Thursday, July 10, 2014

Naturalist-led nature tour of Cuba in November!

Cuba Nature Trip

with lepidopterist and author, Marc Minno, 

and Cuban naturalist, Douglas Fernandez-Hernandez

Pinar del Rio, Vinales Valley, Zapata Swamp, Cienfuegos, and Havana

Nov 14- 21, 2014 -- 8 days, 7 nights

Join lepidopterist Marc Minno and native Cuban naturalist Douglas Fernandez-Hernandez to experience Cuba. Share a true “People to People” exchange of culture and the environment through a humanitarian exchange program by our 501-c-3, nonprofit organization. This exceptional program will include visiting the magical UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Biospheres of Cienfuegos, Zapata Swamp, Vinales Valley, Pinar del Rio, and remarkable Havana. While there, you will learn about the gardens, environment, art, music, architecture and survival of the people living in these historical areas while having an opportunity to personally interface with the people of this region.

Dr. Marc Minno received a Bachelor’s degree in entomology from Purdue University, a Master’s in entomology from the University of California at Davis, and a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Florida.  Dr. Minno has written or co-authored many scientific and popular articles on butterflies and moths as well as the following books of local interest: Butterflies of the Florida Keys (Scientific Publishers, 1993), Florida Butterfly Gardening (University Press of Florida, 1999), Butterflies through Binoculars: Florida (Oxford University Press, 2001), Florida Butterfly Caterpillars and Their Host Plants (University Press of Florida, 2005), and Rare, Declining, and Poorly Known Butterflies and Moths (Lepidoptera) of Forests and Woodlands in the Eastern U.S. (U.S. Forest Service, 2009).  He has surveyed butterflies in all parts of Cuba.

Douglas Fernandez-Hernandez has been studying butterflies since childhood, and is one of Cuba’s distinguished authorities on entomology.  He has published several scientific papers and co-authored a butterfly book.  He and Marc are currently working on updating their recent findings and have published 3 articles on the Zestos Skipper, Monarchs and the Cuban Skipperling (Oarisma nanus), one of the world’s smallest butterfly. 

The package includes: a complimentary conference call briefing 4 weeks prior to the journey, special travel visa, approved license, round trip non-stop charter air service direct Miami-Havana, private air-conditioned motor coach, medical insurance, hotels, luggage handling, transfers, permits, entry fees, English speaking guide, bottled water daily, tips and meals as stated on the itinerary (7 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 4 dinners).  We take care of obtaining all of your documents, travel plans and guide you through the whole process!
We travel on a US Department of Treasury approved license. There are a limited number of seats available for this rare chance to visit this distinctive island. Our team has worked in Cuba for over 12 years. (SEE ITINERARY BELOW)



Minno Nature trip - Nov 14-21, 2014

Day 1- Friday- Nov 14

Depart Miami to Cienfuegos. Upon arrival, our bus will be waiting for our departure to the UNESCO Heritage City of Cienfuegos, a thriving port since Columbus landing in 1494, before checking into La Jagua Hotel and have Dinner at a private paladar (on your own)


Day 2- Saturday- Nov 15

After breakfast, visit the enchanting Botanical Gardens of Soledad, which served as Harvard Harvard House. Cuban Butterfly specialist, Douglas Fernandez and Marc Minno will give an extensive presentation on the butterflies of Cuba, and a butterfly walk. Lunch will be served in the garden before heading to Zapata Swamp. Overnight at Playa Larga Hotel and have dinner (B,L,D)
University’s Tropical Research Station having more than 2,000 species of tropical plants and palm trees for butterfly and bird observations. Some of the oldest Palms in Cuba exist here. Harvard’s name is still visibly carved into a palm tree entrance of what was once called the


Day 3- Sunday- Nov 16

After breakfast, early morning guided walk of Zapata Swamp with a key specialist will take up most of the morning. (Half day).  Zapata area has some of the best birding in all of Cuba, and, the Cuban Black Hawk, Cuban Parrot, Cuban Pygmy Owl, Green Woodpecker, Fernandina’s Flicker, Great Lizard Cuckoo, Bee Hummingbird, Cuban Crow, Crescent-eyed Pewee, Zapata Wren, Red-shouldered and Tawny-shouldered blackbirds, and many others. Lunch at nature preserve and in the afternoon, look for Flamingoes and many other water birds. Dinner at a private paladar on your own, Overnight at Playa Larga Hotel. (B,L)


Day 4- Monday- Nov 17 

After breakfast, depart for the vast Soroa Orchid Gardens, developed and nurtured by the Lunch will be at Casa del Campesino in UNESCO Biosphere of Las Terrazas. There is good birding in this area and the surrounding countryside, including Cuban Tody, Emerald Hummingbird, Loggerhead Kingbird, Cave Swallow, Red-legged Thrush, Yellow-headed Warbler, Black-cowled Oriole and Cuban Blackbird.Check into Soroa Hotel and have dinner. (B,L,D)
University of Pinar del Rio. The Soroa Garden is an excellent place to see the national bird of Cuba, the Cuban Trogon. This area is also a butterfly haven.


Day 5 – Tuesday- Nov 18

After breakfast we will head to Vinales Valley. This province is renowned for its scenic beauty, fertile  Mogotes are enormous flat top limestone outcroppings; the mountains in this area contain huge caves and underground river networks.  Birding with local specialist on the canyon rim of a UNESCO biosphere known as VinalesValley.Our drive through Vinales National Park boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in the entire country.  Lunch will be held at El Palenque de los Cimarones with musical entertainment (nice location to be introduced to the Santeria, the Afro-Cuban religion and its origins).  We will explore La Cueva del Indio, part of it by boat and will have a quick photo stop at the country’s biggest painted Mural, and where there is a nesting colony of Antillean Palm Swifts.  Dinner at private Cuban home.  Soroa Hotel (B,L,D)
tobacco plantations, and unusual mogotes.


Day 6- Wednesday- Nov 19

After breakfast, we will head to Havana to visit the majestic Jardin Botanico Nacional.  We will stop for lunch. Then enter the UNESCO Heritage City of Havana, check into our hotel.  Dinner at private paladar on your own. (B, L) 
OPTIONAL EVENING:  10:00PM SHOW AT THE TROPICANA, or, other entertainment that might be available that night.  The guides will arrange for tickets and transportation


Day 7-Thursday- Nov 20

After breakfast at the hotel, we will have a very personalized visit of remodeled and critically acclaimed National Museum of Fine Art and Museum of Revolution.  We will be led on aan extensive walking tour through UNESCO Heritage City of Old Havana.  There will be free San Jose arts and crafts market , bookstalls, and other museums.  Farewell dinner and entertainment. (B,D)
time to explore the


Day 8- Friday- Nov 21

After breakfast, check-out of hotel and depart for the airport. (B)  


Trip Application Form for Nov 14-21, 2014 trip

Instructions: In order to make your reservation and hold a space, fill out the trip application below and send a non- binding $500.00 deposit per person (Checks only please).  
Questions?  Contact: 866- 355-8733 (866-FLK-TREE)

Name : ___________________________________________________________________________
Address: __________________________________________________________________________
Cell Phone _______________________________ email ___________________________________
o Single ($500.00 deposit)           o Double ($1,000.00 deposit), rooming with ___________________
Roommate’s Name _________________________ Roommate’s cell phone __________________ Roommate’s email ___________________________

Other notes: 

Mail your deposit check and the application form to:  FK TREE Institute, PO Box 40493, Miami FL 33145.  MARK YOUR CHECK MEMO "Minno Nov 2014 trip"  Make check out to:  Florida Keys TREE Institute (a 501c-3 nonprofit organization)

We take care of getting your documentation, visas and all reservations, starting in Miami. You are responsible for getting to Miami. The trip deposit is refundable up until August 1, 2014. We will confirm receipt of your deposit. On or about mid-July, we will email you a registration packet and instructions which will be due with final payment by, August 1, 2014. It will also include information for optional trip cancellation/ interruption insurance. The package includes medical coverage while in Cuba. About one month prior to the trip, we will have a required toll free conference call to go over all the information for traveling to Cuba. No inoculations are required. Itinerary times may vary with flight schedule.

**limited rooms available**

Price:  $2999.00 per person double occupancy (limited to 28 participants). 

Not included:  Some meals, tips for guide and driver, Cuba departure tax of $30.00 & baggage fees charged in Miami. (Add $250.00 for single supplemental) 

Note:  Trip  cancellation/interruption insurance is available upon request only through our representative.