The Best Birding Tour in Cuba
MARIAH TRAVEL is proud to announce THE BEST BIRDING TOURS IN CUBA will resume, beginning November 2021. With the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, we are taking every precaution and safety measure before slowly restarting our travel programs. Our Cuban guides, suppliers, friends and acquaintances are excited about renewed Cuban/American relations - and so are we!
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and supports an incredible variety of habitats from interior tropical forests, montane forests, to extensive wetlands and mangroves. Lying only 90 miles from Miami, Cuba boasts 372 species of birds, 26 of them endemic species - found only in Cuba! It is by far one of the premier locations in the world to enjoy bird watching.
Leading our exclusive tours are master birders, educators, and extraordinary guides from the National Museum of Natural History of Cuba. Their curriculum vitae includes numerous scientific papers and authored books on the bird ecology of Cuba. Our guides are the most sought after guides in the country. Mariah Travel programs maintain the best birding itinerary and birding strategies in Cuba.
Licensed by the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to organize and conduct legal Support for the Cuban People travel to Cuba, Mariah Travel leads the way in Cuba travel. These exclusive tours engage participants with the warm beautiful people of Cuba along with a strong emphasis on birds and nature. You will experience Cuba in a most personal way, through the eyes of the Cuban people. We meet with local biologists and naturalists as we visit reserves and other nature areas where Cuban endemic species as well as specialty bird species are located.
Program inspiration, concept and design is modeled on similar international natural history trips organized by EAC Tours – voted “One of North America’s Best Wildlife Tour Companies” by the National Wildlife Federation.
Depart from Tampa or Miami and arrive at Havana airport. Dinner and overnight at your hotel.
Introduction to Cuba's natural history with our expert bird guide(s). After breakfast, drive to Viñales - birding along the way at excellent locations like Las Terrazas & La Guira. Viñales, situated in Sierra de los Organos, is a delightful, small town in a beautiful valley with a distinctive landscape defined by steep-sided limestone mogotes. Viñales is located about 93 miles (150 km) west of Havana. Over 130 species have been reported from the area. Overnight in Viñales in one of the local hotels or casas.
Beautiful Vinales Valley
Zunzun – Bee Hummingbird
Smallest bird in the world!
Early birding of the area, then begin drive to Zapata Peninsula – approximately 5 hours. Stop in Havana to pick up box lunch to enjoy on the trip. Target species along the way: Cuban Grassquit, Cuban Solitaire, Olive-capped warbler and other endemics. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Playa Larga or similar in Zapata.
HIGHLIGHT: Zapata's Birds
Zapata Peninsula is, undoubtedly, the best bird watching area in Cuba, and possibly the entire Caribbean region. It supports all but three of Cuba’s 23 avian endemics, as well as many other native species, both winter residents and transients, along with several summer and spring visitors (which breed in Cuba but return south in fall). Over 260 species have been reported in the area.
The National Bird of Cuba
Early breakfast and depart to Bermeja (a fauna refuge with national significance). The area is open with royal and cabbage palms, bushes and shrubbery, 12 km north of Playa Girón or Bay of Pigs. Here we will look for Fernandina’s Flicker. In addition, Cuba’s two endemic owls, Cuban Nightjar, Bee Hummingbird (Zunzun), Cuban Parakeet, Cuban Trogon, Cuban Tody, and all four quail-dove species (the two rarer species are frequently encountered) can also be seen here, as well as many Nearctic warblers. After lunch, continue birding in the afternoon in Bermeja area again. Excellent birding opportunities! Dinner and overnight at Hotel Playa Larga or similar in Zapata.
Early breakfast and depart to La Turba. This is a marsh habitat where we will be looking for Zapata Wren, Zapata Sparrow and Red-shouldered blackbird. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Playa Larga or similar in Zapata.
Early morning birding of the area then we begin our drive to Camaguey. Arriving around 5 PM, we’ll have the opportunity to bird the grounds around our hotel, which has produced several endemics during our past visits. Dinner and overnight in Camaguey.
Early breakfast and depart to Najasa for spectacular birding in the La Belen reserve. Later, depart for beautiful Cayo Coco and the coast. Dinner and overnight in Cayo Coco.
HIGHLIGHT: Najasa and La Belen Reserve birds
Located about 70 km southeast of Camagüey city, this is a protected area of open country with many palm groves and a mixture of semi-deciduous woods at the foothills of low elevations. About 120 species of birds have been reported: Plain Pigeon, Cuban Parakeet, Rose-throated Parrot, Bare-legged Owl, Cuban Pygmy-owl, Cuban Palm Crow, three species of woodpeckers and Giant Kingbird.
HIGHLIGHT: The birds of Cayo Coco
The second-largest key in Cuba that has recently been connected to the mainland by
a rock-fill road. Located 70 km northwest of Morón, and mostly covered by semi-deciduous forests; there are also mangroves, coastal shrubs, patches of grass, and lagoons. Over 200 species has been reported, including many Cuban rarities with several new birds to add to the list: Cuban Gnatcatcher, a race of Zapata Sparrow and Oriente Warbler.
Also, species such as: Western Spindalis and Cuban Bullfinch. There are many waders and one of the largest groups of American Flamingo. In the fall, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon are not uncommon. Piping Plover is a winter resident on these keys.
Early breakfast and depart to Cayo Paredón Grande then later to Cayo Guillermo. Dinner and overnight in Cayo Coco.
HIGHLIGHT: The birds of Cayo Paredón Grande
Your destination will soon become recognizable in the distance due to its black-and-yellow painted lighthouse. The main habitat is sandy coast vegetation and mangroves. Well over 100 species have been reported in the area including Thick-billed Vireo (of the recently described endemic subspecies cubensis) and Bahama Mockingbird (very rare in this area) among them.
Near the lighthouse is where during the fall migration of many North American warblers can be spotted. It is also an excellent area for Mangrove Cuckoo, Cuban Gnatcatcher and the Oriente Warbler.
Cayo Guillermo is situated 34 km northwest of Cayo Coco. This is a sandy key with xerophytic vegetation and lots of Coccothrinax species palms. This habitat is famous for finding the Bahama Mockingbird.
Great Lizard Cuckoo
Cuban Pigmy Owl
Early morning birding around Cayo Coco then drive to the beautiful city of Santa Clara. Enjoy afternoon birding and visiting this historical city including the memorial to Che Guevara. Dinner on your own to explore the beautiful city of Santa Clara. Overnight in Santa Clara.
Early departure and drive to Havana, about 3 hours. Enjoy a lunch at El Divino Restaurant followed by a tour of Ernest Hemingway’s Finca Vigia.
Many options for the rest of the day - enjoy a guided walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the four main historical squares of Old Havana - San Francisco Square, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de Armas and Cathedral Square. The lush, tree-lined environment that surrounds Plaza de Armas may produce an observation of another Cuban endemic species! Time permitting, walk to an artist’s market to purchase souvenirs.
Later meet for a farewell dinner at a private paladar restaurant. Overnight at Hotel Memories Miramar Habana or similar.
Depart Havana with wonderful memories a fabulous birding experience!
Cayo Coco Beach Habitat
Included in your tour cost:
• Airport transfers: From José Martí Int'l Airport and return.
• All breakfasts and welcome dinner. Other lunches and dinners as listed in tour itinerary.
• All activities, expert birding guides, services, speakers, meetings and meals as described in tour itinerary except those noted as "optional" or "not included in cost."
• Air-conditioned transportation and a full-time driver.
• Mandatory Cuban medical insurance coverage during your island stay.
Not included in your tour cost:
• International airfare to and from Cuba. Mariah Travel will assist and advise with the coordination of the best flights.
• Cuba Tourist Visa
• Gratuities for Cuban tour guide, bus driver, chambermaids, restaurant staff, porters, etc. Please inquire about recommended gratuities guidelines.
• Optional travel interruption and cancellation insurance with USI Affinity. Please visit - https://www.eactours.com/travel-insurance