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 2018 through April; 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: $1899 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 of local fresh fruit, coffee, breads and eggs take a short walk through town. A lot of people are keen to learn a bit about the history of Havana and Cuba, and your guide is the perfect person to explain it as all of our guides are native Cubans, with a passion for their country. We’ll check out the Plaza de Armas, pass by the Museo de la Revolucion, where right outside are some displays including a tank and small airplane used in the revolution of 1959 by Fidel Castro against the Batista regime. There is even the original small boat with which Castro originally came over with his small band of rebels, called “The Gramma”. After lunch, we will jump in a couple of classic, 1950’s era American convertibles and do a city tour by car, checking out the Malecon, the US Embassy, the city zoo, Plaza de la Revolucion, and more. This circuit is always a big hit, and riding in these classic cars is an experience all by itself!
Finally, we will engage in our Support for the Cuban people portion of our itinerary by meeting with a woman who rents out bicycles, discussing with her the challenges of running a small business in Cuba, crowdsharing some ideas and marketing advice for her to assist her in growing her business, and then hop on her bikes to pedal around town a bit more, our third different way today of seeing this fascinating and historic city.
Day 3 – Today we will head out of the city and make a few hour drive to the famous landing site of the ill-fated, US backed invasion at Bahia de Cochino (Bay of Pigs). There is a really interesting museum there with more planes and tanks (!) from the invasion and we will get to see and hear first hand the Cubanversion of this historic event. After (or instead of if museums aren’t your thing) there is also some good swimming, snorkelling, and even scuba diving at the actual Bay of Pigs bay in the Caribbean. After, we’ll continue driving and end up at the UNESCO heritage, French founded city of Cienfuegos known for its Parisian architecture and grand avenues and exquisite seaside location. We’ll check out the town a bit and then have yet another dinner of locally sourced food and there is always fresh seafood on the menu when in Cuba !
Day 4 – The adventure continues and we leave Cienfuegos after breakfast to drive to national park “El Nicho”, which has some really nice hiking through the jungle and forest to a series of waterfalls and swimming holes so be sure to bring your swimsuit today. After the hike and swim we will head toward one of our favorite towns in Cuba, the UNESCO heritage site, founded in the early 1500’s, of Trinidad.
We’ll have lunch at one of the many really good private restaurants that have opened in recent years, and afterwards we’ll do a walking tour of the town, continuing with our Support for the Cuban people by talking extensively with some of the locals where we are free to ask them about their political system and their opinions of it, as well as discuss ours. This usually makes for an interesting conversation! We will also visit a local entrepreneur who is involved in water sports like scuba diving and kite surfing, again giving some advice and assistance on how they can maintain and grow their small, independent business. We’ll continue to eat surprisingly well, visiting one of our favorite restaurants which has not only amazing food but a stunning rooftop location and views of the entire town and surrounding Escambray mountain range.
Day 5 – Full nature is on tap today, as we venture up into the lush mountains above town to a park known as “El Topes”, which has a really nice hike, surprisingly steep and rugged, and down to yet another pristine swimming hole and waterfall located deep in the forest. We’ll visit with the locals that run the park and discuss how climate change has been affecting the area, as well as some of the more interesting local plants, trees, and wildlife. Afterwards, we will drive back down the (steep!) road back to Trinidad for lunch. After lunch it is back out on the road, this time to park “El Cubano” where many people choose to take a one to two hour horseback ride through the jungle (included with your trip), while others may opt for yet another hike through the forest to yet another waterfall! This whole area is really beautiful and as this is an active itinerary, we will make the most of it while also learning more about the plants and fauna that make up this unique ecosystem. We will end the day by going down to the talk to some local fisherman about the extensive coral reef system and marine life that are such an important part of the Cuban economy and way of life, then catch the sunset near – but not on – the famous beach “Playa Ancon”. Today is a great day full of nature, hiking, food, and swimming.
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 dinner and night out on the 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