Western Cuba

Cuba,

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12 people
7 days
Code: QUSL
Activity and Adventure, Discovery, Tours
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Overview of Western Cuba

The largest island in the Caribbean is widely known for its abundance of classic cars, cigars and rum, but there is so much more to see when you scratch beneath the surface and venture into the countryside. Begin and end your Cuban tour in the capital Havana and – in the days in between – visit farms and waterfalls in Soroa and Las Terrazas. Learn salsa (and then try out your new skills) in the picturesque town of Vinales and spend some serious beach time relaxing and swimming at Cayo Jutias. The tumbledown 1950s streets of the capital certainly also need a look in, so spend an evening in Havana soaking up the culture, tastes, sights and sounds of this beautiful city. You’ll gain a huge appreciation for Cuba, a land where time has long slowed its pace.

Trip Summary for Western Cuba

Start Location: Havana,   End Location: Havana

Countries Visited: Cuba, 
Meals Included: Breakfast: 6   Lunches: 1   Dinners: 0
Highlights:

    • Life in Cuba’s countryside evokes a bygone time. Stroll along rural dirt roads and watch as tractors, vintage cars and horse-drawn carriages roll by
    • Fading colonial charm, rich history, sultry nightlife – it’s easy to see why Ernest Hemingway spent so much time in dreamy Havana. See the difference between city and country life on a guided orientation tour of the old capital
    • The lush Soroa valley is known as the ‘Rainbow of Cuba’. Explore an orchid garden, learn the medicinal secrets of wild Cuban herbs on a farm, then venture to a gorgeous nearby eco-village en route to Vinales
    • Make like Castro and roll a cigar with a tobacco farmer in Pinar del Rio Province. The newly harvested tobacco will be used to produce some of the most prestigious and expensive cigars in the world

 

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, perhaps take a stroll along the Malecon or line up with the locals for a famous Coppelia ice-cream.

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 - Soroa
Today head to Callejon de Hamel, an alley located in Havana's working class Cayo Hueso quarter. Adorned with the evocative Santeria murals of local artist Salvador Gonzalez, this lively street is Havana's centre of Afro-Cuban culture. Every Sunday afternoon it plays host to famous Afro-Cuban rumbas. 
Next, head to the neighbourhood of Jaimanitas in Havana's west, also known as Fusterlandia. The artist Jose Fuster has brightened up the area by rebuilding and decorating over 80 houses (including his own) with ornate murals and domes. The project includes a park with giant chess boards and an Artists’ Wall, which has been compared to Antonio Gaudi's mosaic wall in Barcelona. Unfortunately there isn't time to enter Fuster's house but the area is still well worth a visit. 

Continue on to the tiny mountain resort of Soroa in the heavily forested Sierra del Rosario. You'll have time to get some lunch before enjoying a tour of an orchid garden, which boasts 700 species of orchid. You'll also have the option to take a stiff one-kilometre climb up a mountain path to a lookout, and a short hike to a nearby waterfall.

Day 3 - Vinales
In the morning, stop in at a Finca de Plantas Medicinales (A Herb Farm) to learn about local herbs and their medicinal properties. Because of international sanctions against Cuba, the island nation has had to find ways to be self-sufficient. One of these is to develop its own medicines, many of which are herbal. You'll see how herbs are grown, dried and crushed before being sent to a factory to be processed into medicines. You will also pay a visit to the nearby ecological community of Las Terrazas. 
Then, drive the short distance to the small town of Vinales in Pinar del Rio Province. Surrounded by limestone cliffs, the scenery around Vinales is some of the most picturesque in Cuba. On arrival, your leader will take you on a short orientation walk of the town. Afterwards, there are plenty of optional activities available to fill your afternoon. Perhaps take a hike through the surrounding tobacco fields or hire a bike to explore the region. You could even visit a bodega in town, where Cuban families collect their government-appointed rations. Vinales is a great place to mix with the locals, who love nothing better than to drink rum and dance the night away. There are only 3 bars in town so it's hard to get lost!

Day 4 - Vinales
This morning your leader and a local guide will take you on a half-day walking tour. Visit a local farm where you'll have the opportunity to experience the 'guajiro's' way of life. Depending on the season, while at the farm you can choose to relax or help out with daily farm activities, such as toasting and grinding coffee or harvesting yuca, corn or tobacco. This is also your opportunity to marvel at the speed and skill of the locals cigar rolling technique. 
In the evening, enjoy an informal salsa lesson. We recommend you eat dinner at a local eco-farm – the leader will assist with this if it interests you. Afterwards, perhaps practice your new moves to some live music on some of the dance floors in town.

Day 5 - Vinales / Cayo Jutias / Vinales
This morning make an early start. Leave the mainland and cross the water over a short causeway to Cayo Jutias, a tiny mangrove-covered key situated approximately 65 kilometres northwest of Vinales. Your destination is Pinar del Rio's most 'undiscovered' beach, a long stretch of sand at the key's northern tip. Paddle about in the water or soak up the sun on the sandy shore.

Day 6 - Havana
Today travel back to Havana by minivan. You will visit Revolution Square, an important area where Cubans gather for large-scale political rallies. Spend your last afternoon of the trip enjoying a short tour around Old Havana. This well-preserved part of the city was designated a World Heritage Site in 1982. The streets are lined with colonial architecture, 16th-century fortresses and many beautiful churches. In the evening, head out on the town with your new travel friends. Havana's nightlife is varied and lively. Put your new salsa skills into practice at its many bars and clubs or perhaps check out a cabaret show.

Day 7 - Havana
There are no activities planned for today, and you are able to depart at any time. Check-out from the guesthouse is at 10 am.

Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities

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