Upon your arrival in Havana you will be met by your professional, English speaking tour director to embark on your hands-on exploration of Cuba focused on experiencing this legendary cigar producing land and its people. Take-in the tropical views and classic American cars all around as you stop in Revolution Square to see the immense images of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos that adorn the surrounding edifices. Your people-to-people interactions begin right away with a lunch in old Havana at a privately-owned restaurant serving homemade farm-to-table Cuban dishes called a “paladar.” After lunch, head to your hotel for check-in and enjoy some time to settle into your room before meeting for a welcome drink with appetizers and a program briefing with your group. Later you have the unique opportunity to visit Hostal Conde de Villanueva on an optional excursion. Here you can enjoy an exquisite Cuban cigar in one of the property’s special smoking rooms named after famed tobacco plantations and decorated with cigar related art as its main motif. (L,D)
After breakfast at your hotel, we will depart to the province of Pinar del Rio and the picturesque Viñales Valley abundant with lush greenery, mountains, tobacco fields, and palm trees. Here we will visit the acclaimed Finca Wilfredo, a working tobacco plantation where you will see up-close the entire tobacco cultivating process including the drying of the tobacco leaves that are used to make some of the world’s best Cuban cigars. After a walking tour of the tobacco farm, enjoy time with the tobacco plantation’s workers and learn the old world way of hand rolling a cigar before trying some of their homegrown cigars and sharing a meal together. After lunch, we return to Havana and head to the Bocoy rum factory for a private tasting experience of Cuban rum. This evening a delicious Cuban meal awaits you at a local paladar then you have time on your own to discover Havana’s lively nightlife and irresistible music at virtually every turn. (B,L,D)
Your ultimate Cuban cigar people-to-people program continues today with visits to Partagás cigar factory built in 1845, where they make the Partagás brand, of course, along with Bolivar, La Gloria Cubana, Ramón Allones and Quai D’orsay cigars as the mother factory for those brands; and to La Corona cigar factory where such cigar brands as Hoyo de Monterrey, Punch, Flor de Cano, San Cristóbal de la Habana, and Por Larrañaga cigar brands are rolled. Next along the day’s adventures you will head to Cojimar, a small fishing town in East Havana known as a favorite spot by Ernest Hemmingway and place where he docked his boat, Pilar. In Cojimar, the paladar Café Ajiaco awaits where you will enjoy a workshop on “Cigar and Wine Pairing” as well as a flavorful lunch in this celebrated private eatery. This evening, the excitement continues with an unforgettable dinner at Café Habana and Buena Vista Social Club performance that is sure to get your hips moving to some lively Cuban salsa rhythms. (B,L,D)
After breakfast depart for old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discover the area's four main plazas as you stroll along its cobblestone streets hearing insightful facts from an area expert in old Havana’s history and architecture. Learn about the challenges of renovating the city’s exquisite historic buildings, and see some of the area’s elegant restorations. Next it’s on to the Havana Club rum museum where the entire rum making process unfolds before your eyes – from the place where the barrels are made and the presses to the sugar depot, the fermentation and filtration areas, the aging process, and finally blending and bottling. Here you can partake in a rum-tasting experience and take-in the live music performed by a traditional Cuban trio that sets a perfect ambiance for enjoyment. After sipping on Cuba’s national drink, an inspired and flavorful lunch awaits at a local paladar. Later a visit to the Italianstyle mansion, Casa de la Amistad or “House of friendship,” is a picture-perfect setting for a Cigar rolling Workshop with live Cuban music playing in the back-drop. The landmark Hotel Nacional welcomes you for drinks in the “Bar de la fama,” frequented over its time-honored history by world-famous celebrities from Winston Churchill and frank Sinatra to John Wayne and countless others. Moments to cherish continue tonight with a farewell dinner at a local paladar. (B,L,D)
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your return flight to the USA with memories to share and cigars to enjoy as you reminisce about your dream experience in Cuba, home of the world’s best cigars ! (B)