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Cuba: Overland Explorer (15 days)

Cuba

A Cuban natural and cultural journey overland from Havana to Santiago.

 


2017 Small Group Departure (15 days)

March 18 - April 1, 2017 

$ 3,250 USD per person from Havana (based on twin)
Single Supplement $ 785 USD (limited umber of single rooms)
Early booking is essential /  
Deposit $ 500
Typical airfare from Toronto $700 CAD / $ 600 USD or from Vancouver $1,120-1,275 CAD / $900-1,025 USD


Itinerary:

Day 1: ARRIVE HAVANA
On arrival in Varadero, transfer 90 minutes to Havana or arrive to Havana directly. On arrival you will be met and transferred to the Armandores de Santander Hotel or similar for 4 nights

DAY 2: HAVANA (L,D)
Morning city orientation of art, culture and history. Lunch and afternoon at leisure. Welcome Dinner at La Divina Pastora located behind a battery of big cannons below the Fortaleza la Cabana, near the water and overlooking Habana Vieja. Enjoy the “Canonazo” with the firing of the canon ceremony.

DAY 3: HAVANA (B,D)
Morning sightseeing of Havana including a walking tour. We will walk through the resplendent Spanish Colonial and "tropical baroque" architecture of the La Habana Vieja (Old Town), designated as a Unesco Cultural Heritage Site. The Plaza de Armas (Square of Arms) houses El Templete (the Little Temple), which memorializes the birthplace of the city in 1519. The Palacio de los Capitanes Generales (Palace of the Captains General) was the largest colonial building of its time, and for 176 years was the seat of colonial government. The Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum) gives an historical overview of Havana. Castillo de la Real Fuerza is surrounded by a moat. It is the second oldest fortress built by the Spaniards in the West Indies, erected in 1577 to defend the city from constant pirate attacks. We will see the Bas'lica de San Francisco de Ases, a striking example of Cuban baroque architecture. Also visit the Plaza de la Catedral, one of the most authentic and best-preserved squares in Havana, with the cathedral and surrounding buildings nearly all restored to their original splendor. Lunch on own. Evening dinner at the Aguilar Restaurant followed by a show at the Parisien Cabaret.

DAY 4: HAVANA (B)
Day at leisure to explore Havana visiting additional art, music and cultural centres.

DAY 5: HAVANA - CIENFUEGOS - TRINIDAD (B,L,D)
Breakfast. Overland trip to Cienfuegos, stop at Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) for optional snorkelling. There is a dive kiosk there we can rent gear if you do not bring your own. There is both salt water and a freshwater pool called the fish cave. Lunch and continue to Cienfuegos, the city known as the pearl of the south with its classical buildings and wide boulevards, with a short city tour. Cienfuegos' architectural pride is the Palacio del Valle at the tip of Punta Gorda. Drive onto Trinidad (approx 2 hours). 3 nights at the Brisas Trinidad del Mar.

DAY 6: TRINIDAD (B,L,D)
Morning tour. Trinidad is the crown jewel of Cuba's colonial cities. Fourth of the seven cities founded by Diego de Velasquea in 1514, Trinidad is maintained as a living museum, just as the Spaniards left it in its period of greatest opulence. Narrow cobblestone streets are lined with terracotta tile roofed houses in soft pastel colors and fancy "rejas" (grills) of wrought iron. Buildings are fronted by mahogany balustrades and massive wooden doors. By day, mule-drawn carts and "vaqueros" on horseback clip-clop through the cobbled streets and the elderly rock beneath shady verandas, serenaded by twittering show birds in bamboo cages - a Trinidad tradition. With its winding cobbled streets and hardly any signs of modernization beyond the electrification of the town's old lampposts, Trinidad is perfect for exploration by foot. Everywhere there are doorways leading to leafy courtyards, which house everything from restaurants and museums to accommodation and knickknack shops. Often you will hear talented Cuban bands playing traditional music. Lunch & dinner are at the hotel. Afternoon to relax and enjoy the lovely beach steps away from the hotel.

DAY 7: TRINIDAD (B)
Day at leisure in the colonial city. Special meetings could be arranged for people to people experiences with artists or gardners. A day tour could be out on the Sea in a catamaran, relaxing, or a nature adventure in Topes de Collantes.

DAY 8: TRINIDAD - SAN JOSE DEL LAGO (B,L)
Breakfast. Morning visit to the Valley of the Sugar Mills. Lunch at Cunagua and continue to San Jose del Lago where there is an indoor and an outdoor pool whose water is supplied by three thermal springs. Overnight at the local hotel.

DAY 9: SAN JOSE DEL LAGO - CAMAGUEY (B,L)
Departure to Camaguey known for its winding narrow streets.Upon arrival colonial city tour Dinner on own and overnight at the Camaguey Hotel.

DAY 10: CAMAGUEY - BAYAMO (B,L)
Morning in colonial Camaguey and depart for a long drive (277 KM) to Bayamo.

Tonight we stay at a grand hotel in the centre of town, the centre of the country’s first revolution. Unlike many central squares of great cities that are filled with tourists, this one is a gathering place for locals. The Bayamese are descendants of one of the few aboriginal peoples remaining in this country – and they are proud of it. Soft pastels, warm breezes, people sitting on front steps avoiding the heat of their houses. Dogs barking throughout the night, horses clip clopping along alleyways, a handful of peanuts rolled up into a cone shaped piece of paper, 1 peso. Overnight Hotel Royalton.

DAY 11: SIERRA MAESTRA MOUNTAINS (B,BL)
Day to explore the majesty of the rugged mountains of Cuba’s southeast. The Sierra Maestra, Cuba’s highest and most extensive mountain range stretches along the southern coast of the island. The unruly beauty of the landscape – a vision of churning seas, undulating green-gold mountains and remote sugar fields – will take your breath away. The Sierra Maestra area is where Fidel Castro's first revolutionaries started the "The War in The Mountains" from 1956 until 1959. Return to the Hotel Royalton.

DAY 12: SIERRA MAESTRA/SANTIAGO DE CUBA (B,L)
Morning to enjoy the stunning views as we drive to Santiago de Cuba. Nowhere outside of Havana is there a city with such definite character or such determination to have a good time. Sheltered by the imposing Sierra Maestra mountains, huddled around the deep blue waters of Santiago de Cuba Bay, this is the most hospitable, musical and friendly city on the island. It was here that the first slaves arrived from West Africa and today Santiago boasts a larger percentage of their descendents than anywhere else. Afro-Cuban culture, with its music, myths and rituals, formed its roots here. The city was founded by Diego Velazques in 1514 and our full day city tour, will include a walking tour of the colonial quarter - a treasure trove of colonial architecture, the Museum of Ambiente Cubano with its interesting collection of furniture, tapestries, crystal ware and art work, the Cesar Escalante Tobacco Factory, the St. Iphigenia Cemetery and the Milio Bacardi Moreau Museum with its excellent collection of Cuban fine art, archaeological curios including an Egyptian mummy. In the evening, visit “La Casa de La Trova”, traditional music and dance at its best.

DAY 13: SANTIAGO (B,L)
Morning city tour in Santiago. Afternoon at leisure.

DAY 14: SANTIAGO/HAVANA (B,L)
Morning at leisure. Afternoon flight to Havana. Overnight Armandores de Santander.

DAY 15: HAVANA OR VARADERO DEPARTURE (B)
Morning transfer to Varadero (90 minutes). Check in for the flight home.


What our clients say

“…now reminiscing about our WONDERFUL trip to Cuba. As I talk to people about it, I realize how lucky we were to have seen and experienced so much! I think that two weeks is really a minimum of how long a visit to Cuba should be. I also appreciate that we were such a small group which made it easier to get into special places. Of course, I feel our guide (Leonel) was exceptional and did much extra for us, along with preventing some difficulties. It felt like we had a friend in Cuba.” Wanda P, April 2016