5th – 20th March

An excellent return to Cuba. We originally travelled there back in 1994, not long after the country began to open up for visitors – on that occasion, we stayed at Varadero and took day trips to Havana, Pinar Del Rio and the Vinales Valley, Trinidad, the Bay of Pigs and Santiago De Cuba. It was also the trip that first inspired us to scuba dive after seeing divers whilst on a snorkelling trip from Varadero.

This time, we stayed in Havana for a couple of nights at the Hotel Inglaterra, slap-bang in the centre followed by a bus journey down through the central spine of the country before turning off to the tiny port of Jucaro, from where we would join the excellent Avalon III liveaboard for a week’s diving in the Jardines De La Reina (Gardens of the Queens) Marine Reserve – an excellent trip, pristine reefs, lots of shark action.

Following the diving, we returned to Havana for another two days before heading off for some birdwatching/wildlife in the Cienaga De Zapata National Park, on a quest to see the Bee Hummingbird (the world’s smallest bird) and other endemics. We would be based at Playa Larga in the Bay of Pigs.

We enjoyed some really interesting “birding” visiting two private gardens to see the Bee Hummingbird, the Las Salinas area for wetland birds, an area of dry forest for species such as the Fernandina’s Flicker, Cuban Tody and Nightjar, and also an area of forest around Bermejas and further east. There was also a chance to visit the Museum De La Intervencion at Playa Giron. An excellent and rewarding trip all round.

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