Trip Length: 7 days, 6 nights
Trip Type: Active and cultural, with some hiking, biking in Havana, optional horseback ride, and snorkeling/swimming
Highlights: Visit the long forbidden and exotic tropical country of Cuba on an authorized, active trip; Enjoy fresh local Cuban cuisine and extensive and significant interaction with the locals
Fixed Dates: Beginning any Sunday in 2019 through March 2020; for other dates please inquire. This trip is also available as a private trip for a small extra cost, starting any day of the year
Trip Price: $1995 per person, significant multi-person discounts available
Day 1 – Arrive to Havana airport, where our private vehicle, driver, and English speaking guide will all be waiting for you! We will make the short drive into the city and check in at your casa. Afterwards, we will have time to walk around this small but fascinating city a bit and change some money, with a little free time before dinner when your guide will take you out to an awesome local restaurant to kick off the trip.
Day 2 –
After breakfast, we will take a local, privately owned 1950’s classic convertible automobile to pay a visit to a place completely off the tourist path, and into the ‘real’ Havana.
After our convertible car ride there, we’ll make a quick visit to a community center for elderly Cubans who would otherwise be home alone. These folks actually lived through the history we all hear so much about, and it’s a tremendous opportunity to hear their stories first hand, and ask them questions. Or play a game of classic Cuba dominoes. This has all been proven to be much more fun and rewarding than people have anticipated.
Then, we will take bicycles on a one hour ride through the back streets of Havana to a local, privately-owned food market, to learn a little about how their food system works, and then bicycle another half hour back to the community center to drop off some fresh fruit, bread, and treats. That will conclude our visit, and then it will be time for our own lunch.
After lunch, we will take a nice long (one to three hour) walk through historic old towne Havana to drop off some school supplies to a local school.
Return to our casa, as always dinner out with the guide is optional but recommended, or you can strike out on your own, as long as you eat only at privately owned (paladares) restaurants. Ask your guide for details.
Day 3 –
We will drive first to a local farm off the beaten path, for an hour hike around the jungle and a look at how the locals are now allowed to have their own private farm business. Then we will drive to the historic Bay of Pigs, bypassing the touristy part and to an isolated beach and a snorkeling excursion into the Carribean Sea with one of our new, local private entrepreneur partners. Small, sustainable snorkeling and diving with an emphasis on protecting the environment.
Finally, after lunch we continue on to the bayside town of Cienfuegos and its classic French colonial architecture. After checking into our beautiful local home we’ll have time for a long walk around this fascinating city.
Day 4 –
First, we’ll make a short drive to El Nicho park to check in on two of our ongoing social projects. We’ll hike the famous waterfall trail with a local, private botanist who is working on cataloging all the unique flora to this region including newly discovered ones. We’ll then drive to our last destination, the UNESCO colonial jewel of Trinidad. We’ll have an amazing lunch at a private, local restaurant. Trinidad is an incredible place to walk around in with many small, private vendors and optional activities like cooking classes, salsa dance, cigar vendors, and music. We’ll do a long hiking tour throughout town with lots of authentic and organic interactions with the local people.
Day 5 – In complying with the new US regulations, we focus on helping the local, small entrepreneurs. It’s where we feel we can make the most impact and you, the traveler, can help the most. These Cuban start-ups need social media help, basic branding, marketing, etc. Hike a rugged jungle path to a dramatic waterfall with one of our local partners, as we help them develop their hiking business but also their small coffee sales gig. Return to Trindad for lunch. Afternoon horseback countryside outing with a brand new small, private horseman who is also just starting his business. Clients are asked to help with advice, feedback, online reviews after, etc.
Day 6 – Continuing our theme of forest and sea, we have one last stop to make today and it is one of our favorite places in Cuba, a small resort where we hardly every see many other tourists but is home to some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving on the island. It is an ideal place for beginner divers as the water is not very deep and the dive boat goes out very close from shore. The diving is very safe and quite spectacular. We have seen sting rays, octopus, and countless other sea life which our diving and snorkel instructors will take the time to explain, and there is also a short hike here down to some caves and also a beautiful and private swimming beach that we almost always have all to ourselves. After lunch of fresh fish or chicken, its time to make the long four hour drive back to Havana for one last dinWe’re excited about our latest project documenting the marine life at our private dive spot in the Caribbean. Your local, private guide will take you into the Caribbean to see some of the best preserved coral reefs in the world. We keep an ongoing log of specific animal and plant life sightings, and your work will play an ongoing role as we monitor climate change effects. Late afternoon return to Havana, dinner in town.
Day 7 – After breakfast, depending on the time of your departing flight we will have time for a final walk around Havana to do some more people-watching, take photos in the impressive early morning light, or pick up some last minute souvenirs. Transfer to the airport with your guide in private transportation for your flight back to the US
Trip Inclusions: Private transportation and English speaking guide, the entire week from airport pickup to airport dropoff; 6 nights lodging (comfortable and well located casas), breakfast Days 2 through 7; all hiking, all biking, all horseback rides, and all snorkeling; it also includes unlimited phone and email pre-trip planning, advice, and support from our owner, and includes 24/7 support in English to a toll free US number while you are in Cuba.
Trip Exclusions: Does not include lunches or dinners, scuba diving, or park entrance fees of approx $30; optional gratuties for guide and/or driver