Cuba Sea Turtle Expedition
Spend 3 nights visiting a sea turtle conservation project at the incredible Guanahacabibes National Park, along Cuba’s western coast. You'll be with Cuban biologists as they study and protect nests of green and loggerhead sea turtles and assist where possible. During the day, explore the park’s forests, reefs, and caves. This trip is open to US citizens through a People to People license from the US Treasury Department. Profits from this trip will help to save at least 500 hatchlings at this turtle nesting beach per participant.
2018 Date: June 24 - July 1
Price: $2,995 per person
Includes: Bilingual guide, private transportation, accommodations, most meals (except as noted on itinerary), activities, and a donation to turtle conservation.
Excludes: Airfare, personal items, and tips for the guide/driver.
- This trip is open to American citizens through a "People to People" license given by the US Treasury Department to our partners. It's also open to citizens of other countries.
- Minimum recommended age is 12 years old, under 18 needs to be accompanied by an adult.
- Group size is limited to 16 people maximum.
- Monthly payment plans can be arranged up until 3 months before trip departure.
- Private tours and visits and short-term volunteer opportunities are not available at this time.
- This trip can be done as a student field trip. Contact us here to inquire about dates and prices.
- We try to pair individual travelers with other singles of the same sex. If a single room is preferred or we are not able to pair up, there is a single supplement fee of $350 per person.
CONTACT US to:
- Register by mail or email
- Ask a question
- Call us at 800-215-0378 to register by phone
DAY 1: ARRIVE TO HAVANA
Arrive on the first day to Havana and we will have an airport pickup arranged depending on when the group arrives. Allow plenty of time to come through customs and pick up your baggage (this can take a long time in Cuba). The first night, the group will meet at the hotel for an orientation and dine together at one of Havana’s excellent paladars, a restaurant run by local residents in former residences. Overnight at Hotel Copacabana, a mid-level hotel in downtown Havana.
DAY 2: TO MARIA LA GORDA / GUANAHACABIBES
After breakfast, meet up with your guide for a presentation on Cuban ecology. Then board the private, air-conditioned bus to make the 5 hour drive to the Maria La Gorda resort, where you will be staying for the next 4 nights.
Along the way, you’ll stop in the city of Pinar del Rio for lunch and view the beautiful countryside, one of the main tobacco growing regions of the country. After you arrive and settle in, you’ll have a buffet dinner and then an orientation meeting to learn about the work done on the beach. Rest up tonight for the long nights on the beach ahead. Overnight at Hotel Maria La Gorda (4 nights).
DAYS 3 - 5: SEA TURTLE RESEARCH & GUANAHACABIBES EXPLORATION
On the first day, we will have a group birding activity in the park after breakfast. The park has some extraordinary birds that can be seen including the bee hummingbird (the world’s smallest bird), the pygy owl, the Cuban trogon, and more.
That afternoon and the rest of the week, you can explore the park's marine ecology by snorkeling or diving excursions into the local coral reefs (costs not included). There are generally 2 snorkeling and 3 diving options per day or you can choose to snorkel right from the beach in front of the hotel.
Each evening, the group will go to the nesting beach to look for nesting turtles (45 min - 1 hour drive each way). Once you find a turtle, you will help local staff collect data including measuring, tagging, and marking the nests.
DAY 6: RETURN TO HAVANA
After breakfast, there will be time for one more excursion to explore the park's coral reefs. We will then board the bus to return to Havana and have lunch on the way. Arrive to the city late afternoon with some time to explore the city's incredible culture. Enjoy dinner on the town at one of the city's great paladars (dinner this night not included) and then see some live music at a jazz club or the Art Factory, a unique art museum/night club with live performances. Overnight at the Hotel Copacabana (2 nights).
DAY 7: HAVANA EXPLORATION
Today, you’ll explore one of the world’s most fascinating cities. Attend a presentation by an architecture expert and then take a walking tour of Old Havana to see the restored squares and churches. After lunch, visit one of Havana’s great museums and then attend a private concert by one of Cuba’s best bands, Mezcla at their home. Dinner will be at La Casa, a fabulous third generation paladar. After dinner, enjoy more Cuban music on the town or rest up for the trip home.
DAY 8: DEPARTURE
Head to the airport in plenty of time for your flight (we recommend at least 3 hours as the process sometimes takes longer than most airports). Or extend your stay and explore other parts of the country.
Is This Trip Right For Me?
Cuba is a unique destination, which has both positives and negatives. This trip includes mid-level hotels and includes much time spent time outside, which means some activities are dependent on weather and there can be significant bugs in this area. The trip also involves a lot of time on the private bus, including a 5 hour drive each way to Guanahacabibes and about an hour each way from the resort to the nesting beach each evening, which results in late nights (arriving back to the resort as late as 2 am some nights).
Between experiencing Havana, seeing the sea turtles, and traveling the countryside, it was an amazing trip. Everything was well-planned and organized. All I had to do was enjoy!
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Photo credits: Brad Nahill/SEE Turtles, Julia Azanza