CU1 CUBA TOUR

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A Cultural, Historical, Interpersonal Adventure

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Old Havana--UNESCO site; Beautiful Vinales Valley; Bay of Pigs Commemorative Museum; Colonial Trinidad; Colourful Santiago; Meeting everyday Cubans, the friendliest people on Earth

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (see note below, if applicable) - All pricing reflects twin-sharing, per-person pricing for the TOUR AND INTERNAL FLIGHTS ONLY; however, we can book flights from your home airport to join the tour for an added cost. Contact us for a no obligation quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Sat 07 Oct 2017Sat 21 Oct 2017 $3490 USD
Sat 04 Nov 2017Sat 18 Nov 2017 $3490 USD
Sat 18 Nov 2017Sat 02 Dec 2017 $3490 USD
Sat 13 Jan 2018Sat 27 Jan 2018 $3490 USD
Sat 27 Jan 2018Sat 10 Feb 2018 $3490 USD
Sat 28 Apr 2018Sat 12 May 2018 $3490 USD
Sat 06 Oct 2018Sat 20 Oct 2018 $3490 USD
Sat 03 Nov 2018Sat 17 Nov 2018 $3490 USD
Sat 17 Nov 2018Sat 01 Dec 2018 $3490 USD

Optional Single Supplement: $740 USD (number of singles limited).


Tour Overview


Cuba is the last bastion of socialism in the Western Hemisphere and has, only recently, managed to break free from the shackles imposed by the negative associations of communism. Indeed, it is Cuba's long isolationism that proves one of the main attractions for travellers, as destinations untouched by Western influence are now so few and far between. One must only explore the cities, like the capital, Havana, to appreciate fully the unique charms of the country. With their colonial architecture, plethora of 1950s American cars, and imposing Revolutionary monuments, Cuban cities are strikingly unusual in history, colour and character. These street scenes are only enhanced by the laid-back lifestyle and friendly disposition of the Cuban people -- a population of largely Spanish and African descent -- with the result that Cuba is an up-and-coming destination to be visited sooner rather than later.

Our tour is a comprehensive exploration of much of the island, and concentrates on the human element of the country as much as possible. To that end, we delve into the island's long human history and explore the myriad ways in which the Cuba of today has been shaped by foreign powers, the winds of war and trade, the migration of peoples far and wide, and fortunes good and bad. Through meaningful interaction between our travellers and the people of Cuba, we reveal a place more complex and nuanced that most might expect.

Regions visited: Central America And Caribbean
Countries visited: Cuba


Testimonials


I enjoyed every single thing that I got to see and do. I fell in love with Cuba from the second I landed. An amazing and wonderful experience, the local people, the sites, the complicated history, the food. People I know who've been to Cuba, everyone of them told me the food was terrible. Well.....they certainly didn't eat where we did or have the Tour Leader that we had as their guide!!

All the excursions were thoroughly enjoyed. I don't think AA need to change anything. The local guides were fantastic. The transportation was excellent. Meals were over the top and we enjoyed each and every one. This is the second time we have travelled with Serra, our tour leader, and with her light personality, her extensive travel knowledge and fantastic people skills she is an absolute treasure to travel with. Serra is always very well organized and everything ran like clockwork. Serra is an excellent speaker and was always very well informed. She had the right amount of depth to all the information passed on to us. We only use Adventures Abroad for our cultural tours, and have taken two of our daughters and their husbands on two of the tours as well. We have never had a tour that we have not enjoyed.

Our Cuban tour guide cannot be topped!!! I don't have enough complimentary words to express how he "made" the trip for us. He is personable, knowledgeable, helpful, open-minded, and never failed to be performing his job of teaching us about his country. We really were lucky to have him as our Cuban tour guide.

Enjoyed excursions to Vinoles Valley, Bay of Pigs, Camaguey, Holguin, Baracoa and Santiago - enjoyed the history that pertains to the revolution 1959 and walks - I found all the stops interesting

Diego is a fantastic guide and gave everyone a wonderful experience. The best guide I have ever had! Bus drivers were absolutely amazing and evening meals were very good - fun to get to know the group.

I had a great time on this tour.

Loved the Hemmingway, Buena Vista Social Club and the Baseball game!!!!! Osvaldo was an excellent national guide and knowledgeable about his country. He had a great spirit. Serra did a good job, she could laugh readily, gave good country information and was an excellent representative for Adventures Abroad.Pleasant, courteous, patient, and friendly would be adjectives to describe Serra's attitude. She was very well informed. It was fun, informational, and the pace of each day was planned and carried out. It was fascinating to get a glimpse into the lives of people that was balanced, objective, and fair.

Vinales Valley and the walkabout there were one of the highlights, as was the visit to Baracoa and the bus ride through the mountains. [Tour Leader Erin] went to extra effots to arrange meals in local establishments, organize evening excursions to muciscal venues, find money exchange places, and organize the ordering of meals.

Great trip, would highly recommend Cuban trip to everyone. Of course, what made the trip extra special were our amazing guides.

All excursions were very good. We saw all the highlights of each place we visited. I really enjoyed Trinidad and Baracoa. We had one local guide - Osvaldo - who traveled with us the entire time. He was the best local guide I have had on any trip that I have taken. He worked 18 hours a day to make sure we all had a great experience in his country. He was friendly and helpful, and provided loads of information abount the culture, history and economic condition of Cuba. We had a very comfortable mini-bus (ours was virtually brand new) and and excellent driver. The evening meals were all very good. There were always lots of choices. It was nice to try out the private restaurants, which were mostly where we ate. Chis is an absolute people person. It is obvious that he enjoys his work. Chris went out of his way to answer everyone s questions and requests. He made sure everything ran smoothly and comfortably for everyone. Chris keeps lists and sets reminders - I can t think of anything that was not reasonably explained nor any questions, requests or observations that were forgotten. I really enjoyed this trip to Cuba. It is a pity that the vast majority of people that travel here do not get to see the country in the depth that we did.

This trip was eye-opening and filled with a variety of excursions. All of it was well-planned and thought out. I liked the bodega visit and seeing the ration books. I felt I got a real look at daily life. Another favorite was the Velasques house in Santiago. The walking tour of Havana was eye-opening.

I enjoyed all the included excursions on this tour. Highlights would be Hemmingway Finca, Museo Romantico in Trinidad, Cave and boat trip in Vinales and the Truck ride into the Sierra de Escambray. Transportation was excellent in every way. AA is fortunate to have the calibre of Chris, our tour leader, working for the company. He was enthusiastic, never tired or too busy for questions. Always appears calm and relaxed. He is the best!!

The local guide was outstanding; he was honest, well-spoken, informative, and fun. Working relationship between him and the Adv. Abroad guide was excellent. The excursions blended well with free time, were adventurous and worthwhile.

Great trip! I am glad that I went and the experience was excellent!Diego was outgoing and had a wonderful personality. Diego was extremely informative and knowledgeable. He made himself available to everyone on the tour. I have been on numerous trips and he has been the best guide I have ever had in my travels!

Laura Rudderforth is definitely the Tour Leader with the best ever abilities to lead a group of mature tourers. Laura has excellent communication skills and is fluent, I believe, in several languages. Laura goes above and beyond the expected duties of a Tour Leader, always ensuring the safety of all tour participants. Laura is always able to maintain an even balance between local guides, transportation provider and tour participants. I highly commend Laura for the always common sense and tactiful approach to all issues. Many, many thanks to Laura

We enjoyed all excursions to the utmost. There is none better than Victor. Everybody loves Victor! He runs all day to keep us happy and to make the very best meal arrangements for the evening meal

Great trip, all excursions were very enjoyable and local guides were excellent. Laura made us all feel very comfortable and was always able to answer our questions. She seemed to have as much fun as we did, great tour leader.

I enjoyed it all, especially the horticultural tours and viewing the country side, the people are all so nice. Diego's (Tour Leader) up beat attitude despite some of the hotel problems he encountered. I was more than happy with all the things that we saw. Fabulous drivers to be able to turn those big buses around in tight spots

Full Itinerary

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Day 1 Arrive in Havana
Today we arrive in Havana and transfer to our hotel in the heart of the old city.

Upon arrival in the city, the vibrancy of the people is one of the first noticeable things. Also striking is the fact that, day or night, music can be heard and most evenings, somewhere in the city, people can be found dancing in the streets. The rich history of the island is apparent in the faces of the people. They are the descendants of the Spanish conquistadores who colonised the island in the sixteenth century and African slaves brought over to work on the tobacco and sugar plantations.

OUR GUIDING PRINICPLES ON THIS JOURNEY
Over the next two weeks, we will be immersing oursleves in all aspects of modern Cuban life, through connections with the Cuban people and places as we explore with a full-time leader and the invaluable assistance and insight as provided by a local Cuban guide. Our purpose on this special journey is educational and inspirational; we are confident that you will come away with a much better understanding of this country's unique cultural, artistic, political, natural and historical attributes, as well as its unique challenges going forward as a proudly independent 21st Century nation state.

Overnight in Havana.

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2 Havana: City Tour
Cuba's cosmopolitan capital was once one of the world's most prosperous ports and the third most populous city in the Americas. As La llave del Mundo (Key of the World), it saw riches from Mexico, Peru, and Manila pass through her sheltered harbour to Spain. Havana shows evidence of neglect but her beauty shines through an amalgam of Spanish, African, colonial, communist, and capitalist influences.

Today we start with a panoramic tour of Havana with a drive along the Malecon, and a stop at the Revolution Plaza before making our way into Havana Vieja (the old city).

Highlights will include a stroll down Prado Avenue, for many years Havana's most important and impressive avenue. Built in 1772 by the government of the Marquis de la Torre, it was originally known as Alameda de Extramuros. In 1928 the avenue was remodeled into its present form. This stately thoroughfare is home to the Capitolio Nacional, the Gran Teatro de la Habana, and the Parque Central (a favourite gathering place for Cubans). It'll become evident why UNESCO declared this region a cultural and natural World Heritage Site in 1982.

We'll also visit the Museum of the Revolution, located in Old Havana. The museum is housed in what was the Presidential Palace of all Cuban presidents from Mario Garcia Menocal to Fulgencio Batista. It became the Museum of the Revolution during the years following the Revolution. Portions of the museum are also devoted to pre-revolutionary Cuba, including its War of Independence waged against Spain.

Our walking tour takes us along the main streets of Old Havana to visit the Plaza de la Cathedral, the Plaza de Armas, the Plaza de San Francisco de Asis and the Plaza Vieja. We also visit the Plaza de la Revolution and the Cabana Fortress, built after the British invasion of 1762.

Day Summary: This is an important day of introduction in the capital. We will learn much about Cuba's history, pre- and post-Columbian, with much emphasis on the Revolution and independence from Spain. We'll also enjoy the city's colourful and rich architecture, and encounter many friendly locals as we move through on our tour by bus and foot. As throughout this tour, if possible, we will do our best to enjoy our evening meals prepared by home-run restaurants and interact with the family-operators and other patrons.

Overnight in Havana.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Havana - Santa Clara - Sancti Spiritus
We then drive to Santa Clara, the site of the last battle of the Cuban Revolution. In December 1958 Che Guevara and his troops ambushed an armoured train carrying arms to Santiago de Cuba and this was a major turning point in the Revolution. We visit the train museum and the Mausoleum of Che Guevara and his comrades who died in Bolivia. The museum attached to the Mausoleum has many of his former belongings and is a fascinating insight into one of the 20th Century's most revered icons.

Our final destination today is Sancti Spiritus where we will have the chance to see numerous markets in this region’s largest city. After a brief city orientation, we check into our hotel for the night.

Day Summary: Today we focus on the positive impact of the Revolution as well as the numerous leaders that emerged at this time. We have the chance to see life outside of the capital and get a better understanding how consumerism works in this unique socialist country.

Overnight in Sancti Spiritus.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Sancti Spiritus - Camaguey - Bayamo
Today is another long driving day as we head to Bayamo in the south of the island. We pass through agricultural towns and sugar cane plantations, learning about the importance of sugar in Cuba's history. We stop to have our box lunch in Camaguey, Cuba's fourth largest city, to break up the journey.

Referred to as the Oriente by most Cubans, this region contrasts with the rest of the island in many ways. The racial mixture is slightly different due to the influx of Haitians in the late 1700s which gives some cities a distinct Caribbean feel. Another distinctive feature is the lush green hills and mountains that rise above the humid plains. Eastern Cuba is a remote and wild paradise rarely explored by tourists.

The Oriente is the birthplace of many revolutionary heroes, as well as the starting point of both the War of Independence and Fidel Castro's initial attack on the Moncada Garrison in 1953. Castro later returned to Santiago in 1959 to accept surrender of Batista's army. When travelling the eastern provinces you'll discover nearly every city has some type of memorial or revolutionary point of interest. Cubans are very proud of their independence and take great interest in preserving and showcasing revolutionary artifacts.

Later this afternoon we will arrive in Bayamo, the second of the seven cities founded by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar; it was established on November 5, 1513. A short tour around the main square, we will discover more about the area’s most famous resident Carlos Manuel de Céspedes (1819–1874). HE was a Cuban planter who freed his slaves and made the declaration of Cuban independence in 1868 which started the Ten Years' War.

Day Summary: A full but interesting day with themes touching on Cuba's ethnic diversity and the area's significance re the Revolution and local heroes. Cuba is far from homogenous in terms of ancestral origin, and the country's many regions reflect this in their myriad unique customs and traditions, art forms, belief systems, sports of interest, and physical appearance. We'll learn about indigenous peoples of Cuba and notice the distinct Caribbean vibe of the place.

Overnight in Bayamo.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Bayamo - Baracoa
Today we travel to Baracoa, Guantanamo Province. Cuba's easternmost province is approximately 1000 km (621 miles) from the nation's capital. Its environment includes everything from near-desert to regions featuring luxuriant mountain vegetation. Mountains make up almost 99 percent of the Guantanamo's territory. What we have here are rocky areas with scarce vegetation and lots of cacti, as opposed to forests and fields of green sugar cane.

In the late afternoon we will arrive in Baracoa, Cuba's oldest city. Founded by Diego Velasquez in 1512, the community is characterized by the amicable spirit of its citizens and the beauty of a city surrounded by abrupt coastline, luxuriant foliage, mountains and rivers. The first capital of the island, its name comes from an aboriginal term meaning "End of the Land". The city was often raided by pirates and corsairs who burned it down for the last time in 1652. In response, a solid defense system was built, including forts called La Punta, Seboruco and Malachin, as well as the Joa and Caguase towers.

This village was the first on the island to have a parochial church, made doubly attractive because not far from its entrance there was a statue of Hatuey, an Indian who became the symbol of rebellion -- and because it sheltered the cross brought to Cuban soil by Christopher Columbus in December 1492. Baracoa is one of the few Cuban villages located close to where Indo-Cubans found refuge in the mountains and managed to survive. We can actually recognize features inherited from these ancestors in today's village dwellers. Today the economy of Baracoa is based on coffee and cacao.

Day Summary: A another full and informative day through an area is known for coconut, cacao, lush tropical vegetation, and changeable weather! At some point during our day, we hope to learn first-hand how locals harvest coconuts and grow cacao along with a vast array of other tropical plants. A local caretaker will take us around and explain everything about the crops, their history, and associated economies and traditions.

Overnight in Baracoa.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Baracoa & Santiago De Cuba
This morning we have a walking tour of the village, including the Cathedral, Fort Matachin, and the small but informative museum. We also visit the archaeological museum located in caves previously inhabited by the indigenous people. Here we are able to relate to something connected to the indigenous people of Cuba as there remains little trace of them.

After a break for lunch, we depart Baracoa, travelling along the spectacular La Farola, a 49-km (30-mile) road that spirals over precipitous peaks and through deep ravines offering incredible views of the peaks of the Sierra Maestra, lush valleys, tropical forests, pine groves, banana plantations, rivers, waterfalls and royal palm trees. Started by Batista and completed after the Revolution, it is regarded as one of the great engineering feats of recent Cuban history.

The Spaniards established the island's first capital here after founding the village in 1514. In 1522, it officially became a city and throughout the 16th and 17th centuries it was attacked many times by pirates and corsairs, which prompted the construction of the Morro Fortress in 1640 as well as the building of other coastal defences.

As we drive, we will notice many school children in their uniforms. Our tour doesn’t include a visit to a school as we can't guarantee that a visit to a school would be possible or appropriate. Despite this, however, the topic of education in Cuba is important, and we'll have plenty of time to learn about it from our guides, students, and parents as we go.

Day Summary: Though we are near Guantanamo and US territory, we won't see much on our journey today. We'll likely have opportunities to ask Cubans what they think of the base and it history and possible future.

Overnight in Santiago.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Santiago de Cuba
Surrounded by impressive mountains that link the Sierra Maestra to the sea, Santiago is a city of hills and inclined streets, with numerous places of interest and a history linked to struggles for national independence. It is also a city that brings together people of African and Spanish origin, along with descendants of emigres from the French West Indies. Thus Santiago is a veritable melting pot whose colourful identity is an outgrowth of its rich human heritage.

This morning we visit the Morro Fortress, dramatically perched over the mouth of the bay. We also visit the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery which resonates with history. On the main square we stop to visit the house of Diego Velasquez, the oldest in Cuba which dates back to the beginning of the 16th century.

Renowned for its colourful carnivals featuring Chinese trumpets, French tumbas (a kind of drum) and all sorts of revels, the city is also famous for its people, who are hospitable, cheerful, and imaginative lovers of life; in short, typical West Indians from what has been dubbed the Capital of the Caribbean.

In the afternoon we drive out to El Cobre to see the important basilica there. Santiago is the hottest city on the island, offering the most intense blue sea and the most flavourful arrays of fruit. It is also proud to be the birthplace of the daiquiri, one of most popular cocktails in the world.

Day Summary: Today we have the chance to learn more about the Revolution, the role religion plays in everyday Cuban’s lives, as well as more about the colonial past of Cuba.

Overnight in Santiago.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Santiago - Camaguey: Town Tour
Today we travel by road to Camaguey with a lunch stop en route.

On arrival in Camaguey we embark on a tour. The streets here are a labyrinth, designed to confuse the corsairs who had previously terrorized the town. In fact, not two streets are parallel in the city's centre. Camaguey is Cuba's third largest city, but the mass tourism that we may have encountered earlier is refreshingly absent here.

We visit the lively farmers' market and Plaza de Trabajadores. One nickname for Camaguey is the "city of plazas" so we focus on 3 or 4 plazas as landmarks. We admire the Casa de la Cultura, with its freshly restored facade. For a donation, you can climb to the building's roof and get a good view of city. Nearby is the Soledad Church, one of the oldest in town and originally a hermitage. Our tour takes us into Plaza Maceo, pleasant with its shady spaces and charming cafes. We continue a few more blocks to the beautifully restored 18th C Plaza San Juan de Dios, aka Plaza Padre Olallo, probably the nicest in the city.

Camaguey has a famous ballet, though it's schedule is difficult to predict with any accuracy. Your Tour Leader should be able to find out about any possible performance this evening.

Day Summary: A full day of travel and sightseeing. An important ongoing theme will be touched upon again with respect to anti-colonial history and historical figures, notably General Antonio Maceo y Grajales. Few other Cubans have been worthy of the profound and genuine recognition he earned for himself as the leader of Cuba’s most epic anti-colonial struggles. Maceo was oft-referred to as the “Bronze Titan” because of his skin colour and his heroism in daring military campaigns. There is a plaze in his name here, as well as for Ignacio Agramonte y Loynáz, a Cuban revolutionary who played an important part in the Ten Years' War (1868–1878).

Overnight Camaguey.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Camaguey - Trinidad
Today we have a long drive towards Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 and perhaps the best-preserved colonial town on the island.

En route we will pass through famed sugar plantations in the Valle de los Ingenios and learn more about this industry that was once the most important part of the Cuban economy.

Exploring Trinidad is like stepping back in time, along the cobbled streets you’ll find many horse drawn carts acting as taxis, cargo trailers and more. Within the city limits, there are many interesting museums in old colonial buildings to visit in your leisure time, but it is after the sun sets that Trinidad’s charm becomes even more apparent.

This evening we recommend a visit to Casa de la Trova or Casa de la Musica for traditional Cuban music and dancing.

Day Summery: As the region and Trinidad is a popular tourist destination, we will also witness and learn more about the tourist industry, from large all-inclusive sun-and-style resorts to casas particulares, and the trickle down effect (or lack thereof) for people working in related businesses. We also hope to experience one of the most important unifying aspects of Cuban life - music!

Overnight in Trinidad.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 Trinidad: Town Tour
This morning we tour colonial Trinidad (pop: 60,000). This is a perfect relic of the early days of the Spanish colony: beautifully preserved streets and buildings and hardly a trace of the 20th century anywhere. It was founded in 1514 by Diego Velazquez as a base for expeditions into the New World and Hernan Cortes, conquistador of the Aztecs, set out from here for Mexico in 1518. The five main squares and four churches date from the 18th and 19th centuries and the whole city, with its fine palaces, cobbled streets and tiled roofs, is a national monument and since 1988 has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1797 there were 56 sugar mills and 12,000 slaves imported to work in the sugarcane fields. With the Industrial Revolution and the increase in sugar grown in Europe, Trinidad went into decline in the second half of the 19th century.

On the Plaza Mayor is the cathedral, Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad, built between 1817 and 1892. It is the largest church in Cuba and is renowned for its acoustics. On the left of the altar is a crucifix of the brown-skinned Christ of Veracruz, who is the patron of Trinidad.

The afternoon is at leisure. You may wish to head to Trinidad's excellent beaches just outside town, or continue to explore this colourful village on your own. The Casa Romantica is an enjoyable museum furnished with vintage articles.

Day Summary: This is a relatively easy-going day, with sightseeing town-based and concentrating on matters colonial. We also have opportunities to learn more about Afro-Cuban culture and traditions, including Santeria. Originally used pejoratively by the Spanish to describe the religious / superstitious beliefs which gave more attention to the Catholic saints often in preference to Jesus Christ, Santeria now applies to the most popular Afro-Cuban religion.

Overnight in Trinidad.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Topes De Collantes & Cienfuegos
Today our journey takes us to Cuba's second highest mountain range -- the Sierra de Escambray, reaching 1100 m (3,700 feet) and home to small mountain villages. The Escambray is a delight for birders and walkers alike. Slopes are swathed in Caribbean pines, ancient tree ferns, bamboo, and eucalyptus. Upon arrival we take a 60-minute truck ride into the forest to begin a walk from La Codina, an old Spanish hacienda, once part of a large Spanish coffee plantation.

We begin our easy walk with a talk on the various plants in the area and their medicinal uses, originally used to treat the plantation's slaves. We continue to the Orchid Loop, with over 25 endemic species, and then to La Cueva del Altar, with stunning views out over the mountains to the Caribbean Sea. We finish back at the Hacienda where we have lunch.

Later this afternoon we continue to Cienfuegos, a town settled by French emigrants' descendants more than 150 years ago.

Day Summary: Much of today showcases Cuba's natural history, geography, and spectacular scenery. This is also a chance to discover how the medical system has adapted and thrived as well as learn more about the diversity in the island’s inhabitants.

Overnight Cienfuegos.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 12 Bay Of Pigs & Vinales Valley
Today is a full day of travel, with some interesting things to see and do along the way.

Also along our route are numerous stone markers, memorials to the people bombed on the road during the US invasion.

The road was the only access to the beach, so most of those killed were approaching to either bring supplies or help in the fighting. We stop at the Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) Museum where we will learn about the US/CIA involvement in the anti-Castro movement. Playa Giron was one of the two main landing beaches during the abortive US invasion.

We continue to a stop at the cenote (limestone cave) just after Playa Larga. This is an inland sea-water aquarium with an amazing array of fishes that one can observe during a refreshing swim.

We travel via the Zapata swamp, named after the unfortunate first landholder given title to the area in the 1600s. This area was very poor before the revolution but has benefited greatly with the introduction of electricity, schools, roads and clinics where none had existed before. Lake Tesoro is said to have gotten its name from the Indians who supposedly threw all their treasures into the lake rather than give them up to the Spanish. Fidel Castro used to spend much of his vacation time here.

In the late afternoon we arrive in Vinales and its magnificent valley, partly reminiscent of Guilin in China because of the curious limestone mountains and rock outcroppings.

Day Summary: Today is a full day of travel with several interesting stops along the way and time on the bus to learn about small town life, the challenges faced by people living in this region, local industries, and, of course, important historical landmarks associated with the events at Playa Giron. This area was very poor before the revolution and although it's still one of the poorest in the country, they gained much (as did most of the poorest areas) after the Revolution, through the introduction of electricity, schools, roads, and clinics where none had existed before.

Overnight in Vinales.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 Vinales Valley & Havana
The Vinales Valley is considered a National Park and was recently proclaimed by UNESCO as a Natural World Heritage Site.

This morning we take a leisurely walk through the countryside passing by crops of tobacco, yucca and corn before joining up with our vehicle again. We may be able to visit a tobacco farmer's house; the inhabitants of the valley will readily invite visitors in for a visit.

We then go around the corner to the State-run rationing store where our guide will explain to us what the state supplies, how much, and how the system works.

We have a chance to see a tobacco plantation where the tobacco leaf is sorted (despalillo), graded, even fermented and then stored until the time is right for the leaf to be rolled. In Pinar del Rio we visit a state run tobacco factory where such brands as Cohiba, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta cigars are made.

Return to Havana. Along the way we stop in Soroa to visit a beautifully located orchid garden.

Depending on the timing of today's arrival, you may have some free time to visit some worthwhile sites not covered by our sightseeing program (these visits could also occur tomorrow afternoon if not today). Near the Parque Central are the Capitolio and the Gran theatre (currently under renovation), Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) and the Music Museum. Near the Plaza de Armas: Castillo de la Real Fuerza (housing a small but good naval museum), Casa de Africa; Vintage Car Museum; City Museum, Corona cigar factory and cathedral. There is often a flea market around the corner from the Tejadillo, behind the cathedral, close to the water. And this may be the evening to sample one of Havana's famous music venues or take a stroll down the Malecon (waterfront promenade), which really comes to life in the evenings.

Day summary: Our educational content is strong today, with ongoing emphasis on local economies, crops and the processing and sale thereof, pre- and post-Revolution life, and small-scale market and subsistence family-farming. As our day progresses, we'll have opportunities to interact with people working in these various fields and learn about their everyday lives.

Overnight in Havana.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 14 Havana: Ernest Hemingway Museum
This morning we travel 16 km outside of Havana to Finca Vigia ("lookout house"), the former home of Ernest Hemingway. Finca Vigia is located in the small, working-class town of San Francisco de Paula. The Cuban people have always respected famous writer's choice to live in a modest town, amongst the people with whom he fished. Built in 1886 by a Spanish Architect Miguel Pascual y Baguer, Finca Vigia was purchased by Hemingway in 1940 for a cost of $12,500.

Here Hemingway wrote two of his most celebrated novels, "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "The Old Man and the Sea." After Hemingway's death in 1961, the Cuban government took ownership of the property -- either with or without the approval of Mary Hemingway.

The balance of the day is free for independent exploration in Havana.

Day Summary: Today is the day for summation, reflection, and supposition regarding the future of this vibrant, venerable nation and its people. It is also our last chance to shop, soak in the music and colour, and enjoy the effortless, welcoming smiles on the locals' faces. This evening we enjoy a farewell dinner and likely some Cuban music to see us off.

Overnight in Havana.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 15 Departure from Havana
Departure from Havana.

BUEN VIAJE!

Meal plan: Breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Hotel Armadores de Santander

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Havana
Country: Cuba

The Hotel Armadores de Santander (which means ‘Shipowners of Santander’) overlooks the port of Havana. The building’s façade, with its
... reliefs of the coat of arms of Santander surrounded by maritime motifs, is wonderfully evocative of the city’s seagoing past. The Hotel Armadores de Santander was restored and is run by the Office of the City Historian of Havana, so all its profits are reinvested in the restoration of the city’s historical centre.

Read More.

Hotel Los Jazmines

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Vinales
Country: Cuba

Most of the rooms are housed in two three-story buildings set on a hillside overlooking the Viñales Valley. All are
... clean and comfortable, and feature French doors opening on to a little balcony from where you can soak in the sights. Touches of gingerbread wrought-iron work and stained glass give the place a sense of elegance. Facilities: 2 restaurants, 2 bars, outdoor pool, laundry service.


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Trip Information

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Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner daily (hotels and local restaurants). All transport, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving / late departing land & air customers who book their extra hotel nights through us.

Exclusions

Tour Leader gratuity, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), departure taxes, domestic and international air taxes (if applicable), "tourist card" fee ($15). Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs, shopping, and locally paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

Cuba is a warm and tropical place most times, and one should be prepared for heat. That said, we will notice a cooling effect when up in the mountains or near the sea. The northern side of the island also tends to be cooler than the Caribbean side. A light rain shell is recommended for all times.

The cooler and most comfortable time of year in Cuba is November-March. This is "high season," and we recommend early booking to ensure space at preferred accommodation and flights at a reasonable cost. May and October are considered "shoulder" season; these months can be hot but still a pleasant time to visit. We avoid the very hot summer months (Jun-Sept).

Transport and Travel Conditions

Road transport by private air-conditioned motor coach, 24-36 seats depending on ultimate group size (see 'group size').

Though this is not a strenuous tour per se, we do have numerous walking tours of towns / cities on uneven surfaces. One must be prepared to be on one's feet, walking at a leisurely pace for up to 3 hours at a time, and to walk short distances, ie from the hotel to dinner. Traffic and road conditions may make some journeys seem longer than they should. Our trip rating level "2" reflects the ambitious nature of our program, some full travel days, heat, the lack of unreliability of creature comforts in some locations (hot water, air-conditioning etc that may fail), and limitations for those requiring/insisting upon very specific dietary requirements.

USA TRAVELLERS:
Though direct flights are now becoming available for 2017 and beyond, travel to Cuba for touristic purposes is still prohibited by statute. Adventures Abroad qualifies for a "General License" that allows US citizens to visit Cuba, as our tour conforms with the list of twelve stipulations required as per the official list available here: https://cu.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/

Accommodation

Well-located, heated / air-conditioned, mid-range (3-star) hotels with en suite toilet and bath throughout (probably shower only). Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than doubles. Porter service is sometimes available though you should be independent with your luggage, especially at airports.

Because this tour ventures well beyond the built-up coastal tourist areas, one can expect the locally-owned, managed, and operated hotels and inns to be somewhat less "slick" that the larger, foreign-owned and managed resort-style properties. Hotels are carefully selected in terms of their ability to offer a safe and clean environment; that said, there may be some rough edges here and there and service that is not at the same level of efficiency which we expect elsewhere in the West. That said, the big highlight of this trip is to get off the trodden tourist path and immerse ourselves in the real Cuba.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader, driver/s, and local guide.

Group Size

10-18 (plus Tour Leader & local guide)