Mar 26, 2017, Trip Advisor | Just got back last night from a week in the Cuban oriente (Santiago de Cuba, Sibouney, La Gran Piedra, El Salton, Camaguey, Najasa, Bayamo). This was our first trip to Cuba—4 friends (1 couple and 2 sisters) ranging from 59 to 75 years of age, and all viewed the trip as a success. We spent more than 6 months planning our trip, with much background reading and preparation. In our humble opinion, the advance research and planning really helped make our trip a success. If for nothing else—it helped manage expectations, reduced anxieties, and prepared us for the inevitable changes of itinerary etc. Since there have been so many questions from US travelers, and little about visiting the Oriente on this forum, will provide some details to help with your planning.
We wanted a birding/nature oriented trip with some culture—and we definitely got it. If you asked each one of us, we probably would give you a different answer as to what was a highlight of the trip. Some of my favorite memories were the birds (we saw a bee hummingbird! Colorful Cuban todi and trogans, musical Cuban crows), horse and buggy ride at night in Bayamo while our guide—a wonderful tenor—sang a song about the horse and buggies in Bayamo, the fresh fruit (e.g., fruta bomba), etc. We ended up seeing at least 65 bird species, including 11 of the 21 endemics.