Beautiful-Cuba

Havana to Havana 8 days.



  • Trip Type: Traveller Plus
  • Route: Havana to Havana
  • Length: 8 days
  • Transport: Minibus
  • Accommodation: Homestay, Hotel

Enjoy a relaxing week-long adventure while immersing yourself in the history, culture and natural beauty of this colourful Caribbean island. Imminent political and cultural change make it something to experience now before it evolves. Wander amid Havana’s glittering colonial architecture, soak up the clear mountain air amongst Soroa’s mountain orchards, relax on Playa Ancon’s vast white beaches, and admire Trinidad’s unrivaled ambience. From old cars to fragrant cigars, and with plenty of salsa in between, this trip has it all and is the perfect introduction to all things Cuban.


trip-grade

 

Plus

Our Plus tours allow you to immerse yourself within a destination or culture whilst travelling and sleeping in comfort. They are packed with highlights to ensure you get the most out of your valuable time away yet are also slower paced allowing you time to savour the culture, traditions and sights of your destination – the perfect balance.

countries-visited


Cuba

Cuba Cars

If it's an adventure you are looking for, look no further than Cuba. 

Most famous for the Revolution, Castro, Guevara and all that. But Cuba is so much more than politics. La Havana has many places to visit, and architecture to admire. There are great theatres and impressive cathedrals many with pathways that lead up to the buildings giving you a chance to take the landscape in. There are many festivals taking place in the capital, ranging from Jazz music, to ballet, and even a cigar festival.

Cuba is also home to many national parks perfect for hiking or adventure activities. You can also find tranquil beaches in Cayo Largo del Sur and this is a good place to relax and watch the world go by as the waves touch your feet.

The cuisine in Cuba hails from Spanish culture, but infused with African and Caribbean flavours the true taste of Cuba is created. Ropa Vieje is just that. A shredded steak in a tomato base, with a side of yellow rice, plantains and fried yuca has the flavours that make your mouth tingle.

daily-itin

 


Day 1 Havana

Bienvenido! Welcome to Cuba.

An arrival transfer from the airport to your hotel is included in your tour.

Complimentary transfers are only applicable if on day 1 of your Imaginative Traveller trip or if going to pre tour accommodation booked through Imaginative Traveller (please advise flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to departure if you wish to have this transfer provided).

You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting tonight. Your leader will leave a note at reception telling you where and when this important meeting will take place. Please ask a member of reception for this information. After the group meeting there is the option of joining the group for dinner.

Havana grew from an obscure port to a bustling hub when gold and silver that was being pillaged by the Spanish from the New World was taken to Spain. While the ships gathered in growing numbers, the pirates were not far behind and the treasures resting in Cuba's ports were attacked again and again by Dutch, English and French pirates. The Spanish built fort after fort for protection but the English eventually captured the territory. An economic boom followed due to the English lifting the Spanish trade restrictions. Spain eventually exchanged the Florida territory for the island, but these years left an indelible mark on the city and the country, and Havana is slowly restoring its beautiful colonial buildings.

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. Make sure you visit La Catedral San Cristobal de la Habana, described by the novelist Alejo Carpentier as 'music set in stone'. Also worth seeing is the Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras (now a restaurant) and the Plaza de Armas, complete with a statue of Manuel de Cespedes, one of the leaders of the independence movement. There are plenty of good museums to check out including Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.

While in Havana you must try a Coppelia ice cream. You can join the hundreds of locals who line up to eat the delicious ice cream that is heavily subsidised by the government to keep the populace happy. There is a Coppelia in every major town in Cuba. Sometimes there is just one flavour available, a whole bowl of which could set you back about 10 cents. You can however pay up to $3 if you want to skip the queue and go the section where the prices are in Convertible Pesos (CUC) rather than the local pesos (CUP).

Ice cream in hand, why not head to a local baseball game. This is a great experience as the local atmosphere is very colourful and unique and can get quite rowdy at times. Baseball is by far the number one sport in Cuba so the locals can get very passionate about it. It is also interesting to note that the only advertising is government community announcements such as: sport is good for your health! The season runs from October to May.

Included Activities

  • Complimentary airport arrival transfer
  • Informal Salsa lesson

Optional Activities

  • Buena Vista Social Club, Havana - USD75.00
  • Tropicana Show, Havana - USD75.00
  • Cigar Factory Tour, Havana - USD12.00
  • Morro-Cabana Fortress, Havana - USD6.00
  • La Cabana Fortress canon blast ceremony, Havana - USD10.00
  • Baseball game (Oct - Apr), Havana - USD3.00
  • Tourist bus day pass, Havana - USD5.00
  • Tourist bus to the beach (return), Havana - USD5.00
  • Ernest Hemingway tour, Havana - USD30.00

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Days 2-3 Soroa / Vinales

 

On the morning day 2 in Havana, your leader will take you on an walking tour of the Old Havana. This tour includes a visit to the cathedral, Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Central Park amongst other cites. Entry fee to the Camara Oscura lookout at Plaza Vieja is included.

Later we head west from Havana and toward the dramatic limestone pin-cushion hills of the Pinar del Rio province and the rural town of Vinales.

It's about a 3 hour drive in our private minibus, and we break the journey at Soroa, which is a tiny mountain resort town in the heavily forested Sierra del Rosario. We have lunch here and there is time to take a tour of the impressive orchid garden which boasts 700 different species.

Vinales is a small and charming rural village. Its probably the easiest place to mix with locals in Cuba who are very sociable and love nothing better than to drink rum and dance the night away. There are only 3 bars in this town so it is difficult to get lost.

The scenery around Vinales is some of the most picturesque in Cuba. There are many outdoor optional activities available including rock climbing, exploring the area on motor-scooters or bicycle, hiking through the tobacco fields and to caves in the mountains.

Tonight we stay in a homestay. Room facilities include air-conditioning or ceiling fan.

Included Activities

  • Orchid Garden tour
  • Valley walking tour

Optional Activities

  • Hike to waterfall (enroute to Vinales), Soroa - USD3.00
  • Bicycle hire (per hour), Vinales - USD2.00
  • Beach excursion, Vinales - USD30.00
  • Botanical gardens, Vinales - USD1.00
  • Salsa lesson (per hour), Vinales - USD8.00
  • Cueva del Indio, Vinales - USD5.00
  • Cooking class, Vinales - USD30.00
  • Caving, Vinales - USD20.00
  • Rock climbing, Vinales - USD20.00
  • Palenque Cave, Vinales - USD1.00
  • Live music venues, Vinales - USD1.00
  • Santo Tomas cave visit + return taxi, Vinales - USD35.00

Accommodation

Homestay (2 nts)

Days 4-5 Trinidad

 

Travel back to Havana before continuing east to Trinidad, another beautiful colonial city and World Heritage Site (approx. 9 hours).

For most visitors to Cuba, Trinidad is their stand-out favourite destination (well, for the ones that make it this far anyway). No other colonial city in Cuba is so well preserved, and the local residents are extremely friendly and festive. Trinidad is steeped in religion, none the least of which is Santeria, which is one of the Afro-Cuban religions (related to Voodoo) that is practised in Cuba.

La Villa de la Santisima Trinidad was founded by Velazsquez in 1514 and the defender of indigenous rights in the Americas, Fray Bartolome de Las Casas, attended over the settlement's first mass. The future conqueror of Mexico, Hernan Cortes recruited sailors here for his future expedition into that land. The town was fairly inactive until the 1800s, when French refugees fleeing a slave revolt in Haiti landed here en mass and brought with them sugar cane cultivation. The new residents settled and farmed in the Valle de Los Ingenios, just northeast of the town. Vast wealth flowed into the local economy from sugar cane cultivation and the area produced one third of the country's sugar at one point. The sugar boom was terminated by the two wars of independence, but 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 town and area also saw a lot of action during and following the triumph of the Revolution, as gangs of counter revolutionaries hid out and struck from the safety of the mountains. The Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra los Bandidos and the Casa de los Mártires de Trinidad, chronicles the struggles of this period in the town's history.

There are some great Spanish-style churches to explore here and nearby is the Valle de los Ingenios, where sugar plantations stretch out as far as the eye can see. For some beach side fun head down to Playa Ancon for some long stretches of white sand. This is a good place to pull on the snorkel and have a peak and Cuba's underwater world. For more land based activities go horse or bike riding, but be warned, Cuba's bicycles, just like its cars, are vintage. There are also some great treks to be made in the nearby Sierra del Escambray mountains.

While in Trinidad, you can visit a folklore dance and music show at an open-air venue. Cuba has a hugely rich and varied dance and music tradition that draws its roots from as far a field as Africa and France. Many musical styles that have greatly influenced music worldwide originated in Cuba, such as Mambo, Cha-cha-cha, son, and rumba.

Trinidad has a strong Afro-Cuban community and some of the Afro-Cuban religions are also represented in these shows. By now hopefully you have learnt a few steps of salsa and can join in with the locals.

Tonight we stay in a homestay. Room facilities include air-conditioning or ceiling fan.

Included Activities

  • Afro-Cuban folklore show

Optional Activities

  • Snorkelling trip, Trinidad - USD15.00
  • Cayo Blanco island catamaran cruise, Trinidad - USD45.00
  • Ancon beach (transport), Trinidad - USD4.00
  • Trek to waterfall (taxi and entrance fee), Trinidad - USD27.00
  • Steam train ride, Trinidad - USD10.00
  • Bicycle rental (full day), Trinidad - USD5.00
  • Moped rental, Trinidad - USD24.00
  • Live music venues, Trinidad - USD3.00
  • Massage, Trinidad - USD25.00
  • Salsa lesson, Trinidad - USD5.00
  • Musical instrument lesson (guitar, double bass, tres, percussion - per hour), Trinidad - USD10.00

Accommodation

Homestay (2 nts)

Day 6 Cienfuegos

 

It's a short drive from Trinidad to our next destination of Cienfuegos (approx. 1 hours).

Cubans are known to be very proud people, and the citizens of Cuba's third largest port city call their town La Perla del Sur (The Pearl of the South).

Cienfuegos' appeal lies partly in the European flavour of its colonial centre, with a wide Parisian-style boulevard and elegant colonnades. There is ambience enough here to have inspired Cuba's most celebrated 'son' singer to write the words 'Cienfuegos is the city I like best'. He was born nearby, which may have helped.

While here we take a visit to the Palacio del Valle. Once a modest home for a local trader, this palace is now Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy. The entire edifice drips with ornate carvings in Venetian alabaster.

Again, there is plenty of nightlife all within a very short walk of our centrally located hotel.

Tonight we stay in a hotel located in the very centre of Cienfuegos, which has a distinct colonial character. Hotel facilities include air-conditioning, en suite bathrooms, a restaurant, bar and swimming pool.

Included Activities

  • Visit to the Palacio del Valle

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Days 7-8 Havana

 

On the way back to Havana, we pass by Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial. Che's remains were brought to rest here after they were found in a remote corner of Bolivia in 1997, where he was assassinated by the CIA-backed Bolivian army. There is an impressive bronze statue of Che bearing his rifle. Inside the museum, you can learn about his amazing life and see photos and exhibits such as his famous black beret.

On reaching Havana we return to our hotel and it's time for a final night of salsa. Hit the streets and celebrate a fantastic adventure.

There are no activities planned for day 8 and you are able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time from the hotel is at 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.

Included Activities

  • Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

  • Single Supplement

what-else

 



Itinerary Disclaimer

Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.

Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.

Culture shock rating



 

At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.

Physical rating



 

Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.

included





Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.

optional-extras





A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Imaginative Traveller nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Imaginative Traveller. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.

money

 

Money Exchange

There are 2 official currencies in Cuba:

- Cuban Peso Convertible (CUC). Value: CUC1 = US$1.00

- Cuban Peso (CUP or Moneda Nacional M.N). Value: CUP24 = CUC1

The exchange rates of these currencies are fixed by the Cuban Government, however they are liable to change at any time.

In Cuba there are official government exchange houses called CADECA. These can be found in every city and also at the airport. They are commonly found in the larger hotels in Havana. The CADECA exchange houses offer the following services:

- Exchange foreign cash to CUC.

- Make cash advances on credit cards.

- Exchange travellers cheques.

To do any of these operations you will need your passport. To exchange travellers cheques you will also need the receipt of the bank where you bought them.

In terms of cash, the only currencies that you are guaranteed to be able to exchange are CAD, EUR, and GBP. You can also exchange US$, however, the Cuban Government charges an additional 10% fee for accepting US$. The same rules apply for travellers cheques in US$.

Please note that until further notice AU$ and NZ$ are not accepted in Cuba. Please also be advised that slightly torn notes, notes that have been heavily marked or are faded, may be difficult to exchange. It's best to bring notes in fairly good condition, in denominations lower than US$100 (or equivalent).

Eurocheques are not accepted in Cuba. Visa and Thomas Cook traveller cheques issued in USD are not a problem, except that you will incur the 10% charge for exchanging from US$.

Credit cards (both Visa and MasterCard) should be accepted at the CADECAs for cash advances.

ATMs: At present, the only cities with ATMs are Havana, Camaguey, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba. You will need a pin number for your credit card to be able to use the ATMs. Only Visa cards work in the ATMs (not Mastercard or Cirrus). We find occasionally people come with a Visa debit card that doesn't work in the ATMs. For others they work perfectly fine. We don't know why this happens. We do know that a Visa debit card obtained through Travelex will not work in Cuba, nor will a Visa card from Citibank. Because of these unpredictable difficulties it's best to come to Cuba with a 'back-up' plan for obtaining cash if your credit card doesn't work.

Bank Commissions: The exchange rates used by the CADECA are the same in every CADECA around Cuba and represent about a 3% commission for the bank (included in the exchange rate). For cash advances and when using the ATMs, there is a 3% fee charged. This means that for value for money it's approximately the same if you are making a cash advance or exchanging a travellers cheque or cash.

Local Cuban Peso: The 'local' Cuban Peso has very limited use, especially for travellers. You may get the chance to use it occasionally so it's perhaps a good idea to exchange about CUC1-3 to CUP at one of the CADECA after you arrive. Only some CADECAs, offer this service. This currency is mainly used for buying goods at ration stores (for which you need to be a resident and have a ration card), but some other products are also available in this currency and mainly from street stalls, such as ice-cream (CUP1-3) and pizzas (CUP10).

What's confusing for travellers is that the Cubans call both currencies 'pesos', so you have to know the value of something to know which currency they are referring to. Otherwise you have to ask. CUC is also colloquially known as convertibles, divisa, dolares, fula, chavitos, baros, and cabillas.

Spending Money

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

Tipping

If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Imaginative Traveller destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.

The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

Restaurants: Local markets, government and private (paladares) restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest 10%. There's no need to tip at dinners taken at homestays.

Homestay: You may consider tipping the employees (not the owners) of a homestay. A CUC1-2 is suggested, although a clothing item, a towel or the like will be kindly received.

Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2 per person per day for local guides.

Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$1-2 per day is generally appropriate.

Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Departure Tax

There is a 25CUC departure tax from Cuba that is NOT included in your international air ticket.

other-important-information



TRAVEL INSURANCE:

The Cuban government has declared that from 1 May 2010, travel insurance (which covers at least medical expenses) to be compulsory for all travellers to Cuba. Proof of travel insurance will be requested at Havana airport by immigration officials. Travellers failing to produce a valid document will be required to purchase a new policy at the airport, before being granted access to Cuba.

WEATHER CONTINGENCIES:

Please note that Hurricane season is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Imaginative Traveller monitors these situations as they may arise, so that itineraries or activities can be amended as necessary.

A single supplement is available on this trip.

The itinerary of departures: 06 January 2013, 03 March 2013 and 17 March 213 will run in reverse as follows:

Day 1 Havana

Day 2 Cienfuegos

Days 3-4 Trinidad

Days 5-6 Vinales

Days 7-8 Havana

The time spent at each destination as well as included activities remains the same as on the published itinerary.

Group-Size





Maximum of 12 travellers per group.

your-fellow-trav


As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.

Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

Single-Travellers





Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.

Accommodation

Homestay (4 nts), Hotel (3 nts)

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

CUBAN HOMESTAYS:

For most travellers, the homestay accommodation is a major highlight of their visit to Cuba. The homestays provide a great opportunity for travellers to interact with everyday Cubans.

The homestay houses we use are much nicer than the average Cuban dwelling, as for a start, the family needs to have enough resources to have a spare room to accommodate guests. All the houses we use have a private bathroom for the guests with a hot water shower. Both towels and soap are provided. Most rooms have air-conditioning while a few just a fan.

Guests are generally served meals separately to the family. The rooms are basic but all comfortable and clean, and the families will try to make you feel at home as much as possible. Most Cubans are very friendly and love to talk to guests.

In some homestays the family members speak quite good English, while in others they are practiced at communicating with their non-Spanish speaking guests simply by gesturing and smiling. Overcoming these communication challenges is seen by most as part of the fun!

On nights where we use homestay accommodation, the group will split up into different homes, with between 1 and 4 group members in each home.

meals





While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

Meals

7 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners

Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.

 

CUC 160.00

transport





Minibus

group-leader





All Imaginative Traveller group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Imaginative Traveller endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Imaginative Traveller we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

joining-point

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Calle 21 y O

Vedado

Havana

CUBA

 
Join-point-desc





The Hotel Nacional de Cuba has more than sixty years of history. In 1992 it went through a general restoration, preserving all the splendour of its eclectic architecture as a result of a mixture of Art Deco features with modern influences of that time.

With its privileged location in the middle of Vedado, the centre of Havana, it stands on a hill just a few meters from the sea, and offers a great view of the Havana Harbour; the seawall and the city.

Join-point-instruct





A complimentary transfer is included with your trip. Upon arrival, look for a sign with your name on it outside of the baggage claim area. If you are not met within 30 minutes of arrival (when flight is on time) please make your way to your joining point hotel via taxi and you will be reimbursed.

Arriv-complications





We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.

If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.

No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.

finishing-point

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Calle 21 y O

Vedado

Havana

CUBA

Finishing-P-Desc





The Hotel Nacional de Cuba has more than sixty years of history. In 1992 it went through a general restoration, preserving all the splendour of its eclectic architecture as a result of a mixture of Art Deco features with modern influences of that time.

With its privileged location in the middle of Vedado, the centre of Havana, it stands on a hill just a few meters from the sea, and offers a great view of the Havana Harbour; the seawall and the city.

Finish-point-instruc




If you have pre booked a departure transfer, please inform your leader and they will notify you of your departure transfer time.

If you are making your own way to the airport the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. Please ask at reception.

emergency


Emergency Contact

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, call the local ground representative on Tel: +61 - 430 504 636 or +61 412 363 731.

We also have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked. Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

Emergency Funds

Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

visa-information





Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.

We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.

Tourists of most nationalities require a 'Tourist Card' which is similar to a tourist visa. These can be obtained through travel agents in your home country, or directly from Cuban embassies and consulates. Depending on the airline you are travelling with to Cuba, you may also be able to purchase the tourist card at the airport from the airline on the day of your departure - please check with your airline.

If you are an American citizen, American permanent resident, or hold any type of American Visa, and are considering travelling to Cuba, please refer to the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website - travel.state.gov - for the latest advice.

Issues





While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

what-to-take





What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.

Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

CLIMATE & CLOTHING:

Lightweight clothing is recommended throughout most of the year, especially in the summer months of June, July, and August when it can get very hot and humid. In the winter months of December, January, and February it can get colder, particularly during the evenings, and it's recommended to bring a fleece top, jacket or the like, for these months. Although the temperatures don’t get very low in Cuba (the all-time record is -1C), because of humidity levels and the fact that Cuban houses are not set up for cold weather, the cold - when it comes - can be hard to escape from. In general however, during the day the climate in Cuba is hot and tropical.

For footwear, some people can get by with just a pair of sandals. In summer, open footwear is definitely preferable, even in the evenings. There are some interesting optional day-walks, which involve walking over some steep and rocky terrain, so we advise bringing footwear that you would feel comfortable doing this in.

For going out in the evenings, casual dress is acceptable everywhere, so there's no need to bring clothes or footwear especially for this, although some people may be more comfortable doing so. Despite their low income levels, Cubans love to dress up smartly and fashionably whenever they can. There will be plenty of opportunities for swimming so be sure to bring your swimwear.

WATER BOTTLE:

Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day

GIFTS:

Cubans are delighted to receive gifts from foreigners even if they're items that you would consider throwing out at home. Second hand clothes are warmly accepted as gifts as they can be distributed among family members and friends. Soap, shampoo, perfumes, and pens or pencils are also very popular with the Cubans. Inexpensive soap is readily available in Cuba if you intend buying some as gifts.

Used mobile phones are valued in Cuba, especially if they are unlocked and work on the 900Mhz frequency. Any Australian mobile phone or any quad-band mobile phone will work on the 900Mhz frequency.

Though they would be most happy to receive them, it is not necessary to bring gifts for your host families, as they are probably some of the more well-off families in Cuba and will be happy enough with just your good-natured presence.

fitness


Health

All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

WHO REPORTS:

The World Health Organisation has countries in Latin America registered as zones affected by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, rabies and malaria.

safety





Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

DOMESTIC AIRLINES:

Due to safety concerns with some domestic Cuban airlines, Intrepid groups only uses French-made ATR planes to fly between Havana and Santiago de Cuba. In the unlikely event that ATR planes are not available, the leg from Havana to Santiago de Cuba (or vice versa) will be travelled by land.

PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:

While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

Past travellers have advised their luggage was broken into when flying on international and/or domestic flights in Cuba. It's advisable that you use small padlocks to secure your luggage. This will also come in handy to lock your valuables at your hotel and homestay rooms.

FIRE PRECAUTIONS:

Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

SWIMMING POOLS:

You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.

TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:

Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

SEAT BELTS:

Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.

travel-insurance





Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

Please go to our website for more information:

www.imaginative-traveller.com/travel-insurance

 
responsible-travel






At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.

Responsible Travel is twofold. It's about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.

Our Aims

  • It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
  • We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
  • Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.

Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.

Rules





Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Imaginative Traveller travellers. Imaginative Traveller's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

Carbon







Carbon Offset C02-e 172.00 kgs per pax.

 

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