Lose yourself in the rhythm of vivacious Havana before setting out to explore Cuba's stunning coastline and weathered historical villages. Discover the unique combination of Spanish and Caribbean influences that shaped this country on a visit to rambunctious Santiago de Cuba. Learn whether you do, in fact, have two left feet in a salsa class and then brush up on your Spanish under the tutelage of your learned leader. Wander through the purposefully labyrinthine streets of Camaguey or marvel at the views from atop Trinidad's northern ranges. Whether you want to dance up a storm at one of Cuba's plentiful nightclubs or simply lie on its idyliic beaches, this emerging Caribbean hotspot has something for everyone.
Travel Dates: From 08/03/2017 to 03/01/2019
Duration: 9 days
- Old-world charm, rich history, exciting nightlife - evocative Havana is like nowhere else on Earth
- See the difference between city and coastal life on a guided walking tour of the old capital
Take inspiration from the locals and mix things up with a bicycle-taxi tour of the colonial city of Camaguey
Enjoy over two free days in Trinidad
- Practice your Spanish in a language class, loll about on an unspoilt Caribbean beach or peddle through sugar plantations on a charmingly rickety bicycle
There's a lot more to the life of Che Guevara than what you'll learn from watching 'The Motorcycle Diaries'
- Pay your respects to the famous revolutionary during an included visit to his mausoleum
After an informal salsa lesson, you'll be ready to hit the dance floor with the locals
- With its vibrant music scene and Afro-Cuban roots, sultry Santiago de Cuba is a great place to practice your moves
Breakfasts Included: 8
Lunches Included: 1
Standard guesthouse (8 nights)
Age: min 15
Group Size: 1 - 12
Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
Havana - Informal Spanish Lesson
Santiago de Cuba - half day city tour
Bayamo - Orientation Walk
Camaguey - Bicycle taxi city tour
Trinidad - Orientation walk
Trinidad - Santeria Priest Visit
Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
Day 1: Havana
Bienvenido a Cuba! Havana is one of the most spirited, rhythmic cities in the Americas. Experience a unique mix of faded Spanish architecture, vintage American automobiles and streets that are bursting with Afro-Hispanic beats of rumba. 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: Havana
Put on some walking shoes and take part in a tour of Old Havana, a perfect first taste of the city. Your local guide will show you the cathedral, Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Central Park. After the tour you will have an casual Spanish lesson to help with blend in with the locals. Then, enjoy your free afternoon exploring Havana further.
Day 3: Santiago de Cuba
Today you'll take a flight to Santiago de Cuba (approximately 2 hours). Santiago is the cradle of the revolution and home of the traditional son music, a mix of Spanish guitar and African percussion. With a strong Afro-Cuban heritage it's no surprise that Santiago has a vibrant music scene that will entice the shyest, most left-footed dancer out to learn some salsa moves. The city is also well known for its vibrant and energetic Carnaval celebrations, and its lively Festival of Caribbean Culture. Today your leader will take you on a three-hour city tour of Santiago. You'll visit El Morro Castle, Ifigenia cemetery and the Moncada barracks. For nearly a century, the city was the island's seat of power and it holds the title of ‘Hero City of the Republic of Cuba’ for its leading role in significant events during the Revolution. The people of Santiago were the first to rise up in arms against government troops in 1956, and it was in Santiago on January 1st 1959, that Fidel Castro declared the triumph of the Revolution in a broadcast message to the country and the world. Santiago's half million residents are proud of their cultural traditions, so you'll find many museums and cultural clubs around the city.
Day 4: Santiago de Cuba
Enjoy a free day to soak up the best that Santiago has to offer – explore the city's incredible contributions to music and literature at one of its many museums, or pop in at Barrita de Ron Havana Club to sample some authentic local rum.
Day 5: Camaguey
Today head east along the Carretera Central to Camaguey. Today is the longest travel day of the trip which, depending on how many stops are made, usually takes six to seven hours.You will get a chance to stroll around the Bayamo to break it up. If there is time on arrival into Camaguey, you will be shown around the city by bicycle taxi, otherwise you'll do this tomorrow morning. Despite its size, Cuba's third largest city has managed to retain much of its colonial heritage, and exploring the city's winding streets is half the fun. The city was planned in a deliberately irregular and confusing pattern hoping to disorient any would-be assailants. As you walk through the city you may still see tinajones, large clay pots used for collecting water. On your explorations, stop by the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad with its baroque frescoes. Camaguey is also home of the Ballet de Camaguey, the second most important dance company in Cuba.
Day 6: Trinidad
Today we drive approximately six hours to Trinidad. Get accustomed to the slow pace of island living on an orientation walk. For most visitors to Cuba, the World Heritage site of Trinidad is their standout favourite destination. No other colonial city in Cuba is so well preserved, and the local residents are extremely friendly and festive. The town rose to prominence during the sugar boom and the wealth generated by the industry remains visible in the town's once grand mansions, colourful public buildings, wrought iron grill-work and cobble-stoned streets. Trinidad is also steeped in religion, such as Santeria, which is one of the Afro-Cuban religions (related to voodoo). In the afternoon you'll pay a visit to a Santeria priest and learn more about this fascinating religion.
Day 7: Trinidad
Enjoy a free day to take at your leisure. Go easy with a luxurious sleep in or travel south to the postcard-perfect beaches of Playa Ancón, where clear blue waters meet bright white sands. Feeling restless? Get a workout with a hike through Trinidad's northern mountains, the Sierra del Escambray.
Day 8: Havana
Leave behind the pictureqesue beaches and mountains of Trinidad and return to Havana. On the way, stop over in Santa Clara, one of the first major cities to be liberated by Castro's army in December 1958. Today a number of monuments commemorate this important period of Cuba's history, including the mausoleum of the legendary Che Guevara, where you'll stop for a visit. Perhaps celebrate the last night of the tour with a show at one of Havana's famous cabaret clubs such as Tropicana. Or show off your moves at one of the many salsa clubs.
Day 9: Havana
Today is departure day. There are no activities planned for today, check-out time from the guesthouse is by 10am. If you plan to stay a little longer, perhaps visit the Museo de la Revolution to learn more about Cuba's fascinating history or take the time to appreciate the city's diverse architecture.
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