Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and is full of amazing birds. The island has an exciting avifauna, with no fewer than 28 endemics and one near-endemic (about half of which are considered endangered), including such delights as Blue-headed, Key West and Grey-fronted Quail-Doves, Cuban Tody, Fernandina’s Flicker, Cuban Trogon, Zapata Wren and the world’s smallest bird, the Bee Hummingbird. Through the tour, we will also encounter many other species with restricted Caribbean ranges.This is a rather easy tour that provides a great opportunity to see Cuba’s excellent selection of endemics as well as many other Caribbean species and capture them through your camera lens with the guidance of our photography experts on tour. The friendly, easy-going atmosphere and unique feel to the country are a real bonus.Our Simply Birds of Cuba starts in Havana, from here we head west to the lush green Pinar del Rio region. Where we encounter our first endemics, including the lovely little Cuban Tody and Cuba’s national Bird - the beautiful Cuban Trogon, as well as other amazing creatures like the Cuban Blackbird, Yellow-headed Warbler, Cuban Oriole, and the Cuban Green Woodpecker. Other specialties here include Cuban Emerald, West Indian Woodpecker, and Cuban Bullfinch.We will then venture further west, to the agricultural town of Vinales. Whilst the birdlife here may not be plentiful, this amazing valley will provide the most picture-perfect opportunity to capture the sunrise or sunset shots with the iconic Mogotes. You will also get a chance to visit the local tobacco farms if you wish to learn how tobacco is cultivated and take some portraits with the farmers. Whilst we are in the area, we will also venture out to Cayo Jutias. The pristine waters, white-sand beaches, mangroves and giant sea stars provide for a wonderful opportunity to practice taking those beach shots that people dream of or even practice your monochrome photography.From here, we make our way to Cienaga de Zapata, a Ramsar site due to its importance in world ecology. We will stay for a few days basing ourselves in Playa Larga. Cienaga de Zapata is home to some exciting bird species including some little known and rarely observed endemics such as the rare Gundlach’s Hawk, Cuban Pygmy-Owl, Cuban Nightjar, Red-shouldered Blackbird, the magical Blue-headed Quail-Dove, Gray-fronted Quail-Dove, the minuscule Bee Hummingbird, and the very rare Zapata Wren.On our return to Havana, you will have a chance to admire Old Havana through our walking tour showing off the decaying elegance that exudes memories of the days of the Spanish Empire.
What you will love about this trip
- Our local, knowledgeable tour guides with you for the whole trip
- Fantastic photography experts to guide you to capture the perfect birding and nature shots (just imagine that stunning portfolio!)
- Over 100 bird species to be discovered at the Biosphere Reserve of Sierra del Rosario in Pinar del Rio
- Discover the varied ecosystem of wetlands, mangrove forests, along with 203 bird species at Zapata Peninsula
- Reconnect and ground yourself with the beauties of Orchids at the ‘Rainbow of Cuba’
- The stunning sunrises and Sunsets at Vinales Valley
- The nature photo opportunities at Cayo Jutias
- All-inclusive tour, all you need to do is turn up and enjoy the sights
Is This Trip Right For You?
- Be aware! We NEVER use hotels! Our aim is to give back to the community, as such we always use Casas as our accommodation option. Of course, we are aware of western comfort requirements, so as a standard, we ensure pillows, air conditioning, and private bathrooms.
- In saying that... Do remember that you are in a country with lower infrastructure standards. As such, power cuts, especially in cyclone season are expected. Water pressure may be low and hot water in short supply. This really just adds to the adventure.
- Previously Cash was king! Some service providers now insist on the use of credit cards to reduce cash handling, but be aware that some cards may not work in Cuba. So have several options available.
- Internet access is available but is limited. Why not choose this time to switch off and relax? If it is not entirely possible, we will assist you to get connected.
- Come without expectations, as things don’t always go to plan. And bring your sense of humor, in case you need to deal with things in 'Cuban time'!
- The roads can be a challenge, whilst we ensure we get you there safely, it may take longer than you would expect in any other part of the world. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.
Places You’ll See
Further Information About Our Tours
Want more info in preparation of your trip? Our Trip Information page provides further information regarding things you need to know, accommodation transfers, emergencies, passport & visa info, what to pack and more, that you may need to know about this adventure. Click here to read
We also provide you with detailed joining instructions prior to your travel. 😎
Day 1 - Havana
Welcome to Cuba!A complimentary transfer from the airport to the guesthouse is included with your trip to ease you into life in Cuba. You can check in at any time, your casa hosts will be waiting for you. If you arrive early, enjoy your free time till your welcome meeting at 6 pm.Depending on your arrival into the country and how you feel there are some options for you to discover Havana.Maybe even get your supply of Wi-Fi cards sorted for your stay…Accommodation
A complimentary arrival transfer is included with your trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised.Please see ‘Joining instructions’ for more information about exiting the arrivals hall and connecting with your arrival transfer driver who will take you to your guesthouse.It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let us know.
Day 2 – Las Terrazas/Soroa
Depart early (6:30 AM) to the Biosphere Reserve of Sierra del Rosario in Pinar del Rio,
the first Biosphere reserve of Cuba, established in 1985. Over 100 bird species find shelter in these forests. Such a place, bathed by lakes and rivers, supports plenty of tocororos (national bird), nightingales, woodpeckers, Cuban tody, ducks, hummingbirds, mockingbirds, and the Cuban grassquit, with a peculiar yellow neck and endemic of the region, some of which can only be seen in this region.The vast bird population includes 16 out of the 26 endemics of Cuba and 10 globally threatened birds. These threatened species include the Endangered Blue-headed Quail-dove (Starnoenas cyanocephala)
, Giant Kingbird (Tyrannus cubensis)
and Gundlach’s Hawk (Accipiter gundlachi)
, the Vulnerable Fernandina’s Flicker (Colaptes fernandinae)
and the Near Threatened Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus
)and White-crowned Pigeon (Patagioenas leucocephala)
.After lunch, we will visit the Community of Las Terrazas, an eco-village built around a creek that is part of the Biosphere Reserve. It is the country’s best-kept secret! The goal in this village is to integrate tourism into an existing community rather than create artificial tourist experiences. It succeeds by using local farming, energy efficiency, and a focus on the greater good of the community. You’ll have a chance to take a dip in the water before we head to Soroa, where you will have some free time before dinner.Included activities
- Birdwatching/Photography session at Sierra Del Rosario
- Entrance to Las Terrazas community
- Lunch in the area
- Dinner at a traditional Paladar
Day 3 – Soroa
The Soroa Region is perfect for nature lovers. There are more than 50 bird species in the tropical forests, so get your binoculars ready as you fuel a passion for the birdlife of Cuba or simply embrace the beauty of the crystal clear river waters. With the sun glistening off of the beautiful flowing waters, you will be amazed to see the rainbow rays shining off of the surface - thus awarding the region with the affectionate nickname ‘The Rainbow of Cuba’.In the morning we will head out for a 3-hour birdwatching session in the mountains of Soroa. This is a natural habitat for forest birds, including both migratory and resident birds. Also, we can see some of the most charismatic species, among them endemic birds such as the Cuban Tody, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Cuban Blackbird, and several neotropical American warblers on migration such as yellow-throated Warbler, Northern Parula, common yellow throat, Black and White Warbler among some othersWe will return to Soroa for lunch before our afternoon visit to the Soroa Orchid Garden, set among 7 acres of luscious green oasis of flora featuring 250 native Cuban species and amazing birdlife to match.Included activities
- Birdwatching/Photography session at Soroa Mountains
- Soroa Orchid Garden
- Dinner at a traditional Paladar
Day 4 - Cayo Jutias/Vinales
Today we will make our way to Cayo Jutias, approximately 65 kms from Viñales, Pinar del Río's most discovered 'undiscovered' beach. The roads to get you there aren't the best, as such only those who are adventurous will make it here. You cannot see its beauty from the distance as you have to wade your way through mangroves to the 3km-long white sand beach. It is the most picturesque and tranquil beach you have seen and hiding some natural beauties, like amazingly large Sea stars!This beach makes for stunning photos both in monochrome or in color. Will stay most of the day to soak up the sun, before we head back to Vinales for an orientation walk and potential sunset shots from the hillside organic farm, where we will have dinner.
- Photography session at Cayo Jutias
- Photography session in Vinales
- Dinner at an Organic Farm
Day 5 - Vinales Valley
Viñales Valley is a World Heritage site. It is a fascinating sight, with its amazing “living landscape” of traditional farms and 300-meter high mogotes. It boasts an abundance of local seasonal fruit and vegetables, such as enormous avocados, mangoes, and pineapples. It is a fascinating scene to see when oxen are working the fields and the scent of tobacco fills the air. We will start early today to ensure you capture the sun rising over the mogotes followed by a guided walk through this rich countryside, to discover the life of Cuba’s farmers and learn the secret methods of rolling a Cuban cigar directly from those who grow it. After which you will have free time in the afternoon to discover the valley for nature shots opportunities or even capturing the vibrant township through your lens.Included activities
- Photography sessions at Vinales Valley
- Vinales Valley Walk and Tobacco Farm Visit
Day 6 – Zapata Peninsula
Today we make our way to the National Biosphere Reserve that houses the Cienaga de Zapata National Park. The park forms a fundamental region of the Biosphere Reserve and Ramsar site that shares its name. The ecological fragility of the ecosystems has led to an intense effort toward conserving biodiversity and natural resources. The region was established as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2001, and it remains one of the Caribbean's most untamed, least inhabited regions.We will stay at Playa Larga, a small fishing village on the southern Cuban coast, it's the best base for exploring the Zapata peninsula. Today you can enjoy the afternoon off to discover the beach here. The clear Caribbean waters with their rich marine fauna, full of corals and exotic fish, make it a diving paradise. Even if you don’t have your diver’s certificate, snorkeling can be an interesting thing to do, or just enjoy the beach and recharge for tomorrow.Accommodation
Day 7 – Zapata Peninsula
We will venture to Las Bremejas this morning, 40km from Playa Larga, a forested area with nice trails, yields such highlights as the beautiful Cuban Trogon (Cuba’s national bird), Cuban Crocs, Bare-legged Owl, Cuban Parakeet, Great Lizard Cuckoo, Tawny-shouldered Blackbird, Cuban Vireo, and the adorable Cuban Tody,
a favorite of everyone. You will also find more Bee Hummingbirds and a variety of migrants warblers – Warbler, Swainson’s Warbler were also seen including Yellow-headed Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Swainson’s Warbler, and Black-throated Green Warbler, among others. The endangered Fernandina’s flickers are often seen in the deciduous forests near Bermejas.We will return for lunch before driving to our next destination at Soplillar, for our afternoon session. This area is the largest swamp in the Caribbean and is a perfect place to search for the Zapata wren, the Zapata rail, and other endemic species.Included activities
- Birdwatching/Photography session at Las Bremejas
- Birdwatching/Photography session at Soplillar
Day 8 – Zapata Peninsula
This morning we will make our way to La Turba, a grassy vegetated track between tree-lined canals, where the Zapata Sparrow and the Zapata Wren are hiding. We may even see some doves, like the Gray-fronted Quail-dove, Scaly-naped pigeon, Zenaida Dove, Key West Dove, or Blue-head Quail dove in the area.This afternoon we will discover Las Salinas, an area of shallow tidal flats, wetlands, and mangrove-islets, that often showcases hundreds of American Flamingos and a wide variety of herons, egrets, ibis, seabirds, and shorebirds, including American White Pelicans, Roseate Spoonbills, Neotropic Cormorants, Wood Stork, White Ibis, Black Skimmet, Clapper Rail, Royal Tern, Caspian Tern, Black-bellied Plover, and Shoty-billed Dowitcher.Included activities
- Birdwatching/Photography session at La Turba
- Birdwatching/Photography session at Las Salinas
Day 9 – Havana
This morning we will take an approximately 2 and a half hours drive back to Havana. Upon settling into our casas we will head out to discover Old Havana, a World Heritage site since 1982. See the glorious grandeur of this dynamic area, one of the Caribbean’s most impressive historical cities. Wonder through the narrow streets and spacious plazas, admiring the Spanish architecture as you discover the birthplace of Havana - Plaza de Armas, and other iconic sites like Plaza San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de la Catedral, and hear about the love story of Havana.After which you can enjoy some free time in Havana.Included activities
- Old Havana Walking Tour - Photo opportunities
Day 10 – Havana
It’s time to say goodbye to this amazing island. We have not planned any activity for you today. Your check-out time is 12 pm.We hope you enjoyed it as much as we loved showing it to you!This is where we depart, yet would strongly recommend that you stay a few more days to explore this unique city. If you would like to take this opportunity, please let us know and we can arrange extended accommodation for you for an additional fee.
Our Photography Experts
Tour: April 2022Bruce is a UK based wildlife and nature photographer. He has been interested in cameras in the ages of dark rooms! 😲 His Grandad built him a darkroom in the loft so he could develop and print the black and white photos. Those were the days!Bruce likes to get out in nature and shoot wildlife photographs in wild places, even better when he can take others with him, so he can teach them how to capture some stunning photos and magical moments.He brings a vast of experience a budding photographer could take advantage of!
Tour: November 2022Lea began her photographic journey back in the late 1990’s, with an entry level film SLR camera and has come a long way since as she turned her passion into creations of art and now also shares her skills with others through photo workshops.She especially loves photographing nature and birds. Lea has the midas touch when it comes to capturing magical moments with stunning birds in the wild and bringing out the true beauty of flowers…