Delight in the rich kaleidoscope of countryside and city life aromas and flavours encompassed in this tour.
Starting the tour in old Havana with time to enjoy the old Colonial city centre, to feel and hear the rhythm of the changing face of Cuba.
Learn the secrets of Tobacco production and cigars, Revolution and the islands Colonial past. Travelling on to the southern coast, the old Spanish city of Trinidad never ceases to delight and enchant with its cobbled streets and back drop of the Sierra de Escambray mountains. Relax and swim in the turquoise waters of Cayo Iguana. A day into the Altiplano Topes de Collantes where you’ll enjoy a countryside hike to the Salto del Caburni waterfall and have opportunity to see and taste the “best coffee in the world” from bush to cup at the Casa del Cafe. Night life and music are a large part of daily entertainment and you can enjoy dancing at the Casa de la musica in the city centre beneath the stars in the open air, what could be more romantic!
From the south coast we head once more to the north passing through Ciego de Avila, our destination is the much less visited rural town of Moron, famous for is huge Bronze Cockerel which crows every day at 6am and 6pm. Cuba is famous for its old American cars and our driver will take us to visit “Patria” a sugar central museum decommissioned in 2000. The sugar process and a taste of local cocktails is a good start to a days discovering flora and fauna around the lagoons and cayos. If we are lucky you might even spot Cuba’s national bird the Tocororo. A lazy day on Cayo Guillermo with opportunities to dive and snorkel on the reef or simply relax on the white sands, this time you choose! Next stop is Camaguey one of the original seven settlements founded by Diego de Velázquez in 1514 and the third UNESCO World Heritage site we will visit on this tour! Camaguey’s Pirate past has shaped its design and it’s a fascinating and imaginative city full of surprises which continue to influence the many artists working here today! Bici taxis will help us tour this labyrinthine city centre. The holiday has flown by and its time to return to the hustle and bustle of the capital and say good bye over dinner in Habana Vieja sipping a Mojita or a Havana Club! All good things come to an end but you will leave hoping to return one day to this island lost in time.
Whether it’s your first time in Cuba or you are a frequent visitor you’ll enjoy this tour designed to deliver a larger picture of this beautiful island. The landscape, the people, the flora and fauna, the sea and coral reef, the traditional industries, the ways of life that have seen such dramatic changes from virgin island “discovered” by Columbus in 1492 to 20th century revolution and beyond. How to survive and enjoy it! It’s an opportunity hard to resist!
TOUR ITINERARY “MI CUBITA”
JOINING / ARRIVAL DAY
Cuba’s national tree, the Royal Palm, dots the landscape as you fly into Jose Marti International Airport on the outskirts of Havana City. Your tour leader or tour representative will be waiting to take you from here by taxi to your accommodation in Habana Vieja (Old Havana, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site) Once all your questions have been answered and information exchanged there will time to enjoy a Cuba Libre or a Mojito and relax beneath the stars in one of the restored Colonial Plazas of the old Spanish city. Music seeps out of the many bars and restaurants onto the streets and the romance of the old city will charm you. You have arrived in a place like no other!! Welcome to Havana, Cuba and to your encompass holiday, Mi Cubita!
DAY 1 – HAVANA
The first two days of your tour will be spent exploring this diverse city. Havana, La Habana in Spanish! The name alone conjures up a montage of images from pre Revolutionary days of Hemmingway to “Viva Fidel” and “Long Live Cuba Libre”, Rum, Cigars, Sugar, Coffee, Rumba, Salsa, old American cars and a memorable mixture of colourful characters. Activities including Hop on Hop off Bus tour, entry to Museum of the Revolution or Museo de Bella Artes (Modern Art Gallery) and Tour of Partagas Cigar Factory. You will have a walking tour of UNESCO World Heritage centre of old Havana and there will be many opportunities to visit artists’ workshops and handicraft markets.
For dinner you can choose to eat out or at home in your casa particular. Havana is a city which oozes music and rhythm. Night life options include music, dancing, cabaret, perhaps a concert or ballet at the national theatre…. ask your tour leader for advice!! You are never far from a bar offering at times, little else than Havana Club rum!!!
DAY 2 & 3 VINALES
This morning we will need to be up early and catch our bus heading east to the rural town of Vinales. Set among the tobacco plantations this area is a UNESCO world heritage “cultural landscape” and grows some of the best tobacco in the world. You will learn more about the agriculture during our afternoon’s Countryside walking tour. The landscape is unique in Cuba for its limestone haystack hills “magotes”. You can rent bicycles to explore on your own or visit the small but beautifully kept botanical garden. We’ll have a day tour to Cayo Jutias with lunch included. Music and dancing is available every night in the Casa de la Musica “Polo Montanez” for a few pesos. Musicians often set up in the plaza in front of the church or in small bars playing ballads and other local favourites.
Vinales has a growing selection of restaurants including a Vegetarian restaurant that also supplies meat dishes!You can organise dinner at your casa particular where your host will dish up her best or favourite dish or something typically Cubano.
DAY 4, 5 & 6 – TRINIDAD
It’s an early start this morning as we leave Havana Vieja and catch our bus to Trinidad There will be a lunch stop on the way to stretch our legs. The landscape is rural and mountainous as we arrive from the north with a clear view out onto the Caribbean coast. Trinidad is another UNESCO World Heritage site and the town is preserved in its colonial style with cobbled streets and mainly single storied buildings with tiled roofs. It’s an enchanting location in a sugar growing area of the island with views out to sea and the Escambrian Mountains rising behind. Trinidad is fast becoming a tourist magnet and combined with the new laws allowing Cubans self employment there are plenty of additional activities on offer. Cycle hire, riding excursions, Spanish schools, dance academies, percussion courses, are springing up between an array of restaurants and paladars. The city has a rural charm that’s hard to resist and we’ll be based here with access to a variety of excursions.
We’ll have a day relaxing and snorkelling on a tour to Cayo Iguana and another day exploring the Topes de Collantes national park, this is part of the Parque Antiplano in the Escambrian Mountains. It’s a day to come face to face with nature and includes a 3km walk to a waterfall Salto de Caburni, with a guide who will point out some of the native and introduced species of flora and fauna. Bring your swim suits you might get wet! We will make a stop at the Casa del Cafe which is also a coffee plantation and grows varieties of delicious coffee; you’ll see the whole process from coffee cherry to coffee cup mmmmm great taste too!
Night life in Trinidad is easy to find. There are nightly performances by local groups at the casa de la musica on the church steps and daily recitals of ballad style music at the casa de Trova. Ask your tour leader for advice about the cultural show, if you are a night owl the disco in “the cave” might be your destination, or you may just want to sip on a cocktail and star gaze!
DAY 7, 8 & 9 – MORON
This morning it’s another early start as we catch our bus to Ciego de Avila; from here we’ll take a taxi ride to our accommodation in the much less visited city of Moron. We arrive with plenty of time to explore on foot or take a ride in one of the many picturesque horse and carriages to Laguna de la Leche, (milk lagoon) so called due to its milky white colour!. Moron was named after its counterpart in Andalucía by the original Spanish settlers and they erected their mascot at the foot of the clock tower to guard the entrance to the city. The “Gallo” of Moron crows daily at 6am and 6pm and is well worth the short walk to hear its declaration!
The city is located between two lagoons, just inland from the northern coast of the island. The area is rich in bird life and we’ll go for a bird watching and nature tour in a stylish old American car. This will include Flamingos out on the Cayos and then on to the Leguna Redonda and its mangroves boat tour looking for native birds and other wild life.
Our first stop will be the village of Patria. Once a thriving sugar central supporting the whole area, but due to market forces the sugar industry has crumbled and when the refinery was closed down in 2000 it was converted into a museum. The impressive chimney is in place and lots of the machinery can still function. A guided tour through the sugar refining process and time to enjoy the display of old trains housed in the grounds makes a good start to the day..
Lunch is not included but great value “paquet menus” are available at our favourite typical Cuban rustic cuisine restaurant “Rancho Palma”
The population of Moron mainly work on Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo which the government is developing with “all inclusive tourist hotels” and we will have a day trip to relax and enjoy the beautiful beach of Cayo Guillermo the farthest of the Cayos. Playa Pilar was one of Ernest Hemmingway’s favourite beaches and you will see why. Diving on the reefs and snorkelling can be organised and needs to be booked a few days in advance, let your tour leader know and have your certification with you if you want to go for a dive!
Night life in Moron is low key and there are not many restaurants to choose from, your best option is eating at your casa of heading out in a taxi to a lake side restaurant.
DAY 10 & 11 – CAMAGUEY
Its a travel day today but not an early start, you can relax a little. We’ll take a Taxi to Hotel Ciego de Avila in Ciego de Avila from where we catch our bus ride to Camaguey. Your tour leader will look after your bags at the Hotel reception area and allow you time for to explore the city of Ciego de Avila on foot, have some lunch or take some photos before we hit the road again.
Our bus trip today is less than 2 hours.
Camaguey is another UNESCO World Heritage Sites included in this tour and thanks to this award has been much improved and repainted to preserve the colonial feel of the city centre. It’s one of the original seven settlements established in 1514 by the Spanish colonialists and has an intriguing pirate history that has shaped its street layouts. Our Bici taxi tour of Camaguey, will give a broader picture of the city’s past and we’ll visits the major post revolutionary landmarks as well as some of the contemporary artists’ studios where you can view or buy their work.
There will be time to relax and walk around, have another coffee or cocktail and watch the world go by.
Dinner can be in your casa or in town you choose and after dinner there is always music at the casa de musica or the casa de Trova…. if in doubt ask your tour leader for recommendations!
DAY 12 HAVANA
This morning it’s a lazy start for our return journey to Havana, so if you fancy a walk in the city centre before we catch the bus or a late breakfast there is plenty of time. It’s a bit of a long haul on the bus but there will be stops on the way for lunch and refreshments.
Once back in Old Havana we’ll have our last dinner out in town together and make plans for your free day tomorrow! Your tour leader will have lots of ideas to help you make the most of your time tomorrow plus make any additional arangements for your departure!
DAY 13 FREE DAY HAVANA!
Breakfast at leisure in your casa and enjoy your day as you like it!
DAY 14 – LA HAVANA, DEPARTURE DAY
You can breakfast at your casas at whatever time suits you and if you want help organising transport to the airport or extra accommodation in Cuba we will be delighted to help or advise!
Airport Tax 25CUC is now usually included in the cost of your flight.
You will need to keep 35CUC for your taxi to the Airport.
** Tour leader will be meeting direct flight Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick on day of arrival only, if you are arriving and need assistance on any other flight please let us know and we can advise on arrival procedures
Please read the destination dossier below carefully before arriving in Cuba!
ACCOMODATION CUBA – CASAS PARTICULARS
Private houses that have permission to rent out rooms to tourists a bit like a European Bed and Breakfast
Casas are government registered homes that can rent out a limited number of rooms to tourists. You will have a room and en suite or private bathroom.
You must show passport and Cuban visitors card and sign a registration document at each casa.
These homes are a most delightful way to stay in Cuba!
You will get to know the families and eat some home cooking and its a direct way to help people who would otherwise be surviving on a average Cuban salary of $40US per month.
These houses are of a above average quality as they have to meet certain criteria to be registered.
The government takes a huge percentage of the price of the rooms ( about 60%,) but this still gives the family money with which they can provide the extras you will see in their kitchens and furnishings in their homes.
Casas can earn a little extra money (un taxed by the government) by offering to provide meals, drinks and laundry. Your breakfast will be included in your tour price and will be served in your casas.
Eating at your casa is usually the best option for good food and good value and We recommend you allow 10 to 12cuc per day for dinner at the casas which is an average cost and depends on what you eat… ie if you want to eat lobster or steak it will be more expensive than if you eat chicken or pork. The ladies of the casas will discuss with you on a daily basis your options for dinner.
Casas operate on two people sharing a room. If you would like to have your own room please enquire about costs of a single supplement!
For more information regarding prices and bookings please use the comments form below or go directly to the Contact Us page and will be more than happy to answer any questions or query’s you may have.