Cuba on a shoestring

Cuba,

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16 people
8 days
Code: QURA
Activity and Adventure, Discovery, Tours
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Overview of Cuba on a shoestring

From city to country to coast, this is the perfect taste of Cuba. Begin on the charming streets of Havana, where old-time American automobiles, richly-scented Cuban cigars and an eclectic tapestry of architectures evoke a colourful past. Between the small-village vibes of Vinales and the outstanding charisma of Trinidad, discover Cienfuegos and its heartbreaking blend of Caribbean and Parisian flavours. With plenty of time to swim, snorkel, cycle and hike, this adventure combines Cuba’s old-world allure – including a fascinating snapshot of Che Guevara – with some of its best and most scenic destinations for outdoor activities.

Trip Summary for Cuba on a shoestring

Start Location: Havana,   End Location: Havana

Countries Visited: Cuba, 
Meals Included: Breakfast: 7   Lunches: 0   Dinners: 0
Highlights:

    • Be swept away by the eclectic history of Cuba’s capital as you join a knowledgeable local guide on a half-day tour of Old Havana
    • Venture to the village of Vinales, where the small-town charms are many. Spend your time sipping rum in quaint bars with locals and exploring hidden caves in the mountains
    • Stop in at the mausoleum of Che Guevara for a fascinating insight into the rise and fall of the charismatic and highly celebrated Cuban revolutionary
    • With Parisian beauty and Caribbean pace, Cienfuegos lives up to its nickname ‘Pearl of the South’. Wander the idyllic malecon (seafront) and be dazzled by the audacious architecture of the Palacio de Valle
    • See why Trinidad is a favourite for many Intrepid adventurers. Wander the cobblestone streets alongside cowboys and farmers and clock the best-preserved colonial buildings in Cuba

 

Day 1 - Havana
Bienvenido a Cuba! 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.

 

Day 2 - Vinales
This morning your leader will take you on a walking tour of the Old Havana. This tour includes a visit to the cathedral, Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja, Central Park and other sites. Next you will head west on a private bus to Vinales (approximately 3 hours). This is a small and charming rural village, and probably the easiest place in Cuba to mingle with locals, who are very sociable and love nothing better than to drink rum and dance the night away. With only three bars in town, it’s hard to get lost here. The scenery around Vinales is some of the most picturesque in Cuba.

Day 3 - Vinales
You will have an included informal Spanish lesson when the group decides. Then enjoy some free time today in Vinales, which you'll soon see is home to extraordinary scenery that's some of Cuba's best. Soak up the slow, old-world pace of rural Cuba, as oxen plod gracefully along the streets. There are many optional outdoor activities available. You might like to cruise around the area on a bicycle, hike through the tobacco fields or to explore one of the America’s largest cave complexes up in the mountains. Your leader will have further recommendations.

Day 4 - Bay of Pigs / Playa larga
Today is a long travel day - Head back to Havana before continuing east to Playa Larga (approximately 8 hours). You will stop at the Bay of Pigs for a swim, and if there is time you can hire snorkel gear. Continue to Playa larga where you'll spend the night. 

Day 5 - Trinidad
Hit the road again today, firstly visiting the Giron Museum to learn about the Bay of Pigs Invasion – the battle between the US and the Cuban revolutionaries which resulted in the first defeat of a US-backed takeover in Latin America. Next stop is Cienfuegos, which some locals like to call 'The Pearl of the South'. You'll have time for an optional lunch or simply discover its beautiful colonial centre, with its wide Parisian-style boulevard and elegant colonnades. If there is time, pay a visit to the Palacio del Valle with the group. Once a modest home for a local trader, this palace is now Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy. The entire edifice drips with ornate carvings in Venetian alabaster. Then finally on to Trinidad (approximately 1 hour drive) is a standout destination for many visitors to Cuba, due in no small part to a friendly populace, old-fashioned feel and particularly well-preserved colonial buildings. The Santeria religion (a voodoo-like Afro-Cuban tradition) which is practiced here makes the town all the more intriguing. For an insight into the colourful post-revolutionary period, the Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra los Bandidos and the Casa de los Mártires de Trinidad are great to visit. Nearby is the sprawling Valle de los Ingenios, where sugar plantations stretch out as far as the eye can see.

Day 6 - Trinidad
Today is a free day in Trinidad. For some beachside fun and perhaps a little snorkelling, head down to Playa Ancon. Just be careful you don't stand on a sea urchin. Hiking and cycling are equally good options, and there are some excellent walking trails in the nearby Sierra del Escambray mountains. At some point while you're here, a great activity is to go to a folklore show at one of the town's numerous open-air venues. Cuba has a rich and varied music and dance tradition that draws roots from Spain, Africa and France, and this is your chance to experience it all first-hand, from the Mambo to the rumba.

Day 7 - Havana
On the way back to Havana you will pass by Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial. Che's remains were brought to rest here after they were found in a remote corner of Bolivia in 1997, where he was assassinated by the CIA-backed Bolivian army. There is an impressive bronze statue of Che bearing his rifle. Inside the museum, you can learn about his amazing life and see photos and exhibits such as his famous black beret. On reaching Havana you will return to your guesthouse, then enjoy some free time. Take the opportunity to hit the town for a final night of salsa.

Day 8 - Havana
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. Check-out time is 10am. You may be able to store your luggage at the guesthouse for an extra cost.

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