Skip to navigation, or go to main content.

WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Cuba

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Cuba. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they took this tour. Although we do our best to make sure what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

ENTERING CUBA: All visitors must have a passport with at least one blank page and a valid visa when entering Cuba. The visa can now be purchased at the airport in Florida and costs around $50.00. It is also required by Cuban law to purchase national health insurance when you enter the country. This costs about $3/day and is not included in the price of the tour.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/cuba.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Cuba at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cu.html.

PACE OF THE TOUR: Most mornings will start around 6:00 am with breakfast; a few mornings will be earlier, sometimes with a smaller breakfast. We usually bird through the morning hours. On some days we try to schedule one to two hours of free time after lunch and before dinner for rest, but often we’ll use the afternoon to drive to our next hotel.

The longest walks are of about two miles and most are on level roads or trails, although occasionally there are some areas of uneven, rocky ground. Those with balance and stability issues should bring a collapsible hiking stick with a wrist loop, and those who find it difficult to stand for long periods may wish to bring a small travel stool. On several evenings we might go owling (or for Cuban Nightjars). There are several longish drives but the roads are typically well-paved. Drives will be in a 15-20 seater bus.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Our hotels and lodges vary. Accommodations in Las Terrazas (La Moka), Camagüey, Cayo Coco, are standard and the best available. All have private baths, hot water, and electricity. Our hotel at San Diego de los Ba?os (1 night) is more basic but still has private baths and (hopefully) hot water. At Playa Large our group will be divided into two different guesthouses, each with multiple rooms and a common dining room. The accommodations are quite nice, but here the groups will dine separately (though in the evening we will all get together for the checklist review). At all of our accommodations there is air conditioning.
Wifi is available for a fee at the lodging in Havana, Camagüey, and Cayo Coco, although at times it can be irritatingly slow.

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. 

Malaria and Yellow Fever: There is no malaria or yellow fever in Cuba.

Zika Virus:  This virus is expanding north into the northern Caribbean and southern United States and health authorities are still trying to gage its full impact.  Couples who expect/hope to become pregnant (again) should consult their physician.

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/clinician/none/cuba?s_cid=ncezid-dgmq-travel-single-002

Insects and Arachnids: Chiggers are present locally and can be a real issue (eg. Las Terrazas, San Diego de Los Ba?os and Le Belén near Camagüey). We try to keep to trails and avoid grassy areas in these regions, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Participants will be advised when to spray. Ticks can be a minor nuisance in a couple places. To be protected, bring plenty of spray repellent and wear long sleeves and pants when in the field. We recommend using insect repellents with a concentration of DEET of at least 20%, and remember that airlines usually do not allow aerosols; a pump spray or cream is best. Care must be taken, however, to avoid getting the DEET repellent on optical equipment as DEET dissolves some rubber and plastics and can damage coated lenses. Camping supply stores and drug stores carry some alternatives that contain natural products and aren’t corrosive.

Mosquitoes can be locally numerous, particularly if there has been recent rain. Typically though, since we visit in the dry season, they usually aren’t an issue. Also in some years, no-see-ums (tiny biting flies) are present on or near beaches.

Miscellaneous: There are no venomous snakes on Cuba. Our highest elevation will be less than 500 feet (150 m).

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.

FOOD: The food is basic, with choices limited to fish, beef, pork or chicken, with vegetarian options. On some evenings we will go to newly opened “private” (not state run) establishments with a wider array of options, even including lobster! Jon has noted that as restrictions in Cuba have relaxed and there is more flexibility by those providing services the variety and quality of the meals has significantly improved over the last decade.

Drinks: Bottled water and/or a soft drink or a beer is provided at lunch and dinner, as is coffee or tea. Additional drinks or mojitos are the responsibility of the individual. We also keep bottled water on the bus for refilling water bottles. As it can get hot we recommend you bring a large, good quality water bottle and keep this topped up. 

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

TRANSPORTATION: Transportation during the tour is in 20-seater (or similar) bus driven by professional driver. A few roads may be bumpy and/or winding; anyone susceptible to motion sickness should bring an appropriate remedy. Participants should be able to sit in any seat in our vehicles.

Updated: 23 April 2018