Cost: $2195 (market value $4895) This is an 8 day tour.
*Early Bird registrations 4 months prior to departure receive $200 discount
What is included:
BILINGUAL CUBAN GUIDE
- Local nature guides
Travel licenses, mandatory Cuban health insurance and visas
7 nights in air-conditioned, Cuban Bed and Breakfasts (casas particulares)
All breakfasts and lunches, 2 dinners included (other dinners on your own or pack-lunch purchases)
Private, air-conditioned ground transportation with a professional driver for the whole tour
Purified water always available
- Deposit: $500 to reserve your spot
Payment 1: $848 payment
Payment 2: $847 payment due (+$500 for a single room)
Flight costs are on your own. Flights FL/Cuba will be reserved for you so the group arrives together (these will be purchased 8-12 weeks before departure).
Discover the snakes, crocodiles, iguanas, frogs and anoles of Cuba in the wild. In addition to the wildlife, enjoy a little Cuban rum, visit a tobacco farm, ride in a classic car and check out many UNESCO World Heritage locations on this phenomenal tour!
This tour is designed with expert herpers in mind (by Amazonian herpers), but open to all adventurers. Most activities will happen before 12 pm and after 5 pm, since it is the summer season, and many nature hikes will be at night. Most people do not get additional vaccinations for Cuba, although you and your doctor should decide what is right for you. The tour is in compliance with the U.S. restrictions for the “Support for the Cuban People” licensing.
The purpose of this itinerary is to give you an idea of the types of activities you will engage in during the tour, however, it may change based on factors such as availability, weather, wildlife activity, and to take advantage of spontaneous activities and events.
Day 1: Welcome to Cuba!
Arrive in Havana.
We will be greeted at the airport by Roger, our guide. He’ll take us to our B&B accommodations (casa particulares) in Havana’s suburb of Vedado. We will get a layout of the city, first impressions of the architecture and lifestyle of the city dwellers. For evening arrivals, you may choose to settle in to your casa to rest, or join the group and go out for dinner. That’s the nice part of small group tours. Meals included: Dinner
Day 2: Havana
Wear your walking shoes for this day! We start with a visit to Fusterlandia in the fishing village of Jaimanitas and the home of the famous artist Jose Fuster. Fuster has made his entire home, and much of the surrounding neighborhood, into an outdoor art gallery using tiles in mosaic forms. A Havana driving tour in classic cars will take you to the forest of Havana, the famous Revolutionary Square and through the gorgeous historic embassy neighborhoods.
The activities will be followed by lunch and rest time in the heat of the day. As the afternoon sun moves lower in the sky, we will proceed to our walking tour of Old Havana City, its gorgeous architecture and plazas. Dinner is on your own, but recommendations will be made. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 3: Viñales via Soroa
Say goodbye to the big city as we head to Viñales. Viñales is the one of the most scenic areas of Cuba, among the limestone pincushion hills (called mogotes) in the tobacco-growing area of Cuba. On the way to Viñales we will visit Soroa, a botanical garden with amazing orchids that have been brought from China. We have seen boas eating their prey in broad daylight in this area. Wear your bug spray daily, now that we are out of the city.
We will reach Viñales in time to check in to our casas and go for lunch and a swim. Rest in the heat of the day. In the late afternoon we will meet with a local Cuban ornithologist and herpetologist. After a visiting with him we will have time to explore the town of Viñales by foot.
At dusk we will head out to the caves where we will watch for the Cuban Boas who are known for hunting in packs by hanging at the small entrances to caves as bats fly out for the night. This is the first of several night hikes that we will do to see the wildlife. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 4: Viñales to Maria la Gorda
Today we spend the morning learning the tradition of tobacco cultivation from a farmer and expert cigar maker. Get an insight as to how the communist system works, how much tobacco they will keep, how much produce they give back to the government, and how they make ends meet! The plantation tour includes walking through banana and plantain groves, meeting local Cubans. On our return we will eat lunch and drive in the heat of the day to Maria la Gorda. After checking in to our casas, we will go to the pristine sandy beaches for lunch and snorkeling. The black coral reefs are easily accessible, as the beach has a sharp drop-off to deep water. We will enjoy some rest time in the hottest part of the day, then gather to plan out our night hike with a local park ranger. This area is home to two species of sea turtles (hawksbills, loggerheads, and greens), and this is the season when the sea turtles hatch. Various species of iguanas, lizards, crocodiles and hummingbirds call this nature preserve their home. Head out for the night hike. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 5: Maria la Gorda to Zapata Swamps (Parque Nacional Ciénaga de Zapata)
Early in the morning, join the park ranger to look for some of the unique bird life of the park, including the world’s smallest bird, the bee hummingbird (endemic to Cuba) and many other species of birds. As the day warms, we will head to Zapata swamps and check in at our casas.
Zapata Swamps is now the only home of the Cuban Crocodile, the most endangered species of New World crocodiles. Many of the crocodiles in other areas of Cuba are breeding with the American crocodile. The impressive Cuban Rock Iguana call this area their home as well, as can grow as long as 4-5 feet and as heavy as 15 lbs. We will meet with a local park ranger, learn about the best places to see the Cuban Boa and other wildlife. There will be time in the late afternoon to explore the park and prepare for the night hike. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 7: Zapata to Veradero
We will wake up early to see the birds and other animals that are active before the heat of the day. This is our last chance to explore the wildlife of the Zapata Swamps. By noon, we will start our drive north, with a lunch stop along the way.
In the late afternoon we arrive at Veradero on the north coast, with it’s powdery beaches. This is the most popular beach resort area in Cuba for vacationers and a great place to go for a relaxing swim. Mafioso Al Capone used to frequent the area, and the DuPont family has a beautiful mansion to visit and enjoy a mojito while watching the turquoise water.
We will enjoy a farewell dinner together, regaling each other of stories and picutres of the wildlife we’ve seen this week. Nearby there is a great outdoor salsa bar or a Beetle’s-themed club with lively band playing the best of American ’70s and ’80s music. Enjoy the evening and a last cigar before we fly home tomorrow. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8: Veradero to Home
Pack up and head to the local airport for you flight back to the U. S. Say goodbye to Roger and our guide. We hope you returned again soon! Meals included: Breakfast