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The Cuban Endemics Birdwatching Tour / Group travel

2 nights Havanna  2 night Viñales  1 night Bay of Pigs 2 nights Trinidad 1 night Havana

Departure every Thursday, first program day: Saturday

The round trip has a weekly guaranteed departure with ONE unique language guide. We do not mix the languages, each language group leaves with their own guide and transportation! Maximum group size is 6 persons!

 

Cuba is just 90 miles from the southern coast of Florida but in almost every respect it provides a complete contrast with its affluent neighbor, not least in the Socialist ideology which has shaped the island way of life for over 40 years.

The avifauna is typical of the Greater Antilles but what makes Cuba a particularly attractive bird watching destination is the presence of 21 endemic species on the island plus a number of distinct subspecies. Added to the impressive selection of resident species is an array of North American passage migrants seeking food and rest before continuing their journey across the Straits of Florida. Wetland birds are also well represented on the island and compete for attention with resident pelicans and frigate birds along the coastline.

The diversity and abundance of the birdlife is complemented by a largely unspoilt landscape and a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere which combine to make Cuba a very enjoyable, and ornithologically productive, holiday destination.

The Cuban Endemics Tour offers the most to see from the beautiful wildlife and nature of Cuba.

 

This special round trip explores the “Bird Sanctuaries” of Cuba. The tour visits UNESCO Biosphere  Reserves, National Parks and Protected Areas with a specialized bird watcher guide offering the  knowledge of all the hotspots and local knowledge. We will be able to see the great diversity of this  unspoiled island through its natura and yet, meet locals and observe the everyday life of Cuba. We start to explore the beautiful landscapes, going through the central part of the country to the Escambray Mountains. We will be able to see endemic birds, like Cuban Trogon, Cuban Tody and Cuban Pygmy Owl, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Cuban Blackbird, Giant Kingbird, Cuban Parakeet, Cuban Parrot, Olive-capped  Warbler, Cuban Solitaire, Zapata Sparrow, Zapata Wren, Cuban Emerald, Bee Hummingbird, just to name a few from the 21 endemic species we can find during this tour. The round trip includes not only pure bird watching, but we also see the local sights and interact with locals, there are endless options to spend the nights and taste the Cuban hospitality.

 

Groups are limited to 6 pax / group  

 

Please send us inquiry for special pricing: Contact us

 

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Duration

9 days / 8 nights

Meal plan

  • Breakfast (CP)

Transfer

All transfers are included in price

Travel details

 

Program:

 

1. day                                                                               Arrival/ Accommodation: Havana

 

Arrival to Cuba in the afternoon. Meet & Greet at the airport, meeting the local tour guide and transfer to the hotel. Check in. Evening free time.

Meals: none.

 

2. day                                                                                               Accommodation: Havana

Modern Havana - Habana Vieja – Museum of Rum - Hemingway

 

After breakfast we start a full day sightseeing tour of Havana, one of the most beautiful cities of Latin America. Havana captivates all its visitors. This true Caribbean metropolis has a unique atmosphere that makes tourists travel back in time to the Colonial era while appreciating the mark of the ‘50s US mob which coexists with the retro architecture, and the ambiance of the current socialist society. We start a panoramic city tour of modern Havana, crossing Havana's famous seaside promenade, known as the Malecon, which is a favorite meeting place for locals. As we continue, we can admire the mansions of the Paseo avenue, and then stop at the Revolution Square where the Jose Marti Memorial is located. On the way back, we pass by the world-famous Colon cemetery, one of the world’s richest graveyards with more than 500 statues, until we arrive to the old town “Habana Vieja”. The first visit is to the Havana Club Rum Museum where we get acquainted with the making of the world-famous Cuban rum, the growing and processing steps of sugar cane to follow through the process until it has matured, barrel filling, bottling, and we close the visit with a tasting. Visitors can purchase the original Havana Club memorabilia, and taste the typical Cuban drink called Guarapo made from fresh sugar cane and the excellent Cuban cocktail, Guarabana. After it, we start to explore the old part of the city on foot with its rich cultural and historical attractions, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. During the tour all those who are interested can hunt local antiques at the authentic antique market while we visit the Plaza de Armas (the "Arms’ Square"), the Governor's palace, and walk through the Plaza San Francisco where we will look at the old Stock Exchange Palace and St. Francis of Assis Church and Cathedral Square. Then, we will visit La Plaza Vieja, the "Old Square" where our lunch will be served in a typical local restaurant. After lunch, we join in Hemingway's footsteps: we visit the famous Hotel Ambos Mundos where the "For Whom the Bell Tolls" was born. We visit the hotel room and the thematic exhibition and then stop at one of Hemingway's favorite places, La Bodeguita del Medio and La Floridita bars, where the world famous "Mojito" and "Daiquiri" cocktails began their journey of conquest. Finally, we shall visit the outdoor exhibition of the Revolutionary Museum, where the famous ship Granma is exhibited. We will be able to see the boat, which Fidel and the other revolutionaries landed to start the revolution. In the afternoon return to the hotel. Evening free time.

Meal plan: breakfast, lunch

The visit to the famous Tropicana Show or the Concert of the Buena Vista Social Club is optional.

 

3. day                                                                                     Accommodation: Viñales

Havana – La Guira National Park – Soroa - Viñales Valley

 

After breakfast we start our trip to the western part of the country, directly to Pinar del Rio province, the “green” province of Cuba. Our first stop is at La Guira National Park, once a private estate, now a National Park at almost 22.000 hectares. We have our first bird watching session in the park with specialized local guide of the National Park. This region offers some local rarities such as Giant Kingbird, Cuban Parakeet and Cuban Parrot. Two specialities found quite easily here are the near-endemic Olive-capped Warbler and the endemic Cuban Solitaire. Plus we have a chance for some of the species like Cuban Grassquit, Fernandina’s Flicker, Cuban Palm Crow, Gundlach’s Hawk, Cuban Tody and many more. After it we continue our trip to Soroa, also known as the “Rainbow of Cuba”, named after the “Salto de Arcoiris” waterfall that is located here. Here we visit the largest Orchid farm in Cuba that offers over 6000 plants and 700 different types of orchids - including some very rare types - in more than 25 hectares. Soroa offers a unique micro climate that makes “El Orchideario” florulent all year long. We have our lunch in Soroa, at a Paladar, a private restaurant. Locally produced organic food will be served. After lunch we leave for Viñales, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999, where the unique karst formations, the “Mogotes” can be found. Once there, we stop at the Mirador Los Jazmines, where we can enjoy the breathtaking panorama with the remote scenery of "Mogotes"(karst hills) and mountains make this place deservedly a World Heritage site. We will have lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch we start hiking the “Cueva del Indio”, and boating inside the cave on an underground river observing the various stalactites that formed different shapes and therefore each has some story to tell. Finishing the day’s program, we visit the famous wall painting, the "Mural de la Prehistoria" that fascinates us with its unique technology of gigantic size. We continue our trip to our accommodation. Check-in and dinner. Evening free time. It is worth going to the village in the evening to meet locals and experience the unique Cuban hospitality.

Meals: breakfast, lunch

 

4. day                                                                                               Accommodation: Viñales

Viñales Valley

 

Early in the morning bird watching session in Viñales. This is the place to find the Cuban Solitaire and now is also the easiest place to find Cuban Grassquit. Many other endemics are here and it is a good starting point for any birding trip to Cuba to get to grips with the commoner species. Later we leave to the Valley of Viñales. This area of the country is the beast soil for tobacco, the best tobacco in the world is produced here. On the way we stop at a tobacco plantation where we enter the house of the tobacco farmers. They will show us around in the “Casa de Tabaco” and we will learn about the producing and processing of the tobacco. We visit a local organic farm where locals created themselves an organic paradise by cleaning the land leased from the government and producing without chemicals. We will have the chance to see all the development they did and we as we will have our lunch here, we will be able to check our lunch, also. After lunch we stop by the village, we can interact locals and see the everyday life of Viñales village. Evening free. It is worth going to the village in the evening to meet locals and experience the unique Cuban hospitality.

Meals: breakfast, lunch

 

5. day                                                                  Accommodation: Playa Giron/ Bay of Pigs

Viñales Valley – Las Terrazas - Montemar National Park – Playa Larga

 

Breakfast at the hotel and departure to one of ​​Cuba's most important nature reserves, the world famous Zapata Peninsula, a bird and animal sanctuary which is located in the Montemar National Park. On the way we stop at a local Eco-Community, Las Terrazas, at Sierra del Rosario, the first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Cuba. The place is home of 115 bird species: migratory and endemic birds also. Here we stop for a bird watching session. We will look for the endemic Cuban Green Woodpecker, Cuban Blackbird and for the near endemic Olive-capped Warbler, Cuban Martin and Cuban Emerald. We will have a chance for Cuban Grassquit and Cave Swallow as well. We will visit the ruins of a French Coffee Plantation built in 1801, where we will have our lunch included. In the afternoon we continue our trip to Zapata Peninsula, where the largest swamp of Cuba is located. It houses many endemic and migrant birds, among others the most emblematic Cuban birds, like Tocororo (Cuban trogon), the national bird of Cuba; the Bee Hummingbird, the world’s smallest bird; the Cuban Tody, who is small, but all the more colorful. In Cuba, crocodiles are indigenous; the Zapata swamp grants habitat for them. We will arrive to the Bay of Pigs, where visitors can have some swimming time in the Caribbean Sea. Check-in to the hotel. Evening free time. Meals: breakfast, lunch

 

6. day                                                                                             Accommodation: Trinidad

Playa Larga – Zapata Península – Cienfuegos – Trinidad/Ancón Península

 

After breakfast we depart to the city of Cienfuegos, also known as the “Pearl of the South”. First we make a stop on the way for bird watching: the Montemar National Park has more than 900 plants and 160 bird species and 12 other animals in their natural habitat. A specialist ornithologist will lead the bird watching to “Las Salinas” Wildlife Refuge. To get to Las Salinas del Brito Fauna Reserve, on the peninsula, we will travel along a road that makes its way through savannahs, mangrove thickets and sub-tropical forests. This 91 thousand-acre salt marsh is one of the most important flyways for migratory birds in the northern Caribbean. The mudflats support large numbers of great Flamingos, Egrets, Whistling Ducks and shorebirds, the Cuban Black Hawk, the Capper Rail, and the Osprey. Then continue our travel to Cienfuegos. Once we arrive, lunch will be served at a local restaurant. Later on we begin our panoramic sightseeing tour: the city was founded by French settlers in 1819. They started to call the city “The Pearl of the Caribbean”. Cienfuegos is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2005. Cienfuegos is the first, and an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble representing the new ideas of modernity, hygiene and order in urban planning as developed in Latin America from the 19th century. We walk by the famous Malecon, see the beautiful seaside villas. We will stop to take pictures at the Palacio del Valle, a unique palace with architectural richness. It is Gothic influences, Romanesque, Baroque and Italianate combined with the Mudejar style was in vogue in Spain in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The history of the building makes it more special: the palace was built by Señor Celestino Caceres, one of the richest merchants of the city. He gave the palace to his love as a wedding gift in 1917. The rest of the story we will learn from our guide on site. Then we head towards downtown Cienfuegos, where we continue a walking tour of the city of former aristocrats. Cienfuegos, founded by French settlers, has European-style architecture. We will walk down the Boulevard of the city via the Prado; visit the Jose Marti Square, the Governor's palace, the Thomas Terry Theater famous for its excellent acoustics, and the Cathedral. In the afternoon transfer to Trinidad. Our hotel is located on the Ancon Peninsula, 10 kilometers from the city. We will spend two nights here and we will discover the area from our all-inclusive resort to ensure that we can relax after the day’s trips. Check-in. Evening free time. We suggest going to the city in the evening to find sizzling nightlife with authentic salsa parties.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, all inclusive dinner.

 

7. day                                                                                             Accommodation: Trinidad

Trinidad/Ancon Peninsula – Escambray Mountains

 

After breakfast we depart to the nearby Escambray Mountains on the platform of Russian army trucks  and drive up to the 800 meters high peak: to Topes de Collantes. This high and abundant mountain area was the hiding place of the counter-revolutionists in 1959 after the victory of the Cuban Revolution. Cuba’s second highest mountain is more famous because of its flora and fauna and its continental divide feature. Its Northern side is lush, rainy, with coffee plantations on its sides; the Southern side has a drier climate, with Agave plants and arid zones. The Topes de Collantes Nature Reserve was named after the mountain’s second highest peak. Fulgencio Batista constructed here the Kurhotel that still operates as a sanatorium. Once there, we start bird watching in the El Cubano National Park. Endemic birds found here include Cuban Tody, Cuban Trogon and Cuban Emerald.Today’s clothing should be comfortable, and shoes are required, but you also might need towel and swimsuit, too. Our trip is led by a specialist local guide who is an expert of the Cuban Flora and Fauna. During the trip we will get to know the local animals and plants: more than 40 types of orchids are endemics and more than 100 types of ferns are registered, 7 of them grow as high as 6 meters high. We will reach the “Salto de Javira” waterfall, where we can swim in the transparent mountain river. Keep your swimwear on you, as our next stop is a natural lagoon, where we can swim in the clear water of the lagoon. We have our lunch at a local restaurant in the Park. After lunch we have our Caribbean siesta and afterwards we return to the hotel. Evening free time.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

 

8. day                                                                                            Accommodation: Havana

Trinidad Old Town – Sugar Mills Valley – Havana

 

After breakfast we visit Trinidad. Our journey is made not only on ground but in time, also. The city was founded more than 500 years ago; Trinidad preserves the singular atmosphere of the colonial era. First, we have our lunch in the center of the city, and then we walk through the old part of the city. While walking along the small winding streets we have the feeling that we are going back in time. Later, sightseeing in the UNESCO World Heritage city, with visits to the Plaza Mayor, The Tower of Contrabandido, the Cathedral, La Santissima Trinidad Square and the exhibition of the Romantic Museum. The museum is located in the palace of what used to be the town's richest family with balustrade yard, marble floors, and neoclassical decoration. Walking among the frescoes of the city's wealthiest merchant family we can enjoy the exhibition. Later we walk in Old Town and stop at the famous Canchanchara bar where you can sample the authentic drink of Trinidad, the special cocktail still made from the original recipe of Aguardiente and honey, called Canchanchara. After lunch we visit the famous Valley of Sugar Mills that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, once the center of sugar production and processing in Cuba. The 270km2 valley did employ more than 30,000 slaves. The large part of the 18th century sugar consumption was produced from here. The Valley together with Trinidad was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.  Visit the Manaca Iznaga estate. It is possible to climb the seven-story tower that offers a beautiful panorama. The tower was used to keep an eye on the plantation and the slaves. Once the highest building in the country in its era, the tower offers beautiful view to the surrounding area. Then we will continue our trip to Trinidad, the ancient colonial town, once renowned for the abundance of its sugar cane plantations. In the afternoon continue to Havana. Arrival in the evening, check in, evening free.

Meal plan: breakfast, lunch

 

9. day                                                                                                                         Farewell

 

Free time in the morning. Check-out until noon. You can use the hotel facilities until the transfer leaves to the airport. For extra cost, you can buy “Late check-out” services on site. Transfer to the airport, leaving to home country.

 

 

Price includes

  • 24 hours assistance in Cuba
  • Accommodation in the chosen hotels in DBL/SGL standard rooms
  • Hotels according to local standards
  • Guide service during the round trip
  • Private guide
  • 24 hours assistance in Cuba
  • Accommodation in tourist class hotels during the round trip
  • Transfers
  • Guide service
  • All lunches during the program

Price excludes

  • Cuban tourist card
  • Excursions not included in the description
  • Tips and other credentials
  • Costs of other services not included in the description
  • International flight ticket, tax
  • Meals and drinks not included in the description
  • Travel insurance

Booking conditions


Hotels included in the tour:

Havana: Hotel Copacabana 3* or similar

Viñales: Hotel Los Jasmines 3* or similar

Bay of Pigs: Hotel Playa Giron 3* or similar

Trinidad: Hotel Brisas del Caribe 4* or similar

Accommodation: 2+1 nights in Havana, 2 nights in Viñales, 1 night in Playa Larga, 2 nights in Trinidad in selected category hotels, in standard rooms. We reserve the right to change within category.

Meal plan during the round trip is breakfast and lunch (breakfast in the hotel, lunch during the program). In Trinidad All-inclusive “AI”.

Program as per description, with entrance fees included, English/Spanish speaking guide. Meet & Greet upon arrival at the airport. English/Spanish speaking 24-hour assistance during the entire tour.

Hotels according to local ratings.

Booking: Minimum 21 days before arrival. Requested data: travelers’ name, passport number, flight details!
Payment: Latest 14 days before arrival. Cancelation: Over 14 days without penalty, with $35 administration cost. 14-8 days: the first two days services (hotel, transfer, program) will be charged. Within 7 days or No Show the entire package will be charged.
Reservations: E-mail: info @ cubanaturetravel.com  Web.: www.cubanaturetravel.com Tel: +53 7 214 4999 / Cuba
 
 

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