Off the Beaten Path Tours

The best of Cuban live music, dancing, bird-watching, UNESCO World Heritage sites, waterfalls, ocean views, Cuban food, architecture and Cuban friends await you on this phenomenal tour!

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Cost: $2695 (market value $5195)
*Early Bird registrations 4 months prior to departure receive $200 discount

What is included:

  • Travel licenses, mandatory Cuban health insurance and visas

  • A bilingual Cuban guide

  • 9 nights in Cuban Bed and Breakfasts (casa particulares)

  • 17 meals and private, air-conditioned ground transportation

  • Bottled water always available

  • Curious About Cuba educational program (two 4 hour sessions of instruction provided before the trip) optional

  • (Nov 2016 Tour)

 

 Deposit: $500 to reserve your spot

  • Payment 1: $1098 payment

  • Payment 2: $1097 payment (+$500 for a single room)

  • Flight costs are on your own.  Flights FL/Cuba will be reserved for you so the group arrives together (these will be purchased 8-12 weeks before departure)

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DETAILED ITINERARY

The purpose of this itinerary is to give you an idea of the types of activities you will engage in during the tour, however, it may change based on factors such as availability, weather, and to take advantage of spontaneous activities and events.

Day 1: Flight to Havana (most often booked on American Airlines when departing Denver).  Upon arrival and clearing customs we will be greeted at the airport by Roger, our guide.  He’ll take us to our B&B accommodations (casa particulares) in Havana’s suburb of Vedado.

We will go out for dinner and a first glance at the city.  Maybe even take a walk on the Malecón to enjoy the ocean breezes, see  El Morro fortress at night across the bay.  Meals: Dinner

Cuba welcomes you!Day 2: Welcome to Cuba!                                        We will start the day off with a drive to Cojimar, the quiet fishing village where Hemingway docked his boat and was the inspiration for the town in The Old Man and the Sea.  Following that we will drive up to Hemingway’s mountaintop home, seeing his personal library, his elevated writing den where he and his cats would spend days on end, and more around his home. It is an excellent example of how many well-to-do Americans lived in Cuba in the 1940s and 1950s before the Revolution.

We will return to Havana for lunch at a paladar, followed by a tour of the Museum of the Revolution and the National Fine Arts Museum.  Enjoy late afternoon free time before heading to the paladar of your choice for dinner.  Havana is home to extraordinary Italian and Spanish cuisine, due to many from abroad who marry Cubans and settle in this area.  Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

IMG_0081Day 3: Havana
Wear your walking shoes for this day! We start with a visit to Fusterlandia in the fishing village of Jaimanitas and the home of the famous artist Jose Fuster. Fuster has made his entire home, and much of the surrounding neighborhood, into an outdoor art gallery using tiles in mosaic forms.  A Havana driving tour in classic cars will take you to the forest of Havana, the famous Revolutionary Square and through the gorgeous historic embassy neighborhoods.

The activities will be followed by lunch and a walking tour of Old Havana City, gorgeous architecture and plazas.  In the late afternoon we will return to our casa particulares for free time.  Dinner is on your own, but nearby suggestions will be available.  We will have the option of heading to the Morro Fortress for the 9 pm cannon blast and colonial soldiers. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Viñales via Soroa
Say goodbye to the big city as we head to Viñales.  Viñales is the one of the most scenic areas of Cuba, among the limestone pincushion hills (called mogotes) in the tobacco-growing area of Cuba. On the way to Viñales we will visit Soroa, a botanical garden with amazing orchids that have been brought from China. (Wear your bug spray or long sleeves.)

We will reach Viñales in time to tour an organic farm and learn about sustainable farming in Cuba. Here we meet our local farmer and his family who will show us around the organic farm and explain to us the methods used to cultivate crops without the use of pesticides.  With the beautiful sunset as our backdrop, we will enjoy a deliciously fresh and diverse meal prepared by the family, a truly authentic farm-to-fork experience!    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Viñales
Today we spend the morning learning the tradition of tobacco cultivation from a farmer and expert cigar maker. Get an insight as to how the communist system works, how much tobacco they will keep, how much produce they give back to the government, and how they make ends meet!  The plantation tour includes walking through banana and plantain groves, meeting local Cubans.

On our return we will have free time to wander the town and eat at lunch, go the casas for rest time, or perhaps take the bus to see the mountainside murals or a boat ride through the limestone caves.

In the late afternoon we learn to cook Cuban-style with a cooking lesson from a local chef.  We will accompany the chef to the local markets to buy the ingredients for our platos típicos Cubanos like congri, potaje, garbanzo soup, ajiaco, and flan. Fun to cook, but even better to eat!  

If you’re up for live music, the local outdoor disco gets started at 9 pm.  They feature live bands, dance performances and drinks to give you a flavor of Cuban nightlife.  This venue often packs out with people, both Cubans and visitors.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Cienfuegos (via Bay of Pigs), ~4 hour drive
On the route to Cienfuegos, our lunch break will be in a rural town. We will go to El Chino’s house, an ornithologist who is famous for the Bee Hummingbirds that frequent his backyard. Take pictures of the birds and learn the habits of the world’s smallest bird, which resides only in Cuba! Meet young Cuban dancers, artists and musicians in Korimikao.

Our next stop provides an opportunity for bird-watching or to take a dip in a sink hole which resembles a huge natural tropical fish tank. Be sure to pack your swimsuit!  Few tourists stop at this area, which has a nearby beach and rocky ocean you can swim in. 

From there we will drive on the Playa Giron, home of the Bay of Pigs Museum. Learn about the conflict that happened right here between the U.S,-supported Cubans and locals in 1961, with perspectives from the Cuban government.  Beyond Playa Giron, we will arrive in Cienfuegos, a city of 400,000.  We will check in to our casa particulares before dinner together in a paladar at the ocean-side town.  Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

TrinidadDay 7: Trinidad
After breakfast at our casa particulares, we will explore the seaside city and it’s french architecture. You are likely to see a quinceañera  photo session in the main plaza.

From here we will take the one hour drive to the heart of sugar mills, Trinidad.

Trinidad is a cozy, bustling town of Cubans and tourists, with French and Spanish inspired architecture, stories of slave trade and wealth in the south of Cuba.  Roger will give us a walking tour to get our bearings, learn the stories, and enjoy lunch together.  Trinidad’s cobblestone can be brutal on your feet, be sure to have thick-soled walking shoes.  You are always welcome to hire a pedi-cab to drive you through the streets of Trinidad when your feet grow weary.

After some free time,  we will head out for salsa dance lessons, smiles and laughter with vibrant young Cuban instructors.

Dinner is on your own, but we highly recommend eating at La Cieba, a hidden backyard deck with many levels under a gorgeous cieba tree.

Stay up late tonight!  Nightlife in Trinidad is probably the most accessible and intense in all of Cuba, with numerous live music venues and free dance performances in the town square.  You will have the chance to see Afro-Cuban folkloric dances performed in one of the many plazas.  Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Trinidad

We will start early with a hike at “El Cubano” through the hills to a gorgeous waterfall where you can dive in and swim a bit.  With any luck, we will see a tocororo, the national bird of Cuba, along with many other birds in the area.  This is a moderate-level hike, about 3 miles round trip.

After the hike, enjoy an early lunch.  A favorite place is San Jose, which is known for it’s huge hamburgers and remnants from the history of slave trade in Trinidad.

In the afternoon you’ll have time to explore more of the town, or join the group at the beach, where there are umbrellas, lounge chairs, and lovely soft sand.  In the evening, dinner is on your own followed by live music at the outdoor amphitheater, the hub of the action in Trinidad.  Meals: Breakfast

Day 9: Travel from Trinidad to Havana
Our last full day in Cuba.  Settle in for a 5 hour drive and seeing the varied landscape en route to Havana.  We will stop in Santa Clara for lunch and explore the Che Guevarra memorial.  Arriving in Havana in the late afternoon, there is time to take a few pictures at sunset or grab a nap before heading to dinner.  For our goodbye dinner, we will eat at La Guarda, located inside a beautiful mansion that was featured in the Cuban film, “Fresas y Chocolate” (Strawberries and chocolate).

If time permits, we will take the tunnel under the bay to the Morro fortress for the 9 pm cannon blast, reminiscent of the 1700’s in Havana.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day 10:  Havana and Departure.

Depending on flight times, you’ll be able to take photos, walk the malecon, or take a pedicab ride.  Roger, your guide, will take you to the airport  2-3 hours prior to departure.  Meals: Breakfast

We hope you return to the island again soon!

 

 

 

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