bing

'Birds and Culture'

What makes this trip special?

Forest birds

Forest birds

Soroa

Surrounded by the Sierra del Rosario, Soroa's forested areas are home to amongst others Cuban Vireo, Cuban Pygmy Owl, Great Lizard-Cuckoo and a selection of warblers.

Highland birds

Highland birds

La Guira National Park

An interesting birdwatching area of semi-decidious tropical forest, with two specialities being found quite easily, the near-endemic Olive-capped Warbler and the endemic Cuban Solitaire.

Coastal birds and rare endemics

Coastal birds and rare endemics

Zapata

Often described as the top birdwatching site in Cuba, this area of mangrove, thick scrub, forest & coastal habitat is home to the Zapata endemics; Zapata Wren, Zapata Sparrow and Zapata Rail.

Colourful and lively colonial town

Colourful and lively colonial town

Trinidad

The magnificent colonial town of Trinidad has recently been restored under UNESCO World Heritage, with brighly painted facades, cobbled streets, bands playing and horse drawn carts the town feels very much alive.

Sweet like sugar

Sweet like sugar

Valle de los Ingenios

The eastern slopes of Sierra del Escambray were once the hub of slave-powered sugar production in Cuba.  Today the valley is scattered with ruins of old sugar mills.

Taste the real Cuba

Taste the real Cuba

Camaguey

An elegant colonial town, Camaguey is out of reach for most visitors. The town buzzes with life, whilst the cobbled squares and colonial buildings make it an attractive place to stop over.

Birds of the Coral Keys

Birds of the Coral Keys

Cayo Coco

Coral cays reached by a causeway, with low islands, mangroves and litoral habitats, are home to the endemic subspecies of Thick-billed Vireo, Mangrove Cuckoo and Bahama Mockingbird.

Cuba's unforgettable capital

Cuba's unforgettable capital

Havana

There is no other capital city in the world quite like Havana. Impossible to sum up in only a few words its combination of magificently restored buildings, crumbling apartment blocks, classic cars, lively atmosphere and sense of defiance will stay with you for a long time.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Birds and Culture'

DAY 1
D

Havana - Soroa

You are met on arrival at Havana airport and driven to Soroa for your first night. La Güira National Park

DAY 2
BLD

Soroa

In the morning you bird forest near Soroa looking for your first Cuban Vireo, Cuban Pygmy Owl, Great Lizard-Cuckoo and a selection of warblers including the lovely Black-throated Blue and Black-throated Green Warblers. You should also see Ruddy, and possibly Grey-headed, Quail Dove. Lunch in Soroa. In the afternoon head further west to La Güira NP, an important reserve protecting some of the best and most productive forests on the island, mostly broadleaf forest, but with areas of pine descending to the coast. Here you should find Cuban Trogon, Cuban Tody (todies are unique to the Caribbean), and Cuban Emerald (one of only two hummingbird species on Cuba) and a good number of others. You stay for two nights near the park, in San Diego de los Baños.

DAY 3
BLD

Birding in La Güira National Park.

DAY 4
BLD

Zapata

Transfer directly to Zapata where you stay at Playa Girón or Playa Larga for the next 4 nights.

DAY 5
BLD

The Zapata area southeast of Havana is the richest single area for birds in Cuba, and perhaps the entire Caribbean. Here the Cienega de Zapata National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Ramsar site, protects a range of habitats from semi-deciduous forest down to coastal mangroves. Birding opportunities are good, ranging from the Bee Hummingbird to Great Flamingo. Gundlach’s Hawk is a speciality of the forest here. The swamp lands might allow you to see the rare Zapata Wren along with large numbers of other species. You might keep your ears open for the Zapata Rail, but with little hope of a sighting this possibly mythic species.

DAY 6
BLD

Birding in the Zapata area.

DAY 7
BLD

Birding in the Zapata area.

DAY 8
BLD

Trinidad

Today you transfer from Zapata via Cienfuegos to the lovely town of Trinidad with its cobbled streets and colonial houses, where you stay for 2 nights, with upper range hotel accommodation among the options.

DAY 9
BLD

A two-day break from birding starts today, with a guided visit to Trinidad–a World Heritage Site, followed by a trip to the Valley of the Sugar Mills, a UNESCO ‘Cultural Landscape of Mankind’ taking you back to the time of slavery. You visit the Manaca Iznaga Tower before returning to Trinidad with the rest of the afternoon at leisure.

DAY 10
BLD

Camagüey

Camagüey is an attractive historic colonial town with winding streets (designed, they say, to confuse marauding pirates) with an affluent and relaxed air. You tour the town with your guide and then enjoy some free time to explore further. Its thriving daily market is worth a visit.

DAY 11
BLD

Sierra Najasa - Cayo Coco

Today you visit the Sierra de Najasa to look for the threatened Cuban Palm Crow amongst the Cuban Crows in its palm grove and forest, along with other uncommon or rare species such as Plain Pigeon, Rose-throated Parrot and Cuban Parakeets. After lunch it is time to drive to the north coast and across a causeway to the beautiful Cayo Coco, your base for 2 nights.

DAY 12
BLD

Cayo Coco

Birding at Cayo Coco, or relaxing at the beach.

DAY 13
BL

Havana

You visit Santa Clara, site of a pivotal moment in the revolution when Ché attacked the Batista army’s armoured train, effectively putting the whole of eastern Cuba under the rebels’ control. The derailed train is still there to see and you also visit Ché’s impressive mausoleum outside the town. You arrive in Havana towards the end of the afternoon. Lovers of history, architecture, music and people will adore this fascinating city.

DAY 14
BLD

This morning you are introduced to Havana with a guided tour visiting Old Havana, followed later by a driving tour in a classic American car.

DAY 15
B

Free time in Havana before returning to your hotel for your transfer to the airport in the late afternoon or early evening for your chosen overnight flight back to the UK

Guide prices for 'Birds and Culture'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
guide price, 2 people 2 people sharing
guide price, 3-6 people 2 people sharing
Prices are per person and include:
  • Cuba visa
  • airport transfers
  • all accommodation
  • services of an English speaking specialist birdwatching guide and driver throught
  • meals as specified: B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner; AI=All - inclusive
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc

Customer reviews for 'Birds and Culture'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.

Average customer rating 100%

rating

This was one of our all time favourite trips (we travel extensively). Too many highlights. Best were Zapata - th emale cuban bee hummingbird, all of Havana and seeing and hearing the culture and history first hand in person.

rating
rating

Good birding but highlights were seeing/meeting the Cubans, seeing different geographical areas, cities etc and the way of life.

rating

Whe thought we spent the right amount of time it all the places

Seasonal information for 'Birds and Culture'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall

Typical weather for January

rainchart

Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'Birds and Culture'

Day 1

Hotel Horizontes Villa Soroa

Villa Soroa

Hotel Soroa is located in Pinar del Río, the westernmost province of Cuba, surrounded by the spectacular Sierra del Rosario, defined since 1984 as  a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  Only 75 km from the City of Havana, Hotel Soroa provides an attractive and yet relaxing environment for nature lovers, from bird watchers to trekkers and horse riding. Close to the Hotel, there is a 21-meter waterfall and the largest orhidarium and orchid gardens in the country, with over 700 varieties of orchids. From here you will be able to visit old coffee plantations originally owned by French settlers that fled to Cuba from the Haitian Revolution over 200 years ago.

Hotel Horizontes Villa Soroa
Days 2 - 3

El Mirador, San Diego de los Banos

This is a pleasant, modest hotel in a practical location for touring and birdwatching in the Pinar del Rio area.  Rooms are small with air-conditioning and also de-humidifiers that the Cubans themselves tend not to switch on, which means that people think the rooms are damp! There is a restaurant and also a bar patio area and swimming pool. Cubans visit San Diego for the mud therapy treatments and non-resident locals are allowed to use the hotel's swimming pool which can make it bustling with people particularly at weekends. A good opportunity to watch Cubans at play. In the lush hills and therefore more humid than the surrounding plains. Good base for birding at La Guira.

El Mirador, San Diego de los Banos
Days 4 - 7

Playa Larga, Zapata

This hotel is adequate and the nearest and preferred hotel for birders wishing to visit the Zapata National Park. There is also good snorkelling here.

41 rooms in small bungalows with bathroom, sitting room, fridge, tv and hot water. There are also 8 family bungalows of 2 bedrooms. The hotel has a swimming pool, tennis courts, scuba diving centre and restaurant.

Playa Larga, Zapata
Days 8 - 9

Las Cuevas

Trinidad

The hotel Las Cuevas, Trinidad, is located just above  historic town of Trinidad, with  panoramic views of the Caribbean and  the town. It is a short walk from the town's centre. `Las Cuevas' literally translates as `the caves', and this is a suitable name as the hotel is placed above an open cave which used to house a popular disco!

The hotel has  a buffet and a la carte restaurant, a snack bar, swimming pool, nightclub, internet access, tennis courts and car rental. It also offers horseback riding for those who want to explore the surroundings in a more natural way! Each of the Hotel Las Cuevas' 110 air conditioned rooms contains satellite TV, a safe deposit boxes and terraces .

Las Cuevas
Day 10

Gran Hotel, Camaguey

Camaguey

This 19th century building became a hotel in the 1930s and retains much of its original charm with its old fashioned reception and lift. The reception area is furnished in colonial style and there are four bars. The rooms vary in size but all are comfortable.There is a pleasant top floor restaurant with windows opening wide across the town's rooftops, where breakfast is served. The Piano bar serves excellent cocktails and hosts  frequent salsa sessions. The pool area hosts a synchronised swimming display on occasions, which is fun to watch. There is a good atmosphere at this hotel, the staff are very courteous and it is one of our favourite hotels in the area but it can get very noisy in this part of the city so bring ear plugs.

Gran Hotel, Camaguey
Days 11 - 12

Tryp Cayo Coco

Cayo Coco

The Tryp Cayo Coco All Inclusive Resort is in the northern keys off the coast of the province of Ciego de Avila, one of the richest natural environments in the country, caught between a spectacular lagoon and an extensive beach-lined coast. The hotel has excellent amenities and very comfortable accommodation.

It is suitable for families particularly if they have been touring and would like a beach break that would please the children. Rooms are available for 3 adults + 1 child or 2 adults with 2 children. We use this hotel for our birders, as this is the hotel they prefer for birding in the cays.

Tryp Cayo Coco
Days 13 - 14

Hotel Park View, Havana

This 3* Habaguanex hotel is a good choice of hotel for people on a budget who wish to stay in central Havana and be comfortable.  Hotel  Park View is  mid-range Habaguanex hotel - 7 floors with lift and staircase. There is a popular small bar on the ground floor. It is very conveniently situated close to the Prado and Old Havana and a short walk from Parque Central and the Malecon. The hotel rooms are small, well furnished and comfortable with air-conditioning. There are excellent views of the city from the seventh-floor restaurant, where you have breakfast.

Hotel Park View, Havana