Cuba birding safari
An unrivaled focus on Cuban nature and history
eleven days and ten nights in the Pearl of the Caribbean
Single room supplement $0
Day 1 – Saturday :: Say hello to Cuba!
In the Havana airport arrivals lobby you receive a warm welcome from your Cuban guide, North American tour leader and bus driver. This is a good time to exchange some money into Cuban Convertible Pesos.
Hop aboard our modern air-conditioned tour coach, and on the way to your hotel relish views of one of the oldest and most stunning cities in the New World. During our many excursions around the capital, and beyond, your guide provides historical commentary on all points of interest.
Upon arrival at your hotel located in the heart of Havana’s cultural district, you receive fast check-in with assistance from your guide. Hotel staff greets you with a welcome drink while your luggage is being delivered to your room.
After having settled in and had a chance to rest and freshen up, enjoy a first taste of island cuisine at a group arrival dinner prepared by your hotel’s restaurant chef. Afterwards your tour leader may have some fun evening activities to suggest, time permitting.
Day 2 – Sunday :: Endemic birds and Viñales
Greet the day with tasty breakfast served at our hotel. Later, drive to Viñales - birding along the way (Las Terrazas, La Guira). Viñales, situated in Sierra de los Organos, is a delightful, small town in a beautiful valley with a distinctive landscape, with steep-sided limestone mogotes. It is located about 93 miles (150 km) west of Havana. About 130 bird species have been reported from the area.
Lunch will be served at a local private restaurant in beautiful Viñales. Continue birding later this afternoon.
Day 3 – Monday :: Zapata - The best birding in Cuba!
Breakfast at hotel then enjoy early birding of area. Continue birding along the way in our drive to Zapata.
Zapata Peninsula is, undoubtedly, the best bird watching area in Cuba, and possibly the entire Caribbean region. It supports all but three of Cuba’s 23 avian endemics, as well as many other native species, both winter residents and transients, along with several summer and spring visitors (which breed in Cuba but return south in fall). Over 260 species have been reported in the area.
Day 4 – Tuesday :: Birding Bermeja & Playa Giron (Zapata)
Early breakfast and depart to Bermeja (a fauna refuge with national significance). The area is open with royal and cabbage palms, bushes and shrubbery, 12 km north of Playa Girón or Bay of Pigs. Here we will look for Fernandina’s Flicker. In addition, Cuba’s two endemic owls, Cuban Nightjar, Bee Hummingbird (Zunzun), Cuban Parakeet, Cuban Trogon, Cuban Tody, and all four quail-dove species (the two rarer species are frequently encountered) can also be seen here, as well as many Nearctic warblers. After lunch, continue birding in the afternoon in Bermeja area again. Overnight: will be in the Playa Larga area of Zapata.
Day 5 – Wednesday :: La Turba (Zapata)
Early breakfast and depart to La Turba. This is a marsh habitat where we will be looking for Zapata Wren, Zapata Sparrow and Red-shouldered blackbird. Lunch will be at Caleta Buena (Optional) or Casa Luis. Continue birding later this afternoon. Overnight: will be in the Playa Larga area of Zapata.
Day 6 – Thursday :: Birding and Depart to Camaguey
Early morning birding of the area then we begin our drive to Camaguey. Arriving around 5 PM, we'll have time to rest and explore beautiful Camagüey on our own. Overnight: Camaguey
Day 7 – Friday :: Spectacular Najasa and La Belen Reserve
Early breakfast and depart to Najasa for spectacular birding in the La Belen reserve. Later, depart for beautiful Cayo Coco and the coast. Overnight: Cayo Coco
Najasa and La Belen Reserve
Located about 70 km southeast of Camagüey city, this is a protected area of open country with many palm groves and a mixture of semi-deciduous woods at the foothills of low elevations. About 120 species of birds have been reported: Plain Pigeon, Cuban Parakeet, Rose-throated Parrot, Bare-legged Owl, Cuban Pygmy-owl, Cuban Palm Crow, three species of woodpeckers and Giant Kingbird.
The second-largest key in Cuba that has recently been connected to the mainland by a rock-fill road. Located 70 km northwest of Morón, and mostly covered by semi- deciduous forests; there are also mangroves, coastal shrubs, patches of grass, and lagoons. Over 200 species has been reported, including many Cuban rarities with several new birds to add to the list: Cuban Gnatcatcher, a race of Zapata Sparrow and Oriente Warbler. Also, species such as: Western Spindalis and Cuban Bullfinch. There are many waders and one of the largest groups of American Flamingo. In the fall, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon are not uncommon. Piping Plover is a winter resident on these keys.
Day 8 – Saturday :: Paredon Grande & Cayo Guillermo
Early breakfast and depart to Paredón Grande then later to Cayo Guillermo. Overnight: Cayo Coco.
Cayo Paredon Grande
Your destination will soon become recognizable in the distance due to its black-and- yellow painted lighthouse. The main habitat is sandy coast vegetation and mangroves. Well over 100 species have been reported in the area including Thick-billed Vireo (of the recently described endemic subspecies cubensis) and Bahama Mockingbird (very rare in this area) among them. Near the lighthouse is where during the fall migration of many North American warblers can be spotted. It is also an excellent area for Mangrove Cuckoo, Cuban Gnatcatcher and the Oriente Warbler.
Cayo Guillermo is situated 34 km northwest of Cayo Coco. This is a sandy key with xerophytic vegetation and lots of Coccothrinax species palms. This habitat is famous for finding the Bahama Mockingbird.
Day 9 – Sunday :: Cayo Coco to Santa Clara
Early morning birding around Cayo Coco then drive to the beautiful city of Santa Clara. Enjoy afternoon birding and visiting this historical city including the memorial to Che Guevara. Overnight: Santa Clara.
Day 10 – Monday :: Return to Havana
Early breakfast at your hotel and drive to Havana, (3 hours). Visit Ernest Hemingway’s Finca Vigia. Enjoy some free time and later meet for a farewell dinner. Overnight: Havana.
Day 11 – Tuesday :: Say goodbye to Cuba
Breakfast at your hotel. Then it’s time pack up and check out, and transfer to Havana’s José Martí International airport for your flight home.
Keep in touch with your new Cuban friends – exchange email addresses! Bring some business cards to pass out. Take pictures and keep a journal. Upon your return, we’ll post them on this website for all to see and enjoy.
We’ll miss you and hope you will return soon! In Cuba we say: A true friend remembers the song in your heart when you have forgotten the lyrics.
Included in tour cost
- Small group size, usually fewer than twelve guests
- Certificate of Legal Cuba Travel in compliance with US Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations (OFAC)
- Havana airport and hotel transfers on tour start and end days
- Quality Cuban hotels
- An expert English speaking guide and tour leader throughout the program
- Modern air-conditioned bus and professional chauffeur
- Bottled water on bus
- All activities, entrance fees, services, speakers and meetings in tour itinerary
- Flexible monthly tour payment options
- Emergency telephone and internet access to America from Cuba
- Cash advances for participants facing money problems while in Cuba
- Participants become Club Cubano alumni and receive future tour discounts
- Ongoing support from our US and Cuban staff before, during and after travel
Not included in cost
- Domestic or international flights. Please see our suggestions for commercial flights to Cuba
- Mandatory Cuban medical insurance (generally included in the cost of US flights to Cuba)
- Mandatory Cuban Visitor Visa. Purchase your Cuban Visitor Visa here
- Gratuities for tour guide, bus driver, chambermaids, restaurant staff, porters. See Cuba tipping guidelines
- We strongly recommend trip interruption and cancellation insurance. We partner with Allianz Global Assistance for Cuba travel peace of mind