Bienvenido a Cuba! A complimentary transfer is included with your trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised. The driver will have the address of your guesthouse. After collecting your luggage, continue through the 'Main Arrivals Hall' of the airport (do not exit through the side door). An UVisitCuba representative holding a sign with your name on it will be waiting to take you to your pre-arranged transfer. If you can't locate the UVisitCuba representative, please call +53 52506496. Do not rely on somebody else to call for you as they may be seeking commission to direct you to another transfer company. There will be a welcome meeting at 7 pm at the base guesthouse this evening. Please look for a note in your room or ask the guesthouse owner where the leader has left it for you. Otherwise, make your way to the base guesthouse (the address will be in your joining instructions). If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the base guesthouse so they can contact the leader. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Havana's history is as colourful as it's cars and buildings. Today, your leader will take you on an orientation tour of the city. Afterwards, enjoy some free time to further explore on your own. Stroll along the Malecon or check out a vibrant baseball game (from October to May). Join the hundreds of locals lining up to eat a Coppelia ice-cream. Heavily subsidised by the government, a whole bowl will set you back about 10 cents. There are plenty of good museums to check out, including the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
On the way to Cienfuegos today, the group will pass through Santa Clara, where you'll visit the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial. Che's remains were brought here after they were found in a remote corner of Bolivia in 1997, where he was assassinated by the CIA-backed Bolivian army. Check out the impressive bronze statue of Che bearing his rifle and learn about his incredible life. Afterwards, travel on to Cienfuegos, known affectionately as 'The Pearl of the South'. Part of the city's appeal lies in its colonial centre, which features wide Parisian-style boulevards and elegant colonnades. Drive along the peninsula to see Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy, the Moroccan-influenced Palacio del Valle.
Today it's a short drive along the scenic Caribbean coast to Trinidad. For many visitors to Cuba, Trinidad is a standout destination. No other colonial city in Cuba is as well preserved, and the local residents are extremely friendly and festive. Trinidad is steeped in religion, including the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria, which has connections to Voodoo. In the 1800s, Cuba's sugar industry boomed. Sugarcane was farmed in the Valle de Los Ingenios, just northeast of Trinidad. At one point, the area was producing one third of the country's sugar. While the boom ended with two wars of independence, the wealth generated by the industry remains visible in the town's once-grand mansions, colourful public buildings, wrought iron grill-work and cobble-stoned streets. The area also saw a lot of action during the Revolution. The Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra los Bandidos and the Casa de los Mártires de Trinidad chronicle the struggles of this period in the town's history. You'll have over two days here to explore. There are some great Spanish-style churches to check out in town. You can also hire a bike to discover the local area but be warned, Cuba's bicycles, like its cars, are vintage. There are also some great treks to be made in the nearby Sierra del Escambray mountains.
Today is a free day in Trinidad. As a group, you can decide when you want your leader to arrange an informal Spanish lesson and set up a casual salsa class (approximately one hour each). At some point while you're here, why not take in a folklore show at one of the town's numerous open-air venues? Cuba has a hugely rich and varied dance and musical tradition that draws its roots from Africa and France. Many styles that have greatly influenced music worldwide originated in Cuba, such as Mambo, Cha-cha-cha, son and rumba. By now, hopefully you've learnt enough salsa steps to join in with the locals!
Today is another free day to enjoy Trinidad. For some beach side fun and a spot of snorkelling, head down to Playa Ancon. Just be careful you don't stand on a sea urchin.
Today travel by minivan to Camaguey. The journey should take five to six hours. Despite its size, Cuba's third largest city has managed to retain much of its colonial heritage. Exploring the city's winding streets is half the fun. The city was planned in a deliberately confusing pattern to disorient any would-be assailants. As you walk through the city you may still see tinajones - large clay pots used for collecting water. On your explorations, stop by the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad to see its baroque frescoes. Camaguey has a rich tradition of cultural and technological leadership within Cuba. It is the birthplace of poet laureate Nicolas Guillen and home of the Ballet de Camaguey. Cuba's first radio and television emissions were broadcast from Camaguey, and the country's first airport and commercial flights were planned and executed here.
Today take a tour of Camaguey by bicycle taxi. Cycling is a popular form of transport in Cuba, and bicycle taxis are very common. In the confusing streets of Camaguey, it's a particularly good way to get around. On the tour, you'll visit a local market, parks, plazas and an art gallery. Each taxi carries two passengers and the tour is led by an English-speaking local guide. Your leader may suggest visiting a local farmers' market. This is where farmers can sell their produce after meeting the quota they have to sell to the state. Camaguey's is a particularly busy and colourful market. There are separate areas for produce sold by the state and produce sold by farmers directly to the public. There are plenty of interesting tropical fruits, vegetables and herbs available. This is where the locals come to buy their food once their monthly food ration runs out.
Today head west along the Carretera Central to Santiago de Cuba. Today is the longest travel day of the trip. Depending on how many stops we make, this usually takes six to seven hours. Santiago is the hottest place in Cuba - both with respect to the temperature and the vibe of the city! On the way we may get the chance to visit the Mirador de Malones for a pretty good view of the Guantanamo Naval Base and surrounding bay. At present this is not open to the public. If you are keen to see this, please ask your leader, and they will tell you if visits are currently allowed. On arrival into Santiago, head to your homestay, which is approximately eight blocks from the central square.
Today your leader will take you on a three-hour city tour of Santiago. You'll visit El Morro Castle, Ifigenia cemetery and the Moncada barracks. For nearly a century, the city was the island's seat of power. It also played a vital role in the Revolution. Santiago has a large Afro-Cuban population and a vibrant music scene. It is the home of son music, which is a mix of Spanish guitar and African percussion. This is great place for even the shyest dancer to learn some salsa moves. Santiago's half million residents are proud of their cultural traditions, so you'll find many museums and cultural clubs around the city. The city is also famous for its energetic Carnaval celebrations and its lively Festival of Caribbean Culture.
Today you'll either take a public bus or private van to Baracoa. The spectacular five-hour journey will take you through the dry region surrounding Guantanamo, dotted with cacti and wiry goats, and then along the dramatic Atlantic coastline, before winding through verdant mountains to Baracoa. Set on a beautiful bay, this colonial town is one of the most beautiful in Cuba. You'll have a couple of days here to explore and relax.
Today is a free day in Baracoa. The town was only accessible by sea until 1960. Even after a road linking Baracoa to Guantanamo was built, the settlement maintained a small-town colonial feel. Wander along its beautiful malecon or ramble over various forts built to withstand pirate attacks. The Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion boasts a bust of the indigenous leader Hatuey, who was burned at the stake for refusing to accept the Spanish and their Catholicism. You might prefer to chill on a beach or get active with a hike to El Yunke - the famous table-top mountain sighted by Columbus during his first voyage to the island.
Today is another free day in Baracoa. Why not take a hike through the rainforest to explore nearby caves and waterfalls? Perhaps make a visit to Humboldt Nation Park, looking out for colourful parrots, lizards and hummingbirds. After the sun goes down, enjoy a cocktail near the beach or check out the nightlife in town.
Today take a one-and-a-half hour flight from Baracoa to Havana. Please note that it is not uncommon for these flights to be delayed. After arriving back into the capital, you'll the afternoon free. Perhaps take a stroll along the malecon (ocean walkway) or soak up the atmospheric vibes of the Old Town. At the end of a long day, it's time for a mojito and a final night of salsa. Hit the streets and celebrate the end of a fantastic adventure. Note: Due to flight schedule variations, trips starting on a Thursday will have a private transfer from Baracoa to Holguin, before flying to Havana.
Today is departure day. As there are no activities planned for today, you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Check-out time from the guesthouse is by 10 am. If you would like to stay on in Havana, extra accommodation may be available at your finishing point guesthouse. Alternatively, you can opt to upgrade to an UVisitCuba Comfort style hotel. Please contact your booking agent for more details.
Cuba’s largest province, Camagüey is located in the centre of the island between between Ciego de Ávila and Las Tunas. It is a largely rural area. To the north lies the beautiful coastal scenery and abundant wildlife of the Sabana-Camagüey archipelago and stunning Santa Lucía beach. The pristine Jardines de la Reina archipelago cradles the province to the south.
Cienfuegos is a charming waterfront city situated on the bay of the same name. Its picturesque nautical setting has earned it the title, “the Pearl of the South,” a description that has endured for centuries.
Havana, the capital of Cuba, is the largest city in the Caribbean, and one of the most culturally rich urban centres in the world. The city’s appreciation of its glorious colonial past is on display at a dizzying array of castles, cathedrals, mansions and museums. The historic neighborhood of Vieja Habana (Old Havana) is a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site, with over 900 landmarks, including the Presidential Palace and Cathedral Square.
When Christopher Columbus got his first glimpse of the Holguín coastline in 1492, he pronounced it “the most beautiful land human eyes have ever seen.” Spectacular beaches – including the enclaves of Playa Esmeralda, Playa Pesquero and Guardalavaca – make this province along Cuba’s north coast the country’s third most popular tourist destination. Pristine reefs and abundant marine life ensure excellent diving and snorkeling in the warm, clear shallows of the Atlantic. Farther inland, rolling hills and rugged mountains provide a stunning landscape just begging to be explored.
Santiago de Cuba has soul. Cuba’s second-largest city is justifiably proud of its heroes, beautiful plazas and vibrant musical tradition. Proximity to Jamaica and other tropical isles has infused the city with a distinctly Caribbean spirit that is seen in its art and architecture, heard in its music, and celebrated in its exuberant festivals – including the Festival del Caribe and the renowned Carnaval.
It’s easy to see why Trinidad has been called “the museum city of Cuba.” The meticulously preserved town offers a window into the past, from its sprawling colonial palaces and plazas to its remnants of sugar mills and slave barracks from another era. Soak up the rich Spanish colonial architecture by taking a stroll through the picturesque cobblestone streets of this very walkable city.