Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Nature Tour of Central Cuba

After other very successful MVFN international outings to Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba West and Cuba East, MVFN announces another international outing for February 2018, a nature tour of Central Cuba.

Enjoy finding many exotic tropical birds including 21 endemic species, plus many of our Canadian birds wintering over, as well as a wide variety of other fauna and flora.

This is a twelve-day trip (including travel days) leaving February 8 and returning February 19.

This trip is designated moderate difficulty.

Designed by Quest Nature Tours exclusively for MVFN, our Canadian Quest leader, Glen Barrett, will take us into unspoiled Cuban regions. He will be assisted by an experienced English speaking Cuban naturalist, who will be with us for the entire trip.

Highlights of the tour will include UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and Heritage sites, the fabled Zapata Peninsula flooded woodland and salt marshes (bee hummingbird habitat), natural parks and botanical gardens, the Escambray Mountains, a wonderful beach resort on the north coast, a tour of the restored historic areas of Havana and many, many more surprises.

photo Brenda Boyd

photo Brenda Boyd

DETAILS OF THE TOUR:

Cost: US $3095 plus airfare. This includes:

 ·       all accommodations (double occupancy); single rooms, US $350 extra

·         gratuities for all services provided by Quest

·         ground transportation

·         all meals as offered

·         bottled water at meals and on the bus

·         airport transfers

·         park entrance fees

 

Airfare is an additional cost; we get our own tickets (details to follow). That way, we can use our travel points. Also, not covered are:

 ·        any fuel charges

·         extra accommodations due to interruption of flight services

·         airport departure taxes/Cuban tourist visa card (we get these inflight)

·         airport transfers in Havana if you don’t fly on the group flight

·         alcoholic drinks and optional activities

·         additional transportation due to an emergency (your insurance should cover that)

As some members of the previous trips have done, we can drive to Toronto the day before, stay overnight in the Carlingview Hotel, leave our vehicles for free, and get transported to the air terminal and back. Or, you can fly from Ottawa if you wish.

A deposit of US$500 to Quest is required by October 15, the balance by December 4.

If you want to join us in another very successful (I’m sure) international outing, here’s what you must do:

 · send me an email indicating your interest – I will send you a full itinerary, an application form, waiver, plus other details

· mail your deposit, application form and waiver to Quest, and you’re in!

THE TOUR IS LIMITED TO ONLY 16 PERSONS, SO BOOK EARLY!

If it looks like we won’t have the full complement of MVFN member registrations by October 1, I am going to open registration to the Macnamara Field Naturalist Club and other members of the public.

This will be a great tour! I know, for I have been to many of these places before with Quest Nature Tours.

Any questions, please contact me.
Best for now,
Cliff Bennett
613-798-6295

 

 

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Our MVFN EcoTour to Cuba

Our MVFN EcoTour to Cuba

by Brenda Boyd

In late February 2010, 16 intrepid naturalists embarked on a 10-day magical adventure to the western half of Cuba. We had two wonderful tour guides, Don from Quest Tours, Yuri Padrón, our Cuban guide, and our own bus driven by jovial Emilio. We changed locations every two nights, and did day tours from our hotel base, with optional pre-breakfast bird walks.

cuba ecotour tody howard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We saw a great variety of landscapes, from arid plains to lush mountains with towering pine and eucalyptus trees; from mangrove salt/fresh water marshes in the Zapata swamp to the City of Trinidad, founded in 1514; from rich agricultural land dotted with small villages to Havana, a city of two million.
Above: Cuban Tody, photo by Howard Robinson.

We identified 117 species of birds, several of which are endemic to Cuba including the tiny, but exquisitely colourful and vocal, Cuban Tody, and many of our “own” birds such as the Baltimore Oriole, which enjoy the warm winters in sunny Cuba. We visited an Orchidarium, stunning, even in a torrential downpour, which had been developed in a natural setting amongst outcroppings of limestone laden with fossils. The Orchidarium housed over 600 species of orchids, 200 endemic to Cuba.

We visited two rehabilitation and breeding centres for the endangered Cuban sub-species of the American crocodile and rare Cuban Parrot. It was fascinating to see and hear the interaction between the parrots in their breeding cages, and the wild Cuban parrots flying around them! A 40-kilometre causeway journey took us to Cayo Las Brujas (yes, 40 k.!!), built by the Cuban government to promote tourism on the islands offshore. We had a great day on a catamaran, observing the mangroves, shorelines, sea caves, wandering on a deserted beach, doing some snorkeling, and getting to meet some other fun-loving tourists.

cuba ecotour 1 crocs brenda (1024x682) cuba ecotour banyan brenda (1024x682)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banyan tree and crocodiles. Photos Brenda Boyd

The grand finale was a quick visit to Old Havana, which is now a World Heritage site, with beautiful centuries-old Spanish buildings, cobble-stone streets with only pedestrian traffic. Our last dinner at the magnificent Cafe Oriente was a page from the 1930’s, complete with a live dance band and tuxedoed waiters.

In addition to the astonishing variety of flora and fauna that we saw and learned about, Yuri shared many fascinating stories of the history of Cuba, one of revolutions and economic upheavals. We learned a lot about life and attitudes in present-day Cuba, and realized that a strong commitment to the good of Cuba and each other is still very much alive and well. Cubans have an excellent free educational system (97% literacy rate), and universal health care. There are no homeless, and everyone is provided with basic food and shelter. As one Cuban said, “You have so much, and we have so little, but . . . we are happy!”

The best part of this incredible experience was the camaraderie amongst our group, and the development of friendships that will endure along with the marvelous memories of this experience of a lifetime! ~ Brenda Boyd

MVFN Cuba 2010 group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

l-r: Eric Wilson (sitting), Pip Winters, Tineke Kuiper, Cliff Bennett, Emilio, Aileen Merriam, Gray Merriam, Janet Noyes-Brown, John Clinton, Brenda Boyd, Joel Byrne, Anne Mason, Don Shanahan, Mary Robinson, Howard Robinson (kneeling), Noel Noyes-Brown, Al Potvin, Joyce Clinton, Yuri Nápoles Padrón. Photo Howard Robinson

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