Even though, there has been some relaxation in the travel restrictions to Cuba, Americans can not go to Cuba for tourist activities. Bird watching and similar nature oriented tours are considered as ordinary tourism; therefore, it is not permitted for US travelers.
When the Spaniards arrived at the end of the 15th century, more than 90% of Cuba
was covered with forest. However, clearance for cattle raising and sugar cane reduced this proportion to 54% by 1890 and 14% by 1959.
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Cuba Eco Tour "Birdwatching Paradise" From December 29, 2016 to January 5, 2017
Birdwatching & Nature Cuba Travel for Nature Lovers, Birders and Naturalist!
Add to your birdwatching life-list 21 endemic Cuban bird species! Explore Cuba for $2,399
Working under the auspices of Cuba’s foremost environmentalist and nature conservation organizations, Authentic Cuba
Travel gains access to the most pristine natural Cuban sites of this tropical bird watching paradise, from UNESCO Biosphere Reserves
and National Parks to Protected Areas, and offers an unparalleled opportunity for North American nature lovers, bird
watchers, naturalist, biologists, environmentalists and nature conservationist to witness the great biodiversity of the
largest and most unspoiled island in the Greater Antilles.
Cuba’s diverse wildlife stems from its unique natural history. Cuba was not originally in the Caribbean Sea but in
the Pacific Ocean, where the island was situated 100 million years ago, before the forces of continental drift slowly
brought it into the Caribbean. As the island migrated over the ages, an astonishing variety of life arrived by air, sea,
and possibly by land bridges that may have once existed. Over time, these animals adapted to their new environment.
This isolation has contributed to an extraordinary high rate of biodiversity and endemism. Cuba, the largest island in the
Greater Antilles, boats about 350 species of birds, 21 of those birds are endemic to the island, including the smallest bird in the world:
the Bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae). Cuba is also a major stopover for migratory waterfowl birds.
Endemic bird species include the Cuban Tody (Todus multicolor), the Cuban Green Woodpecker (Xiphidiopicus percussus),
the Cuban Parakeet (Aratinga euops), the Blue-headed Quail-dove (Starnoenas cyanocephala), the Cuban Gnatcatcher
(Polioptila lembeyei), the Zapata Wren (Ferminia cerverai), the Zapata Sparrow (Torreornis inexpectata), the Cuban
Crab Hawk (Buteogallus gundlachii), the Bare-legged Owl or Cuban Screech-owl (Gymnoglaux lawrencii) and the Zapata
Rail (Cyanolimnas cerverai).
Cuba, with its mix of Spanish and African roots, is the largest, least commercialized, and most exciting island in the
Caribbean. It is also one of the world's last bastions of communism with a fascinating modern history. Cuba's relative
political isolation has prevented it from being overrun by tourists, and locals are sincerely friendly to those who do
Please, check the day-by-day itinerary below. Welcome Aboard!
Cuba Bird Watching Tour Highlights & Quick Facts
Travel to UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Sierra del Rosario.
Explore Cuba's premier eco-community, Las Terrazas.
Bird Wacthing in La Guira National Park.
Soroa’s Orchid Garden, created by Cuban naturalist Camacho.
Relax by Soroa Waterfall or go bird watching!
Travel to UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Peninsula de Zapata.
Bird Watching exploration in Las Salinas Wildlife Refuge.
Birding expedition to Hatos de Jicarita.
Bird Watching in Topes de Collantes National Park.
Lecture on Cuban endemic birds by renowned Cuban birders.
Guided tour of UNESCO Heritage Site, Havana Historical Centre.
Guided tour of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trinidad.
Travel UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sugar Mill Valley.
United States of America Schools for Resource and Environmental Studies, Wildlife Conservation, Earth and Marine Sciences and others can organize a for-credit structured educational and research program to Cuba under a General License. Under such a program professors, students and staff can travel to Cuba legally to conduct research on resource and environmental issues as well s wildlife conservation.
Authentic Cuba Travel specializes in working with US Schools and Universities in creating custom-made structured courses and educational field trips to Cuba that meet the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Cuba travel regulations, while also meeting the learning goals and the needs of your university or school.
Cuba's nature displays the smallest of a number of
animals, such as the tiny frog Monte Iberia Dwarf Eleuth (Eleutherodactylus iberia) only 0.3 inches
long and exclusively found in some mountainous regions of eastern Cuba; the butterfly bat (Natalus
lepidus), which is only 7 inches from wingtips and weighs just a couple of grams; and the endangered
zunzuncito or bee humming bird (Mellisuga helenae) roughly 3 inches long. There is also a dwarf scorpion
(Microtityus fundorai) between 0.3 and 0.7 inches long among males.
Soroa’s Orchid Garden, created by Cuban naturalist and lawyer Tomás Felipe Camacho,
features a collection of 250 orchids endemic to the island, and over 700 from around the world, along with numerous
species of exotic plants that thrive here thanks to the local climate. Today, there is also an Orchid Research Center belonging to the University of Pinar del Río.
La Guira, natural habitat to bird species such as the Cuban Solitaire (Myadestes elisabeth), Cuban Bullfinch
(Melopyrrha nigra), Great Lizard Cuco (Saurothera merlini), Cuban Toddy (T. multicolour), Olive-capped warbler
(Endroica pityophila), Green woodpecker (Picus viridis), Gundlachs hawk (Accipiter gundlachi) and others.
Four rivers run through the evergreen and
semi-deciduous tropical forest of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Sierra del Rosario, natural habitat to one of the world's smallest frogs
and more than 115 bird species including a large number of migratory birds that nest in Cuba’s tropical climate.
Peninsula de Zapata Biosphere Reserve contains the largest wetlands in the Caribbean with blue-water beaches, forests, rivers, lakes, flooded caverns. Natural habitat to the Cuban crocodile, the jutia and 175 bird species.
Las Salinas Wildlife Refuge, unique Cuban site for bird watching where two continental
corridors of migratory birds coincide. Natural habitat to several bird species such as Roseate Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis),
Roseate, Yellow-headed Warbler (Teretistris fernandinae), Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris), Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus) and many others.
Topes de Collantes National Park in the
Escambray mountains in Central Cuba. A perfect place for encountering the Cuban Emerald (Chlorostilbon ricordii),
Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus), Fernandina’s Flicker
(Colaptes fernandinae), Cuban Parrot (Amazono leucocephala), and others.
Day 1. Thursday 29 December 2016. Hello Cuba
Arrival at "Jose Marti" International Airport in Cuba's capital city.
Breakfast is complimentary from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
For bird watchers, Cuba is by far the most important island in the Caribbean and it is much the best place from which to build a knowledge of the Caribbean’s special birds.
Day 2. Friday 30 December 2016. Explore "Cuba's Rainbow" Soroa
Morning: visit to the Museum of Natural History Felipe Poey located at The University of Havana. The museum displays
the collection on endemic species brought together by eminent Cuban scientist Felipe Poey during the 19th century.
The exhibit includes specimens of the world’s smallest bird, an extinct pigeon and indigenous Cuban birds!
Introduction to the program and lecture on Cuban endemic birds by Cuban Professor from University of Havana.
Followed by guided walking tour of Old Havana, UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visit to San Francisco Square, one of the oldest in the historical quarter.
Visit to Plaza Vieja, the only civic square of colonial times. Notice it doesn't have a church or government building around.
Here we will visit important institution for visual arts.
Lunch at La Mina restaurant.
Afternoon: visit to Square of Arms, ancient military parade ground for Spanish soldiers and surrounded by impressive buildings such as:
Palacio de los Capitanes Generales was the former seat of colonial government. Today the building houses the Museum of the City.
Palacio del Segundo Cabo, the seat of the second authority of the island.
Castillo de la Real Fuerza. The second oldest fortress built by the Spaniards in the West Indies. The castle was recently renovated
and reopened in June 2008 to hold the impressive maritime museum. Well laid out exhibits chart Spain and Cuba's naval history.
Visit to the Cathedral Square, the most beautiful and private 18th century colonial plaza of Cuba, named after the masterpiece of
Cuban baroque architecture: the Cathedral of Havana built by the Jesuit order.
Free time in the famous handicraft market of Old Havana where you can purchase all sorts of crafts and souvenirs by local artisans.
Drive along the Malecón, Havana’s famous waterfront, on our way to Soroa in Pinar del Rio province. Check-in at hotel Villa Soroa.
Dinner at the hotel.
Day 3. Saturday 31 December 2016. La Guira National Park
Early departure for La Guira National Park.
Once a huge privately owned state, this area is preserved now as a national park that protects over 21,850 hectares and offers picturesque valleys and hidden caves.
Bird watching session in La Guira National Park.
We’ll be looking for the Cuban Solitaire (Myadestes elisabeth), Cuban Bullfinch (Melopyrrha nigra),
Great Lizard Cuco (Saurothera merlini), Cuban Toddy (T. multicolour), Olive-capped warbler
(Endroica pityophila), Green woodpecker (Picus viridis), Gundlachs hawk (Accipiter gundlachi) and others.
Afternoon: visit to Soroa’s Orchid Garden, created by Cuban naturalist Camacho. The Garden features a collection of 250 orchids endemic to the island,
and over 700 from around the world, along with numerous species of exotic plants that thrive here thanks to the local climate. Today, there is also an Orchid
Research Center belonging to the University of Pinar del Rio.
Relax by Soroa Waterfall. Soroa is often called "the rainbow of Cuba" because at certain hours, it is possible to observe a
small Rainbow at the waterfall as the sunlight defuses through the mist.
Evening: celebrate New Year’s Eve at a venue of your choosing tonight (optional/ not included in tour costs). Your tour guide will give you advice on the numerous venues in the city where you can partake in the celebrations for New Year’s Eve. He will also help you book your favourite dinner and event. Your hotel tour desk can also help with booking events for this special night where one more anniversary of the Cuba Revolution is also celebrated.
Day 4. Sunday 1 January 2017. Soroa- Las Terrazas- Peninzula de Zapata
Morning: visit to Las Terrazas eco-community in Sierra del Rosario, first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Cuba.
Four rivers run through the evergreen and semi-deciduous tropical forest of Sierra del Rosario, natural habitat to one of the
world's smallest frogs and more than 115 bird species including a large number of migratory birds that nest in Cuba’s tropical climate.
We will be looking for:
Cuban Trogon (Priotelus temnurus), the national bird of Cuba, Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus), Gundlachs hawk
(Accipiter gundlachi) and others.
Later we visit the ruins of a French Coffee Plantation built in 1801 where we will have lunch.
Afternoon: transfer to Peninsula de Zapata National Park, declared UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and
Ramsar Site, located in the southern coast of the island.
It covers an area of 5000 square kilometres of woods and seacoast vegetation, marsh and mangroves. The park is the natural home
to over 160 bird species and 900 varieties of higher plant families. It is also a favourite stop for tens of thousands of migratory
This is the habitat of endemic bird species such as the Zapata Rail (Cyanolimnas cerverai), the Zapata Wren (Ferminia cerverai)
and Zapata Sparrow (Torreornis inexpectata). The swamp is also the natural habitat of the Cuban Crocodile (Crocodrylus rhombiferCuvier), considered as a national symbol after its resemblance with the geography of the island.
Morning: early breakfast and enjoy a boat ride in Hatiguanico River for observation of typical flora and fauna.
Birding expedition to Hatos de Jicarita.
We’ll be looking for:
Zapata Rail (Cyanolimnas cerverai), Zapata Sparrow (Torreornis inexpectata), Zapata Wren (Ferminia cerverai),
Bare-legged Owl (Gymnoglaaux lawrencii), Bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) (the smallest bird in the world),
Blue-headed Quail Dove (Starnoenas cyanoce) and others.
Lunch at Fiesta Campesina.
Visit to Guama Crocodile Breeding Farm, that has successfully bred one of the largest reptiles of Cuba
since 1974: the Cuban Crocodile (Crocodrylus rhombifer Cuvier), considered an endangered specie that can be found at
the Zapata Swamps and Lanier Swamps only.
The Cuban Crocodile (Crocodrylus rhombifer Cuvier) is one of the two most
aggressive species of crocodiles in the world and endemic to Cuba.
Return to your hotel. Time for a go snorkelling in the warm waters of the Caribbean.
Day 6 Tuesday 3 January 2017. Las Salinas- Trinidad
Day excursion to Las Salinas Wildlife Refuge, unique Cuban site for birdwatching where two continental
corridors of migratory birds coincide.
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Peninsula de Zapata, is the largest protected area in the Caribbean. There are numerous
areas designated for environmental conservation, such as the Zapata Swamp Natural Reserve and Las Salinas Wildlife Refuge.
The swamp is not only known for its size but also for being the best preserved wetlands in all of the Antilles, designated as
a "Wetland of International Importance" by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971.
We will be looking for the Roseate Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), Sand hill Crane (Grus canadensis),
Yellow-headed Warbler (Teretistris fernandinae), Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja), Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris),
Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus) and others.
Afternoon: we journey on to the historic city of Trinidad.
Guided walking tour of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trinidad’s Historical Center, a perfect relic of
the early days of
the Spanish colony with beautifully preserved streets and buildings with hardly a trace of the 20th century anywhere.
We will stop at a mirador (lookout) over the Sugar Mill Valley, where the sugar barons used to have their countryside mansions and
mills. This site is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Trinidad is well known for its pottery makers. We meet with a family that has been passing the tradition for generations:
Day 7. Wednesday 4 January 2017. Topes de Collantes- Havana
Morning: we will board former Russian army trucks for Topes de Collantes in the Escambray Mountain Range,
Cuba's second highest mountain range- reaching 3,700 feet atop Pico San Juan. The mountains are home to small mountain
villages and are a delight for birders and walkers alike. Slopes are swathed in Caribbean pines, ancient tree ferns, bamboo,
Bird watching session along Curva de Juana trail, visit to Javira Reserve and El Cubano park.
Topes de Collantes National Park in the Escambray mountains in Central Cuba is a perfect place for
encountering the Cuban Emerald
(Chlorostilbon ricordii), Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus), Cuban Parrot (Amazono leucocephala),
Authentic Cuba Travel
Bird Watching & Nature
Cuba Tour Highlights
Travel to Topes de Collantes. A must-explore in any nature and eco Cuba tour.
Slopes are swathed in Caribbean pines, ancient tree-ferns, bamboo, and eucalyptus.
Bird watching lovers, watch out for the Cuban parrot.
Tour of Zapata Park, natural habitat to over 160 bird species, 900 plant species
and a stop for thousands of migratory birds! The swamp is also the natural home
to the Cuban Crocodile. A paradise for bird watching, nature and eco Cuba tour lovers!
Travel to La Guira National Park with picturesque valleys and hidden caves. Cuba's nature at its best!
Bird watching endemic bird species such as the Cuban Trogon, Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Bullfinch...
Tour Viñales Valley, famous for its great free standing rock formations called mogotes. Nature, eco
tourism and bird watching are among the main draws of the region.
Tour a Farm for the Breeding of Cuban Crocodile, an endangered species that can be found at the Zapata and
Lanier Swamps only.
Tour of the Manjuari (alligator gar fish) Breeding Farm. Opportunity for eco tour and nature enthusiasts to
talk to Cuban naturalist.
Travel to Soroa, a site of breathtaking natural beauty, with a 22-meter waterfall. A must-see for bird watching, nature and eco tour lovers alike!
Tour of the Wildlife Breeding Centre where the endangered jutia (Capromys) and other mammals are bred.
Travel to Cenote La Cueva de los Peces, natural habitat of a wide variety of native flora and fauna.
Tour the Orchid Garden of Soroa, featuring a collec-tion of 250 orchids endemic of Cuba, and over 700 from around the world. Meet with nature conservation specialist at the Orchid Research Center.
Boat ride in Hatiguanico River for observation of typical flora and fauna. Birding expedition to Hatos de Jicarita. We will encounter the Zapata Rail, Zapata Sparrow, Zapata Wren…
Tour of Las Salinas Wildlife Refuge, unique Cuban site for bird watching. We will be in search for the Roseate Flamingo, Sand hill Crane, Yellow-headed Warbler...
Hello! I’m Bernie Solymar, and I kindly invite you to join our Cuba nature tours, an odyssey of the country's
culture, agriculture, ecology and beautiful nature. We'll explore the historic cities of Havana and Trinidad,
visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves, tour organopónicos and visit with Cuban farmers,
explore forests, caves and mountains, swim in mountain rivers, meet and talk with numerous Cuban experts
in the fields of permaculture and conservation, partake in traditional local food dishes, enjoy some Cuban
music, rum, and camaraderie, and much, much more. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions!