I spent about a week on a group trip with Arturo Kirkconnell Jr in late October/early November 2018 and what a Fabulous week of birding. I enjoyed it immensely and learned so much! We saw about 140 different species, and around 50 were life birds for me. And we saw almost all of the 25 endemic species, including the elusive Zapata wren, and my personal favorite – the bee hummingbird. Although that bare-legged owl was beyond cute too…..


We covered a lot of territory and therefore a lot of habitats – from Vinales and Las Terrazas in the west to Camaguey in the east, and from the Zapata peninsula to Cayo Coco. Many of the places we visited were National Parks and other reserves. The local rangers & guides were also very knowledgeable.


This trip focused on birds but we still saw a lot of Cuba because of our peregrinations – my only regret is that I didn’t stay an extra day in Havana for a city tour. Bad decision on my part.
On the logistics side, everything ran smoothly. The bus (~18 passenger size for our group of 11) was new and comfortable. Accommodations varied from small B&Bs to all-inclusive resorts to standard hotels. The Hostal Luis in Playa Giron, Hostal San Rafael in Camaguey and Hostal Calis in Havana were especially nice.

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kirkconnell tour
Fabulous week of birding in Cuba!birders

My wife and I recently had the pleasure of participating in a group birding expedition led by Arturo Kirkconnell, Jr. Thanks to Arturo’s keen ears and vision, as well as his knowledge of where to find the birds of Cuba, we saw 143 different species and collected 55 life birds, including all but 2 of Cuba’s endemics. In addition, Arturo and his colleagues, Carlos and Ramon, made sure we sampled plenty of wonderful food, stayed in terrific accommodations, and helped us appreciate the natural beauty of Cuba and it’s vibrant people.

 

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Arturo Kirkconnell
“What an amazing trip and what a truly amazing guide!”birders

I run a small tour company that operates exclusively in North America. I was invited to be “host/assistant guide” on a Kirkconnell tour. The tour was exceptionally well organized, and our lodging was uniformly good. Meals, in particular, were memorable. And the birding- well, Arturo, Jr. was totally accommodating and knew all the places to get Cuba’s endemic species as well as many other Caribbean specialties. Simply could not have been better! If you travel with Kirkconnell you will not be disappointed!

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kirkconnell tour
“Perspective on Kirkconnell from a fellow guide”birders

Outstanding Cuban bird watching guide

If you are going to Cuba and want to see the wildlife, Arturo is your man. Just came back from a holiday in Cuba. Since I had limited free time, and as a keen birdwatcher wanted to see some of Cuba’s famous endemic birds. A friend recommended me to use Arturo Kirkconnell. I was not disappointed. Arturo quickly put together an action-packed itinerary full of wonderful endemic birds.

Arturo is warm, professional and friendly. He was very punctual, well organized, but very relaxing company too. The best way to describe our trip would be to say he concierge outstanding views of very memorable birds for me. Although we saw MANY wonderful birds continuously throughout the day, the focus was Cuban endemics/regionals for me Cuban Green Woodpecker, Cuban Emerald, Cuban Tody, Cuban Solitaire, Cuban Grassquit, Cuban Trogon, Cuban Bullfinch, Cuban Martin, Cuban Pewee, Yellow-Headed warbler, La Sagra’s Flycatcher, Great Lizard Cuckoo, Olive-capped Warbler, Western Spindalis, Tawny Shouldered, Cuban Blackbirds, Greater Antillean Grackle plus always a bonus Key West Quail-Dove.

One of the best days birding in my life. At the end of it, I felt like I had been birding with a friend! Thank you, Arturo.

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Outstanding Cuban bird watching guide
Outstanding Cuban bird watching guideBirders

We have wanted to visit Cuba and do some birding there for years. We had only 7 hours in Havana, but Arturo was gracious enough to arrange a taxi and driver for us and took us to Cueva Los Portales. We had an opportunity to see birds along the highway as well as at the park and hear about life in Cuba as well. We hope to return and spend more time and see more birds and more of this beautiful country. It was the best day of our 5-day trip.

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Outstanding birding experience
Outstanding Cuba birding experienceBirders

Thank you Arturo Kirkconnell Jr for working hard to make our Cuba birding trip so successful.  I’m sure I speak for the four of us when I say that we enjoyed Cuba, its nature, and culture surrounded by joy.  I’ve been at a loss to think of a single negative comment to balance out all the praise.  Everything was great, starting with our airport pickup by Adrian and his father, Roberto.  I’ll never forget them as our first greeters to Cuba.  Adrian actually pointed out our first endemic—Cuban Blackbird.  Hostal Guido in Havana was perfect lodging for our first and last nights.  I especially liked the kind lady who prepared and served breakfast there.  Our chief goal was to sweep Cuba’s 26 endemic species.  With your extensive knowledge and experience with where and how to find these birds, coupled with your keen eyes and young ears, we surprised ourselves by sweeping all 26 by day 7 of our 9-day adventure.  Simply stated, the birding just couldn’t have been better.  And it wasn’t just the endemics—as a group, we tallied more than 160 species, many of which were new birds for all of us.  Personal highlights were the “swarm” of Snail Kites on our drive to Viñales, a (second!) Gundlach’s Hawk dashing past us in the Valle Ancon, TWO Stygian Owls!!, “swimming with quail-doves” on two mornings, the Zapata Swamp experience with you and your father, and the unforgettable Palpites hummingbird garden.  I also appreciate your smooth inclusion of the Cohiba tobacco farm visit, and for teaching all of us to enjoy Guarapo.  And gosh, our driver “Ray”—I tip my hat to Ray and his trusty vehicle—always skillful, always safe, and always courteous.  I was also delighted to meet Arturo Sr and have him autograph my Cuban bird guide in Playa Giron.  It is obvious to me that Y’all have a great thing going with Kirkconnell birding and I will highly recommend your services to anyone seeking serious ornithological study of Cuba’s great birds.  I already have, by the way!  Again, many thanks to you and everyone involved with our highly successful trip.  And best wishes in the future.

Sincerely,

Randy Pinkston

 

 

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Our Cuba birding trip
Our Cuba birding tripBirders

My ten-day tour with Arturo Jr, my first organized birding tour outside the U.S., was well represented and organized. What called my attention to it was being in the “out back” of Cuba, seeing the countryside and getting to know the people outside of the cities. I was not disappointed. At every destination, we had lovely experiences awaiting us, delightful Casas particulares – similar to B and Bs in the States_ with gracious hosts and charming accommodations. Arturo has a wonderful network of people prepared to allow his “charges” to have the most all-encompassing experience possible in Cuba, be it birding, local products, city tours, restaurants or anything else. 

Arturo is persistent in that he perseveres in finding, not only as many birds as possible but those elusive ones as well. It is nice to see someone passionate about what he does yet with a warm and caring attitude. His English is great but he is always willing to learn the latest slang, descriptive phrase or joke. 

For a successful birding tour of Cuba, I highly recommend Arturo, you will encounter so much more than just the birds.

Betty in Denver Colorado 

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Cuban Tour Oct 2017 Birders

After a truly wonderful trip to Cuba led by Arturo (Jr.), I can’t sing his praises highly enough. As I expected, the guiding was superb. It was all the extra efforts to make the trip as enjoyable as possible that really made a difference. In addition to fantastic bird watching, we had culture, sightseeing, and even some live music, making it a memorable trip in a myriad of ways. I hope to be able to revisit Cuba one day and would hope to again have Arturo as a guide! 

Patricia 

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Birding trip to Cuba Birders

I cannot say enough about the fantastic birding in Cuba, thanks to our guide Arturo Kirkconnell, Jr. Arturo made sure that we all heard the calls, saw the birds and were able to get good photos as well. Arturo has great contacts and was able to put us on even the most reticent birds. The accommodations were very good, the food excellent & plentiful and the country beautiful. I was able to add 57 birds to my life list and we saw over 150 species in our time there. Kirkconnell Birds set up an amazing 10 day trip for us and I would highly recommend them!

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Cuba BirdingBirders

What a great time I had birding in Cuba! The birds are stunning – from the diminutive bee hummingbird to the endless flocks of flamingos, they will take your breath away. Exploring the countryside to find these birds was equally thrilling. Our guide, Arturo Jr., took us on a journey across this stunning landscape to locate almost every Cuban and West Indian endemic possible. He went the extra mile to find me a mangrove cuckoo! All in all, I had 60 life species while there! Come with an appetite. The Cubans love to feed you amazing, wholesome, home-cooked fare in very large portions. This is just a fabulous trip and I would recommend it – just don’t bring a dry bag ; ).

 

Kathy Minch

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Cuba birding just a blastBirders