What fellow birders say about CCT:

We know Cuba pretty well after managing more than 250 groups and 23 years of offering innovative itineraries and navigating Cuba’s complex and ever-changing business landscape.  However, we ask our travelers for feedback after our trips are completed so that we have a good read on what the experience was like from their perspective. Feedback helps us shape our next trip in such a way that we can offer travelers the best available birding and natural history experience possible. 

We spent eleven days in Cuba surveying the 28 Cuban endemic birds. With our amazing guides, we were able to see 26 of some of the rarest birds in the world. We spent two days in Havana the rest of the time we were privileged to be in the countryside. A wonderful, wonderful experience.

Gallery

Donna Tramontozzi - award winning photographer

Spring Migration Cuba Bird Survey, March, 2019

Gary,

I have remarked to friends that the trip was one of the best I have been on. Excellent mix of participants, good guides and organization. Plus Cuba is unlike any of the other countries I have visited. Can’t even compare it to other Caribbean islands.

Best,

Fred Sibley
Fred Sibley

Birdwatching Magazine trip with David Sibley, March, 2019

Gary, I think of you and CCT often… you make a quality difference in people’s lives… both in the experience you offer nature travelers, and in the lives you support in those developing countries to which you bring visitors… Blessings & Joy in this holy season of peace… MDC”
— Michael Carmody, President, Legacy Tours

Michael Carmody

President, Legacy Tours

Greetings Gary,
Just a quick note to say how much we enjoyed our Cuban adventure and were so glad you were with us on the trip! You did such a great job of making sure every detail of the trip was addressed, and what a great team you have in Cuba to assist you in making a great trip happen!  We were also very fortunate that we had a good group on the bus. We were so amazed at the nice hotels and the wonderful food we had. All the little touches – mojitos to welcome us to Havana, riding in a convertible our last night, two drinks for every meal, and “mechanical” endemic birds that appeared everywhere – when we least expected actually seeing one of the endemics!  We felt spoiled – and loved every minute of the trip.

Thanks again for our great adventure!  We look forward to visiting eastern Cuba during our next adventure with you!
Happy Holidays! Jenny and Andrew

I really loved the experience we had in January on the survey.  I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to survey birds in Cuba, or just see what the country is like ecologically and culturally. I certainly enjoyed spending the time on the trip with all of you – what a terrific group! Jay P.

January / February 2018

Dear Gary,

We loved the Cuba experience, especially meeting your  tremendous staff and guides. They were wonderful and are excellent ambassadors for Cuba!

Terry C
private group, April 2016 Terry C

Dear Gary,

Once again, thank you for your efforts to arrange a wonderful and memorable trip to Cuba for our OOS bird survey group in late February. CCT’s expertise and experience in choosing birding destinations and dining / hotel locations made for a pleasurable experience in a challenging environment. Great job!! Joann & Jay S

Ohio Ornithological Society, February 2017

Gary was the best organized and most helpful trip leader I’ve ever known. I’m not sure he knew what to do with some of us, but he seemed to know just how much rope to give us so we could play, but not hang ourselves. I’m proud to say that he’s wearing the Fair Oaks hat I gave him at the beginning of the trip. I would take another trip with him as leader in a heartbeat. Nora Schwab of Fair Oaks, CA,

CCT trip February 2009

We had a lot of very happy people come home from our trip to Cuba. They had a very enriching experience in Cuba thanks to all of your planning and attention to detail. Carrol Henderson,

private group, March 2014

Personally, I thought the trip was outstanding!  I felt fortunate to have met you and that you were a part of the trip.  Your guide was incredible…intelligent, knowledgeable, organized, sharing his youthful experiences…loved it. Carol G.

CCT group, April 2016

Dear Gary,

I will fill out the evaluation form after taking some time to process the amazing experiences on this trip.  Although it was good to be home and to sleep last night again in my own bed, it was emotional to leave Cuba behind as we took off and watched the land go out of sight – and it was especially sad to say good-bye to the wonderful staff you have put together.  We had some wonderful learning experiences, all of us. Thank you for everything!  I feel privileged to have visited Cuba.

Take good care, Patti Vernelson

private group, March 2016

Dear Gary,

Not for a second should I have doubted you about passing up the electronic passport verification in Miami … we breezed through immigration/customs without that document (just as you predicted), and so did Margi & Don, who were just ahead of us.

When we found our luggage we couldn’t find you, and we had to dash to make our tight plane connection. The plane ultimately turned out to be delayed anyway, so we could have had time to thank you and say goodbye.

So I do that now, hoping you know how deeply we appreciate all your guidance, hard work, and good will. And I’m sure we didn’t see the half of it. You’re the best!  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the experience of a lifetime.

Best regards, Lyn & Keith Boone

Bird Watching Magazine sponsored trip, February 2016

A special thanks to Gary for your actions 19 years ago to make this kind trip possible for so many people.  Special thanks to Jo-ette and Arturo and all of the local guides for making our birding experience so extraordinary.   And special appreciation to Yuni for  sharing so much about Cuba’s culture, history and people in every free space she could find between the birding!   All the best until we meet again, Carolyn Lukensmyer

Washington, DC February 2015

I agree that this trip was absolutely wonderful. I finally counted my list and had 97 life birds!!  I had a wonderful time and enjoyed meeting all of you and learning  bird and travel tips from everyone.  This was my first foreign birding trip but I guarantee it will not be my last. Mary Garner

Intermountain Bird Observatory, February 2015

I want to thank all of you for making the recent CCT (Cuba) trip such an enjoyable experience for me; I could not have been happier with the itinerary and the BIRDING !!  Peter Robinson

March 2015

“Dear Gary,  I don’t think I properly thanked you for your extraordinary help in making my trip to Cuba such a unique experience.  Your careful attention to our experiences in Havana were above and beyond my expectations and I deeply appreciate our delicious lunch at the Nacional, our amazing dinner at Cafe Laurent, and your special arrangement for our evening with the Buena Vista Social Club.

I can’t say enough good about our ten days together and will encourage anyone who will listen to make Cuba a must-visit whether with you or another group. Your selection of  guides, with an introduction (and in our case recap) from Orlando Garrido, was truly inspired.  What great good fortune they are part of your team.

Thank you again for your attention to detail and your care and concern for our welfare.  I’m glad we had time with you in Havana.  It was a pleasure getting to know you.  Thank you again.” Mary Ann Hagan

Seattle, WA November 2014

“Thank you for all of your effort in making the CVWO Cuba birding trip a great experience. It met and exceeded all of our expectations. We were pleased with all of the guides and especially Osmin. He was helpful with scores of little problems and his information about everyday life in Cuba added so much to the overall experience. Charles C.

Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory, March 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and best of whatever holidays you may celebrate.

We are still marveling over how wonderful our experience was in Cuba. It was a great trip and we would recommend it to anyone. Our accommodations were wonderful and the food terrific (if a bit too much at times). And our guides were just exceptional. Neither of us can think of anything we can complain about or were unhappy about.

Despite not being a birder, we’re also certain that Jane had a good time and is even considering a purchase of binoculars. We think she was really pleased to see rural areas of Cuba, something she wouldn’t otherwise get to see.

It was a very pleasant group of people we were with and unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to exchange contact information with anyone. We’d very much like to connect with the other trip participants and exchange photos.  Can you please share our email address with the group?

Thanks for a great trip.  

John & Linda Frederick

Nature & Culture Dec 2018

Your guides, with their very local and current knowledge, were a huge asset in making the trip a successful one in seeing and experiencing the birds of Cuba. This tour was the best staffed in terms of bird guides that we have experienced. It really made a difference!

We appreciated all the effort that Michael put into making sure everyone got to see the various birds, to conduct a survey throughout the tour, and to report back to us what the findings were on a regular basis. He even managed to upload to eBird where internet access was available. He clearly did not have any down-time, but he managed all those duties well and still made time to check in and make sure everyone had what they needed (including a wheelchair for one of the group in Havana). That is a lot to juggle, but he managed it all while maintaining the quality of the trip. He worked well with the Cuban staff as well. His enthusiasm for other creatures was great given our interests include species beyond birds. Fred & Carol Roberts,

CCT group, March 2016

Thanks again for a great trip. This was our first group trip, so we entered it with some trepidation. We enjoyed the group members and your relaxed, personable, yet professional management. We have recommended your organization and tour to many people. Mike and Libby Edwards

CCT group, December, 2015

Ray and I also thank all of you for making the trip to Cuba educational, interesting, and fun. We experienced great birding, learned about the country and culture of Cuba with an amazing group of people.  What more could anyone ask? Ray and Bettie Hoff

Intermountain Bird Observatory, February 2015

“We knew the Caribbean Conservation Trust trip to Cuba in November 2014 offered great promise.  It did and far exceeded our expectations.  For birders wanting to see the Cuban endemics, particularly the endearing Bee Hummingbird; visit a number of pristine biosphere reserves; and learn of the culture of the largest island in the West Indies, this trip is not to be missed.

Gary Markowski, founder and director of the CCT, is the expert on birding trips to Cuba and goes out of his way to provide the most helpful information to prepare his travelers.  Gary is also a sharp birder and thus finds the top guides to accompany his group. We were in good hands, there were plenty of scopes to go around and the photographers in the group had time to take pictures.  We were gratified to see our prime target bird, the Bee Hummingbird, the world’s smallest bird, plus all our other targeted endemics.  Cuba is special and we recommend joining a Caribbean Conservation Trust trip.” Tom and Margot Southerland

Founders and former Directors (retired) of Princeton Nature Tours, Princeton, NJ, November 2014

“We had a wonderful time in Cuba, and talk about it often.   The first thing to say is that all our guides, drivers, and all personnel were very capable and professional…

Thank you again for all the preparation you provided, which made the whole process easy and comfortable. All the preparation made for a memorable trip. We have told several of our friends about your services in setting up the trip, and would not hesitate to recommend Caribbean Conservation Trust for travel to Cuba.” Carl & Judi M.

April 2013

Hello Gary,

Thanks to you and the team, we had a wonderful time on our first adventure to Cuba. Having Lissandra and Nils lead us was like a two for one deal with culture and birds. Lissandra really does a great job organizing everything and is a treasure trove of local knowledge. Nils of course was an excellent bird guide and just a joy to be around.

It was a pleasure meeting you and we will be sure to recommend the CCT to our birding friends. One suggestion: in future write ups, you should warn participants about how much good food they’ll be eating!

Beat regards,

Tom Pericak
Bonnie Simmons

Tom Pericak & Bonnie Simmons

Winter Warblers and Endemics, January 2019

Dec, 2018
The trip was fantastic. The attention to detail by you and your staff was greatly appreciated. Your professionalism and courtesy were truly amazing. Thanks again for a great trip.

Gregg G.

Hello Gary.  
 
Thanks to you and the team, we had a wonderful time on our first adventure to Cuba.   Having Lissandra and Nils lead us was like a two for one deal with culture and birds.  Lissandra really does a great job organizing everything and is a treasure trove of local knowledge.  Nils, of course, was an excellent bird guide and just a joy to be around.  We also cannot speak more highly of Duni – he was an excellent driver and we felt safe in his hands.
We feel you’ve tweaked the itinerary well to add in some downtime so that we could enjoy the beaches and culture of Cuba.  The timing of everything fit our needs perfectly.  The surprise ride in the ’56 Mercury on our last night in Havana was a special treat and thank you for that.  It was a pleasure meeting you and we will be sure to recommend the CCT Cuba bird tour to our birding friends.  One suggestion: in future write-ups, you should warn participants about how much good food they’ll be eating!
 
Best regards,
 
Tom P
Bonnie S
Tom P & Bonnie S

Old Fort, N.C.

Gary and David – Thank you for organizing and leading such an incredible trip. As I reflect on the two weeks, every aspect of this tour was outstanding:

  • Locations and choice of available lodging … service at the house in Havana was far above my expectations for this trip.
  • Birding opportunities and the quality of our guides – Giraldo and Dayana kept us informed, relaxed and quickly became our new friends.
  • Restaurants and service – the quality of the food was a pleasant surprise, and most of our group will need to cut back on drinks and desserts now that we’re back home!
  • Transportation – our group was quite comfortable on “the short bus” and Manuel was a true professional behind the wheel.
  • A truly amazing Cuban experience, enhanced by great weather, engaging hosts, entertaining Jazz Fest shows with accessible musicians –(5 day extension option).

Overall – an outstanding trip. Thanks again – I really enjoyed our time together!

Rich K.

New Jersey Audubon, January 2018

special thanks to Gary for your actions 19 years ago to make this kind trip possible for so many people. All the best until we meet again…

Carolyn L
Washington, DC February 2015 Carolyn L

Dear Gary,

My wife Ann Nora and I really enjoyed our Cuban trip – due mostly to your efforts – Thanks! Ken H

April, 2017 WINGS, March 2017

Let me just say…I wish I were back birding in Cuba! I thoroughly enjoyed our trip, which if anything exceeded my expectations. Besides the amazing birds, I really appreciated the opportunity to contribute in some small way both to conservation and to building friendship between Cubans and Americans. I thought everything was extremely well-organized and have no real complaints about any of our lodging or meals. Finally, I can’t say enough good things about the trip leaders – yourself included! José really was an excellent driver: always on time and in the right place, and I always felt very safe riding on the bus. Giraldo was an excellent traveling companion and so knowledgeable about Cuban wildlife; it was great chatting with him over meals at Hostal Yuyo. Yuri worked so hard and did such a great job. I also appreciated everything he shared with us about Cuban history and society; that was an unexpected bonus and always very interesting. Jean Beyer

CCT group, April 2016

I’ve attached the evaluation form to this email, but I also wanted to elaborate a bit more via email.  This trip surpassed my expectations regarding lodging, food, and travel.  I felt the logistics were handled extremely well given the extra requirements of traveling in Cuba.  The bus was excellent with an outstanding driver in Jose.  The lodgings were better than many other places I’ve birded. Our guide was absolutely fantastic.  I was impressed with his professionalism, demeanor, sense of humor, knowledge and commitment to birds and conservation for future generations of Cuban kids.  As a professor of ornithology, it was an honor to meet Orlando Garrido at his home.  That was one of the personal highlights of my trip. I commend you/CCT for doing these trips.  I’m proud to have been a part of it. Doug Wood

private group, March, 2016

Dear Gary,

We loved the Cuba experience, especially meeting your very professional guides. They were wonderful and are excellent ambassadors for Cuba! Terry Chism

private group, April 2016

Bart and I would like to thank all of you for contributing to the fabulous trip to Cuba!! We added 44 birds and 17 good friends to our life’s list.  It was possibly the best trip we’ve ever had –  beautiful, educational, interesting and especially fun!  We’d follow you guys on any birding trip! (Or conga line!) Barbara Hoag

Darby, MT March 2015

“…this trip was an amazing experience for me, not just because of the many birds we saw but also because of my delightful fellow travelers. You were all very patient and kind with this novice and I learned much from you. I am now inspired to continue honing my birding skills and to take future birding trips. I have even opened an eBird account.   Jay, I appreciate that you took a special interest in helping us see our “wish list” and target birds through your scope. Also, Reid and Bart were always ready and willing to share through their scopes… thank you!  Jay and Gary are to be commended for organizing this excellent itinerary and hiring knowledgeable and personable guides.” Lisa Artiga

Meridien, ID

“… I came home with 44 lifers and an intense appreciation for what life is like in Cuba for both natives and visitors alike. Each place we stayed had its own distinct ambiance and each lived up to its billing.  You and CCT have the entire experience wired from beginning to end. Your staff were a pleasure to work with and each of the local guides excelled in their knowledge of both English and more importantly the birds.

You certainly have given me a treasure trove of memories that will last a long time. The trip could not have been better. Many, many thanks!” David Hartgrove

Halifax River Audubon Field trips chair, December 2014

“Thanks again for a really great trip. I have led almost 100 tours myself, but have never done the great job you did for us. It was a wonderful experience as my last big trip.” Don Messersmith

Audubon Naturalists Society, February 2012

“Thanks for your interest in participants’ experience.  As you observed, the program went smoothly and was totally successful.  I attribute that to good planning and good leaders.  I know how easy it is in countries like Cuba for things to go wrong, sometimes unavoidably, but I also know that the better the plans and the better the leaders, less goes awry… Luis Díaz is top drawer.  Luis’s expansive naturalist knowledge enriched our tour greatly, to say nothing of his winning personality.  Thanks for a super trip, Gary!” Virginia W.

April, 2013

“Thanks again for a great experience. It will stand out in my mind as one of the most enjoyable trips that I have had the pleasure of experiencing, and it was such a thrill to see the birds of Cuba and meet some of the people.” Phyllis W.

Western Field Ornithologists, November 2010

We had an amazing experience on this tour and with this group.  We decided it was our best trip!

We will be happy to write comments on Facebook and will be interested in the Eastern Cuba trip.  

Thank you for everything,

 

Teresa

“We knew the Caribbean Conservation Trust trip to Cuba in November 2014 offered great promise. It did and far exceeded our expectations. For birders wanting to see the Cuban endemics, particularly the endearing Bee Hummingbird; visit a number of pristine biosphere reserves; and learn of the culture of the largest island in the West Indies, this trip is not to be missed.

Gary Markowski, founder and director of the CCT, is the expert on birding trips to Cuba and goes out of his way to provide the most helpful information to prepare his travelers. Gary is also a sharp birder and thus finds the top guides to accompany his group. We were in good hands, there were plenty of scopes to go around and the photographers in the group had time to take pictures. We were gratified to see our prime target bird, the Bee Hummingbird, the world’s smallest bird, plus all our other targeted endemics. Cuba is special and we recommend joining a Caribbean Conservation Trust trip.”

Tom and Margot Southerland
Founders and former Directors (retired) of Princeton Nature Tours, Princeton, NJ, November 201 Tom & Margot Southerland

Dear Gary,

The organization and preparation for this trip was very efficient, we were prepared to the detail, knew what would happen -and it did- and everything worked smoothly and the support staff, driver, guides were perfect choices, worked very hard to make us comfortable and our experience as pleasurable as possible.  Hotel and restaurant choices were good to excellent with many wonderful places to sleep, eat and drink and enjoy sometimes superb dishes – and your special add-ons, the roaring drive to the hotel in vintage limousines, the welcome bottles of wine – nice touch.

I had a wonderful, enjoyable learning experience, thank you all, Trudy Reswick

Connecticut Audubon sponsored trip, February 2016

The trip was a wonderfully rich and educational experience in multiple ways. I very much appreciated our group, reconnecting with old friends and making new friends. Joette, I cannot thank you enough for all the ways in which you made this a terrific experience. I am a happy birder and have dreamed of glorious brilliantly colored birds for the past two nights!!!!  Jody Telfair

Bristol, ME February 2016

“Gary–Once again, thank you for arranging the most special, magnificent trip I have ever been on. If I never get to do another, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I couldn’t have a better experience.” Don S.

American Birding Association endorsed trip, January 2011

“Gary,  The trip was truly MEMORABLE!!    Thank-you for providing this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Thanks again for your careful planning.  I can only imagine the complexity of setting up a trip like this.  Your efforts are GREATLY appreciated… Dennis Buss

Cambridge, MA

Contact Us @

Caribbean Conservation Trust
353 West Todd Street
Hamden, CT 06518
203-733-1162
[email protected]

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