Cuba’s Western Mountains, Zapata Peninsula,
Northern Archipelago, Escambray Valley and Havana

You Are Invited

You are invited on an exclusive, U.S. led and managed birding program to Cuba! The program is managed by the Caribbean Conservation Trust, Inc. (CCT), which is based in Connecticut. In early 2018 CCT staff began their 22nd year of managing bird conservation and natural history programs in Cuba. Along with CCT Ornithologist Michael Good, our team will include award-winning Cuban artist, author, and naturalist Nils Navarro, a bilingual Cuban tour leader and local naturalists in 4 different birding regions. They will guide you through some of the best bird habitats in Cuba, the Caribbean’s largest and most ecologically diverse island nation.

CCT designed this itinerary to take you to Cuba’s finest bird habitats, most beautiful national parks, diverse biosphere reserves, and unique natural areas. We will interact with local scientists and naturalists who work in research and conservation. In addition to birding, we will learn about the ecology and history of regions we visit. Finally, and especially given the ongoing changes in U.S. – Cuban relations, we can expect some degree of inquiry into fascinating aspects of Cuban culture, history, and daily living during our visit.

Where We Will Travel

Las Terrazas Community

Our Cuba Bird Survey begins in the forests surrounding Las Terrazas Community, established in 1968 as a reforestation and community integrated development project. In Cuba’s post-revolutionary history, the community has blossomed as a model of sustainability, and is currently a prime destination for ecologically based tourism.

Cuba’s Western Mountains

Cuba’s Western Mountains include two of the country’s most diverse and dramatic ranges: the Sierra de la Rosario, and Sierra de los Organos. We will explore an area common to both ranges in search of western range endemic species such as the Cuban Solitaire. A highlight of the trip, we will visit the magical, unusually beautiful karstic landscape of mogotes– the towering, lushly vegetated, flat-top limestone monoliths that dominate the Organos Mountains. This is the only region in which we will likely see the Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Grassquit, Giant Kingbird, & Olive-capped Warbler. Other potential endemic species for western Cuba include Cuban Oriole, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Cuban Pewee, Cuban Pygmy-Owl, Cuban Tody, Cuban Trogon, Cuban Vireo, & Yellow–headed Warbler.

Zapata Peninsula - Bay of Pigs

We will also explore the diverse wetland region of the Zapata Peninsula, Cuba’s richest and most importantbirding destination located in the historic Bay of Pigs. This peninsula is a Ramsar Convention (international conservation treaty) designated site, and is among the most important wetlands in the West Indies. Here, the best local guides will lead us through protected areas in Cienaga de Zapata National Park and other natural sites off the beaten track. The Zapata Peninsula covers more than 2800 square miles and features easily accessible, everglades-like ecology and habitat.

Framed by the pristine Caribbean coastal environment of the Bay of Pigs, the peninsula features vast open swamp land, low coastal forests, sparkling white sand beaches, healthy and accessible coral reefs, and refreshing natural limestone pools called cenotes. Bee Hummingbird, Cuban Black Hawk, Zapata Wren, Zapata Sparrow, Fernandina’s Flicker, Bare-legged Owl, Tawny- shouldered and Blue-headed and Grey-fronted Quail Doves, Red-shouldered Blackbird are among the many birds we will hope to find (3 nights).

Cayo Coco and Cuba’s Atlantic Archipelago

Cayo Coco and Cuba’s Atlantic Archipelago provide excellent birding opportunities on Cuba’s Atlantic coast. These previously uninhabited and relatively unexplored islands were connected to the mainland by an 18+ mile causeway completed in 1989. Cuba’s academy of sciences (CITMA) maintains a research facility here. These barrier islands and keys provide unique opportunities for: Cuban Gnatcatcher, Oriente Warbler, Thick-billed Vireo, Bahama Mockingbird, West Indian Whistling Duck, as well as numerous shorebirds and aquatic birds. This region also provides additional opportunities to see rare endemics such as Zapata Sparrow & Gundlach’s Hawk. Accommodations are in a modern beachfront resort (2 nights).

Sancti Spiritus, the Escambray Valley and Colonial Trinidad

The outskirts of Sancti Spiritus in central Cuba provides a peaceful and welcome location as we move south and east from Cuba’s Atlantic coast. This lovely region is surrounded by lush valleys and foothills of the Sierra de Escambray Mountains. From here we will bird the Escambray Valley, bordered on the north by dramatic vistas of Cuba’s third largest mountain range, and to the south by the Caribbean Sea and it’s picturesque coastline. A lunch stop in historic Cienfuegos follows our
search for Palm Crow and other resident birds.

Havana

Our program concludes in HAVANA, among the most authentic colonial cities in the Americas. Upon our return to Havana at the end of the birding program, you will have the option of spending two evenings in Havana, one of Latin America’s best preserved and most compelling colonial cities. Our full day EXTENSION OPTION in the city will include all meals, a guided city tour, including a walking tour of Habana Vieja (Old Havana) and the 4 original plazas, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. Old Havana is like a living museum, and is currently undergoing rapid, energetic change.

As a special treat, we will also visit the home and private ornithological collection of Orlando Garrido, Cuba’s most prolific living naturalist and senior author of the Field Guide To the Birds of Cuba.

Registration, Trip Costs, Terms, and Conditions

Land costs for the 10 day program are $ 4,295.00 per person for shared accommodations, with an additional $ 550.00 for Single supplements. The 1 day/night Havana extension option is $ 285.00 per person sharing and $ 345.00 per single traveler. Reservation forms are accepted on a first come, first served basis, and must be accompanied by a $ 700.00 deposit payable to Caribbean Conservation Trust. Enrollment is limited to 14 travelers. CCT Cuba programs have sold out quickly this season. Fewer participants may result in a reasonable small group supplement. With a total of 12 participants, add $ 150.00 per person for a small group supplement.

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