Bird watching Tours Chino
2015 and 2016 (Guide: Senor Orestes Martinez - Chino)
An eleven day escorted Bird watching tour of Cuba designed to see the endemic and near endemic bird species. Your host and guide is Senor Orestes Martinez, better known as Chino , perhaps Cuba's best known bird guide. I met him way back in 2000 when there was hardly a birdwatcher around. He lives in Playa Larga which is home to the legendary endemics, the Zapata Rail and Zapata Wren. Though February to April are considered to be the high season due to the influx of north American migrants, it is worth considering other times of the year as there are fewer tourists and one can still see most of the endemics. Cubawelcome has been operating birdwatching in Cuba for 14 years and has exhibited at the Bird fair in Rutland, UK. Our agency was given an award for excellence in nature tourism.
Day 1: (D) Meet and greet at Havana airport and transfer in private air conditioned vehicle to Soroa, a hilly and wooded area in Pinar del Rio province, west of Havana.
Day 2: (BLD) After an early breakfast, we set out to see both waterfowl and forest birds with the chance to see the smallest bird in the world: the endemic Bee Hummingbird, the Cuban Parrot, Cuban Crow and many others. Packed lunch. Night in Soroa with dinner.
Day 3: (BLD) Morning bird session locally. Depart to the Cienaga de Zapata, Playa Larga, Bay of Pigs. After dinner, we have an evening birding session.
Day4: (BLD)Early morning start for a full day of Bird watching.
We drive to the tidal flats and mangrove shorelines at Las Salinas along the south shore of the Zapata Peninsula. The Common (Cuban) Black-hawk is found here as well as the endemic Cuban Martin nesting in dead snags sticking out from the salt flats. Las Salinas is justly famous for its waders and water fowl, including several Heron and Egret species and numerous shorebirds. In the afternoon, we visit Los Canales, an area of canals and rice fields that supports a large population of Snail Kites. Also there is a good chance of seeing the endemic Gundlach’s Hawk, a very scarce bird. An hour or two could be spent at the local museum, which commemorates the attack by the US on the Bay of Pigs in 1961.
Day 5: (BLD) Early start. Search for the endemic Zapata Rail and the Zapata Wren. Visit the deciduous forests at La Ceiba, near the village of Bermejas, in search of woodland species. Mixed warbler flocks should be present, and we have a chance of seeing a dozen or more North American neotropical migrants, including Worm-eating Warbler. The endemic Yellow-headed Warbler is quite common in these woodlands, as is the Great Lizard-cuckoo. These woodlands also support the endangered Fernandina’s Flicker, a truly exquisite bird that is becoming increasingly more difficult to locate, along with the incredibly beautiful Blue-headed Quail-dove. In the afternoon, we visit the El Cenote, so named because of the deep sinkhole in the limestone that connects to the sea.Lunch followed by a refreshing swim in the clear water, among the colorful marine fish. Further evening bird session. On this last evening in Zapata we will have a fabulous lobster dinner in a private paladar restaurant (other dishes will be available).
Day 6: (BLD) Morning bird watching session in Zapata. After, we drive to Cayo Coco over a fantastic causeway separating the island from the land, reminiscent of Key West. On the journey, we will be able to spot large numbers of waders, snail kites and gulls,terns and flamingoes.
Days 7: (BLD) Today we look for new species at Cayo Coco including the Cuban Sparrow, Oriente Warbler, Cuban Gnatcatcher, Thick-billed Vireo, Bahama Mockingbird, and Piping Plover on the beach. Greater Flamingo, Roseate Spoonbill, Great Blue Heron, and the Cuban subspecies of the Common Blackhawk (another possible split and likely to be known as the Cuban Crab Hawk).
Day 8: (BD) Departure to Najasa, near the city of Camaguey. Some birding en route. Check into Hotel Finca la Belen at Najasa with dinner or in a private home.
Day 9: (BLD) Visit the ‘Sierra de Najasa’ and the protected reserve of La Belen where one finds an area of unspoilt lowland with a great diversity of plant life. The two main species to be found here are the Cuban Palm Crow and the endangered Giant Kingbird which is now endemic to Cuba. Other species to be seen in this area include Cuban Parakeet, Fernandina's Flicker, Cuban and Yellow-faced Grassquits, Gundlach's Hawk and wintering North American warblers as well as the West Indian Whistling-duck.
Day 10: (BD) Return for long journey back to Havana, stopping en route for a city tour of Trinidad, a colonial gem, where we can have lunch. Spend the last night in Havana.
Day 11: (B) Morning city tour of old Havana. After lunch, depart to Havana Jose Marti airport for flight home.
End of services
PRICES: £1450 ((US$ 2200; Euros 2100)per person sharing double/twin room; single room supplement £200 (US$300; Euros 280).
One Tour leader goes free for 10 persons plus (does not include international flight)
Cubawelcome Tour Operator has an office in London and Havana and is registered with the Cuban Tourist board in the UK. The ATOL licence number is 6547.
- Air conditioned taxi or bus for all transport and visits described in the program.
- Senor Orestes Martinez as host and specialist guide.
- The Bird watching tours described in the program including entrance charges to National Parks
- Accommodation in hotels or private homes (casa particulares) with breakfast. Other meals where mentioned including 1 drink per meal (BLD means Breakfast/lunch/dinner)
- City tour of Havana
- Cuban Visa / tourist card for UK passengers
- Mineral water on bus
Price does not include:
- Travel insurance (essential)
- Airport taxes out of Cuba (25 CUCs - approx £18)
- International flight
N.B. If you are bringing your own group or coming on your own, you may change the itinerary by including more or less days as required. If you wish to spend some time unwinding on a beach in a resort or spending a few nights in Havana, please let us know. If you wish to join one of out pre exisiting groups, we can supply available dates. There is no minimum to the number of people, but please note that the more participants there are, the cheaper the cost.