Summary : Offering a fascinating and unforgettable opportunity to interact with the Cuban people on a deep level—making you a true ambassador and not a “tourist.” Complete Cuba surveys all of Cuba’s cultural “must sees” including Trinidad, Bay of Pigs, Vinales and, of course, Havana. Your itinerary offers a full schedule of engaging and immersive experiences focused on cultural exchange and education. But what really sets this Cuba itinerary apart is its emphasis on engaging with Cuban naturalists, birders, biologists and conservation groups as you learn about the transformative power that real, honest conversation can have in the lives of ordinary people.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking
Early Booking Discount:
Book 9 months or more in advance and save $250.
$5,198 to $5,398
Arrive in Miami and make your way to your included hotel.
Fly independently to Havana, Cuba, and transfer to your hotel for the evening.
Travel to Trinidad, an architectural jewel proclaimed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Red tiled roofs atop pastel stucco structures line the cobbled streets. This port city reflects its 16th century past and founding by Conquistadors. Eighteenth century smugglers and pirates made frequent calls here or even used this port as their base of operations in the Caribbean. The wealth and importance of Trinidad continued into the 19th century, when sugar barons reigned. Experience the community like a local, visiting with shop owners and sampling local fare as you walk through the colonial heart of the city. At Casa Del Alfarero Santander, an artisan workshop, meet local artists and learn about traditional pottery techniques. This pottery studio has been run by the same family for decades, and the Santanders share their family history while you take a turn at the wheel. Stroll through town, with the chance to visit a music club to mingle with the locals and enjoy authentic Cuban music.
Enjoy a spectacular morning in the Sierra de Escambray mountains at Topes de Collantes National Park, one of the best places to enjoy Cuba's natural beauty. Wet winds coming off the Atlantic make the north face of the mountains a refuge for plants and animals, including Cuban trogon, the national bird of Cuba. After learning the history of Cuban coffee, relax over a cup of coffee while chatting with your local guide about efforts to protect the region. After lunch visit a modern art museum, seeing pieces by important artists.
The Zapata Peninsula encompasses a national park protecting Cuba’s most important wetland area. It is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve closely resembling the Florida Everglades. There are 900 species of flora, 171 species of birds (18 endemics), 31 species of reptiles and many mammal species calling the Zapata Wetlands home. Join a local farmer to search for the world’s smallest bird, the bee hummingbird. On the Bay of Pigs, discuss the importance of the wetlands with a local environmentalist.
Set out toward the western part of Cuba, traveling to Pinar del Rio Province. Pay homage to Ernest Hemingway while discussing his work with Cuban Hemingway specialists at his former home, Finca Vigia, preserved as it was on the day of his death. Travelers can only peer through the open windows of this museum, but the inside is arranged almost as if the home was waiting for him to return with guests. Hemingway’s fishing boat, El Pilar, is still on the grounds. Stop at locally owned paladar, IL Divino, for lunch. Chat about the "new" Cuban economy with the entrepreneurs operating this small, private restaurant. After lunch, explore the adjacent farm, which uses sustainable agriculture to supply the restaurant.
Wind our way through the Sierra de los Organos Mountains to Viñales, stopping to take photos of the breathtaking vistas. Stroll the lanes of Viñales, taking in scenes of daily life in Cuba. Sample the homegrown vegetables grown at an organic farm while meeting the family who is responsible for the land. Stop at a tobacco farm to learn about the processes and history of Cuban cigars. You have the chance to sample a famed cigar and sip a cup of Cuban coffee if you wish.
Survey an orchid garden with staff from the University of Pinar del Rio. Meet local naturalists, business owners and farmers in the planned community of Las Terrazas, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with just 1,000 residents that was founded on a green ethic. The self-contained community is surrounded by foliage thick with indigenous species, including hibiscus, teak and ebony trees that were part of a reforestation project. Stop at Cafe de Maria for a cup of locally grown coffee and chat with the family who runs the business. Drive along the oceanfront Malecon Avenue, seeing Revolution Square. Enjoy an excursion to hear the famed Buena Vista Social Club.
Stroll cobblestone streets through the atmospheric squares of Old Havana, taking in fading colonial architecture, antique American cars and the pervasive music and festive atmosphere. Along the way, call on the historic haunts of Hemingway as well as chat with locals at outdoor markets. Interact with the locals as we explore an art market.
Transfer to the Jose Marti Airport to connect with independent flights home.
Itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
One pre-trip hotel night in Miami; accommodations and meals as per the itinerary; two drinks–choice of local beer or soft drink–at group lunches and dinners; gratuities to porters, day guides, and waiters for included meals; cuban-government mandated medical insurance if departing with group from Miami. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; travel insurance; passport and visa fees; taxes and reciprocity fees; gratuities other than mentioned as included; items of a personal nature; beverages not mentioned as included.
Photos ©: International Expeditions