Welcome to Cuba! Upon arrival in Camagüey your bilingual local guide will meet you and from here, you begin your 6 night Cuba journey! Depart for your hotel in the city and be assisted with check in. The adventure begins right away with artist Martha Jimenez welcoming you into her workshop and art gallery where you will find many examples of her fine sculptures, ceramics, and paintings. Listen to her explain the meanings and significances behind her work as you admire her pieces. Dinner tonight will be at a typical “paladar,” or privately-owned restaurant, to inaugurate your first night in Cuba. (D)
Have a nice breakfast at the hotel, then set out on the town. Your first activity will be to see Camagüey the way that many locals do: by bicitaxi. Your driver will manually cycle you to some of the best highlights of the city such as the main plazas (Plaza del Gallo, Plaza de los Trabajadores, Plaza Ignacio Agramonte, and Plaza San Juan de Dios) and unique streets. Then, experience a rehearsal by the world-renowned Camagüey Ballet Company and afterwards have the chance to meet with the dancers and see how they create their own shoes and costumes. Savor lunch at a local paladar, then depart for the house of the artist Cassanova which is outside of the city. Here you will learn how Camagüey’s most famous visual icons are made—the “tinajon.” Tinajones are large red pots often found outside of homes, used back in the day to store water. You may even be able to sit at the wheel and create your own! Return to the hotel, and enjoy dinner on your own. (B,L)
Power up with a full breakfast at your hotel, then depart for the city of Sancti Spiritus. Here you will visit the gallery of talented artist Jorge Antonio Gonzalez Perez. Follow this interaction with lunch at a local paladar, then continue on to the important city of Santa Clara. Here you will find a famous Revolution Square which features 14 palm trees to symbolize Che’s birthday (June 14, 1928) and can hold up to 80,000 people for political and cultural events. Nearby is the Mausoleum of Che Guevara located on a hill in a remote area outside of Santa Clara. The main feature is a larger-than-life statue of Che situated in this, the city where the last battle of the Cuban Revolution was fought. Inside, is a museum about his life and his final resting place; while he passed away in battle in Bolivia his remains were ultimately found and shipped back to Cuba. Next, head to your hotel for check-in. Dinner will be on your own tonight. (B,L)
After breakfast at your hotel, embark on a scenic three hour drive to the town of Trinidad, a colonial town locked in time. On the way, visit the fertile Sugar Mills Valley from which the region once earned its riches and made people very prosperous. Passing green farms and pastures, arrive at the Manaca-Iznaga Tower which offers a stunning bird’s eye view of the region from the top. Have lunch at a local paladar in the center of Trinidad. Afterwards, you will want to walk off your meal on a city tour of Trinidad’s historical center with its cobblestone streets, people atop horses and buggies, and music in the air. Dip into the different galleries, shops, workshops, bars, and restaurants with your guide who will share a unique story about each place visited. The Trinidad history museum, also called Palacio Cantero, displays a collection of objects from the 18th and 19th centuries, recreating the ambiance of those eras. There is even an area with a timeline of the town history that shows the heydays of sugar production. Take some time to explore the town on your own and interact with community members. Try seeking some of the famous local crochet work for which Trinidad is famous! Return to the hotel at the end of the day and have dinner on your own tonight. (B,L)
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel, then head out on your drive to Havana. Time permitting, stop at Morro Castle, considered one of the oldest stone forts in the Americas and which offers an unparalleled bird’s eye panoramic view of Old Havana and Havana Harbor. Have lunch at a local paladar. The afternoon will be a busy time on Paseo del Prado which is a promenade leading into the heart of Old Havana which is great for people-watching and where you will see a density of vintage American cars, Cubans young and old spending time together, and a mixture of colonial and modern architecture. Check in at your hotel, and then have dinner as a group at a local paladar. (B,L,D)
Early in the morning, have a hearty breakfast at the hotel before setting out on a full day of sightseeing. Your local guide and driver will take you deep into Old Havana which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. Here you will enjoy an insightful walking tour showcasing the restoration and preservation process of its most elaborate buildings, along with old ties and new hopes around every corner as you explore Plaza Vieja, Plaza de Armas, Plaza de San Francisco, and Plaza de la Catedral. Pass by the community project “Jovenes Emprendedores” which sponsors the growth and development of young entrepreneurs. Go for lunch at a nearby paladar, then drive off to Finca Vigia, also known as the old Ernest Hemingway house. Here is where the famed author of “A Farewell to Arms” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” spent 20 years when living in Havana beginning in mid-1939. At this living museum you can peer in to see items just as Hemingway left them, including more than 8,000 books, personal relics, and collections; his precious boat Pilar and the legendary swimming pool where he hosted some of the biggest cultural icons of the times. Drive back to the Old Town and visit the San Jose Craft Market, an expansive warehouse transformed into a bazaar with over 100 privately-owned artisan and handicraft stalls – a fantastic place to purchase souvenirs. Take time to converse with the local entrepreneurs to learn about this burgeoning sector of private enterprise. Return to the hotel. Tonight enjoy a special farewell dinner at a local paladar together as a group to reminisce about the last few days. (B,L,D)
Have breakfast at the hotel, then at a convenient time, your guide and driver will take you by bus to the Havana airport for your international flight home. Be assisted with check in, then have a short flight back to the USA. Thank you for exploring Cuba with us! (B)
Tour includes 14 meals: Breakfast daily, 5 lunches and 3 dinners.