Cuba | Cuba`s Birding Hotspots

Cuba | Cuba`s Birding Hotspots

About this trip

Get to know the birds of Cuba during this exploration of the country's western regions. Cuba’s geography makes it the perfect classroom to study island endemism and biodiversity as you make your way through a selection of ecosystems, including wetlands, forests, coastal lagoons, and limestone hills. Together with your ornithologist guide, you’ll have the opportunity to seek out and identify highlights like the Cuban Trogon—Cuba’s national bird, known locally as the Tocororo—and the world’s smallest bird, the Bee Hummingbird. Not only will you visit prime birding hotspots, you'll also encounter the lively spirit of the Cuban people as you interact with and learn from local residents.

Highlights

  • Watch for target species like the Cuban Grassquit and Olive-capped Warbler and meet with residents at Las Terrazas, a community and reserve that is a model of sustainability and ecotourism.
  • Go birding amid the distinctive limestone formations of Viñales Valley and look for Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Tody, and Cuban Pewee.
  • Visit the home of world-renowned nature artist and author Nils Navarro, who will provide a lecture, talk about his book, and show his art studio.
  • Explore several sites in Zapata Swamp, a Biosphere Reserve and Ramsar wetland, and meet with area conservationists.
11 Travelers

Land Cost

$2,795 - Aug 1, 2021 - Dec 15, 2022

$2,995 - Jan 1 - Dec 15, 2023

Book 10 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

13 Travelers

Land Cost

$2,695 - Aug 1, 2021 - Dec 15, 2022

$2,895 - Jan 1 - Dec 15, 2023

Book 12 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

Havana

Day 1

Upon arrival in Havana, you will be met and taken to your Casa Particular. Check-in begins at 3 pm.

Overnight at Casa Particular

Havana

Day 2

After breakfast, meet your guide, driver, and Cuban ornithologist, who will accompany you throughout the entire program and help facilitate meaningful interactions with the local community at each location. This morning, visit Quinta de los Molinos, an urban park on the outskirts of Havana. A natural sanctuary amid the city bustle, Quinta de los Molinos is a haven for 40 bird species, as well as 170 plant species and Cuba's endemic painted snails. Learn how this site has evolved from the Spanish colonial period until today, and how the urban park is used to connect residents with nature. Walk along the cobblestone streets and plazas of Old Havana and admire the unique and historical architecture, followed by dinner at a local paladar. A paladar is a small, family-run restaurant; many paladares appear and operate much like any other restaurant but in some cases are a converted part of the owner's home.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Casa Particular

Vinales

Day 3

Depart for Viñales in western Cuba. Along the way, stop for birding at Las Terrazas, a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve, where you'll be guided by Justo Arteaga from the Ecological Station of Las Terrazas. Las Terrazas is not only a nature reserve but also a self-sustained ecological community that began as a reforestation project in 1967. Target species are Cuban Grassquit, Cuban Trogon, Cuban Tody, Red-legged Honeycreeper, and Olive-capped Warbler. Meet with community residents who helped save this site that is now a model of sustainability and ecotourism. This afternoon, continue to Viñales, an area famous for its massive limestone formations called mogotes and home to species such as the Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Tody, Cuban Bullfinch, and Cuban Pewee

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Casa Particular

Vinales

Day 4

An early breakfast is followed by morning birding, looking for Cuban Solitaire, your target species, as well as Scaly-naped Pigeon. This afternoon, tour a local family's tobacco farm and learn about Cuba's innovation in agricultural sustainability. Then, visit the home of world-renowned nature artist and author Nils Navarro, who will provide a lecture, talk about his book, and show his art studio.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Casa Particular

Zapata Peninsula

Day 5

Depart early for the four-hour drive to the Zapata Swamp, Cuba's largest wetland and a Ramsar-designated Wetland of International Importance. The Zapata area, sprawling nearly 1,700 square miles, consists of scrub, mangrove swamp, and coastline. Over 200 species have been recorded here, including the endemic Zapata Wren and Zapata Sparrow. Also look for species such as Cuban Blackbird, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Cuban Oriole, and Cuban Emerald. Late afternoon birding if time permits.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Casa Enrique or similar

Zapata Peninsula

Day 6

Following an early breakfast, depart for the Santo Tomás area, where you may find Zapata Wren and Zapata Sparrow. After lunch, enjoy birding at Las Salinas, an area frequented by many species of waterbirds that live in mangrove swamps, coastal lagoons, and woods. Over 165 indigenous and migratory birds, as well as mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates, are found here. Expect to see flamingos, herons, pelicans, Roseate Spoonbill, Glossy and White Ibises, Peregrine Falcon, Cuban Black Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, and others. Have dinner out at a local restaurant.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Casa Enrique or similar

Zapata Peninsula

Day 7

After breakfast, leave for the Bermejas site. Target species include the Cuban Parakeet, Cuban Pygmy-Owl, Bee Hummingbird, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Fernandina's Flicker, Cuban Trogon, and Cuban Tody. A mosaic of dry forest, swamp, mangrove, and mudflats, the Zapata Peninsula is one of the best preserved ecosystems on the island. Other species you might encounter are Bare-legged Owl, Blue-headed Quail-Dove, and Gray-fronted Quail-Dove. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant with Zapata-area conservationists, who will provide updates on projects underway to preserve Cuba's largest wetlands. Visit the town of Palpite, where a special visit with artists of the Korimacao Project has been arranged. The Korimacao Community Project consists of residents from Cuban communities who are given the opportunity to develop and improve their performing skills such as singing, dancing, and playing instruments. Learn about the program's development and interact with the talented artists. Dine at a paladar and meet the owners, who will provide insight about their entrepreneurial activities.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Casa Enrique or similar

Depart

Day 8

Depart early for the airport in Havana for flights back to the U.S.

Breakfast- included