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'The Birds of Cuba'

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.

Open forests and palm groves

Open forests and palm groves

Sierra Najasa

Sierra Najasa is the region to look for two hard to find endemics: Giant Kingbird and Cuban Palm Crow.

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.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'The Birds of Cuba'

DAY 1
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Havana - Soroa

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

DAY 2
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La Güira National Park

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
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Birding in La Güira National Park.

DAY 4
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After a morning’s birding in and around the park you return to Havana in the afternoon. Night Havana.

DAY 5
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Zapata

After some birding on the Havana seafront, a tour of Old Havana and lunch, you head for Zapata, where you stay at Playa Girón or Playa Larga for the next 4 nights.

DAY 6
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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 7
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Birding in the Zapata area.

DAY 8
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Birding in the Zapata area.

DAY 9
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Camagüey

Today you drive through Cuba’s sugar-growing heartland to Camagüey, an attractive historic city in south-central Cuba. Lunch in Camagüey. Afternoon tour of Camagüey. Accommodation options include a very small guest house close to the birds at La Belén, with just 2 queen bedded rooms, or several good hotels in Camagüey itself.

DAY 10
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La Belén

Today you explore the nearby Sierra de Najasa, a region of open forests and palm groves south Camagüey. Here the forests are more akin to those on neighbouring Hispaniola. You search for the rare West Indian Whistling Duck and Masked Duck along with Cuban Martins. You should also find Giant Kingbird, Northern Crested-Caracara and Limpkin. You also try for the very uncommon Cuban Grassquit and the rare Giant Kingbird. There is a lot to see.

DAY 11
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La Belén - Cayo Coco

With an early start 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 4 nights. Cayo Coco

DAY 12
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Cayo Coco

For the next 3 days you take your time exploring coral cays, mangroves and littoral habitats, finding a wonderful mixture of birds in gorgeous surroundings. In the wooded habitats you are on the look-out for Cuban Gnatcatcher, Bahama Mockingbird and Thick-billed Vireo along with Key West Quail-Dove and a host of other species. In the more open areas you can relax and watch an abundance of wetland species including Reddish Egrets, a pink haze of American Flamingos, Tricoloured Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis and Roseate Spoonbill. These species are accompanied by an odd variety of more familiar species such as Red-breasted Merganser, Merlin, Clapper Rail, Ring-billed Gull, Caspian and Sandwich Terns, Belted Kingfisher, Prairie Warbler and Yellow Warbler.

DAY 13
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Birding at Cayo Coco.

DAY 14
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Birding at Cayo Coco.

DAY 15
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Havana

After some final birding you return by road to Havana where you have dinner before being transferred to the airport for your chosen international flight home

Guide prices for 'The Birds of Cuba'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
(with one ornithologist guide) 2 people 2 people sharing
(with different local guides) 3-6 people 2 people sharing
(with different local guides) 2 people 2 people sharing
(with one ornithologist guide) 3-6 people 2 people sharing
Prices are per person and include:
  • Cuba visa
  • airport transfers
  • all accommodation
  • meals where specified, B = breakfast, L=lunch, D= dinner
  • services of an English speaking specialist birdwatching guide and a driver throughtout
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 'The Birds of Cuba'

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 96%

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We loved Havana in particular the art museum and architecture etc.

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Equally good - enjoyed it all.

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Zapata & Santiago - for the birdwatching.

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rating

Good balance, saw all target birds, good time for culture sites, etc

Seasonal information for 'The Birds of Cuba'

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 'The Birds of Cuba'

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
Day 4

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
Days 5 - 8

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
Day 9

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
Day 10

Finca la Belen

Finca la Belen
Days 11 - 13

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
Day 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