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Cuba Explorer Tour

$2,695.00

HAVANA. TRINIDAD. CAMAGUEY. SANTIAGO. BARACOA.

We LOVE Cuba! Able to both confound and exceed expectations in equal measure, Cuba is an endlessly fascinating place. This comprehensive Cuba Tour explores the beautiful colonial architecture is a highlight of our trip, particularly in the cities of Havana and Trinidad. Music is everywhere; rhythms and melodies are ubiquitous in this melting pot. With more than 200 original rhythms created on the island, including son, cha-cha-chá and guaguancó, Cuban musical tradition has long been of international renown. We will have the chance to enjoy musical performances of Cuban and Afro-Cuban rhythms during our stay.

As a former Spanish colony liberally coloured with French, African, American, Jamaican, and indigenous Taíno influences, there’s no denying the breadth of its historical heritage. When Castro pressed the pause button on economic development in the 1960s, he inadvertently saved many endangered traditions. It is the Cuban people who have kept the country alive as the infrastructure has crumbled; and it is also they who have ensured that Cuba continues to be the fascinating, perplexing, paradoxical nation it is.

Cuba is the largest, and least commercialized, island in the Caribbean.

Contact us for a customized itinerary to this amazing island!

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HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:

  • Learning about Cuba’s fascinating culture & rich history on this amazing Cuba Tour
  • Exploring the amazing colonial splendours of Havana, Bayamo & Trinidad
  • Meeting locals & learning about life in Cuba
  • Staying with friendly locals in Bed & Breakfasts (casa particulares)
  • Travelling to the lesser visited Eastern Cuba – Santiago & Baracoa
  • Enjoying unique Cuban rhythms across the country

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Day 1: ARRIVAL TO HAVANA

 

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.

No one could have invented Havana. It’s too audacious, too contradictory, and – despite 50 years of withering neglect – too beautiful. How it does it, is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s the swashbuckling history, the survivalist spirit, or the indefatigable salsa energy; don’t come here looking for answers. Just arrive with an open mind and prepare yourself for a long, slow seduction.

ACTIVITIES (Time permitting):

The influential Jose Fuster and his beautification

Revolution Square

Check in hotel

Dinner at Cafe Laurent (or similar)

**Please note that activities this day may vary depending on flight arrival times. If unable to complete these activities, they will be done on another day.

Meals: -/-/D

Accommodation: Havana Vieja Casas

Day 2: OLD HAVANA

After breakfast we tour the historic centre of Old Havana, Habana Vieja, featuring spectacular colonial architecture. 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 have the opportunity to visit Morro Castle Museum and the Museum of the City.

ACTIVITIES:

Walking tour of the highlights of Old Havana

Lunch at Mercaderes Paladar (or similar)

Visit the amazing Arte Corte community project

Free time to visit the Cuban Fine Arts Museum or the Museum of the Revolution (own expense)

Meals: B/L/-

Accommodation: Havana Vieja Casas

Day 3: HAVANA

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 long neglect but her beauty shines through an amalgam of Spanish, African, colonial, communist, and capitalist influences.

ACTIVITIES:

Visit Compas Dance Studio to meet the amazing dancers and watch a performance

Visit a local food co-op and organic farm (El Divino or similar)

Lunch at organic farm

Free time to further explore Havana

Meals: B/L/-

Accommodation: Havana Vieja Casas

Day 4: TRAVEL TO CIENFUEGOS TO TRINIDAD

Today we depart Havana and travel to “Pearl of the South”, Cienfuegos, a beautiful town settled by French emigrants’ descendants more than 150 years ago.

ACTIVITIES:

Travel to the beautiful French-inspired city of Cienfuegos

Tour around some of the highlights of Cienfuegos

Visit a graphic Art Cooperative “Art in Your Hands”

Travel to Trinidad

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Casa Particulares Trinidad

Day 5: TRINIDAD TOUR

This morning we have a guided walking tour of 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 sugar cane 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 (Playa Ancon 12km away), or continue to explore this colourful village on your own including the craft market.

ACTIVITIES:

Explore Trinidad’s Museo Romantico with a local specialist

Tour around the beautiful historic centre

Visit local artists

This evening check-out the famous stairs of Casa de la Musica for dancing and live music!

Meals: B/L/-

Accommodation: Casa Particulares Trinidad

Day 6: TRINIDAD TO CAMAGUEY

After breakfast we depart Trinidad and journey towards Camaguey.

Camaguey’s 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.

ACTIVITIES:

Meet with local artists in their studios before visiting a local art school

Explore the maze-like colonial center of Camagüey

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Casa Particulares

Day 7: CAMAGUEY TOUR

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. 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.

ACTIVITIES:

Meet with the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC)

Walking tour of Camagüey

Enjoy a free afternoon to wander the amazing streets

Meals: B/L/-

Accommodation: Casa Particulares

Day 8: BAYAMO & SANTIAGO

This morning we continue to Santiago with a stop in the picturesque town of Bayamo. Bayamo was the stronghold of early revolutionary Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, who freed his slaves and declared war against colonialist Spain. During the ensuing battles, Bayamo exchanged hands several times and was once burned to the ground by Cuban rebels as the city was being sacked by the Spanish.

After departing Bayamo, we visit El Cobre Church, the most important shrine for Cubans and most famous church in the country in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra near the old copper mines that give it its name. The triple-domed church with the mouthful name of El Sanctuario de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre, built in 1927, rises on Maboa hill and is photogenically framed by green forest. The faithful come from across Cuba on pilgrimages to pay their respects to (and ask for protection from) a black Madonna, the Virgen de la Caridad (Virgin of Charity). Look for Hemmingway’s Nobel Prize!

On to Santiago we go!

ACTIVITIES:

Explore the beautiful city and local artists in Bayamo

Continue on to Santiago, stopping along the way at Cuba’s most important church, La Caridad del Cobre

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Hotel Grande

Day 9: SANTIAGO CITY TOUR

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.

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.

ACTIVITIES:

Learn about Afro-Cuban rhythms from musicians at a cultural centre

Take a short boat ride to Cayo Granma for lunch

Visit El Morro, an impressive colonial fort guarding the Bay of Santiago

Explore the beautiful city of Santiago de Cuba

Meals: B/L/-

Accommodation: Hotel Grande

Day 10: TRAVEL TO BARACOA

This morning we depart Santiago and drive along the spectacular coastal road and over La Farola Pass to Baracoa.

Those who venture to this remote northeastern corner of the island will discover an almost unspoiled colonial village surrounded by secluded beaches and virgin rainforest. On the horizon looms the most recognizable local landmark, a table-topped hill called El Yunque.

ACTIVITIES:

Depart for Baracoa, driving the coastal and mountainous route, one of Cuba’s most scenic highways

Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way

Listen to live music at the Casa de la Trova in the centre of town

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Porto Santo

Day 11: EXPLORE BARACOA

Baracoa’s cobblestone streets are lined with one-story buildings whose peeling, carnival coloured paint jobs and weathered tile roofs add, rather than detract, from their charm. Local people watch you curiously from wide verandas. Some may approach you to sell sweets, but they are not as mercenary as the vendors in Havana. Baracoa, where cocoa trees grow in abundance, is famous for its white chocolate sold in round, flat cakes encased in palm bark.

ACTIVITIES:

Discuss the history and traditions of Baracoa

Continue to learn about the history of Baracoa at the Matachin Fort Museum

Enjoy a typical Baracoa lunch at Rancho Toa, which overlooks a breathtaking river and seascape

Visit with a local coconut farmer and learn about the regional delicacy, cucurucho

Meals: B/L/-

Accommodation: Porto Santo

Day 12: BARACOA TO SANTIAGO

Early this morning we depart Baracoa and head back to Santiago.

ACTIVITIES:

Explore some of the sights we missed yesterday (flight times depending)

Visit an artist’s studio to meet with young local artists

Flight back to Havana

Meals: B/L/D

Accommodation: Havana Casas

Day 13: DEPARTURE DAY

This morning we depart for the airport. Thank you for travelling with us!

Option to extend your visit in Cuba!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Accommodation” tab_id=”1449289426670-de1f94c1-4595″][vc_column_text]IMPORTANT:
Please note that on this tour we stay at a combination of hotels and private homes/Bed & Breakfasts (casa particulares). Subject to change.

Havana: Casa Particulares
Trinidad: Casa Particulares
Camaguey: Casa Particulares
Santiago: Grand Hotel
Baracoa: Porto Santo[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Important Info” tab_id=”1449289392103-be095264-cb20″][vc_column_text]PLEASE NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change. Although we always do our best to stick to the itinerary, due to the ever changing nature of Cuba, activities, restaurants, hotels, and sites are subject to change due to forces beyond our control.

PASSPORTS: Must be valid for at least 6 months after departure from Cuba. Proper documentation is the responsibility of each traveller.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Inclusion & Exclusion” tab_id=”1449208780765-5fd2d40a-5e8d”][vc_column_text]TOUR INCLUSIONS:
12 nights accommodation based on double occupancy in Private Homes (Casa Particulares) & Hotels
All transportation as per itinerary (private vehicle transfers, one way flight from Santiago to Havana)
12 breakfasts, 11 lunches, & 6 dinners
Guiding services as per itinerary
Sightseeing as per itinerary
Service of an experienced Tour Leader* (over 6 participants)
All applicable taxes

TOUR EXCLUSIONS:
International flights (can be arranged through us [email protected])
Mandatory travel medical insurance and optional cancellation insurance (can be arranged through us [email protected])
Tips (house keeping staff, service staff, drivers, guides, etc)
Meals not mentioned
Tips* (drivers, included meals service staff, guides, etc)
Items of a personal nature
Transportation and services not mentioned

*IMPORTANT NOTES:
– If there are LESS than 6 participants, there will be no tour leader and tips for guides/drivers/meals will be excluded from the price.
– Though we will do our best to follow this itinerary as closely as possible, it is subject to change due to factors beyond our control[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section title=”Pricing & Dates” tab_id=”1449223591510-29ce0fb2-4171″][vc_column_text]

Date: CUSTOM DATES AVAILABLE