CU1 CUBA TOUR

SEARCH TOUR

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 any applicable taxes. The pricing reflects twin-sharing, per-person costs without airfare to/from the tour; however, we can book flights from your home airport for an added cost. Contact us for a no obligation quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Mon 21 Jan 2019Mon 04 Feb 2019 $3660 USD
Mon 04 Nov 2019Mon 18 Nov 2019 $3660 USD

USA TRAVELLERS: As a Canadian-based company, we do not operate within USA legal jurisdiction and do not hold express permission from the State Dept with regard to USA passport holders. As the traveller, it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the rules and to decide whether or not to travel. For information, please go to: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/cuba.html

Optional Single Supplement: $781 USD (number of singles limited).


Tour Overview


Beyond what the world’s interpretation of what Cuba has been lies a country that is full of life. Our Cuba group tours introduce you to a life that has a way of making you tap your toes to the soft rhythm of the salsa beat echoing down alleyways of colonial buildings whose walls are slowly chipping away with the weathering of time. A life that welcomes visitors with a broad smile even as locals fiercely play dominoes outside their houses; where the wafting smell of cigars mix in with the sweet smell of fresh fruit; where the turquoise coloured ocean laps at soft white sand and the sound of laughter is never far away.

It is true the Cuba we’ve read about is a far cry from this complex Caribbean island, and is continually evolving. Our guided tours to Cuba offer the chance to learn about the people, the history, and the culture, in an intimate way that will allow even the most intrepid traveller to experience something new.

Beginning and ending in Havana, once known to the Spanish as the key to the new world (La llave del Mundo), the moment you arrive in Cuba it is hard to not recognize both its colonial importance and revolutionary past. With opulent buildings such as grand theatres on elegant boulevards to the ornate plazas found in the old city, Havana gleams with an old world charm that hasn’t been spoiled by skyscrapers and new developments. The white, red and blue flag of Cuba is found around every corner and the pride of this country very noticeable.

Away from the downtown core are massive, blocky Soviet-style buildings, reminding visitors of a communist government with offices decorated with the faces of Camilo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara, two revolutionaries whose legendary status are hard to escape. Even further away from the classic cars of the 1950s and the hustle of Havana, is where Cuba group tours shine.

From the tobacco fields of Vinales where karst mountains rise and fall between plantations, to the musical soul of Trinidad, a preserved colonial town still standing amongst once the gleaming sugar capital of the country, guided tours to Cuba show a different side than just the revolution. It shows a country that has survived despite all the odds against them. It also shows the diversity of a country that came together in times of need, from French migrants who arrived in Cienfuegos, to African slaves in the Valle de los Ingenios, to the Spanish who filled the big cities such as Santiago or Santa Clara.

Cuba group tours also take in the non-political side of the country, venturing into the mountains of the Escambray to discover the herbal medicines used historically by Cubans and the biodiversity found in this Caribbean paradise. One step into our guided tours to Cuba shows the traveller that this is a place like no other. As a company that has been leading Cuba group tours for decades, trust in our expert leaders and quality guides to help you understand the complexities of this island and allow you to enjoy in the richness of its culture.

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!!

The Hemmingway House was my favourite. I enjoyed all the elements, as they gave me insight to the country. I left Cuba with a positive view of the country and it's people. The evening meal plan exceeded my expectations. Our tour leader and local guide did a great job to ensure we experienced great food, many times at local family operated restaurants. I had heard the food in Cuba was not great, but after this trip, I think the food is terrific! As usual, most of the hotel choices put us into a position to experience the people and culture. This is a trait about AA that we love, and keep us coming back. Cuba was an interesting country. I enjoyed the friendliness of the people. Their multicultural blend makes them unique. Their smiles and laughter are infectious. The food on this trip was awesome. Plenty of choices each day. We enjoyed real Cuban food! You can sense the country is changing and that tourists are leaking away from the resorts to experience the culture and history of the towns and cities. We were able to experience it before the change becomes dramatic. Well done Adventures Abroad.

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

I particularly enjoyed the visit to Hemmingway's house, to the orchid garden, to the tobacco farm in the Vinales Valley and to the farm after our boat trip on the Toa River. The local guide who accompanied us throughout the trip was excellent. I liked the videos he showed us on the bus. The guide at the Hemmingway house was particularly engaging and informative. The food met and exceeded my expectations. The small local/family-run restaurants were excellent. Although the food was not particularly varied, but there was a lot of it. Usually, beef, pork, chicken and lamb were on offer. The fish was especially good and we had lobster and shrimp several times. Sometimes other sea food was an option. (I had octopus one night.) It was good to have realistic expectations about Cuban cuisine. I was impressed by my first AA experience. I feel that I got to see the real Cuba.

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.

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!

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 PRINCIPLES ON THIS JOURNEY IN SUPPORT OF THE CUBAN PEOPLE
Over the next two weeks, we will be immersing ourselves 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.

Included Meal(s): Dinner

Day 2 Havana: City Tour - Vinales Valley
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.

Later today we depart Havana and travel by road to the Vinales Valley, reminiscent of Guilin in China because of the curious limestone mountains and rock outcroppings.

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 Vinales.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Vinales Valley
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.

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 Vinales.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Vinales - Cienfuegos
Today we have breakfast early and set off towards Central Cuba to the charming city of Cienfuegos, on the island's southern coast. The city of Cienfuegos is known amongst Cubans as 'The Pearl of the South' and its colonial centre was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005. Cienfuegos is the only city in Cuba founded by French migrants fleeing the slave revolution in Haiti in the early 19th century.

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.

The Oriente is also 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.

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 Cienfuegos.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5 Cienfuegos - Sancti Spiritus - Camaguey
Departure to Camaguey, the third largest city in Cuba. On the way to Camaguey we´ll visit the city of Sancti Spiritus, a provincial capital and one of the first seven villages founded by the Spanish in the early 16th century. This is a quiet, parochial place steeped in history. Its inhabitants are proud of the Iglesia Parroquial Mayor del Espiritu Santo; the oldest operational church on the island, as well as Puente Yayabo, the only European-style redbrick bridge in Cuba. Lunch break in Sancti Spiritus, then continue to Camaguey for the night and an informal look around Camaguey.

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.

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.

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 plaza 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 in Camaguey.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Camaguey - Santiago De Cuba
Transfer to Santiago de Cuba, known as the ‘city of heroes’ for the important role it played in the island's Independence and Revolutionary struggles. Santiago is the second biggest city in Cuba and rivals Havana in literature, music and politics. It's also rich in traditions and folklore and almost every street corner is wrapped in legend. Surrounded by impressive mountains that link the Sierra Maestra to the sea, Santiago is made up of hills that overlook an intensely blue bay.

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.

Overnight in Santiago.

Included Meal(s): 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. We'll also visit the Museo Municipal Emilio Bacardí. Founded in 1899 by rum magnate, war hero and city mayor Emilio Bacardí y Moreau (the palatial building was built to spec), the museum is one of Cuba’s oldest and most eclectic, with some absorbing artifacts amassed from Bacardí’s travels. These include an extensive weapons collection, paintings from the Spanish costumbrismo (19th-century artistic movement that predated Romanticism) school, and the only Egyptian mummy on the island!

We'll also visit the Museo del Carnaval, displaying the history of Santiago's Carnaval tradition, the oldest and biggest between Río and New Orleans. 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.

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

Overnight in Santiago.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 8 Santiago - Bayamo
Departure to the charming city of Bayamo, the provincial capital of Granma. We will stop on the way to visit the most sacred place for Cubans “El Cobre Church”.

Bayamo was the second town or "villa" founded by Diego Velazques in Cuba in 1513; these days it's a pleasant, relaxed provincial city with a friendly atmosphere. Granma was the hub of the revolution, and this is reflected in its capital's many poignant monuments and revolutionary dedications. Bayamo is also renowned as the birthplace of leading artists, writers and musicians, such as the composer of Cuba's national anthem, Perucho
Figueredo. Women from Bayamo are said to be the prettiest in Cuba, inspiring La Bayamesa, Cuba's favourite love song.

A short tour around the main square, we'll 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. We'll visit the Provincial Museum, where we see the Cuban 'Swiss Army' knife that Che used, interesting photos of the revolution from the region, and war memorabilia from the local heros.

Overnight in Bayamo.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Bayamo - Camaguey
Today we transfer back to Camaguey.

One of the first seven "villas" or towns founded by the Spanish in Cuba in the early 16th century, Camaguey's historic center was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. This sleepy colonial town is sprinkled with large bulbous clay jars known as tinajones, originally used to transport wine, oil and grain. They were introduced by the Spanish as a solution to the city's water shortage and have become a symbol of Camaguey.

On arrival we'll include any sightseeing possibly left over from our last visit. You'll likely have some much-deserved free time on this rather busy trip! 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.

Overnight in Camaguey.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 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 Summary: 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.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 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.

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.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 Trinidad - Topes de Collantes National Park - Santa Clara
Departure to Santa Clara visiting Topes de Collantes along the way.

Topes de Collantes National Park is part of the Sierra del Escambray or Guamuhaya Mountain Range, the second largest on the island. Its highest peak is Pico San Juan, measuring 1148 metres. Topes de Collantes is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in Cuba and is a delight for birders and walkers alike with its lush tropical vegetation including Caribbean pines, ancient tree ferns, bamboo and eucalyptus. The Escambray Mountains are home to isolated rural communities principally dedicated to the cultivation of coffee. We'll have a walk in the park before continuing our journey.

Continue to Santa Clara, the provincial capital of Villa Clara province in central Cuba. The city of Santa Clara was founded in 1689 by settlers fleeing the coast and constant lootings by pirates. Today Santa Clara is an important university town but it’s best known for the historic events that surround revolutionist Che Guevara. Che led his rebel forces in the battle of Santa Clara, a decisive victory over Batista's army that resulted in the triumph of the revolution. Che’s remains were brought here from Bolivia in 1997 and are kept in an impressive mausoleum.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 Santa Clara Tour - Havana
After a morning tour of the city of Santa Clara and a visit to the Che Mausoleum we depart to Havana, Cuba's capital and the largest city in the Caribbean. Havana is the finest surviving Spanish colonial complex in the Americas and the seventh town Diego Velazquez founded in Cuba in the 16th century. Post-revolution restoration work and the millions of dollars invested since it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1982 mean that Old Havana has been well-preserved and is often referred to as a “living museum”. The many marvelous monuments, cathedrals, and palaces of the city’s historical centre are brought to life by a constant hustle and bustle.

Overnight in Havana.

Included Meal(s): 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.

You will have some free time to visit some worthwhile sites not covered by our sightseeing program. 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: 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.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Dinner

Day 15 Departure from Havana
Departure from Havana.

BUEN VIAJE!

Included Meal(s): 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.

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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

International airfare to/from the tour. 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 be. We have, in the past, tried flying within Cuba to reduce some distances, but this presented challenges with respect to the (un)reliability of these flights.

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: As per US State Department requirements pertaining to US citizens' ability to legally visit Cuba, our tour promotes independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba, where each day is packed with a full schedule of supporting, learning, and engaging with the Cuban people. That said, as a Canadian-based company, we do not operate within USA legal jurisdiction and do not hold express permission from the State Dept with regard to USA passport holders. As the traveller, it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the rules and to decide whether or not to travel. For information, please go to:

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/cuba.html

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

Maximum 18 (plus Tour Leader & local guide)