Private Tour: Guests of Jeff & Havana Jazz Festival

Jan. 9-18, 2020

Check out this 2019 Festival newsclip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIb7awU3DVQ

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What is included:

  • BILINGUAL CUBAN GUIDE
  • Travel licenses, mandatory Cuban health insurance and visas
  • 9 nights in Cuban Bed and Breakfasts (casas particulares)
  • 17 meals and private, air-conditioned ground transportation
  • The best of Havana’s Annual Jazz Festival!
  • Purified water always available
  • Curious About Cuba educational program
    (two 4 hour sessions of instruction provided before the trip)

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

Deposit: $500 to reserve your spot

Payment 1: $1097.50 payment

Payment 2: $1097.50 payment due (+$500 for a single supplement)

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).

Detailed itinerary:

The best of Cuban music, dancing, bird-watching, UNESCO World Heritage sites, waterfalls, ocean views, Cuban food, architecture and Cuban friends await you on this phenomenal tour!  You’ll cover half the width of the island on this EPIC tour.

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.

Jan. 9: Welcome to Cuba!
Arrive in Camaguey.

We will be greeted at the airport by Roger, our guide. He’ll take us on a brief driving tour of Camaguey, Cuba’s third largest city en route to our B&B accommodations (casa particulares).  We will get a layout of the city, first impressions of the architecture and lifestyle of the city dwellers. Settle in to your casa and get ready for your first Cuban dinner.  Meals: Dinner

Jan. 10: Santa Lucia (1 1/2 hrs from Camaguey)

After breakfast, we’ll go to the University of Dance to watch talented ballerinas in their rehearsals.  Then head out for a day trip to the north coast with some of the best coral reefs in the Caribbean.  This is your chance to snorkel or enjoy the beach community.

We will be back in Camaguey before dark to get showered and ready for dinner.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

 

 

 

 

Jan. 11: Camaguey to Trinidad (4 hours driving with stops)

After breakfast we will do a final visit to the Martha Jimenez galleries and others.  Then get comfortable on the bus and head to Trinidad.  Along the way we will stop at Paylet’s Handicraft workshop, a great opportunity to see jewelry and sculptures made from cutlery (and shop if you’d like!)

Trinidad is a cozy, bustling town of Cubans and tourists, with French and Spanish inspired architecture, stories of slave trade, sugar plantations and wealth in the south of Cuba.  Our guide will give us a slow walking tour to get our bearings, learn the stories, meet artists and enjoy live music at every turn.  Trinidad’s cobblestone can be brutal on your feet, be sure to have thick-soled walking shoes.  You are always welcome to hire a pedicab to drive you through the streets of Trinidad when your feet grow weary. Meals: Breakfast

Jan. 12: Trinidad 

We will start the day with a short drive to a nearby nature preserve, “El Cubano” where we are likely to see many unique Cuban birds, particularly the national bird of Cuba the Tocororo (Cuban Trogan).

Back in town enjoy meeting artists and seeing their work, particularly the reclaimed wooden shutters with carvings.  A favorite lunch place you might consider is San Jose, which is known for it’s huge hamburgers, tasty sweet plantains, 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. 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

 

Jan. 13: Trinidad to Cienfuegos (2 hours)

After breakfast and final morning photography or shopping for paintings, we will head to Cienfuegos, “The Pearl of the South”.  The is a popular stop for cruise ships due to it’s deep harbor.  Although it’s only 100 miles from Trinidad, this town was primarily settled 300 years later.  The main plaza is very picturesque, one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites we visit on the tour.  Be sure to explore the Spanish-Moorish inspired Palacio del Valle, where a cocktail is included in your admission.  Have some rest time before heading out for dinner.  Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

 

Jan. 14: Cienfuegos to Havana (4 hours with stops)

If you are an early riser, join the others in a visit to the Guanaroca Lagoon Nature Reserve.  A short walk from the entrance will take you to the lagoon where locals will paddle you in a boat across to lagoon. Plan to see the flamingos that migrate to the area from Florida and many other species of birds.

After the nature reserve we will start the journey to the north coast.  En route, we drive along the picturesque Bay of Pigs where today there is a museum that recounts the events of this conflict.  The simple museum provides a fascinating overview of Cuba before Castro’s revolution and the subsequent Bay of Pigs attack.

On our journey north we will have lunch and visit an ornithologist’s home where you will observe the Bee Hummingbirds, endemic to Cuba and the smallest bird in the world.  Also a visit to the lively Korimikao, school of the arts, will shed light to the value of dance, music and visual arts in Cuban culture.

Your time in the countryside is drawing to an end as you enter the bustling city, crumbling concrete, and fascinating architect that encompasses Havana.  We will drive along the malecón and see the El Morro fortress en route to the final casas of the trip.  After some rest time, we will head out for dinner at a favorite spot on the malecón.

Havana Jazz Festival OPENING GALA happens tonight! Get ready to soak it all in!  Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Jan. 15: 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 and before returning to the old city at night for dinner at Doña Eutimia, a cozy paladar with tasty seafood and other offerings.

Havana Jazz Festival utilizes various venues throughout the city, including Mella Theatre, Sevilla Hotel, Karl Marx Theatre, and the National Theatre of Cuba.  We’ll go from dinner to one of the performances.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Jan. 16: Havana
Get up close and personal with the challenges of daily life in Cuba, even in the big city.  You will go to a food ration store and a grocery store followed by a group Cuban cooking lesson.  Notice the lack of options in the stores.  Learn how to make some of Cuba’s favorite dishes, including flan and mojitos.

After lunch you’ll go to a private music workshop with Pablo Menendez, an American-born musician who has lived in Cuba since he was a child in the 1960’s.  He will give you a private class on Cuban music through the ages, as well as a mini-concert. You can get a taste of his style with this music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxpC7d7n3lk

After a simple dinner, you’ll head to the El Morro fortress for the canon blast, then Havana Jazz Fest!   Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Jan. 17: Havana

We will start the day with part two of the walking tour of Old Havana City.  We will see the Cathedral Plaza (notice the seashells on the side of the cathedral).  From here we will walk to the nearby mural and other plazas and hear the stories of how they were built and the difference purposes they served.  There are lots of shops to peek into here, and great places to rest over a cup of coffee.

After lunch we will tour the Museum of the Revolution, which was once the “White House” of Cuba’s presidents before Castro.  Notice the bullet holes that have been preserved in the marble, as well as see the Granma boat and other artifacts from Castro’s revolution.  We will drive by the towering Hotel Nacional and hear stories of gambling and mafia in Havana int he 1950’s.  Enjoy some rest time before we head out for the final goodbye dinner at a stunning paladar that was featured in the Cuban film, “Strawberries and Chocolate”.

Stay out late tonight for live music at the Havana Jazz Fest.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Jan. 18: Goodbye

Grasp your final glimpses of the city as you head to the airport (2 hours prior to departure). Say good-bye to Roger and your driver. We hope you will return soon! Meals: Breakfast

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