Summary : Experience Cuba's great cities as well as its lush countryside on this people-to-people program, featuring luxury accommodations in Havana and authentic firsthand encounters with locals from all walks of life, accompanied by an expert Cuban guide. Immerse yourself in Cuban culture, exploring its architecture, agriculture, arts and dining during intimate experiences with locals. Try your hand at making traditional tinajones (earthenware pots) at Casanova Pottery Studio in Camaguey. Visit the fishing village and home of Nobel-Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway, where he wrote two highly acclaimed novels. See a firsthand demonstration of the cigar rolling process at a working cigar factory. Play a lively game of dominoes, one of Cuba's most popular pastimes and enjoy lunch with the players. Ride in a gloriously restored "Yank tank" along Havana's famed Malecón on this trip of a lifetime!
Activities : Culture
Arrive at Ignacio Agramonte International Airport where you complete immigration and customs formalities and transfer to your hotel. Meet your Program Director and fellow guests before enjoying an exciting flamenco performance, followed with welcome dinner at a local paladar (family-run restaurant), a lively Cuban establishment.
This morning, travel to the outskirts of the city to visit the Jose White Conservatory, a renowned historic music school. Then return to town for an excursion by bicitaxi (pedicab or rickshaw), navigating the twisting lanes to Plaza San Juan de Dios. Here, stop at an artist’s studio to admire and discuss the work of the local artisans. Then, learn about the significance of General Ignacio Agramonte Revolution Square and its historical importance to the city. After lunch, meet with expert potters at Casanova Pottery Studio, home of the prominent local artist Carlos Alberto Casanova. See how the region’s fabled tinajones (earthenware pots) are thrown and discover the skills required to create these beautiful pieces before you have the opportunity to learn to spin the pottery wheel yourself. Afterwards, attend a private rehearsal of an aspiring student dance company with the opportunity to interact with the young performers.
Meals: B, L, D
Travel through the colorful Cuban countryside as you make your way from Camaguey to Remedios, arriving in time for lunch in the historic center of this colonial architectural gem. Remedios was founded in 1513 and is renowned for hosting Las Parrandas, a lively series of street parties and religious carnivals that take place throughout the holiday season. This afternoon, visit the Parrandas Museum workshop and warehouses where elaborate the floats are made (when available).
The following morning, enjoy the opportunity to visit with parishioners at the local Catholic Church, "Iglesia Mayor" of San Juan Bautista. Afterwards, tour the nearby Camajuani Cigar Factory, where you delve deeper into the history of Cuba's tobacco industry and observe as workers demonstrate the cigar rolling process. After lunch, visit the coastal town of Caibarién and a print shop with equipment from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Watch as printed materials are still produced on machinery from centuries past. You also visit Agroindustry Azucarero, a small museum which focuses on slave culture and its influence on the sugar industry. See examples of steam locomotives that transported sugar cane to nearby sugar mills. Return to Remedios in time for dinner at a family paladar.
Meals: B, L, D
After breakfast, drive to Trinidad, a 19th-century colonial gem frozen in time and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk through the cobblestone streets and elegant tiled plaza, then shop in the marketplace filled with hand-sewn table cloths, colorful papier and local handicrafts. Later, meet a follower of the Santeria religion, learning how this Afro-Cuban religion lives in harmony with Catholicism in Cuban culture. Enjoy dinner this evening in a popular local paladar.
Meals: B, L, D
This morning, depart for Havana, stopping in Cojimar en route. This is the fishing village where Nobel-Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his most influential work. Join the local fishermen for lunch, then visit Hemingway’s home Finca La Vigia (“lookout house”), where he penned both The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls. As you look through the windows and open doors of this remarkably preserved home, imagine the author’s life during the more than 20 years he lived there. Arrive late afternoon in Havana and your new luxury hotel, located in the heart of Havana, with panoramic city views. Enjoy dinner tonight at a Havana paladar.
Meals: B, L, D
Begin the day with a walk through the historic streets of Habana Vieja (Old Havana) with a local architect, discussing the challenges and successes of the city’s reconstruction projects, while absorbing the vibrant architecture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy time for lunch on your own, followed with a visit of the Museo de Bellas Artes and see firsthand how Cuba’s turbulent history is reflected in every work of art. After time for lunch on your own, stop at the studio of a contemporary Cuban painter or sculptor who speaks to you about his work, art education in Cuba and the key role the arts play in everyday life. Dinner tonight is at Paladar San Cristobal, where President Obama dined during his visit to Havana.
Meals: B, D
This morning will begin with a stop at Revolution Square, the political center of the city, site of many historic rallies have taken place. Afterward, visit the Proyecto Kcho Studio, a nonprofit cultural space for the community created by renowned artist Leiva Machado that includes a library, theater, two galleries and an experimental graphic workshop. Drive to Club Melen, a private restaurant located in the Miramar section of Havana, where you have lunch with local dominoes players before challenging them to a game. This evening, relax at the hotel or explore one of the city’s interesting variety of restaurants.
Meals: B, L
Begin the day with a visit to the Arte Corte project. Gilberto “Papito” Valladares was a local barber who wanted to give back to the community. His legacy, Arte Corte (Art of the Haircut) project, is transforming the neighborhood. Explore the unique barber-themed artistic play area, Barbeparque, located near the Museum of the Revolution. Later, after lunch on your own, attend a private professional dance rehearsal and learn about the remarkable art of Cuban dance, an eclectic fusion of styles from the Americas, Spain and Africa. Early this evening, take a drive in a photogenic “Yank tank” (vintage car) along the Malecón to visit the Morro-Cabana fortress, an 18th-century hilltop complex at the entrance to the Bay of Havana, offering panoramic views of the city. Tonight your farewell dinner is at one of Havana’s premier paladars.
Meals: B, D
Transfer to the airport, where you have access to the VIP Lounge before departure. Board your international flight home.
Cuba remains a developing country, and guests traveling here should adjust their expectations accordingly. Delays commonly occur, and flexibility and patience on the part of visitors is a must. While every effort will be made to operate the program as scheduled, all activities are subject to change without notice. In the event that an individual or location becomes unavailable, a comparable activity will be substituted.
Private departures are offered for groups of two or more travelers. Please contact your Expedition Specialist to discuss pricing, availability, and itinerary details for this exclusive option.
Medical insurance is required for all travelers from the U.S. to Cuba in case of emergency and is included in the cost of your air ticket. Should you encounter any medical emergency during the course of the program, local representatives will be on hand to assist; however, you will need to show your return air ticket and passport in order to receive treatment.
Accommodations, meals and fully guided activities and meetings/exchanges (including park and entrance fees) as noted in the itinerary (please note activities are subject to change without notice due to unforeseen circumstances); airport transfers to the hotel, regardless of day of arrival; services of Program Director and within Cuba, a resident, English-speaking guide; coffee/tea/soft drinks/water at included meals; local wine and beer at welcome and farewell dinners; local bottled water during sightseeing; porterage of two (2) pieces of baggage; complimentary Internet access (where available; service levels are not guaranteed); hotel taxes and service charges; and gratuities throughout, except to the Program Director. Subject to change without notice.
Any airfare; meals not menitoned in the itinerary; additional expenses incurred due to a change, delay or cancellation of any flight; excess baggage charges; travel insurance; passport and visa fees; customary end-of-tour gratuities are not included for the Program Director; meals, beverages and sightseeing not mentioned as included; personal expenses such as communication charges and laundry; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © A&K Image Library