Trip Length: 7 days, 6 nights
Trip Type: Cultural, with some Activity (moderate walking)
Highlights: Visit the historic, captivating, and energetic capital city of Havana; travel in comfortable private transportation all week, airport door to airport door; Talk to local artists, chefs, and salsa dancers; Learn from your English speaking, Cuban guide with you the entire trip; See the lush, almost completely empty countryside; visit the famous site of the Bay of Pigs invasion and tour the onsite museum there; visit the UNESCO Heritage town of Trinidad, founded in the early 1500’s’ Enjoy fresh local Cuban cuisine in private dining homes and interact with the locals
This trip complies with new US regulations regarding travel to Cuba, and is fully compliant with the Support for the Cuban People categorical exemption; travelers will be provided with a full trip summary and authorized itinerary declaration after the trip ends.
Fixed Dates: None. This trip is always Private, just for yourselves, and thus is available to begin any day of the year
Trip Price: Starting at just $1899 per person
Day 1 – Arrive to Havana airport, where your English speaking Cuban guide will be waiting for you. Transfer into Havana and check into your casa, relax, go out and change some money, and you will have a short city orientation walk with your guide, who can show you the basics of getting around, how to get on the Internet, etc. Dinner at a local restaurant with your guide, or on your own if you wish. If time permits, the guide has extensive, local knowledge on an almost unlimited slate of options catered to your preferences. Whether it is some of the options listed in Day 2 that you wish to spend more time at, or something entirely new (like salsa lessons, or a cooking class) the guide can make it all happen quickly as only a local can.
Day 2 – After breakfast of local fresh fruit, coffee, breads and eggs it is time to properly explore fascinating Havana, starting by taking a walking tour through old Havana (founded in 1592) and historic landmarks such as the Plaza de Armas, Parque Central, Plaza Cathedral, the tree lined walkway of the Prado, and much more. We will also visit Cuba’s famous Museum of Art, the Museum of the Revolution, and others. After lunch at a local paladar (a private home converted into a restaurant and serving some of the cutting edge cuisine that Cuba is becoming known for, we will then take a two hour educational tour around Havana’s outskirts in a classic 1950’s American convertible, sharing stories with the driver of just how they maintain these beautiful rides in the face of the American embargo. Lastly, there is the option of a deep dive into the making of either rum or cigars by touring the famous, gorgeous building of the Bacardi family or alternatively a cigar factory where you can learn about this fascinating craft of hand-rolled cigars that Cuba is so famous for. Both options include the ability to imbibe in the product at the end of the visit, or abstain but still learn so much about these fascinating Cuban exports and the story behind them.
Day 3 – Today is a nice mix of driving across the remote Cuban countryside outside of the city, and also some snorkeling, scuba diving, or educational visit at the famous site of the “Bay of Pigs”. The site of a failed, US-backed invasion in the early 1960’s has an onsite museum with good exhibit inside and some planes and tanks outside. Afterward, we will drive onward to the French style infused UNESCO Heritage town of Cienfuegos. After checking into our casa, we will have a great lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, followed by a trip down to the famous “Malecon”, where the locals gather each evening to hang out, talk to friends and family, and listen to music. We’ll have the opportunity to participate in some real – not fabricated – interactions with the Cuban locals living out a typical day in their lives, followed by a short seminar with the local bicycle taxi operators and the presentation of some of the support we have brought them for their small, local business. Dinner on the water!
Day 4 – After breakfast we will have time for a more indepth at the local culture of Cienfuegos, first by spending some time sitting in the leafy, tree lined pedestrian walkway in the middle of the wide main avenue through town. Cienfuegos has a more blue collar feel, perhaps, than the other popular destinations in Cuba and it is here that one can truly get a feel for what everyday life is like for the average Cuban not on the main tourism thoroughfares. In keeping with our Support for the Cuban People itinerary, on the way out of town we will make a short stop at the house of a small local farmer, learning in sincerity a bit about how their business works, whether they own their land, how much of their production they get to keep, etcetera while also offering our own insights into the importance of their freedeom from GMO and pesticidic supply chains.
We will continue onward to the charming, famous town of Trinidad where after checking into our adorable local casa with a panoramic view rooftop balcony, we will eat lunch at one of our favorite, locally owned restaurant featuring Cuban classics like “ropa vieja” (a delicious dish of spicy shredded beef, though unfortunately named as it translates into ‘old clothes’ ! If you are a seafood lover, you will be simply amazed at the variety and quality of local freshly caught seafood.
After lunch we will have time for a short guided town tour by a local expert, followed by the rest of the afternoon and evening you are finally on your own to explore at your own pace and wherever you desire (though the guide is always willing to tag along if you ask them)
The other option is a, believe it or not, highly educating visit down at the local beach of Playa Ancon. Staying away from the government-owned hotels where American citizens are prohibited to visit under current US laws and regulations, we will spend some significant time talking to the local fisherman and scuba dive instructors about the effects of climate change upon their coastline, marine life, and industry. They in turn will also explain to us how they have instituted world class protections for their coral reefs, seabeds, and animal and marine life and as a result enjoy some of the most pristine and undamaged reef systems in all the world, according to a recent US biologist survey.
Day 5 – We have the entire day to properly explore Trinidad, which is always on our clients’ favorite places to visit in Cuba. Of particular interest here is the history, archaeology, architecture, and music. We know of two small museums that we like to check out in the mornings that have an interesting collection of Colombian, and pre-Colombian artifacts and a really fascinating exhibit on the evolution and ongoing preservation of Spanish colonial architecture in Trinidad. In the afternoon, we have two special programs that we created that are part of our Support for the Cuban People itinerary. The first option is a horseback ride with a real Cuban cowboy, who still carries on the traditions and small business that his grandfather established many years ago. Heading out into the countryside we will have an opportunity to talk to Henry or his other relatives about the challenges and rewards of trying to run their small business in the Cuban economy, and as always we also participate by giving some of our small but helpful input into the type of things clients like ourselves look for when visiting Cuba in general, as well as specifically on a horse back ride.
Trinidad is famous for its live music, and after dinner the guide will take you back in time to some of our favorite places to hear live music such as salsa and others, often housed in beautiful colonial mansions. Today is honestly a day we are enormously proud of and excited for you to experience, the range of activities, people, culture, and sights is very impressive for a week much less one day !
Day 6 – Today you are going back to Havana but not before stopping at by far our favorite water experience in all of the Caribbean, a small place off the highway that sees very few visitors but boasts some of the best swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving to be found anywhere and all in a place without the large crowds of tourists that so often define other similar places in Cuba. There is an opportunity for a side hike to see some caves and large ‘ceiba’ trees so big you cant get your arms around them, and one of the safest and best beginner-to-expert scuba dive operations is also here.
They also have a great local kitchen that cooks up fresh caught seafood as well as fresh local vegetables and salads before we have to get in the van for the long four hour drive back to Havana. Once back in the city, we will have time for a farewell meal, and a possible visit to the nearby fort across the bay, where they fire ancient military cannons every night. There is also the option of a dinner or theatre show, including at the famed Tropicana!
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 home
Trip Inclusions: Private transportation and English speaking guide the entire week from airport pickup to airport dropoff; 6 nights casa with private room and private bathroom, (comfortable and well located, double occupancy, single supplement upgrade available for extra charge upon request), breakfast Days 2 through 7; It also includes unlimited phone and email support with our owner from beginning to end, including 24/7 support in English to a toll free US number while you are in cuba.
Trip Exclusions: Does not include lunches or dinners, or various small entrance fees to museums, or the Cuban Tourist Visa (required by all visitors, not just Americans, costs approximately $60-$100, and your airline must make its sale available to you or we can assist)