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Best of Cuba

From £1425 for 15 days
Trip Overview
From Cuba's historical streets of Havana to the pristine shores of the Caribbean, stroll through World Heritage cities, relive a fascinating colonial history and experience the rich heritage of music and dance that Cuba is renowned for. Dive into the incredible marine world and history of the Bay of Pigs, prepare to be wowed as you discover Baracoa’s mountainous surrounds, visit the birthplace of salsa and admire Trinidad’s unrivalled ambience on this two-week adventure. From historic cars to fragrant cigars, and with plenty of rum and rumba in between, this adventure will take you into the heart of all things Cuban.
Essential Info
Starts: Havana
Ends: Havana
Ages: Min 15
Theme: Discovery
Trip Code: IQUSH
Countries visited: Cuba
What's Included

Meals

14 Breakfasts included
1 Lunches included

Transport

Private vehicle,Plane,Local transport

Accommodation

Standard guesthouse (14 nights)

Trip Highlights
-Old-world charm, rich history, exciting nightlife - evocative Havana is like nowhere else on Earth. See the difference between city and coastal life on a guided walking tour of the old capital
-Take inspiration from the locals and mix things up with a bicycle-taxi tour of the colonial city of Camaguey
-Enjoy over two free days in Trinidad. Practice your Spanish in a language class, loll about on an unspoilt Caribbean beach or peddle through sugar plantations on a charmingly rickety bicycle
-After an informal salsa lesson, you'll be ready to hit the dance floor with the locals. With its vibrant music scene and Afro-Cuban roots, sultry Santiago de Cuba is a great place to practice your moves
-There's a lot more to the life of Che Guevara than what you'll learn from watching 'The Motorcycle Diaries'. Pay your respects to the famous revolutionary during an included visit to his mausoleum
Dates & Availability
Start date
End date
Direction
Price GBP
Availability
8th December 2016
22nd December 2016
Havana - Havana
£1,510pp 
G
 
Limited
11th December 2016
25th December 2016
Havana - Havana
£1,470pp 
G
 
Good
15th December 2016
29th December 2016
Havana - Havana
£1,485pp 
G
 
Limited
5th February 2017
19th February 2017
Havana - Havana
£1,555pp 
G
 
Limited
26th February 2017
12th March 2017
Havana - Havana
£1,540pp 
G
 
Limited
19th March 2017
2nd April 2017
Havana - Havana
£1,585pp 
G
 
Good
26th March 2017
9th April 2017
Havana - Havana
£1,615pp 
G
 
Limited
2nd April 2017
16th April 2017
Havana - Havana
£1,585pp 
G
 
Good
9th April 2017
23rd April 2017
Havana - Havana
£1,615pp 
G
 
Limited
Show more dates
Itinerary & Notes
 
Day 1 - Havana
Bienvenido a Cuba! Welcome to Cuba! Set to the soundtrack and backdrop of the 1950s, tumbledown Havana is a capital unlike any other. A complimentary arrival 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. If you arrive early, please note most activities in Cuba can only be booked through the tourist desk in the lobbies of the larger hotels or direct with the venue. Otherwise, there are plenty of good museums to check out, including the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.  There will be a welcome meeting at approximately 6pm this evening. Please expect a letter in your room or a phone call on Day 1 from your leader to confirm the time and place of your meeting. 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. The briefing is generally followed by an optional group dinner.

Additional Activities

Havana - Buena Vista Social Club
30 CUC
Havana - Cigar factory tour
12 CUC
Havana - La Cabana Fortress canon blast ceremony
8 CUC
Havana - Baseball game (Oct - Apr)
3 CUC
Havana - Tourist bus day pass
5 CUC
Havana - Ernest Hemingway tour
70 CUC
Havana - Tourist bus to the beach (return)
5 CUC
Havana - Vintage American car tour
55 USD
Day 2 - Havana
Havana's history is as colourful as it's cars and buildings. Today, you will be taken on a guided tour of the Havana vieja. Havana remains one of the great colonial cities of the Americas. An air of faded glory comes through in the peeling paint of some of its grand old buildings. Narrow streets, spacious plazas and Spanish architecture make it a charm to explore on foot. Pick up some Spanish during an informal Spanish lesson. 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). Maybe try out your newly learnt phrases when you 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. 

Additional Activities

Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
Included in Price
Informal Spanish lesson
Included in Price
Havana - Camera Obscura entrance
Included in Price
Day 3 - Cienfuegos
On the way to Cienfuegos today, you’ll stop at the peaceful sandy arc of Playa Giron (approximately 2.5 hours), which sits on the eastern side of the Bahia de Cochinos, better known as the Bay of Pigs. It was famously here that the CIA sponsored a failed invasion by exile forces in 1961. Today you’ll discover the story of the Cuban victory at the Museo Giron, which holds displays of various military equipment and photos of the men who fought here. It’s not just the history that’s the attraction here – with crystal clear Caribbean waters, a deep underwater wall, and an outstanding variety of coral and fish, it’s a haven for snorkelers. Strap on a hired mask and some flippers and take a dive into sapphire-coloured water teeming with tropical marine life. Afterwards, travel on to Cienfuegos (approximately 1.5 hours), 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.

Additional Activities

Cienfuegos - Visit to the Palacio del Valle
Included in Price
Playa Giron - Museum Giron Entrance and Film
Included in Price
Bay of Pigs - Visit and swim
Included in Price
Cienfuegos - Orientation Walk
Included in Price
Day 4 - Trinidad
Leave Cienfuegos and head north to the final resting place of Cuba’s most famous son. In Santa Clara (approximately 1 hour), 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. Then it’s a short drive south, through the Topes de Collantes National Park to Trinidad, which sits on the scenic Caribbean coast (approximately 1.5 hours). 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. On an orientation walk today, see the former wealth generated by the sugar industry in the town's once-grand mansions, colourful public buildings, wrought iron grill-work and cobble-stoned streets. Maybe kick off the evening with the informal salsa lesson tonight, then party the night away at one of the town’s live music venues.

Additional Activities

Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
Included in Price
Trinidad - Orientation walk
Included in Price
Trinidad - Santeria Priest Visit
Included in Price
Trinidad - Informal Salsa lesson
Included in Price
Trinidad - Live music venues
5 CUC
Trinidad - Disco in a cave
5 CUC
Day 5 - Trinidad
Today is a free day in Trinidad. Perhaps continue yesterday’s walk into the town’s history with visits to the Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra los Bandidos and the Casa de los Mártires de Trinidad. Both chronicle the struggles of the revolutionary period in the town's history.  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. There’s also a chance to get a hands-on lesson with the musical instruments themselves in a percussion workshop. By now, hopefully you've learnt enough of the local rhythms to join in with the locals – maybe at a local venue hidden within a cave!

Additional Activities

Trinidad - Bicycle rental (full day)
5 CUC
Trinidad - Musical instrument lesson (guitar, double bass, tres, percussion - per hour)
10 CUC
Trinidad - Snorkelling trip
15 CUC
Trinidad - Trek to El Nicho Waterfall (taxi, entrance fee & guide)
27 CUC
Trinidad - Ancon beach shuttle bus
4 CUC
Day 6 - Trinidad
Trinidad is also the gateway to the Valle de los Ingenios, and a bike is a great way to explore the local area. Be warned however, Cuba's bicycles, like its cars, are vintage. There are also some great treks to be made in the nearby Sierra del Escambray mountains – maybe drive along the legendary twists and turns of the road to El Nicho, then hike to its beautiful waterfall. Playa Ancon is also close by – there’s plenty of opportunity for relaxing on its long, unspoilt beaches or snorkelling through the clear waters (just watch carefully for sea urchins, which can be a problem here).
Day 7 - Camaguey
Today travel through the centre of the country to Camaguey (approximately 5-6 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.

Additional Activities

Camaguey - Orientation Tour
Included in Price
Camaguey - Casa de la Trova
3 CUC
Day 8 - Camaguey
Today you’ll 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, where you’ll get a fascinating insight into daily Cuban life and the local economy. 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.

Additional Activities

Camaguey - Bicycle taxi city tour
Included in Price
Camaguey - Ballet performance
5 CUC
Day 9 - Santiago de Cuba
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 are made, this usually takes six to seven hours. Santiago is the hottest place in Cuba – in terms of both temperature and the vibe of the city! Set between the indomitable Sierra Maestra mountain range and the azure Caribbean, this city's historical centre and colonial architecture retain a timeworn air ideal for photographers.
Day 10 - Santiago de Cuba
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 and learn about the city’s rich history. For nearly a century, the city was the island's seat of power and it also played a vital role in the Revolution. The people of Santiago were the first to rise up in arms against government troops in 1956, and it was in Santiago on January 1st 1959, that Fidel Castro declared the triumph of the Revolution. With a strong Afro-Cuban heritage it's no surprise that Santiago has a vibrant music scene, and is seen as Cuba’s capital of music. It’s the home of son music, which is a mix of Spanish guitar and African percussion. 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. All this will entice the shyest, most left-footed dancer and the non-musically inclined to learn some salsa moves or take a lesson in local music.

Additional Activities

Santiago de Cuba - half day city tour
Included in Price
Santiago - Dance lesson (1 hour)
15 CUC
Santiago - Entrance to La Gran Piedra Mountain
1 CUC
Santiago - Use of a Hotel Pool
5 CUC
Santiago - Music instrument lesson
12 CUC
Santiago - Tropicana Cabaret Show
35 CUC
Day 11 - Baracoa
A spectacular five-hour journey to Baracoa 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. On the way you will 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. Baracoa is set on a beautiful bay, this was the first colonial town, and it’s one of the most beautiful in Cuba. You'll have a couple of days here to explore and relax. Take a walk around the town to get your bearings, then maybe head to a lovely black sand beach an easy walk from town. As one of Cuba’s major agricultural zones, Baracoa is a great place to try local foods. It’s one of the best places for chocolate, and street vendors and small restaurants offer local specialties like prawns in coconut sauce and banana-stuffed tamales. One particularly sought-after Baracoa specialty is the cucurucho, a sweet treat of coconut, sugar, and fruit wrapped in dried cone-shaped palm leaves.

Additional Activities

Guantanamo Bay - Viewpoint & Tower
Included in Price
Baracoa - Orientation walk
Included in Price
Day 12 - Baracoa
Today is a free day to explore Baracoa. The town was only accessible by sea until 1960, and even after a road linking Baracoa to Guantanamo was built, the settlement maintained a small-town colonial feel. Uncover its individuality as you wander along its beautiful malecon or ramble over various forts that were 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.

Additional Activities

Baracoa - Bar and nightclub entries
1 CUC
Baracoa - Duaba Finca tour
15 CUC
Baracoa - El Yunque waterfall hike
18 CUC
Baracoa - El Yunque mountain hike
25 CUC
Baracoa - Hike to caves
10 CUC
Day 13 - Baracoa
Today you have another free day in Baracoa. Why not set out on a hike through the rainforest to explore nearby caves and waterfalls. Perhaps pay a visit to Humboldt Nation Park, looking out for colourful parrots, lizards and hummingbirds. Take a boat tour down a nearby river, spotting wildlife along the way, or maybe stop in at a working farm to learn about life on the land. After the sun goes down, enjoy a cocktail near the beach or check out the town's nightlife.

Additional Activities

Baracoa - Yumari river tour
15 CUC
Baracoa - Humbolt park hike
25 CUC
Baracoa - Maguana beach (return taxi)
25 CUC
Baracoa - Duaba Finca river tour
8 CUC
Day 14 - Havana
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, head to Plaza de la Revolución for your final taste of Cuban revolutionary history, watched over by the memorials of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, José Martí and Camilo Cienfuegos. Then you’ll have the rest of 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 or cuba libre and final night of salsa in Habana Vieja's bars. Hit the streets and celebrate the end of a fantastic adventure.

Additional Activities

Havana - Visit to Plaza de la Revolucion
Included in Price
Havana - José Martí Memorial Tower
2 CUC
Day 15 - 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 10am.
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