Isolation has its advantages and perhaps no other place on earth provides as much substance to this idea as does Cuba. Here, a half century of relative solitude from the impetuous advancement of modernity and commercialism has left on this island nation places of pristine beauty. The guardianship of land and sea for future generations is valued in a place where the incessant buzzing of ephemeral creature comforts has been absent. Come see the Caribbean’s largest protected wetlands at Cienega de Zapata, observe the isolated habitats of the magotes in the Viñales valley, and discover a large scale ranch where endangered crocodiles are protected. In Cuba, little is taken for granted, be it the first breath of morning, the call of a Tocororo or a kind smile.
Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.
Cuba’s climate is mild and subtropical. Temperatures range between 65 degrees and 95 degrees, making it a wonderful destination to visit particularly in the winter. The rainy season is May to October, but it does not rain every day or all day, although there can be torrential rain at times. The dry season is November through April.
Arrive in Miami today and meet with the rest of the group at your hotel. Get to know your fellow travelers tonight over dinner, and get any last-minute instructions and travel documents on your upcoming adventure to Cuba. MIAMI AIRPORT MARRIOTT HOTEL. (D)
Fly to Havana and begin your discovery of Cuba as you drive to Viñales, a lush valley in the Pinar del Rio province, beset with limestone karsts that rise above small farms that organically produced tobacco, coffee and a plethora of produce. Called magotes, the karsts are veritable islands where unique ecosystems have developed over time. Have lunch at El Palenque de los Cimarrones, an idiosyncratic establishment that is equal parts eatery, slave museum and disco. Explore caves that provided shelter to escaped slaves at Cueva de San Miguel, then mingle with locals at a Viñales handicraft market. Stay at a small guesthouse run by locals and enjoy warm hospitality and home-cooked meals. CASA PARTICULARES. (L,D)
Breakfast is a treat at Benito’s Tobacco farm where you will learn about the crop for which Cuba is renowned and follow the manual production process from seed to the final creation of the luxuriant hand rolled cigars. Saddle up for an invigorating valley tour. Lunch at the Mural de la Historia, a sweeping pictorial history of the world before the advent of human beings. Glide across an underground lake in Cueva del Indio, part of Latin America’s largest cave network. Step off the boat and into the Jardin de Caridad then visit with an organic farmer. End your day with dinner and a sunset overlooking the Valle de Silencio. CASA PARTICULARES. (B,L,D)
Today the Orchid Garden at Sierra del Rosario awaits you, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve which features over 700 orchid species. Move on to Las Terrazas National Park and be greeted by a chorus of birdsong. Return to Havana and stop off at Revolution Square, the political and cultural center of Havana, for spectacular views from the top of the 375-foot Jose Marti memorial tower. Take a snapshot in front of the Che Guevara mural before checking into your elegant Hotel, Havana’s best. HOTEL SARATOGA (B,L,D)
This morning explore Havana’s old quarter, Havana Vieja, declared a UNESCO Heritage of Mankind Site in 1982, known for some of the finest examples of Spanish colonial architecture in Latin America. See the Capitolio, Obispo Street, and the Cathedral Square and gain insight into how preservation occurs here with limited resources. Continue to the Museum of Natural History, then visit the unique Cuban National Zoo for a safari experience where many animals live in habitats that mimic their native environment. HOTEL SARATOGA (B,L,D)
Tour the Botanical Gardens of Havana with its considerable collection of indigenous palms and tropical plants, with a naturalist and garden staff for insight on conservation efforts focused on important native species. Take a literary turn as you travel to the working class town of San Francisco de Paula where Earnest Hemingway made a home for himself in a small farm house he called Finca Vigia, now a museum dedicated to the renowned author. Enter the surreal world of Fusterlandandia, a neighborhood covered in the tile work of the Gaudi-inspired artist, José Rodriguez Fuster. HOTEL SARATOGA (B,L,D)
Leave Havana and drive to the Criadero de Crocodilos, a crocodile farm dedicated to the preservation and study of Cuba’s largest reptile and a sanctuary for 16 other threatened reptilian species. Take a walk at Cienega de Zapata Natural Reserve, the largest swamp in the Caribbean area which is on the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve list, to experience one of the most important ecosystems in Cuba. Enjoy a typical Cuban lunch at Playa Largo in the Bay of Pigs at Enrique’s paladar and motor your way to Cienfuegos, in the Cuban highlands, known for its many domed buildings. HOTEL JAGUA (B,L,D)
Explore El Cubano Park in the Escambray Mountain range on a hike and visit a local farmer. Continue on to Trinidad and visit Casa del Alfarero, where Chichi Santander and his family have been making pottery of national renown for generations. Later on take a walk at Trinidad’s Historical Center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, for a feast of 18th and 19th Century architecture around Plaza Mayor and shop at the small artist owned galleries that help give the town its charm. HOTEL JAGUA (B,L,D)
Discover one of the largest botanical gardens in Cuba, home to over 2000 species of plants. Next, the geographic heart of Cuba awaits you in the city of Santa Clara, fixed in Cuban memory as the location of the Battle of Santa Clara in 1958 which precipitated the end of the Batista regime. Stop at the Plaza de la Revolucion, the final resting place of Che Guevara, then visit a center for venerable Cubans and learn how to dance the Danzon. End your day further north for an island getaway on Cayo Santa Maria. HOTEL IBEROSTAR ENSENACHOS. (B,L,D)
Start your day with an exploratory hike on Ensenachos’ nature trail to discover iguanas, caves and sandy beaches, then drive to the fishing town of Caibarién and tour an old sugar mill to learn about how the sugar industry has changed over the last 50 years. Board a steam train and track your way to Remedios learning about the importance of the rail system during the height of the sugar boom. Return to your island home in the evening and enjoy a farewell dinner. HOTEL IBEROSTAR ENSENACHOS. (B,L,D)
Enriched with the beauty and soul of Cuba and its people, return to Santa Clara for your flight back to Miami. (B)
Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.
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