Cuba's nature displays the smallest of a number of
animals, as we will see in our Cuba tours 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
), which is only 7 inches from wingtips and weighs just a couple of grams; and the endangered
zunzuncito or bee humming bird
) roughly 3 inches long. There is also a dwarf scorpion
) between 0.3 and 0.7 inches long among males.
Soroa is located in Sierra del Rosario mountain range, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It boasts a unique flora and fauna, plenty of natural trails, horseback riding, hiking and bird watching tours under the guidance of local expert guides. The ruins of 19th Century French coffee plantations can also be found in the regions, among other attractions that made this a unique destination for nature enthusiasts. Soroa also offers rivers like Manantiales and Bayate showcasing abundant natural baths and the world famous Soroa Waterfall.
The Soroa orchid garden features hundreds of varieties of orchids (about 20,000 orchid plants).
What separates Authentic Cuba Travel® from other nature and bird watching Cuba tour providers, it is the opportunity to visit places like Alturas de Banao Ecological Reserve, which features pristine mountain valleys, rivers, waterfalls and domed karst peaks. More than 900 species of plants have been reported in this area, and many botanists come here to collect species of Cuban flora— more than 150 of which, including several kinds of banana plants, are endemic to Cuba. This is a reserve for the endemic and rare Cuban parakeets and Cuban parrots.
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. Considered by birders as the premium bird watching spot in the Caribbean region, we will explore it extensively during our Cuba tours.
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
), Cuban Parrot (Amazono leucocephala
), and others which makes it a must visit for any bird watching Cuba travel.
The Guama Crocodile Breeding Farm has successfully bred one of the largest reptiles of Cuba since 1974. The Cuban Crocodile (Crocodrylus rhombifer Cuvier
) is 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.
Cueva de Santo Tomas is Cuba's largest cave system. The cave is spectacular, especially where the roof has collapsed and you walk into a green jungle paradise sunk into a mountaintop.
Several cave rooms are connected over an area of 45 kilometers in length, extend over seven levels. The rooms bear names like "Salón del Caos" (Chaos Saloon), "Increíble" (incredible), "Tinieblas" (darkness), ect. Solid footwear and clothing are recommended.
Discovering the authentic Cuba that coexists in tandem with major Cuban tourist hubs is a mandate of our nature tours to Cuba. Cienfuegos city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
in the Southern Caribbean coast of Central Cuba that we will explore during our Cuba travels. The colonial town of Cienfuegos was founded in 1819 in the Spanish territory but was initially settled by immigrants of French origin. It soon became a trading place for sugar cane, tobacco and coffee because of its position on the Caribbean coast of southern-central Cuba at the heart of the country’s sugar cane, tobacco and coffee production area.
For those looking to immerse in the authentic Cuba that lies beyond popular beach resorts, travel to Trinidad City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
and early Spanish colony should be a top priority. Renowned for its incredible preservation of both colonial buildings and streets, the historical centre of Trinidad is one of the few remaining places in the entire Latin America where the 20th century has left only a minimal visual impact on its townscape.
This authentic Cuba tour will introduce foreign visitors to Cuba to local peasants in the Vinales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
, who have been growing the finest tobacco in the world for centuries. In fact, Pinar del Rio’s tobacco accounts for almost 70% of all tobacco produced in the Caribbean island. Ask any Cuban cigar connoisseur and they all agree it is the best quality too.
Day 1. Friday 10 February 2023.
Arrival at "Jose Marti" International Airport in Cuba's capital city.
Meet your Cuban tour guide and bus driver.
Private transfer to your hotel
located at Vedado Neighbourhood
, the cultural center of Havana 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 Cuban Birds.
Day 2. Saturday 11 February 2023.
Morning: visit to the National Museum of Natural History, showcasing four main collections. Among those, an exhibit dedicated to Cuban Life and Nature, displaying minerals and fossils of extinguished plants and animals that once inhabited the Caribbean island as well as a vast collection of Cuban animals and Cuban Birds
There’s a new wave of private restaurants that has swept the Cuban capital offering exciting cuisine in atmospheric surroundings. This evening we’ll enjoy a welcome dinner at ‘Cafe Laurent’, a family-run restaurant located in the penthouse atop a small 1950s apartment building.
Afternoon: Guided walking tour of Old Havana
, a 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.
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.
Evening: enjoy Afrojazz, Cubajazz and Sonjazz at Club La Zorra y El Cuervo, Havana’s most famous Jazz club, located just around the corner from the National Hotel of Cuba. The club features astonishing performances by island bands and soloists! (optional, not included)
Day 3. Sunday 12 February 2023.
Havana- Cienfuegos- Trinidad
Morning: Departure to Cienfuegos, in Central Cuba. 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.
The colonial town of Cienfuegos
was founded in 1819 in the Spanish territory but was initially settled by immigrants of French origin. It soon became a trading place for sugar cane, tobacco and coffee because of its position on the Caribbean coast of southern-central Cuba at the heart of the country’s sugar cane, mango, tobacco and coffee production area.
Visit to Palacio de Valle upon arrival.
The eclectic building was erected at a cost of a million and half pesos. French, Arabic, Italian and Cuban artisans worked with marble, alabaster, brass, glass and ceramic imported from Spain, Italy and United States. The entrance is primitive Gothic style and leads to a dining room of Mudejar influence, which imitates the famous Patio of the Lions, of Alhambra, in Granada. Lunch at Palacio del Valle restaurant.
Afternoon: Guided walking tour of Cienfuegos Historical Center, UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will visit neoclassical buildings around Paseo del Prado and the main Square Jose Marti such as the Tomas Terry Theatre completed in 1895; the Casa de la Cultura, home of another wealthy sugar baron, stunning mansion in neoclassical style.
The Cathedral built with the donation of wealthy families like the Lebrancs, the Albis, the Terrys. Inside you find the reproductions of the 12 Apostles in stained glass imported from
Paris. Also the original machinery of the clock tower was built in France. Still in place and working.
We'll also visit the elegant art gallery Galería de Arte Maroya and review its impressively displayed collection of paintings, sculptures and antiques.
Now we journey on to the historic city of Trinidad and check in at all-inclusive Costa Sur Resort
. You'll have time for dinner and a swim in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea!
Day 4. Monday 13 February 2023.
Alturas de Banao
Morning: Visit to Reserva Ecologica Alturas de Banao, which features beautiful mountain valleys, rivers, waterfalls and domed karst peaks. More than 900 species of plants have been reported in this area, and many botanists come here to collect species of Cuban flora—more than 150 of which, including several kinds of banana plants, are endemic to Cuba. This is a preserve for rare Cuban parakeets. Lunch included in site.
On the way back to our hotel 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.
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.
Trinidad is well known for its pottery makers. We meet with a family that has been passing the tradition for generations: the Santanders.
Time to go swimming in the warm Caribbean Ocean.
Day 5. Tuesday 14 February 2023.
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, and eucalyptus.
Explore Parque Codina. Our guide will discuss the vegetation found in this beautiful park. Several trails lead to La Batata, a subterranean river at the foot of a lush green valley where we can bathe in the cool waters of the cave.
Lunch at Hacienda Codina, an old Spanish Hacienda, once part of a large Spanish coffee plantation.
Afternoon: Further exploration of Topes de Collantes
and afternoon swim in pools formed by La Batata waterfall.
Possible stop on way back at Casa del Café for coffee.
Evening: Optional dinner and dancing in Trinidad.
Day 6 Wednesday 15 February 2023.
Trinidad- Peninsula de Zapata
Morning: Early departure to Peninsula de Zapata National Park
, declared UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Ramsar Site, located in the southern coast of the island.
Visit to Bermajos Reserve, a palm savanna, also known as “quail tracks,” , is a great location to view many of Cuba's endemic species, including Blue-headed Quail-dove, Gray-fronted Quail-dove, Fernandina's Flicker, Bee Hummingbird, Cuban Screech-owl, Cuban Pygmy-owl, Cuban Tody, Cuban Trogon and Cuban Vireo. The series of trails made for an interesting morning of birding.
Late 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.
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) 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.
Check in at Villa Playa Larga
. Time for a swim at the warm waters of the Caribbean!
Day 7. Thursday 16 February 2023.
Hatiguanico River & Las Salina
Morning: early breakfast and enjoy a boat ride in Hatiguanico River for observation of typical flora and fauna. Birding expedition to Hatos de Jicarita.
Afternoon: 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.
Day 8. Friday 17 February 2023.
Peninsula de Zapata- Soroa- Vinales
Morning: early departure to Soroa, 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.
Late lunch at Soroa Waterfall over arrival. Followed by free time to visit the Waterfalls.
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.
Continue on bus ride to UNESCO World Cultural Landscape Heritage Site, Vinales Valley
Check in at Hotel Los Jazmines
Day 9. Saturday 18 February 2023.
Exploration of Viñales Valley
“Early bird” birding on hotel grounds.
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.
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. Lunch in Viñales
Explore town of Viñales at your leisure: its open-air craft market, Parque Marti, town church, and other interesting sites of this charming colonial hamlet.
Day 10. Sunday 19 February 2023.
Exploration of Santo Tomas Caves
Morning: visit Cueva de Santo Tomas, Cuba's largest cave system. The cave is spectacular, especially where the roof has collapsed and you walk into a green jungle paradise sunk into a mountaintop.
Several cave rooms are connected over an area of 45 kilometers in length, extend over seven levels. The rooms bear names such as "Salón del Caos" (Chaos Saloon), "Increíble" (incredible) or "Tinieblas" (darkness). Solid footwear and clothing are recommended.
Lunch on your own.
Afternoon: Relax by the pool or optional horse riding tour or visit to Cuban farm family under the guidance of local guides.
Day 11. Monday 20 February 2023.
Excursion to Cayo Jutias
Morning: transfer to Cayo Jutia. Beach time.
Lunch at Restaurant in Cayo Jutías.
Afternoon free to explore the beach at Cayo Jutias.
Retunr to hotel Los Jazmines.
Evening group debriefing over Cuban rum drinks.
Day 12. Tuesday 21 February 2023.
Transfer to Havana International Airport for departure.