Five hundred years ago, Christopher Columbus made his first landfall in the New World on an island that he described as “the most beautiful that eyes have ever seen”. Due to Cuba’s turbulent history, the island remained just as beautiful today as it was back then. This is why UNESCO has declared many sites Biosphere Reserves. Thankfully this helps preserve the amazing birdlife Cuba has to offer, turning it into one destination beckoning discovery.
Bird Watching, Dinner at Traditional Paladar, Orchid Garden Visit
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and is also the ornithologically richest. 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 amazing Bee Hummingbird, the world’s smallest bird. 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. The friendly, easy-going atmosphere and unique feel to the country are a real bonus.
Our Simply Birding Cuba starts in Havana, from here we head west to the lush green Pinar del Rio region. Here we will encounter our first endemics, including the lovely little Cuban Tody – Cuba’s national Bird, the beautiful Cuban Trogon, Cuban Blackbird, Yellow-headed Warbler, Cuban Oriole and the Cuban Green Woodpecker. Other specialities here include Cuban Emerald, West Indian Woodpecker and Cuban Bullfinch.
From here, we make our way to Cienaga de Zapata, Where will stay for a few days basing ourselves in Playa Large. 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 (the world’s smallest bird), 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
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, coral reefs and underwater canyons along with 203 bird species at Zapata Peninsula
Reconnect and ground yourself with the beauties of Orchids at the ‘Rainbow of Cuba’
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 humour, 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. 😎
Standard Guesthouse (7 nights)
Havana – Old Havana Walking Tour
Las Terrazas – Eco-community and bird watching
Soroa – Dinner at traditional Paladar
Soroa- Bird watching session
Soroa- Soroa Orchid Garden
Playa Larga – Beach visit
Las Bremejas – Bird watching session
Solillar – Bird watching session
La Turba – Bird watching session
Las Salinas – Bird watching session
Day 1 - Havana
Welcome to Cuba!
A complimentary transfer from the airport to the guesthouse is included with your trip to ease you into the 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 6pm.
Depending on your arrival into the country and how you feel there are some options for you to discover Havana.
May be even get your supply of Wi-Fi cards sorted for your stay…
Revolution museum – CUC8
National Museum of Fine Arts - CUC5
Tourist bus day pass - CUC10
Camera Obscura entrance - CUC2
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 (6:30AM) 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 fo 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.
Birdwatching 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 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 others
We 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.
Birdwatching Session at Soroa Mountains
Soroa Orchid Garden
Dinner at a traditional Paladar
Castle of the Cloud Tour
Hotel swimming pool
Day 4 – 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 share 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 Carribean’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 its rich marine fauna, full of corals and exotic fish, makes 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.
Included activitiesOptional Activities
Day 5 – 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.
Birdwatching at Las Bremejas
Birdwatching at Soplillar
Hotel Playa Larga
Time at the beach
Day 6 – Zapata Peninsula
This morning we will make our way to La Turba, a grassy vegetated track between tree-lined canals, where the Zapaa Sparrow and the Zapata Wren is 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, Blackbellied Plover and Shoty-billed Dowitcher.
Birdwatching at La Turba
Birdwatching at Las Salinas
Day 7 – 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 birth place 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.
Old Havana Walking Tour
Classic car ride
Ernest Hemingway tour - CUC70
Cigar factory tour - CUC12
Morro Castle - CUC3
Jose Marti Memorial Tower - CUC2
Day 8 – Havana
It’s time to say good bye to this amazing island. We have not planned any activity for you today. Your check-out time is 12pm.
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.