Cuba | Birding Cuba`s Hotspots

Cuba | Birding Cuba`s Hotspots

About this trip

Get to know the birds of Cuba during this exploration of the country’s western regions with Jayne Johnston. Make your way through a selection of ecosystems, including mangroves, forests, coastal lagoons, and limestone caves. 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 local residents.

Highlights

  • Discover La Güira National Park, 54,000 acres of mountain wilderness, picturesque valleys, and hidden caves, and home to species such as Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Tody, and Cuban Pewee.
  • 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.
  • Visit several sites in Zapata Swamp, a Biosphere Reserve and Ramsar wetland, and meet with area conservationists.
  • Venture into 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.

Havana

Dec 3, 2022

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

Overnight at Brigadinas

Havana

Dec 4, 2022

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 amidst the city bustle, Quinta de los Molinos is a haven for 40 bird species as well as 170 plant species, and the colorful endemic polymitas snails for which Cuba is famous. 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 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 Brigadinas

San Diego de los Baños

Dec 5, 2022

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, where you'll be guided by Fidel Hernandez from the Ecological Station of Las Terrazas. Not only a nature reserve, Las Terrazas is also a self-sustained ecological community that began as a reforestation project in 1967. Target species are Cuban Grassquit and Olive-capped Warbler. Meet with community residents who helped save this site, which is now a model of sustainability and ecotourism. This afternoon arrive at La Güira National Park. Its 54,000 acres of mountain wilderness, picturesque valleys, and hidden caves are home to species such as Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Tody, Cuban Bullfinch, and Cuban Pewee.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Hotel Mirador or Casa Particular

San Diego de los Baños

Dec 6, 2022

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, as it's famous for being Ernesto "Che" Guevara's headquarters during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The area is renowned as an excellent place to spot Cuban Solitaire, your target species, as well as Scaly-naped Pigeon. This afternoon visit the Viñales area, famous for its massive limestone formations called mogotes. Here you'll tour a local family tobacco farm and learn about Cuba's innovation in agricultural sustainability. Then, visit the home of Nils Navarro, world-renowned nature artist and author.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Hotel Mirador or Casa Particular

Zapata Peninsula

Dec 7, 2022

Depart early for the long drive to the Zapata Swamp, Cuba's largest wetland and 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 , 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

Dec 8, 2022

Depart after an early breakfast 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, 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. Enjoy dinner out at a local restaurant.

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

Zapata Peninsula

Dec 9, 2022

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

Havana

Dec 10, 2022

Today enjoy another hike and lunch before returning to Havana. Farewell dinner at a Paladar this evening.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner included
Overnight at Brigadinas

Depart

Dec 11, 2022

Early departure for the airport in Havana for flight back to U.S.

Breakfast- included