Cuba | Birding Cuba’s Foothills, Wetlands and Coast

Cuba | Birding Cuba’s Foothills, Wetlands and Coast

About this trip

Cuba’s protected natural areas, geographic isolation, and limited development combine to create an ideal destination for birders. The country’s diverse habitats support over 360 avian species, more than two dozen of which are endemic to the island. On this 11 day program, you’ll have the opportunity to observe specialties like the Cuban Tody, Zapata Wren, and Oriente Warbler, and explore dry scrub, mangrove, wetland, and coastal ecosystems. Gain deeper insight during meetings with Cuban conservationists to discuss projects and governmental policies. During your travels, meet Cuba’s friendly people and discover the rich history and culture for which the country is known.

Highlights

  • Explore the country’s pristine protected areas, including La Güira National Park, Las Terrazas Biosphere Reserve, and several sites within Zapata Swamp, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Ramsar wetland.
  • Seek out endemic species like the Cuban Trogon (Cuba’s national bird), Cuban Green Woodpecker, Fernandina’s Flicker, and the diminutive Bee Hummingbird, among others.
  • Meet with Zapata area conservationists to learn about projects underway to preserve Cuba’s largest wetlands.
  • Visit the limestone cave that was Che Guevara’s headquarters during the Cuban Missile Crisis and an excellent place to spot Cuban Solitaire and Scaly-naped Pigeon. 

 

11 Travelers

$3,765

Land Cost

Group size

Book 10 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

13 Travelers

$3,495

Land Cost

Group size

Book 12 travelers and 1 group
leader travels for free

Havana

Day 1

Individual arrivals in Havana today. Hotel check in is at 3pm.

Overnight at Hotel Sevilla or similar

Havana

Day 2

After breakfast, meet your guide, driver and Cuban ornithologist, who will accompany you throughout the entire program and will help facilitate meaningful interactions the local community at each location. This morning visit Quinta de los Molinos and learn how this urban park is used to connect residents with nature. Walk through Old Havana before 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 their home.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Hotel Sevilla or similar

San Diego de los Baños

Day 3

Depart for La Güira National Park in San Diego de los Baños. Along the way, stop for birding at Las Terrazas, a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve, meet with Fidel Hernández from the Ecological Station of Las Terrazas. Target species are Cuban Grassquit, Olive-capped Warbler, and Cuba's national bird, the Tocororo or Cuban Trogon. Meet with community residents who helped save this site, now a model of sustainability and ecotourism. This afternoon arrive at La Güira National Park, 54,000 acres of mountain wilderness, picturesque valleys, and hidden caves, and home to species such as the Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Tody, Cuban Bullfinch, and Cuban Pewee.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Hotel Mirador

San Diego de los Baños

Day 4

Early breakfast followed by morning birding at Cueva de Los Portales, a limestone cave adjacent to hills covered in lush vegetation. The cave is interesting both geologically and historically, famous for being Che Guevara's headquarters during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. The area is renowned for being an excellent place to spot Cuban Solitaire, our target species, and Scaly-naped Pigeon. This afternoon visit a tobacco farm and the home of Nils Navarro, world-renowned nature artist and author, in the Viñales area.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Hotel Mirador

Zapata Peninsula

Day 5

Depart early for the long drive to the Zapata Swamp. The Zapata area 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, Greater Antillean Oriole, and Cuban Emerald. Late afternoon birding if time permits.

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

Zapata Peninsula

Day 6

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

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, Cuban Tody, and Cuban Grassquit. 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. Have lunch at a local restaurant with Zapata area conservationists who will provide updates on projects underway to preserve Cuba's largest wetlands. Next, 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. Dinner out at a local paladar this evening.

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

Cayo Coco

Day 8

Early breakfast, then depart for the long drive to Cayo Coco. Stop for lunch at Laguna de la Leche. Afternoon birding on the hotel's grounds.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Tryp Cayo Coco

Cayo Coco

Day 9

Morning visit to Cayo Guillermo, returning to the hotel for lunch. This afternoon visit Cueva del Jabali. The Cayo Coco area combines an ideal spot for observing Cuba's bird life with beautiful beach and snorkeling opportunities. Look for Oriente Warbler, Thick-billed Vireo, Bahama Mockingbird, and Cuban Gnatcatcher, in addition to a variety of waterbirds including the West Indian Whistling-Duck.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Tryp Cayo Coco

Havana

Day 10

This morning visit Cayo Paredon Grande for birding, hopefully catching any species you have missed in the cayos. Afterwards depart for 6 hour drive back to Havana, stopping en route for lunch at a local paladar. Upon arrival you will have time to relax and freshen up before the farewell dinner this evening.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Hotel Isabela or similar

Depart

Day 11

Transfer to the airport in time for your flight(s) home.

Breakfast- included