Bienvenidos! Welcome to Cuba!
An arrival transfer from the airport to your guesthouse is included in your tour.
Complimentary transfers are only applicable if on day 1. Please advise flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to departure if you wish to have this transfer provided.
Today we arrive in Havana and settle into our guesthouse accommodations. Take some time to soak in the decaying beauty of Havana and the surreal feeling that you have entered a bygone era. You are visiting Cuba at a historic time, as the gates finally creak open to a country so long forbidden.
At 6pm we meet the local tour leader and head out for your first group meal. Your leader is sure to become an old friend by the end of our adventure.
Dinner tonight will be at a local paladar, a privately owned restaurant and a great example of Cuba’s incremental shift to a more free-market economy. We might have the opportunity to meet the owners of the Paladar: Ivan Justo or Enrique Nunez del Valle. Paladar means “palate” and is named after a chain of restaurants in a Brazilian soap opera popular in Cuba.
We will attend the famous cannon ceremony a 9 p.m cannon blast that dates back to the 17th century.
The best place to start any Havana experience is in the Old City. Havana's Old City is one of the best preserved and was designated a World Heritage Site in 1982. The streets are lined with colonial architecture, 16th century fortresses and countless churches.
Join our local guide for a walking tour of Old Havana. We will visit La Catedral San Cristobal de la Habana, the Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras and the Plaza de Armas. We will also visit the Museo de la Revolucion, to learn about the history of the Cuban Revolution and see the infamous Hall of Cretins.
After lunch you'll see the passion project of Jose Fuster, an artist who has turned an entire neighborhood into a lively and colorful series of mosaics. Known as 'Fusterlandia', the inspiring and whimsical scenery is a perfect spot for pictures, and you may have the chance to say 'hola' to the artist as he works!
Free time for dinner to explore one of many delicious paladars, private businesses owned by Cuban families.
Today head east to a local community in Las Terrazas. The village was built as part of a government reforestation project and has since received a UNESCO biosphere listing. Meet up with local community leaders who will share with us some insight into Las Terrazas and how society works. We will also visit the ecological research centre and take a local guided walk around the Las Terrazas complex.
Afterwards we continue on to Viñales - situated in one of the most picturesque parts of Cuba, among the limestone pincushion hills (“mogotes”) of the Pinar del Rio province. It is a small and culturally rich village, with friendly and welcoming residents.
We will reach Vinales in time to tour an organic farm and learn about sustainable farming in Cuba. Here we meet local farmer Wilfredo Garcia Correa and his family who will show us around the 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!
Today we spend the morning learning more about Cuban agriculture with a visit a local tobacco farm where we learn about the tradition of Cuban cigars from Hiroshi Robaina, a farmer and expert cigar maker.
Get an insight as to how the communist system works, how much tobacco they keep, how much produce they give back to the government, how do they make ends meat!! You will learn about the process of tobacco planting to rolling the final cigar. We will share in the secret recipe from one family passed down through 3 generations of how they cure their leaves for cigars, drink some freshly roasted coffee from the farm while we watch an expert roll us some cigars.
Viñales is one of the more agriculturally productive areas of Cuba, so an abundance of local seasonal fruit and vegetables are always on offer such as enormous avocados and mangoes, pineapples, papaya, guava, and several varieties of sweet potatoes.
In the afternoon we learn to cook Cuban-style with a cooking demonstration from a local chef. Afterwards we can sit back, relax and enjoy the well prepared meal while overlooking the rolling mountains of Vinales.
Today we head to Cienfuegos. On the way we visit the Korimakao Cultural Project in Ciénega de Zapata, an area famous for its wetlands. Korimakao is a project founded in 1992 to bring theatre, music, and dancing to remote areas of Cuba. Here we will meet a director of the project, who will talk to us about the importance of this project and the number of students that benefit from such a project in this area.
After lunch, we drive along the picturesque Bay of Pigs past the site where the landing of U.S. sponsored counter-revolutionary exile militia occurred in 1961. 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.
There are some beautiful places to stop for a swim along the way including a sink hole which resembles a huge natural tropical fish tank, so make sure to pack your swim wear and snorkeling gear if you have any (or you can rent it!).
We carry on to Cienfuegos the “Pearl of the South”, a city founded by the French, which lends it a distinctly European flavor, with a wide Parisian-style boulevard and elegant colonnades. Like Havana, Cienfuegos has a beautiful Malecón, where you can pass a peaceful evening watching fisherman cast nets and locals socialize.
On arrival to Cienfuegos we settle into our guesthouses before taking a walk around the city to learn its history. In the evening we join together for another delicious home cooked meal with a local family.
The beautiful colonial city of Trinidad is home to numerous churches and many beautiful colonial buildings. We are near the lovely Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of Sugar mills) and Playa Ancón, with long stretches of unspoiled, white sand beaches.
We begin with a guided cultural tour of the UNESCO World Heritage town of Trinidad. We will visit the Afro Cuban temple of Yemaya, where we will be invited to sit and learn about the religion and it’s deities from the official caretaker - a priest called Israel Ernesto Bravo Vega. Later we may have a opportunity to visit various museums such as: Museo Lucha contra Bandidos, Architecture Museum, Museo Romantico.
After lunch we will learn about the dancing scene in Cuba. We’ll start by meeting the Afro Cuban Folkloric dance group that perform Afro Cuban shows at the club Palenque. We’ll learn about the cultural and social importance that dancing has to Cuba. Enjoy a Cuban salsa dance class with a local teacher.
Nightlife in Trinidad is probably the most accessible and intense in all of Cuba, with numerous live music venues and many dance performances every day of the week, all amongst the enchanting setting of old colonial buildings and the cobblestone streets.
Today we will learn about the history of the area, the local industry and biodiversity. Visit the national park called "El Cubano" in the mountains of Escambay. This area is known for the struggle Cuban Militia against revolutionary forces in the early 1960s.
We will hike to a small waterfall with our local expert guide. Depending on the group the hike can take up to 45 minutes each way. We will have a chance to experience the region's biodiversity utilising the guide's knowledge of the local birds and plants. If time permits on the way we will stop in a very simple campesino’s home to experience life in the rural areas of Cuba.
Afterwards we return to Trinidad and we visit the pottery workshop of the Santander family. This prestigious family in the Cuban cultural landscape has been making pottery for generations as well as assisting in the restoration of sculptures that once existed in this UNESCO world heritage site. You will have a chance to purchase your own pottery to remind you of your time in Cuba.
Tonight, weather permitting we may have a beach dinner picnic at Playa Ancon.
The waterfall hike does have railings however good sturdy shoes are recommended.
On the way back to Havana we first pass by Manaca Iznaga 16km East of Trinidad in the Valle de los Ingenios. A 44m tower was built to look over the slaves as they worked. It has a sugar cane press that the slaves used to operate. The village around the mansion is inhabited by direct descendants of the slaves.
Continuing onward, we stop in the town of Santa Clara, a key city in the Cuban Revolution. Upon entering Santa Clara, we will see the iconic statue of Ernesto Ché Guevara, built to commemorate his death and that of the revolutionaries. You will have time to explore the museum which honours Ché's life.
We will have our lunch at a small family farm near Santa Clara and head back to Havana where we will have some time to freshen up before our farewell dinner, and of course, one final fun-filled night of music and dancing!
Say good-bye to our guide as we head back to the U.S. There are no activities planned for day 9 and you are able to depart the guesthouse at any time. Check out time is at 10am. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the house.
1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
2. To have a private room on this trip, a single supplement is bookable; subject to availability.
3. Our licensing agreement allows one night of pre-tour accommodation to be booked (subject to availability) only when airline scheduling impedes your ability to arrive in time for the welcome meeting on Day 1. Post-tour accommodation cannot be offered under our license.
4. A complimentary airport arrival and departure transfer is included; valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
5. The airport arrival transfer driver will know the address of your assigned guesthouse. If you have not booked the transfer prior to departure, or will not utilise it due to independent plans, please ensure you ask your booking agent inside 7 days of departure for your confirmed guesthouse name and address.
6. Guesthouse and rooming allocations are finalised inside a week from departure based on the configuration of each travelling party. Please advise bedding configuration requests to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
7. Intrepid US, Inc. (""Intrepid US"") is authorized to provide those who register as participants in our programs to visit Cuba legally for educational people-to-people interactions. Our ""Cuban Adventures"" program provides a full-time schedule of people-to-people educational exchange activities designed to result in meaningful interactions between our travelers and individuals in Cuba. United States law requires that all participants in our programs adhere to the full-time schedule of people-to-people activities. Due to the nature of the program, United States law requires adherence to a special set of guidelines for travel on these unique programs. Please read the guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions carefully in the ""Essential Trip Information"" Document, and call our special Cuba connection line at 1 800 970 7299 or visit www.intrepidtravel.com if you have questions.
8. As per the OFAC law, each group will be accompanied by a representative (Chaperone) from Intrepid Travel. Their role is not that of a tour leader but to simply ensure we are fulfilling our legal requirement by retaining records demonstrating a full-time schedule of authorized activities is undertaken by all travellers. ""For travel conducted under the auspices of an organization, an agent of the sponsoring organization must accompany each group traveling to Cuba to ensure that each traveller has a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities.""
9. A visa or tourist card, organised prior to arrival, is required for all nationalities visiting Cuba.
10. The Cuban government has declared that travel insurance is compulsory for all travellers. Proof of insurance may be requested at Havana Airport by immigration officials.
11. There are unprecedented changes happening in Cuba right now. It is an exciting time but it also means some patience and understanding is required for the heightened demand of infrastructure, accommodation and services. To help set your expectations correctly, please read the ‘Is this trip right for you?’ and ‘Joining point description’ sections in the Essential Trip Information Document.
12. Hurricane season in this region is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors any situations that arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.
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.
If you’ve ever wondered where the world’s finest cigars start out, it’s in the lovingly cultivated tobacco plantations of Cuba’s westernmost province, Pinar del Río. But those plantations are only part of the area’s magic. With its unusual mogotes (rounded limestone mountains) strung along flat plains, Pinar del Río’s spectacular scenery rivals any in the world. These plains, where Cuban cowboys roam and dreamy villages doze, are ringed by mountain ranges crowned by vast stretches of tropical forests.
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.