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Wissahickon Excursion: Cuba Birding Tour


Cuba’s Western Mountains, Zapata Swamp, Atlantic Archipelago,
Eastern Endemic Range, and Colonial Havana

April 17 – 26, 2016

The Wissahickon Valley Watershed is promoting an exclusive, U.S. led and managed birding program to Cuba.  The Cuba Bird Survey is managed by the Caribbean Conservation Trust, Inc, which has been leading bird conservation tours in Cuba for twenty years.

Beginning and ending in Havana, this exciting itinerary will take you to Cuba’s best bird habitats, most beautiful national parks, diverse biosphere reserves and unique natural areas.  We will interact with local scientists and naturalists who work in research and conservation.  In addition to birding, we will learn about the ecology and history of regions we visit. Finally, we can expect some degree of indulgence in the richness of Cuban culture, architecture, and history.

This trip will be co-led by WVWA Executive Director, Dennis Miranda, WVWA Staff Naturalist, Margaret Rohde and Cuban Biologist, Dr. Giraldo Alayon.  Participation is limited to 14 people.

Click here for complete details and itinerary

Click here for Reservation form
Form can be filled out electronically but must be
printed, signed and mailed with payment.

Dates: April 17 - 26, 2016
Land Costs: 

Land costs for the 10-day program are $5,225.00 per person for shared accommodations. Single supplements are an additional $475.00 per person.

Included: all accommodations, all meals in Cuba beginning with dinner on day 1, ending with breakfast on the last day of the program, guide services, most tips (guides, drivers, naturalists and restaurant and bell staff), airport/hotel transfers, ground transportation, bottled water, some drinks, admission fees (itinerary only), U.S. Department of Treasury authorization documents, and program management  services which include the provision of all pre- and post-program materials, a full-time Cuban bilingual guide, bilingual Cuban naturalists, and a fulltime driver. 

Costs Not Included:

Travel roundtrip to Miami (with possible overnight stay in Miami). Travel roundtrip between Miami and Havana, Cuba (flights to Cuba must be arranged by an authorized Cuba Travel Service provider and will not be known until several weeks prior to departure, estimated to be $400-475).

Cuban Visa ($75) and Cuban health insurance (required by law and approximately $3 per day); items of a personal nature such as laundry, phone calls, additional beverages, bar and housekeeping tips, etc., airport departure taxes ($30 departing Cuba), U.S. passport fees, meals or accommodations in Miami, or other fees not listed in the program. Cost estimates are as of October 2015 and are subject to change.


Regarding payment for the land portion of the tour, a $1,000.00 deposit is due by December 15 to reserve space on these programs. Payable to Caribbean Conservation Trust.
Click here for reservation form.

Full payment is due 75 days prior to departure or by February 2, 2016. You will receive a detailed receipt/invoice following receipt of your deposit and reservation form.  All cancellations must be done in writing and are effective upon receipt in the CCT office.
See Cuba Bird Survey document for complete details.

Locations:  Havana, Western Mountains, Northern Archipelago, Eastern Endemic Region
Notes: Physical exertion will be light to moderate on most days, with the longest walks approximately 3 miles. Terrain is mostly flat and dry, with some hills present in western Cuba. All participants should be in reasonably good physical condition. 


Cuba’s Birds  

According to BirdLife International, which has designated 28 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Cuba, “Over 370 bird species have been recorded in Cuba, including 27 which are endemic to the island and 29 considered globally threatened. Due to its large land area and geographical position within the Caribbean, Cuba represents one of the most important countries for Neotropical migratory birds – both birds passing through on their way south (75 species) and those spending the winter on the island (86 species).”  Our itinerary provides opportunities to see many of Cuba’s endemic species and subspecies.

Program Leadership

Dennis O. Miranda – Executive Director, WVWA

With over 30 years of birdwatching experience, Dennis Miranda is a self-taught naturalist He won the New Jersey Audubon World Series of Birding in 1992 and the Limited Geographic Area in 2004. He was a member of the New Jersey Audubon Society's Breeding Bird Atlas Advisory Committee between 1994-1997. He has conducted field research for declining species such as Cerulean Warbler and Golden winged Warbler for both the New Jersey Non-game program and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in the early 2000's. He was President of Go Native Nature Tours where he led bird watching tours from Arizona to Florida from 2002-2011. As a Cuban American who visited Cuba in 1998 and again in 2000, he has observed 18 of the 22 endemic bird species found there.

Margaret Rohde – Staff Naturalist, WVWA

Margaret’s lifelong relationship with nature led her to completing an Environmental Studies degree from Washington College in 2012. An avid birder from a young age, she has done field work since 2011 with forest, grassland, and game birds species and worked at the Chester River Field Research Station in Maryland, Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, Tall Timbers Research Station in Florida, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York, and Powdermill Avian Research Center in Pennsylvania. Margaret is passionate about conservation and as WVWA’s Staff Naturalist, enjoys educating the public on the wonder and importance of wildlife species.

Dr. Giraldo Alayon – San Antonia de los Banos, Cuba - Full-time Cuban Biologist

Biologist Giraldo Alayon is well known in the Caribbean region as the foremost expert on spiders of the West Indies and Central America. Giraldo has been birding seriously since 1977, and has also published 15 papers related to avian biology and behavior. He is currently working on a book about the Ivory–billed Woodpecker, which he claims to have seen in eastern Cuba as recently as 1992. Dr. Alayon has made many trips to the United States with grants from the American Museum of Natural History; Smithsonian Institution; Museum of Comparative Zoology (Harvard University); Field Museum; Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences; Peabody Museum (Yale University); Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, and California Academy of Sciences. From 1995 to 2001, Dr. Alayon is a president of the Cuban Zoological Society. He is the curator of Arachnida, National Museum of Natural History in Havana, where he has worked since 1988.  Dr. Alayon earned a PhD from the University of Havana in 2000 and is fluent in English.