Itineraries

Over the years we have refined our itineraries to give you the best chance of seeing all the Cuban endemics (except Cuban Kite) as well as many of the Caribbean specialities. Depending on what time of year you visit, many migrants can be seen as well.

 

Each of our two itineraries includes visits to the four primary locations on the island – limestone country west of Havana; an offshore cay on the north coast; the open savannah and woodlands of Sierra de Najasa; the Zapata Swamp wetland –with enough time at each to get the birds. 

 

The Classic is for 15 days, giving ample time to find the more elusive species, sample Cuban culture and meet some of the people. The Basic 11 days is just what it says and is designed for those with limited time who want to concentrate on just the birds.

 

Although both itineraries are based around the current flight schedules for Virgin Atlantic who fly direct to Havana from London Gatwick, they can easily be changed to incorporate other departure points and/or airlines.

 

Whatever the length of your stay in Cuba and however you want to organise your time while you’re there, we can put together the perfect tour for you. Just start by looking through our outline itineraries, then contact us and tell us what you want from your ideal Cuba Birding Tour.

 

 

Day 1: Arrive Havana

Drive to the hotel Los Jazmines in the incredibly 

beautiful Viñales valley. This is a drive of around two hours to the west in Pinar del Rio province. 

 

Day 2: Hotel los Jazmines

A short drive (5km) takes you to a footpath through the limestone knolls or "mogotes" down in the valley. Plenty of the endemic woodland birds such as Cuban Vireo, Cuban Trogon, Cuban Blackbird, Green Woodpecker and Cuban Tody as well as mixed flocks of warblers. This area also has good numbers of the Cuban Solitaire with its strange, haunting flute-like song. 

 

Day 3: Hotel los Jazmines

A drive to La Güira National Park of around 60 km. This is woodland birdwatching for species such as Olive-capped Warbler, which is only found among pine trees, Cuban Bullfinch, Cuban Grassquit, Western Spindalis and maybe a view of the threatened Gundlach's Hawk. 

 

Day 4: Drive east to Cayo Coco

The drive takes most of the day, then stay on Cayo Coco.

 

Day 5: Cayo Coco

There are several species to find – Zapata Sparrow, Cuban Gnatcatcher, Thick-billed Vireo, Oriente Warbler, Bahama Mockingbird – as well as waders, rails, herons on the mudflats, gulls and terns on the sea and plenty of passerines in the abundant vegetation. 

 

Day 6: Cayo Coco, Cayo Paredon Grande and Cayo Guillermo

 

Day 7: Move on to just south of Camagüey and the reserve at La Belen 

More endemics like Cuban Parakeet and Cuban Pygmy Owl as well as Plain Pigeon and Cuban Crow.

 

Day 8: La Belen

A full day around La Belen. This is the place for the rare Cuban Palm Crow and the endemic and little-known Giant Kingbird. 

 

Day 9: Drive to Playa Larga in the Zapata Swamp 

Around this area in the Zapata Swamp is the richest bird area in Cuba. Many species – including Stygian Owl – can be seen in the grounds of the cabins next to the sea. 

 

Day 10: Playa Larga

A local guide is required to take you into the dry woodlands near the tiny village of Bermejas. The birdwatching is excellent. Flocks of warblers move through the trees and the woodland trails have the endangered Blue-headed and Grey-fronted Quail-doves. Dead palm trunks may have owls or woodpeckers nesting in them and this is the best place to find Bee Hummingbird.

 

Day 11: Playa Larga

There are lots of other places to explore in the woodlands around the villages of Soplillar, La Majagua and Los Sábalos. Cuban Parrots and Cuban Orioles should be in evidence and there may be many migrants moving through. Your guide will know of a roost hole for Cuban Screech-Owl and Yellow-headed Warblers will be moving through the vegetation. 

 

Day 12: Playa Larga

An early start to drive and walk into the heart of the Zapata Swamp. This is where to find the Zapata Wren, Cuban Red-winged Blackbird and Zapata Sparrow. The Zapata Rail is also in this area but almost impossible to find.

 

Day 13: Playa Larga

Another day searching throughout the Zapata area for endemics such as Fernandina’s Flicker as well as other species.

 

Day 14: Playa Larga

Final day searching throughout the Zapata area for anything you may have missed and any new migrants.

 

Day 15: Playa Larga then drive to Havana

Depending on the time of the flight from Havana, some local birding at Playa Larga before driving back to Havana.

 

 

Day 1: Arrive Havana

Drive to the Hotel Mirador, San Diego de los Baños.

 

Day 2: Hotel Mirador

Woodland birdwatching for species such as Olive-capped Warbler which is only found among pine trees, Cuban Bullfinch, Cuban Grassquit, Western Spindalis, Cuban Trogon and especially Cuban Solitaire. Overnight Hotel Mirador.

 

Day 3: Drive east to Cayo Coco

The drive takes most of the day, then stay on Cayo Coco. 

 

Day 4: Cayo Coco 

There are several species to find – Zapata Sparrow, Cuban Gnatcatcher, Thick-billed Vireo, Oriente Warbler, Bahama Mockingbird – as well as waders, rails, herons on the mudflats, gulls and terns on the sea and plenty of passerines in the abundant vegetation.

 

Day 5: Morning birding on Cayo Paredon Grande

Drive to La Belen, Camagüey. 

 

Day 6: La Belen

Full day around the reserve at La Belen. More endemics like Cuban Parakeet and Cuban Pygmy Owl as well as Plain Pigeon and Cuban Crow. This is the place for the rare Cuban Palm Crow and the endemic and little-known Giant Kingbird.

 

Day 7: Early morning birding at La Belen then drive to Zapata

Around this area in the Zapata Swamp is the richest bird area in Cuba. Many species – including Stygian Owl – can be seen in the grounds of the cabins next to the sea.

 

Day 8: Playa Larga

A local guide is required to take you into the dry woodlands near the tiny village of Bermejas. The birdwatching is excellent. Flocks of warblers move through the trees and the woodland trails have the endangered Blue-headed and Grey-fronted Quail-doves. Dead palm trunks may have owls or woodpeckers nesting in them and this is the best place to find Bee Hummingbird.

 

Day 9: Playa Larga 

There are lots of other places to explore in the woodlands around the villages of Soplillar, La Majagua and Los Sábalos. Cuban Parrots and Cuban Orioles should be in evidence and there may be many migrants moving through. Your guide will know of a roost hole for Cuban Screech-Owl and Yellow-headed Warblers will be moving through the vegetation.

 

Day 10: Playa Larga 

An early start to drive and walk into the heart of the Zapata Swamp. This is where to find the Zapata Wren, Cuban Red-winged Blackbird and Zapata Sparrow. The Zapata Rail is also in this area but almost impossible to find.

 

Day 11: Playa Larga then drive to Havana

Morning birding in Zapata searching for anything you may have missed and any new migrants before driving back to Havana for departure.

In association with Havanatour – the leading experts on travel to Cuba