird species to watch out for will be potentially similar to the previous day. As well as bears, we ultimately hope to get sightings of wild boar, chamois, red deer, roe deer, fox, badgers, and the elusive iberian wolf. We will try for more bear sightings at dusk, then walk down for our evening meal in Pola de Somiedo, all just a stone’s throw away from our lodgings at Hotel Florez Estrada.
Depending on our previous days’ luck, with luggage readily stowed in the minivan and after a morning coffee, we will either get off to an early start from Somiedo if we were fortunate enough to see bears the prior evening. Then head straight for Valdeprado to make the most of the day there where we will try for a new sighting of bear in a different location. If not bestowed with the luck of a bear sighting the previous day in Somiedo, we will hang back for another try on the morning of departure for Valdeprado as historically there is more chance of a sighting in Somiedo. Valdeprado, in the near Leon province, is a good location for bear watching and birding including species such as the dartford warbler, golden eagle, or the rock thrush. Come midday, we will sit down for a proper lunch in Villablino at Casa Marga restaurant. This part of the Leon mountains facing south was home to a bustling coal mining industry. You will notice the scenery certainly looks different from the traditional, rural farming scenery of Asturias in the northern part of the mountains. It is worth noting that you will be in the territory of the few remains populations of the highly endangered native cantabrian capercaillie, which roam the nearby beech forests. After lunch we will set up at our new hotel in Genestoso where we will rest a while to recharge our batteries. Ready then for more activity, an evening bear sit is scheduled before heading back to the hotel where typical asturian dishes will be waiting for us to try.
Shortly after breakfast at the hotel, we will take a drive up to Leitariegos along the mountain road where we will go on a short, but very quiant walk through the forest with superb views looking down onto the valley. We will be retracing part of a historical route linking the centre of Spain with the coast in the north which was used for the transportation of goods in the old world, but not before first brushing up on a little history of the region to help make the walk that extra bit special. Good opportunities for bear sightings exist here as well as for birds such as the black woodpecker, tree pipit, nuthatch, short toed treecreeper, Iberian green woodpecker, marsh tit, firecrest and bullfinch. After lunch in the traditional Chavola del Vallado, we will have a little siesta at the hotel in order to prep for a visit around a local cheese factory. Later that afternoon we will hide out in wait for bear, which is known in Spanish as “espera”. Not far from where we will be doing our “espera”, back at the hotel, dinner awaits for when our tummies begin to rumble.
Getting up at dawn, we will head out for a last “espera” near the valley of Fondos de Vega in Degaña Natural Park. Afterwards we will visit the local artisanal woodcraft centre in Tablado, called “Cunqueiros”, where traditional wooden clogs are made using methods passed on from the early inhabitants of this unique little niche in Asturias. After lunching on the local cuisine, we will take a trip to Cangas de Narcea to enjoy a rewarding visit of the Moncs Monastery of Corias and its famous church and library. Nowadays, it is being used as a “parador”, a stylish historical building turned into a fancy hotel. As history informs us, the monks brought wine making to the peninsula. While visiting the “Museo de Vino in Cangas, we can always try to give the famous local wine more of a nudge than those monks did. Then, after trying this very tasty wine, and hopefully not getting too tipsy in the process, we will take the evening off to reminisce over the past week before enjoying our last supper at the hotel
At daybreak, but within walking distance from the hotel, we will try to catch one last sighting of bear during a pre-breakfast “espera”. Then with our tummies full and our bear-sighting dreams fulfilled, we will take the road back to Oviedo. Time permitting, we may be able to squeeze in a very short trip along the coast to catch a glimpse of the rugged ocean cliffs before arriving to the airport: mission accomplished!
Comments are closed.