J Cuba, March 2010

This was a privately arranged holiday with the UK based holiday company Geodyssey. It was planned as a mix of birdwatching and culture. We got to visit all the best birdwatching sites and most of the historical / cultural ones too and came away with a much greater appreciation of Cuba, its wildlife, history and culture. The people were, without exception, friendly and polite, and we had absolutely no hassle whatsoever. It was a rare thing indeed to go to a foreign destination where everyone was so friendly. We cannot recommend Cuba as a destination too highly.

Our guides were outstanding, and although the roads were sometimes a bit trying to drive along, it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip. Most of the endemic birds were seen and some very well. The bird highlight without a doubt was the male Cuban Bee Hummingbird which we found preening at knee height one day.

To see a list of the birds seen on this trip click here.

 Saturday 20th March 2010 - Monday 6th April 2010

 Saturday 20th March 2010


 Depart Heathrow Airport 08:20 on Air France for Paris. Depart Paris (CDG) 13:35 local time for Havana.

 Arrive Havana, Cuba, 18:20 local time.

 Met at airport by Jorge (cultural guide), Louis (natural history guide) and Misiele (driver) for the trip. Drive west to Soroa, staying at Hotel Horizontes, arrive 21:45 local time. Straight to sleep after the long journey.

 Sunday 21st March 2010

 Pre breakfast walk with Louis and Jorge in the local forest (07:30 - 10:30). After breakfast brief tour around the local Orchidarium, and visit to nearby waterfall. Had lunch here. Then afternoon departure for San Diego Los Banos. Overnight at Hotel El Mirador (arriving approximately 16:00).

Grey and misty in the morning, later some sun then further rain in the evening after dark.

Monday 22nd March 2010

From San Diego Los Banos to Cuevas Del Portes, visiting the cave where Che Guevera stayed for a while. Return to San Diego Los Banos for lunch. Then visit to nearby Hacienda Cortina returning late afternoon.  Night Hotel El Mirador.

Dry sunny and warm but slight northerly breeze.

Tuesday 23rd March 2010

Depart for Hacienda Cortina after breakfast, Return to Hotel Mirador for lunch then depart 14:30 for Havana, stopping for birds en route, staying at Hotel Parque Central (fantastic view over the city from the swimming pool on the roof  top). Arrive Havana 18:00.

Dry, sunny and warm all day.

Wednesday 24th March 2010

Morning at leisure Havana, later depart 10 am for Playa Larga in Zapata. Arrived 15:00 after stopping at a crocodile farm.. Brief rest then a walk around the hotel grounds. Met up with another local bird guide, Mario.

Dry, sunny and hot.

Thursday 25th March 2010

Depart hotel Playa Larga 08:00 for walk in woods south of Playa Giron. Met another local bird guide, Orlando, here. Walked the forest trails to 12:00 then llunch at restaurant on coast road (Cueves del Peces). After lunch return to hotel in Playa Larga to collect Mario. Drive to north of Playa Larga to check out the mangroves there. Return to Playa Larga hotel for dinner.

Dry, sunny and hot all day.

Friday 26th March 2010

Depart hotel 07:00 for El Canelo (north of Playa Larga). Drove along trail for a while and eventually saw Zapata Wren, followed by Zapata Sparrow. Later, returned to the main road and had a pair od Red-winged Blackbirds. From here to Soplillar. Then on to the museum at Playa Giron. Lunch at Punta Perdiz restaurant.Return to Playa Larga for an afternoon rest and swim in the Bay of Pigs before trip to Bermeja where the male Cuban Bee Hummingbird was found. After this, another walk along forest trails and returned to Playa Larga hotel for 21:30.

Dry, sunny and hot all day.

Saturday 27th March 2010

Woke at 05:00 to look for Stygian Owl in the grounds of the hotel. Then early start for Bermeja with Mario and Orlando along the forest trails.. Then south to Buena Caleta. Lunch here. Return to hotel for 15:00.

Dry, sunny and hot.

Sunday 28th March 2010

Depart Playa Larga 09:30 for Trinidad, via Yaguaramus and Cienfuegos. Arrive Trinidad Hotel Iberostar, 16:30. Stopped at Restaurant Marinero, Cienfuegos for lunch.

Dry, sunny and hot.

Monday 29th March 2010

Day sightseeing in Trinidad. Morning guided tour with Jorge. Afternoon trip to nearby beach at Playa Ancon to look for shorebirds.

Bright morning then gradually cloudier.

Tuesday 30th March 2010

From Trinidad (09:00) to Camaguey (16:00), via Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila and Florida. Staying at the Grande Hotel (not very grand really). Called first thing at the tower of former sugar plantation at Valle de los Ingenios.  Had a walking tour of the city after checking into the hotel.

Dry, sunny and hot.

Wednesday 31st March 2010

Camaguey to Najas. Depart 08:55 arriving 11:30, at the Le Belen Ranch. Superb setting in the middle of the island. Beautiful swimming pool at this authentic working ranch.

Had a walk for 1 ½ hours around the area after checking in. Then lunch followed by another walk later in the afternoon.

Dry, sunny and hot with a refreshing breeze from the north.

Thursday 1st April 2010

Pre breakfast walk in the area then after breakfast depart for Cayo Coco on the north coast, via Camaguey, Minas, Cubitas, Esmeralda and Moron. Arrived 15:30. Night at the all inclusive Oasis Coco Playa hotel.. Lovely setting but  noisy hotel full of boistrous and often drunk westerners. Walk in nearby forest after checking in.

Dry, sunny and hot with strong northerly breeze.

Friday 2nd April 2010

Depart 07:45 with Oday, another local birding guide, and the usual guides. Started at Cayo Paredon Grande. Retunr to hotel for 14:00 and lunch. Depart again 15:00 for Cayo Guillermo. Return 19:00. Some superb idyllic beaches, as yet untouched by tourism - long may it remain so!

Dry, sunny hot and slightly less breeze than yesterday.

Saturday 3rd April 2010

From Cayo Coco (08:30) to Havana (17:45), via Moron, Ciego de Avila and Santa Clara (where we called in to the Che mausoleum and museum). Night at the Hotel Telegrafo - not recommended.

Dry, sunny and hot.

Sunday 4th April 2010

Havana. Morning city tour with Jorge and Luis. Then lunch and afternoon trip to Plaza de la Revolution and return to hotel. Evening trip to the canon ceremony at 9pm.

Monday 5th April 2010

Morning at leisure in Havana. Depart for airport 16:30. Depart Havana 20:00 for Paris then Heathrow.