The El Despeñadero Lodge is situated close to La Mancha, Toledo and set amongst a generous 2000 hectares of prime Spanish Partridge hunting habitat. The varied undulating topography consists of Olive Groves, forest and farmland, and the ravines offer sensational sport for travelling guns who visit the area. Thanks to Spain’s proximity to Africa and the warm, stable weather associated with the region, the Red-Legged Partridges have thrived, and now the country boasts some of the biggest and best populations found anywhere in the world.
With such a varied landscape and range of high-quality drives, the fast-flying acrobatic birds present even the most competent wing shooter with a real sporting challenge. They have the ability to explode through coveys, burst through the thickets and fire themselves into the open valleys.
Guided by Darío Vallano, one of Spains most respected guides, you’ll enjoy some of the most exciting, action-packed shooting available, with his team going above and beyond to ensure the days run as smoothly and efficiently as possible, providing the very best experience. If you’re passionate about wing shooting, combined with first-class hospitality, service and accommodation, then El Despeñadero Lodge in Spain is the perfect destination for you.
El Despenadero Lodge is owned and run by the Vallano family and they have more than 40 years of comprehensive family history dedicated to the driven Spanish Red-Legged Partridge shooting. El Despeñadero is a name in the hearts and minds of many experienced hunters, both nationally and internationally.
The birds on the shooting grounds get well nurtured, and Darío Vallano and his team care for them for all 365 days per year, controlling the birds feed and health. The results of such a programme are some of the best quality birds found within the country; they’re impressively fast, courageous and high flying. Combine this with more than 2,000 hectares of wild topography, all manner of different drives and a wide selection of varying shooting opportunities, and it’s easy to see why El Despenadero Lodge is so famous.
Travelling guns return year after year to sample more memorable shooting days, high sporting game, beautiful scenery, excellent lunches, a great wine list, luxurious accommodation and a friendly family-run atmosphere, and they get exactly this.
To find out more about El Despenadero Lodge in Spain and the fantastic Red-Legged Partridge shooting on offer, visit our YouTube channel.
The Red-Legged Partridge shooting season at the Lodge runs between October and February, and throughout this time, the birds are abundant. Travelling guns visiting the region can expect big bags, with a minimum of 350 birds and the chance to shoot more, at an added overage cost, if you so wish.
A typical day shooting for the RedLegs starts with a good breakfast, a customary safety speech and the drawing of pegs, known as ‘Tomelot’, before you get picked up in the 4x4s and taken to the estate. Once you arrive at the first drive of the day, you’ll get joined by a secretarios or loader, who will have your gun and cartridges ready for you; they will then be with you all day. You will experience a range of different drives and a wide selection of shooting styles throughout the day, from the more hectic and traditional Spanish style to the English kind of the highest birds. Both have tested the mettle of history’s big shots.
One thing that makes El Despenadero extra popular amongst travelling guns is the fact it’s a very traditional shoot and follows many long-standing traditions and customs. The days will consist of four or five drives with a short break between each one for a snack and refreshments; these usually consist of famous Spanish Aperitifs (Tapas) or Tacos.
The Red-Legged Partridge thrives on dry areas of sandy soil and breeds most successfully in the highest temperatures, which is one reason why the population is so abundant and thriving in Spain. Feeding on a diet on small invertebrates and plants, the plump little birds can grow to around 30cm to 35cm, with a wingspan of 47cm to 50cm and weigh anywhere between 18oz and 20oz.
They are among the most emblematic species in the wing-shooting community and feature a sandy brown colouration, with black and brown barring down their wings and a distinctive ‘black necklace’ or dark band around their necks; they’re one of the world’s most popular and beautiful birds.
With the ability to fly at speeds exceeding 35 miles per hour and with their deceiving wing beat, these skilful birds are, are without a doubt, some of the most challenging quarries to shoot. They have the natural ability to hug the landscape, presenting themselves close to the ground or at high altitude, always finding ways to test the attention and speed of the hunter; it’s these things that make them such a desirable quarry for thousands of wing shooters from all around the globe.
If you’d like to read more about Partridge Shooting for the RedLeg, then read our Species Spotlight: Red-legged Partridge.
Cigarral de las Mercedes is the epitome of luxury and one of Toledo’s most exclusive and best lodges. Set in over five hectares of land it’s surrounded by traditional architecture, including an impressive ancient wall, accompanied by olive trees, fragrant gardens, a lake and breath-taking views over the rolling landscapes.
El Cigarral de las Mercedes offers complete versatility to all their guests, offering the most intimate settings within the luxury boutique lodge and La Casona, the original Cigarral building, recently refurbished. If you wish to bring larger parties to experience the beauty of this estate, look no further than the spacious Salón de la luz which can offer the largest of all and overlooks terraces and picturesque gardens.
The Lodge offers a total of twenty-one rooms, fifteen classic doubles, two deluxe rooms with their own jacuzzi’s and four private villas, each with a private garden and jacuzzis. Each room gives a vast sense of luxury due to being created with such passion and attention to detail.
Not only will you be in awe of the palatial interior, but also of the staff. All team members have been expertly trained to cater to your every need and aim for 100% customer satisfaction. Their job is to ensure you feel at ease and comfortable during your stay.
The food and drink at El Cigarral de las Mercedes are some of the best you’ll experience in Spain. Quintessentially Spanish, the cuisine is cutting-edge and expertly created using some of the finest local ingredients. The expert chefs are famed for their exquisite homemade tapas, meats, and delicious gastronomic dishes.
You will be able to dine on the terrace, taking in the views over Toledo and breathing in the freshest of air, genuinely enjoy the atmosphere of the whole experience. The deck also gets beautifully lit, giving it a very Spanish feel and making you feel very at home.
All food at the Lodge can get adapted to your tastes, and all dietary requirements get catered for, ensuring everyone can enjoy the fine cuisine on offer.
At the bar in the Lodge, you will find a vast selection of wines and beverages, and it’s the perfect place to sit back and relax while sipping away and socialising with friends or family.
In Toledo and the area surrounding the hotel, there’s plenty of wine tasting opportunities in many of its wineries, horse riding and hiking excursions, as well as acres and acres of land for you to explore. On the hotel site, there is also a swimming pool, which is perfect for a dip after a long hard day shooting in the field.
For your convenience, the accommodation also offers free high-speed wireless access. So you can check e-mails or send bragging photos to your friends, family and fellow hunters back home.
If you’re Partridge Shooting in Spain, why not read our blog, El Despenadero Lodge Partridge Shooting Q&A.
The below itinerary is flexible should you require additional shooting days or additional free days to explore; we can tailor this itinerary to suit you personally. Feel free to talk to our travel consultants who can explain all options available.
Depart UK (alternative routes available)
You will be greeted by a representative from Cacerías Ibéricas who will assist you with gun clearance should you wish to bring your own. You will then be transferred from Madrid to Toledo. (60 minutes) Upon arrival, you will be shown to your lodge Cigarral de las Mercedes where you will settle in and enjoy the beautiful views to El Valle and the river Tajo out on the terrace where dinner will be served.
Overnight Accommodation: Cigarral de las Mercedes (Single Room) F/B
Arise and prepare for your first morning of shooting in El Despeñadero where breakfast will be held in the main dining room from 9:30-10:00 am. You should be ready to depart for shooting at 10:30 am – 11:00 am. All loaders and secretarios will have your guns and cartridges loaded into the vehicles ready for the day. All you need is your personal effects such as hearing/eye protection and gloves. The day will consist of 4 drives and 3 breaks for the “taco” (elevenses) after each of the first three drives. You will enjoy an array of exceptional food including hot and cold meats, fish, Spanish omelettes and a large amount of tapas and the best Rioja wines. A unique chance to enjoy some conversation.
Once the days shooting has come to an end you will retire to the house for lunch and to submerse yourselves fully in the delicious wines and reflect on the day with friends and fellow guns.
Overnight Accommodation: Cigarral de las Mercedes (Single Room) F/B
Day 3 starts in the same way as day 2 but with different drives.
At the end of the day, once the shooting has finished, you will retreat back to the hotel where you will prepare for your return journey back to Madrid.
Average Customer Satisfaction Score 56%
"Can't wait for more. February comes soon please!! Very serious birds as always and no words for your fantastic hospitality. One more time a big pleasure to shoot at El Despeñadero."
"This is our first time shooting at El Despeñadero. We did two days in a row and have to say the shoot was excellent, far exceeding my expectations. Thank you boys for your excellent hospitality. Looking forward joining you next season."
"Now in my 3rd season with Darío Vallano. Great team from the office to the field with some of the most brilliant and challenging birds, in a beautiful estate. We adored it and couldn’t recommend it more highly to anyone…without any doubt one of the best driven shooting I have ever been and I have shot at many places in all corners of the UK and Spain."
The season runs from October 1st to February 28th.
Season: October to February
Overs are only charged when over 10% of the agreed bag. Overages are charged for the whole shooting party at 39 euros per bird.
Remember that Sportquest Holidays' services are completely FREE! When you book a trip with Sportquest Holidays, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge and flights independently.
Prices are based on 8 guns sharing transfers and shooting based on two 350 bird-days (unless otherwise stated) and are correct at the time of going to press. Subject to time of year or date and currency fluctuations, these prices may fluctuate slightly due to flight price increases or fuel surcharges.
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