Cost: $2695 (market value $5195)
*Early Bird registrations 4 months prior to departure receive $200 discount
What is included:
BILINGUAL CUBAN GUIDE
Travel licenses, mandatory Cuban health insurance and visas
9 nights in Cuban Bed and Breakfasts (casas particulares) – Photo Gallery
17 meals and private, air conditioned ground transportation
Purified water always available
Curious About Cuba educational program
(two 4 hour sessions of instruction provided before the trip) – Learn More
Deposit: $500 to reserve your spot
Payment 1: $1097.50 payment (early bird pricing)
Payment 2: $1097.50 payment due (early bird pricing) (+$500 for a single room)
Flight costs are on your own. We recommend purchase 8-12 weeks before departure, and we will provide recommendations for you.
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.
Day 1: Welcome to Cuba!
Arrive in Havana.
We will be greeted at the airport by Roger, our guide. He’ll take us to our B&B accommodations (casa particulares) in Centro Habana. We will get a layout of the city, first impressions of the architecture and lifestyle of the city dwellers. For evening arrivals, you may choose to settle in to your casa to rest, or join the group and go out for dinner. That’s the flexibility of small group tours. Meals: Dinner
Day 2: 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. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3: Havana
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
Enjoy a walking tour of splendid colonial architecture in Matanzas. Learn about Cuba’s organic farming successes in cooperative urban gardens. Some of the best caves in Cuba are in this area, with refreshing cave swimming opportunities for those who desire. Arrive in Varadero to check in at your casa particular and get refreshed. Arrive in time for a sandy sunset view followed by a patio dinner in a local paladar. Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5: Cienfuegos
If you are an early riser, you will see a gorgeous sunrise over the blue Carribean water on gorgeous white beaches. We will take a tour of the Mansión Xanadú (historic Du Pont home), overlooking the ocean and Veradero’s 18-hole golf course. We visit Parque Josone, built in 1940 for private use, now it is home to rowboats and a variety of tree species.
Following the tour, we depart the north coast of Cuba for the south coast. Cienfuegos is known as the “Pearl of the South”. En route, we drive along the picturesque Bay of Pigs where today there is a museum here that recounts the events of this conflict which resulted in the first defeat of a U.S backed take-over in Latin America. Time permitting we will stop for a swim along the way in the vivid turquoise ocean or take a dip in a sink hole which resembles a huge natural tropical fish tank. Make sure to pack your swimsuit! Arrive in Cienfuegos to check in to our casa particular and get ready for a fabulous fish dinner on the island’s south coast (other options available if you’re not a pescatarian). Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6: Trinidad
Before we depart Cienfuegos, you will have the option for an early morning visit to the Guanaroca Lagoon for a rowboat ride and to see the flamingos and other birds that migrate to this secret sanctuary. We will see more of Cienfuegos, the main plaza and stop for refreshing cocktails or soda on the rooftop of the Spanish-Moorish inspired Palacio del Valle. A quick 45 minute drive will land us in Trinidad, which is a strong contrast to Cienfuegos.
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, meet artists, 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 a little 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
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 8: Camaguey (4 hours driving)
It is a special treat to go to Camaguey, as it is off the beaten path for tourists, yet a very important city in Cuba, both for it’s artists and archecture/city design. We depart right after breakfast, and along the way we will stop at Paylet’s Handicraft workshop.
One of the larger cities in Cuba (population 300,000), Camaguey has special ties to Colorado. Former Denver Mayor Guillermo Vidal was born and lived here until he was 9 years old and left as an exile with brothers (his book “Boxing for Cuba” gives great descriptions and history of this city). It is an intentionally circuitous city where will enjoy a walking orientation tour, followed by a bicitaxi tour to help you get your bearings. See some of Vidal’s boyhood places along the way. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
After breakfast, we’ll go to the University of Dance to watch talented ballerinas in their rehearsals. Cuba is known for having some of the world’s finest ballerinas, so be prepared to see amazing talent in this “behind the scenes” experience.
Following the university, we will have private meetings with artists in their galleries and workshops. A signature of Camaguey are the tinajones, or earthenware jars that are often displayed on their side and signature symbols of the city. We will meet the Casanova family, whose father is a pottery maker, one son a painter specialized in landscapism and the other son a ceramist.
Next we’ll visit the galleries of Oscar Lasseria, José Gutiérrez (Pepe), Joel Jover and Ileana Sánchez. We’ll take a lunch break during the day. The artist tour ends at the gallery of Martha Jiménez, a world renown sculptress, potter, painter and engraver. Be sure you visit the bronze statues in the nearby plaza.
A special dinner event will happen this evening. Explore the Cuban farm and enjoy a traditional pig roast Caribbean style! Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10: Departure Day
After breakfast we head to the airport 2 hours prior to our flight to Florida. Say good-bye to Roger and our driver as we head back to the U.S. We hope you will return soon! Meals: Breakfast