Arrive Havana. You are free to arrive in Havana at whatever time you can today. We have set aside this first day for this purpose, so you won't miss out on anything, even if you arrive late in the evening. Your included airport arrival transfer will be provided. This will be either a government taxi or a private car, and will take you directly from the Havana airport to your guesthouse for the first night.
Your tour guide will leave a note for you in the guesthouse with some information for you to get settled and details of any group meeting times. The first of these will be a get together for dinner on the first night for those group members that have arrived in time.
If you do happen to arrive earlier in the day, you may have time to go and explore some of Havana. At some stage during the tour, your tour guide will include a walking tour of Old Havana. After confirming your tour booking with us, we will also send you a set of maps for each city you will visit in Cuba. This is like mini guide book that we update every year - so it is usually more up-to-date than a typical guide book. We do recommend the guide books for Cuba however, especially for the background historical and cultural information sections
Baracoa. When Christopher Columbus first encountered Cuba it was here, and he duly noted in his log-book that this was the most beautiful land that human eyes could set upon. You will understand what he meant when you see the beaches and verdant mountain landscape that surround Baracoa. Situated on a beautiful bay with the mountains of the Sierra del Purial in the background, Baracoa was the first settlement founded by the Spanish in Cuba, and was only accessible by sea until the end of the 1960s.
We arrive here by way of a mid-morning domestic flight from Havana. We have 2 full days here and there are numerous options for outdoor activities in the nearby mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and beaches. Baracoa is also known for it's variety of fresh seafood, and chocolate made from local cacao plantations.
|Days 5-6:||Santiago de Cuba. A spectacular drive through lush mountains of eastern Cuban, then along a rugged and beautiful section of coast, and later past the region’s most controversial leasehold of Guantanamo Bay, brings us to what is known as the “cradle of Cuba's Revolution”. Santiago de Cuba is home to much of Cuba’s famed music, like the Son. There are also museums, colonial churches and buildings of more recent historical importance, such as the Moncada Barracks, which are well worth exploring.
Santiago de Cuba has a very vibrant traditional music scene, and it's here that we include what we call a Noche Santiaguera. It's an interactive night of music and dance where we invite some local Santiago friends of ours to come with us to a local traditional music venue, and they will invite you to join them on the dance floor to learn some dance moves. For those that are willing, you'll have the chance to get up on stage and play an instrument with the local Cuban band. Culturally, Santiago has a different feel to the rest of Cuba, undoubtedly coming from the mix of French speaking slaves from Haiti and its proximity to Jamaica.
Camagüey. Cuba's third largest city lies about half way between Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Our longest travel day (a 6 or 7 hour drive) brings us here from Santiago. Camaguey was designed in the 17th century to disorientate potential invaders such as pirates and plunderers, so the street layout is a jumble of narrow alleys where no two streets are parallel. There are large parks, various private art galleries, and a thriving market garden, and one will enjoy strolling through this city. This is also a university town and has a rich cultural tradition, and like just about everywhere in Cuba, there is plenty of night time entertainment to be had.
Camaguey is a proud and cultural city, and has some of the best schools and institutions in Cuba. We include a guided visit to a ballet school
Trinidad. Trinidad is home to numerous churches and many beautiful colonial buildings. We are near the lovely Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of Sugarmills) and Playa Ancón, where you can enjoy long stretches of unspoiled, white sand beaches. Scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming in waterfalls and horse-riding are other optional activities.
The nightlife in Trinidad is probably the most accessible and intense in all of Cuba, with numerous live music venues and many dance performances everyday of the week, all amongst the enchanting setting of old colonial buildings and the cobblestone streets.
Cienfuegos via Santa Clara. Before reaching the French founded city of Cienfuegos we first drop in on the historic inland city of Santa Clara. It's here that we encounter a huge statue of Ernesto Ché Guevara. We take time to visit the musuem that is directly under the statue, and which tells the story of Ché's fascinating life. There is also a mauseleum with an eternal flame that commemorates his death and that of the revolutionaries who were with him in Bolivia.
Cienfuegos appeal lies partly in the European flavour of its colonial hub, with a wide Parisian-style boulevard and elegant colonnades, and there is an ambience to inspire Cuba’s most celebrated Son singer to write the words “Cienfuegos is the city I like best”. You'll have time to take in the ambience with a pleasant stroll along the boulevard and to the main square.
|Day 13:||Havana via Bay of Pig. On our way back to the capital, we drive along the beautiful coastline of the Bay of Pigs. This is where the landing of counter-revolutionary exile militia occured in 1961. The ensuing battle with the Cuban Revolutionary forces resulted in the first defeat of a U.S backed take-over in Latin America. Your guide will explain in more detail the dramatic events. If the conditions are favourable, we can stop for a swim at a beautiful spot on the bay that is ideal for snorkelling. Snorkelling masks are available at a small cost. We then pass through an area of densely vegetated swamp-lands called the Cienage de Zapata, before arriving bank in Havana.
|Day 15:||Havana. The Caribbean's largest and most exciting urban concentration, Havana is one of the oldest cities in the Western Hemisphere, and was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Options are to take the included walking tour of the Old town with the guide or to find your own adventure.
|NOTE:||Notes - Itineraries for the tour of Cuba can and do change during the course of the year due to a variety of reasons. We are not always able to advise you in advance of these changes. We ask for your understanding and flexibility in these cases.|