Reptile & Amphibian Tour

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:

BONUS for 2019! Matt Cage, expert fieldherper, will accompany the group. You can learn more about his background and view his photography on his website.

  • Bilingual Cuban tour guide, with over 15 years leading tours to Australians, Canadians and Americans. Your guide is an expert nature photographer, bird watcher and storyteller too!

  • Local Cuban nature guides unique to each region

  • Travel licenses, mandatory Cuban health insurance and visas

  • 7 nights in air-conditioned, Cuban Bed and Breakfasts (casas particulares)

  • All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 2 dinners are included (other dinners on your own or pack-lunch purchases, easily accessible). We always eat in privately-owned paladares, which take pride in their food and service.

  • Private, air-conditioned ground transportation with a professional driver for the whole tour

  • Purified water always available

 

 

 

 

 

(photo credit Roger Blanco Morciego)

Costs

  • Deposit: $500 to reserve your spot

  • Payment 1: $847.50 payment

  • Payment 2: $847.50 payment (+$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, lizards (iguana and anoles), crocodiles, and frogs 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 and Cuban experts), 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.  The tour is in compliance with the U.S. restrictions for the “Support for the Cuban People” licensing.

Detailed Itinerary

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.

 

 

 

(photo credit Roger Blanco Morciego)

 

Day 1: Welcome to Cuba!
Arrive in Havana.

You will be greeted at the airport by Roger, our guide. He’ll take you to your B&B accommodation (casa particulares) in Havana’s suburb of Vedado.  You 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.  Meal included: Dinner

 

 

Day 2: Havana

 

Wear your walking shoes for this day! You will 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.

 

(photo: Roger Blanco Morciego)

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, the group will proceed to a 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: Maria La Gorda via Soroa (4 hour drive)

Say goodbye to the big city as you head through the “Jurassic Park”-like mogote mountains of the Pinar del Rio Province.  On the way south you will visit Soroa Botanical Garden with amazing orchids that have been brought from China and is a great bird-watching location. We have seen boas eating their prey in broad daylight in this area.

After checking in to your casa particular, the group will drive into the biosphere park to the pristine sandy beaches for lunch and snorkeling (bring your own gear).  The black coral reefs are easily accessible, as the beach has a sharp drop-off to deep water.  You 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 is the first of several night hikes that the group will do to see the wildlife.

This nature preserve is home to two species of sea turtles (hawksbills and loggerheads) and this is the season when the sea turtles hatch.  Various species of iguanas, lizards, crocodiles and hummingbirds call this nature preserve their home.

Wear your bug spray daily, now that you are out of the city. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Maria la Gorda (Guanacahabibes Biosphere Reserve)

In the early morning, you have the option to head out for another wildlife hike before the summer warmth settles in.  You may choose to go on a dive tour (not included) this day.  Otherwise, explore the waters via snorkel to watch for the 20+ coral species, different species of fish, lobsters, crabs and eels can be seen frequently in these sea beds.

A second night hike in this area will hopefully reveal more great wildlife. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

(photo: Roger Blanco Morciego)

Day 5: Maria la Gorda to Viñales (2 hour drive)

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.  It’s an easy drive to Viñales, the heart and soul of Cuban tobacco farming.

If it is not too hot, you will have the opportunity to tour a tobacco plantation.  The plantation tour includes walking through banana and plantain groves and meeting local Cubans.  An alternative is to visit some of the popular caves for the underground coolness.

Rest in the heat of the day.  In the late afternoon the group will meet with a local Cuban ornithologist and herpetologist, Nils.  Check out his amazing watercolor paintings of Cuba’s endemic species and learn about the projects he does in partnership with Harvard University.

At dusk you will head out to the caves to 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.  Meal included: Breakfast

Day 6: Viñales to Zapata Swamps (Parque Nacional Ciénaga de Zapata) (6 hour drive)

Early in the morning head out for another nature hike or sleep in.  As the day warms, the group will head to Zapata swamps.

There will be stops along the way for lunch and refreshments.  Upon arrival you will check into your casa and unwind before heading to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Zapata Swamps is now the only home of the Cuban Crocodile, the most endangered species of New World crocodiles.

(photo: Roger Blanco Morciego)

The impressive Cuban Rock Iguana is often sighted here, and can grow as long as 4-5 feet and as heavy as 15 lbs.  You will meet with a local park ranger, learn about the best places to see the wildlife that calls this mangrove area their home.  Depending on time, there may be rest time before the night hike.  Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7: Zapata to Havana (4 hour drive)

Early in the morning the group will go into the nature preserve to observe the activities of the many species of birds and reptiles. Lovely attractions in the Zapata Swamp are the Bidos’s Salt Mines, where bird watchers can observe many species of birds.  Be prepared to hear many bird calls, some of which are our guide calling the birds, others are the birds answering him! The flamingos of Florida often migrate to this area of Cuba too.

By noon you will start your drive north, with a lunch stop along the way.

In the late afternoon we arrive at the casas in Havana.  Shower and rest before going out for a farewell dinner and celebration.  One of the favorite spots is La Guarida, where you will experience the European influence on cuisine in Havana.  The paladar is in the palace where the famous Cuban film, “Fresa y Chocolate” (Strawberry and Chocolate) was filmed.  Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

(photo: Roger Blanco Morciego)

Day 8: Havana to Home

Pack up and head to the Jose Marti airport for your flight back to the U. S.  Say goodbye to Roger and your driver.  May you return again soon!  Meal included: Breakfast