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.
Animal life is varied in Cuba, with over 15,000 species of fauna, of which 10% could be on the verge of extinction: 250
vertebrate species are endangered, rare or have become extinct in the last 350 years.
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Cuba Nature & Eco Tourism: From November 11 to 20, 2016
The Nature of Cuba for Nature Lovers, Bird Watchers, and Naturalist
Explore Cuba's Biosphere Reserves, National Parks and Protected Areas! $2,699
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 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.
This Authentic Cuba Travel nature and bird watching eco tour gives the opportunity to exchange with Cuban world known
ornithologists, birders, scientists and naturalists and to visit important research centers for the preservation of
wildlife and exchange with Cuba’s most prestigious nature conservationist groups.
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.
Cuba is home to some of the most unusual creatures on earth, including the feisty Cuban crocodile, the world’s smallest bird
and frog, and migrating land crabs.
This Cuba nature and eco tour is also a brilliant way of seeing the real Cuba; such a passionate and patriotic people have
transformed this country into a very environmentally friendly place (Cuba is one of the few self sustainable countries in
the world); partly because of the trade embargo, meaning that nearly everything the Cuban population uses is made and
produced in Cuba and as a result is sustainable.
Please, check the day-by-day itinerary below. Welcome Aboard!
Cuba Nature Eco Tour Highlights & Quick Facts
Travel to Topes de Collantes National Park.
Travel to UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sugar Mill Valley.
Travel to UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Peninsula de Zapata.
UNESCO World Cultural Landscape Heritage Site, Vinales Valley.
Explore the Indian Cave in Vinales Valley.
Day Excursion to Cayo Levisa.
Bird Watching in La Guira National Park.
Soroa’s Orchid Garden, created by Cuban naturalist Camacho.
Relax by Soroa Waterfall or go bird watching!
Visit to Wildlife Breeding Centre in Zapata swamps.
Visit to Guama Crocodile Breeding Farm.
Guided tour of UNESCO Heritage Site, Havana Historical Centre.
Guided tour of UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trinidad.
Alamar Organic Garden to learn about Cuba’s Urban Agriculture
Notice to US Naturalists:
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.
The best examples of early Cuba architecture can be seen in military fortifications such as
the Fortress of the Royal Force and the Morro Castle dating from the 16th Century.
The influence from different styles and cultures can be seen in Havana's colonial architecture,
with a diverse range of Moorish, Spanish, Italian, Greek and Roman.
UBPC Organic Garden in Alamar, 15 miles east of old Havana. One of the most successful urban organic farms in Cuba
selling ornamental plants, medicinal plants, and millions of vegetable transplants to surrounding residents and
farmers. Provides training and fresh food for the area. This is a must see for anyone interested in Cuba’s Urban
Agriculture, and Food Security.
Trinidad is an outstanding example of Cuba's colonial architecture. It has maintained its historic core, featuring
the highest percentage of surviving antique buildings and public squares and bringing together architectural, historic
and cultural elements of great value.
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), Cuban Parrot (Amazono leucocephala), Fernandina’s Flicker
(Colaptes fernandinae) and others.
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.
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.
Exploration of Viñales Valley, containing the
most spectacular scenery in Cuba and some of the most interesting and varied geological formations on the island. The valley
is particularly famous for its great freestanding rock formations called mogotes.
Breakfast is complimentary from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Cuba is renowned for its exceptional biodiversity. Cuba's ecosystems are among the richest and best preserved in the Caribbean.
Cuba boasts more than 84 protected areas, making up almost 14% of the lands and 16% of the shelf, along with 6 UNESCO Biosphere
Reserves. Cuba's flora is abundant and varied; it is estimated that the 110,992-square-kilometre archipelago contains almost 4% of all
the world’s plant life.
There are around 100 different palm trees in Cuba, of which 90 are endemic. The palma real or royal palm (Reistonea regia)
reaching up to 40 meters tall is Cuba’s national tree. Other trees found in the island include oaks, cedars, flam- boyant trees,
and the jaguey, a huge fig tree with aerial roots.
The orchid family includes some 300 endemic species. There is one tiny orchid, Pleurothallis shaferi, which is only 1 cm, with
leaves measuring 5 mm and flowers of only 2 mm. The mariposa or butterfly flower (Hedychium coronarium), a type of jasmine,
is considered the national flower.
Day 2. Saturday 12 November 2016. Explore Cuba's Urban Agriculture
Morning: visit at this time the UBPC Organic Garden in Alamar, 15 miles east of old Havana. One of the most successful urban
organic farms in Cuba selling ornamental plants, medicinal plants, and millions of vegetable transplants to surrounding residents
and farmers. Provides training and fresh food for the area. This is a must see for anyone interested in Cuba’s Urban Agriculture,
and Food Security.
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.
Evening: tonight we have a Cuban band playing for us! You'll learn to dance to Salsa, Son, Rumba, and other popular Cuban rhythms
with instruction from bandleaders.
Over arrival at Trinidad, late lunch at El Jigue restaurant.
Afternoon: 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.
Visit to the Architecture Museum (Casa de los Sanchez Iznaga), housing the most representative samples of the city's architectural
development in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Visit to Museo Lucha contra Bandidos, former home of the San Francisco de Asis convent.
Visit to Museo Romantico, overlooking the Trinidad main square. It has an excellent exhibition of romantic style porcelain, glass,
paintings and decorative furniture which belonged to the Conde de Brunet and other Trinidad notorious families.
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:
Check in at all-inclusive Trinidad del Mar beach resort. You'll have time for dinner and a swim in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Day 4. Monday 14 November 2016. Topes de Collantes
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,
Arrival at Hacienda Codina, an old Spanish Hacienda, once part of a large Spanish coffee plantation where we will have a typical
lunch. Followed by a walk around this area to admire the beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Topes de Collantes National Park in the Escambray mountains in Central Cuba. A perfect place for
encountering Cuban birds like
the Cuban Emerald
(Chlorostilbon ricordii), Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus), Cuban Parrot (Amazono leucocephala),
Day 5. Tuesday 15 November 2016. Trinidad- Peninsula de Zapata
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.
Visit to Guama Crocodile Breeding Farm, that has successfully bred one of the largest reptiles of Cuba since 1974.
Crocodile (Crocodrylus rhombifer Cuvier) is considered an endangered species 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.
Visit to La Boca and Guama Ceramic Workshop.
Lunch at restaurant by La Cueva de los Peces Cenote, a geological formation that is formed when the roof of an underground
river collapse leaving a pool of salt water connected to the sea by a system of immersed tunnels. In the cenotes of La Cueva de
los Peces live a wide variety of flora and fauna characteristic only of this region.
Afternoon: visit to Wild Life Breeding Centre (Estacion de Reproduccion de Fauna Silvestre)
where the endangered jutia (Capromys) and other mammals are bred.
Visit to Manjuari Breeding Farm (Estación de Reproducción de Ictofauna), that breeds the endemic
alligator gar fish (manjuari)(Atractosteus tristoechus), considered a living fossil.
Day 6 Wednesday 16 November 2016. Peninsula de Zapata- Soroa
Morning: early departure to Soroa, a site of breathtaking natural beauty, with a 22-meter waterfall that invites visitors to
take a refreshing swim any time of the year.
Late lunch at Soroa Waterfall over arrival. Followed by free time to visit the Waterfalls.
Check in at Villa Soroa. The Villa Soroa offers horse riding tours and bird watching and natural
trails under the guidance of local guides (optional).
We will be looking for:
Cuban Trogon (Priotelus temnurus), the national bird of Cuba, Red-legged Honey-creeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus),
Gundlachs hawk (Accipiter gundlachi) and others.
Afternoon: guided visit to Soroa’s Orchid Garden, created by Cuban naturalist and lawyer Tomás Felipe Camacho.
The Garden features a collection of 250 orchids endemic of 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.
Day 7. Thursday 17 November 2016. Soroa- La Guira National Park- Vinales
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.
Continue on bus ride to UNESCO World Cultural Landscape Heritage Site, Vinales Valley.
Day 8. Friday 18 November 2016. Day Excursion to Cayo Levisa
Early morning departure to Palma Rubia Pier for boat ride to Cayo Levisa. Enjoy the day on the key
with snorkeling and Catamaran activities. Seafood Lunch (included).
Late afternoon return to Los Jasmines Hotel.
Day 9. Saturday 19 November 2016. Vinales
Exploration of Viñales Valley, containing the most spectacular scenery in Cuba and some of the most interesting and varied
geological formations on the island. The valley is particularly famous for its great freestanding rock formations called mogotes.
Lunch at Cueva del Indio restaurant.
After lunch we will visit the Cueva del Indio, used by the Guanahatabey Amerindians as a burial site in ancient time, and as refuge
from the Spaniards for both Indians and Black slaves alike. We’ll take a short boat ride on the subterranean river running through
Meet with local farmers that have been passing from generation to generation the secrets of growing the best tobacco in the world.
Visit to Mural de la Prehistoria, a huge painting on the side of a Mogote.
Explore Viñales town at your leisure: its open-air craft market, Parque Marti, town church, and other interesting sites of this
charming colonial hamlet.
Visit the Viñales Botanical Garden full of fruits, orchids and medicinal plants.
Day 10. Sunday 20 November 2016. Departure
Early morning departure to Havana City International Airport for departure.
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!