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Colourful Cuba - May 2018 - 16 Day Solo Tour

Price A$5,795


Destination

SantiagoBaracoaHavanaCienfuegosTrinidadCamaguey


Category
Group Tours

Duration
16 days 15 nights
Tour Details

Cuba: 15 - 30 May 2018 A$5,795 plus air

Step back in time on this exhilarating and colourful 16 day solo tour to Cuba

This fascinating country has a unique history that still dominates most aspects of Cuban life. From the stirring architecture in Havana, to the grandiose squares and cobbled streets of Camagüey, Cuba has a rhythm all of its own. We’ll trace the history of the Cuban Revolution, with visits to the memorials of Che Guevara, José Martí and Camilo Cienfuegos. Take a Spanish lesson in Havana, a dance lesson in Trinidad and put it to good use on the lively streets of Santiago. With visits to the Bay of Pigs, the winding streets of Camaguey and three days in beautiful Baracoa, this is a tour that you’ll never forget.

Want to join us?

Highlights:

  • Discover the faded glory of Havana with it’s colourful cars and buildings.
  • Visit Cienfuegos’ architectural pride and joy, the Moroccan-influenced Palacio del Valle.
  • Uncover the history of the Cuban Revolution.
  • Take an informal salsa class and party the night away in the cobble stone streets of Trinidad.
  • Explore Camaguey on a bicycle taxi city tour.
  • Take a half day city tour of Santiago.
  • Enjoy 3 days in Baracoa with a visit to the Mirador de Malones for views of the Guantanamo Naval Base.

Accommodation:

Hotels in Cuba are government-run, which means renovations are few and far between and standards can vary a great deal. So we’ve chosen premium guest houses as they rival, if not surpass, most Cuban hotels when it comes to decor and facilities. Plus they are generally well located, clean and family-run. All rooms have private facilities and breakfast is served on the premises. Where possible we endeavour to accommodate the whole group in one guest house. Where this is not possible, the group may be split between two guest houses located in close proximity. 

 

Day 10: Santiago

Today our leader will take us on a three-hour city tour of Santiago. We’ll visit El Morro Castle, Ifigenia cemetery and the Moncada barracks and learn about the city’s rich history. For nearly a century, the city was the island’s seat of power and it also played a vital role in the Revolution. The people of Santiago were the first to rise up in arms against government troops in 1956, and it was in Santiago on January 1st 1959, that Fidel Castro declared the triumph of the Revolution. With a strong Afro-Cuban heritage it’s no surprise that Santiago has a vibrant music scene, and is seen as Cuba’s capital of music. It’s the home of son music, which is a mix of Spanish guitar and African percussion. Santiago’s half million residents are proud of their cultural traditions, so you’ll find many museums and cultural clubs around the city. The city is also famous for its energetic Carnival celebrations and its lively Festival of Caribbean Culture. All this will entice the shyest, most left-footed dancer and the non-musically inclined to learn some salsa moves or take a lesson in local music! 

Accommodation: Province Premium B&B

Meals : Breakfast
Day 11: Baracoa

A spectacular five-hour journey to Baracoa on day 11 will take us through the dry region surrounding Guantanamo, dotted with cacti and wiry goats, and then along the dramatic Atlantic coastline, before winding through verdant mountains to Baracoa. On the way we’ll get the chance to visit the Mirador de Malones for a pretty good view of the Guantanamo Naval Base and surrounding bay. At present this is not open to the public. If you are keen to see this, please ask your leader, and they will tell you if visits are currently allowed. Baracoa is set on a beautiful bay, this was the first colonial town, and it’s one of the most beautiful in Cuba. We’ll have a couple of days here to explore and relax. Take a walk around the town to get your bearings, then maybe head to a lovely black sand beach an easy walk from town. As one of Cuba’s major agricultural zones, Baracoa is a great place to try local foods. It’s one of the best places for chocolate, and street vendors and small restaurants offer local specialties like prawns in coconut sauce and banana-stuffed tamales. One particularly sought-after Baracoa specialty is the cucurucho, a sweet treat of coconut, sugar, and fruit wrapped in dried cone-shaped palm leaves. 

Accommodation: Province Premium B&B

Meals : Breakfast
Day 12: Baracoa

Today is a free day for you to explore Baracoa. The town was only accessible by sea until 1960, and even after a road linking Baracoa to Guantanamo was built, the settlement maintained a small-town colonial feel. Uncover its individuality as you wander along its beautiful malecon or ramble over various forts that were built to withstand pirate attacks. The Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion boasts a bust of the indigenous leader Hatuey, who was burned at the stake for refusing to accept the Spanish and their Catholicism. You might prefer to chill on a beach or get active with a hike to El Yunke, the famous table-top mountain sighted by Columbus during his first voyage to the island. 

Accommodation: Province Premium B&B

Meals : Breakfast
Day 13: Baracoa

Today is another free day in Baracoa. Why not set out on a hike through the rainforest to explore nearby caves and waterfalls. Perhaps pay a visit to Humboldt Nation Park, looking out for colourful parrots, lizards and hummingbirds. Take a boat tour down a nearby river, spotting wildlife along the way, or maybe stop in at a working farm to learn about life on the land. After the sun goes down, enjoy a cocktail near the beach or check out the town’s nightlife. 

Accommodation: Province Premium B&B

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
Day 14: Baracoa

After breakfast this morning we’ll head back towards Havana, with a stop in Santa Clara for the evening. 

Accommodation: Province Premium B&B

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
Day 15: Havana

This morning we continue back to Havana. After arriving back in the capital, we’ll head to Plaza de la Revolución for our final taste of Cuban revolutionary history, watched over by the memorials of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, José Martí and Camilo Cienfuegos. Then the rest of the afternoon is free to explore. Perhaps take a stroll along the malecon (ocean walkway) or soak up the atmospheric vibes of the Old Town. At the end of a long day, it’s time for a mojito or cuba libre and final night of salsa in Habana Vieja’s bars. Hit the streets and celebrate the end of a fantastic adventure! 

Accommodation: Havana Premium B&B Guesthouse 

Meals : Breakfast
Day 16: Havana

Our trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. Stay on and enjoy a few extra days relaxing and soaking up the Cuban culture, depart to explore Central America further, or take your flight home to share your incredible travel stories! 

Meals : Breakfast
Day 1: Havana

Welcome to Havana! A capital unlike any other. You will be met by a tour representative at the airport and be transferred to your hotel. The day is then yours to settle in and enjoy Havana at leisure. This evening you will meet your Tour Guide, Two’s a Crowd Tour Host and your fellow travellers for a tour briefing followed by a welcome dinner.

Accommodation: Havana Premium B&B Guesthouse 

Meals : Dinner
Day 2: Havana

HAVANA (B)

Havana’s history is as colourful as it’s cars and buildings. Today, we’ll be taken on a guided tour of the Havana vieja. Havana remains one of the great colonial cities of the Americas. An air of faded glory comes through in the peeling paint of some of its grand old buildings. Narrow streets, spacious plazas and Spanish architecture make it a charm to explore on foot. Pick up some Spanish during an informal Spanish lesson, enjoy some free time to explore, stroll along the Malecon or check out a vibrant baseball game. Maybe try out your newly learnt phrases when you join the hundreds of locals lining up to eat a Coppelia ice-cream. Heavily subsidised by the government, a whole bowl will set you back about 10 cents!

Accommodation: Havana Premium B&B Guesthouse

Meals : Breakfast
Day 3: Cienfuegos

Today we head to Cienfuegos, with a stop along the way at the peaceful sandy arc of Playa Giron (approximately 2.5 hours), which sits on the eastern side of the Bahia de Cochinos, better known as the Bay of Pigs. It was here that the CIA famously sponsored a failed invasion by exile forces in 1961. We’ll discover the story of the Cuban victory at the Museo Giron, which holds displays of various military equipment and photos of the men who fought here. It’s not just the history that’s the attraction here – with crystal clear Caribbean waters, a deep underwater wall, and an outstanding variety of coral and fish, it’s a haven for snorkelers. Strap on a hired mask and some flippers and take a dive into sapphire-coloured water, teeming with tropical marine life. Afterwards, we continue on to Cienfuegos (approximately 1.5 hours), known affectionately as ‘The Pearl of the South’. Part of the city’s appeal lies in its colonial centre, which features wide Parisian-style boulevards and elegant colonnades. We’ll drive along the peninsula to see Cienfuegos’ architectural pride and joy, the Moroccan-influenced Palacio del Valle. 

Accommodation: Province Premium B&B 

Meals : Breakfast
Day 4: Trinidad

On day 4 we leave Cienfuegos and head north to the final resting place of Cuba’s most famous son. In Santa Clara (approximately 1 hour), we’ll visit the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial. Che’s remains were brought here after they were found in a remote corner of Bolivia in 1997, where he was assassinated by the CIA-backed Bolivian army. Check out the impressive bronze statue of Che bearing his rifle and learn about his incredible life. Then it’s a short drive south, through the Topes de Collantes National Park to Trinidad, which sits on the scenic Caribbean coast (approximately 1.5 hours). For many visitors to Cuba, Trinidad is a standout destination. No other colonial city in Cuba is as well preserved, and the local residents are extremely friendly and festive. Trinidad is steeped in religion, including the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria, which has connections to Voodoo. On an orientation walk today, we’ll see the former wealth generated by the sugar industry in the town’s once-grand mansions, colourful public buildings, wrought iron grill-work and cobble-stoned streets. Party the night away at one of the town’s live music venues or take in a folklore show at one of the town’s numerous open-air venues. 

Accommodation: Province Premium B&B

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
Day 5: Trinidad

After yesterday’s introduction, today we get to really explore this amazing city. We’ll continue yesterday’s walk into the town’s history with visits to the Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra los Bandidos and the Casa de los Mártires de Trinidad. Both chronicle the struggles of the revolutionary period in the town’s history. Cuba has a hugely rich and varied dance and musical tradition that draws its roots from Africa and France. Many styles that have greatly influenced music worldwide originated in Cuba, such as Mambo, Cha-cha-cha, son and rumba. We’ll get the chance to have a go ourselves with an informal salsa class. There’s also a chance to get a hands-on lesson with the musical instruments themselves in a percussion workshop. Hopefully we’ve learnt enough of the local rhythms to join in with the locals – maybe at a local venue hidden within a cave! 

Accommodation: Province Premium B&B

Meals : Breakfast
Day 6: Trinidad

Today is a day for you to explore at leisure. Trinidad is also the gateway to the Valle de los Ingenios, and a bike is a great way to discover the local area. Be warned however, Cuba’s bicycles, like its cars, are vintage! There are also some great treks to be made in the nearby Sierra del Escambray Mountains – maybe drive along the legendary twists and turns of the road to El Nicho, then hike to its beautiful waterfall. Playa Ancon is also close by where there’s plenty of opportunity for relaxing on its long, unspoilt beaches or snorkelling through the clear waters (just watch carefully for sea urchins, which can be a problem here). 

Accommodation: Province Premium B&B

Meals : Breakfast
Day 7: Camaguey

Today we travel through the centre of the country with a stop in Bayamo and onto Camaguey (approximately 5-6 hours). Despite its size, Cuba’s third largest city has managed to retain much of its colonial heritage. Exploring the city’s winding streets is half the fun. The city was planned in a deliberately confusing pattern to disorientate any would-be assailants. As you walk through the city you may still see tinajones (large clay pots used for collecting water). On your explorations, stop by the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad to see its baroque frescoes. Camaguey has a rich tradition of cultural and technological leadership within Cuba. It is the birthplace of poet laureate Nicolas Guillen and home of the Ballet de Camaguey. Cuba’s first radio and television emissions were broadcast from Camaguey, and the country’s first airport and commercial flights were planned and executed here. 

Accommodation: Province Premium B&B

Meals : Breakfast
Day 8: Camaguey

Today we’ll take a tour of Camaguey by bicycle taxi. Cycling is a popular form of transport in Cuba, and bicycle taxis are very common. In the confusing streets of Camaguey, it’s a particularly good way to get around. On our tour, we’ll visit a local market, parks, plazas and an art gallery. Each taxi carries two passengers and the tour is led by an English-speaking local guide. Your leader may suggest visiting a local farmers’ market, where you’ll get a fascinating insight into daily Cuban life and the local economy. This is where farmers can sell their produce after meeting the quota they have to sell to the state. Camaguey’s is a particularly busy and colourful market. There are separate areas for produce sold by the state and produce sold by farmers directly to the public. There are plenty of interesting tropical fruits, vegetables and herbs available. This is where the locals come to buy their food once their monthly food ration runs out. 

Accommodation: Province Premium B&B

Meals : Breakfast
Day 9: Santiago

Today, we head west along the Carretera Central to Santiago de Cuba. Today is the longest travel day of the trip. Depending on how many stops are made, this usually takes six to seven hours. Santiago is the hottest place in Cuba – in terms of both temperature and the vibe of the city! Set between the indomitable Sierra Maestra mountain range and the azure Caribbean, this city’s historical centre and colonial architecture retain a timeworn air, ideal for photographers. 

Accommodation: Province Premium B&B

Meals : Breakfast

Hotels in Cuba are government-run, which means renovations are few and far between and standards can vary a great deal.

So we’ve chosen premium guest houses as they rival, if not surpass, most Cuban hotels when it comes to decor and facilities. Plus they are generally well located, clean and family-run. All rooms have private facilities and breakfast is served on the premises.

Where possible we endeavour to accommodate the whole group in one guest house. Where this is not possible, the group may be split between two guest houses located in close proximity.

 

Is this trip right for you?

  • Cash is difficult to access in Cuba. Credit cards (not debit cards) are essential – ideally multiple credit cards from several different banks.
  • Luxuries such as air conditioning, and even kitchen sinks, are often scarce. Part of the experience here is learning to appreciate everyday Cuban resourcefulness.
  • There’s plenty of time to eat the delights of the sea, but it’s good to keep in mind that accompaniments are not as expansive as in another countries due to limitations on imports.
  • Internet access can be hard to come by, and when it’s available it’s often unreliable and expensive. This is, on the other hand, a great opportunity to take a break from modern devices and have a true holiday.
  • There are unprecedented changes happening in Cuba right now. It is an exciting time but it also means some patience and understanding is required for the heightened demand of infrastructure, accommodation and crowds.

Weather

Cuba enjoys a subtropical climate and you can come any time of year and appreciate the country. Having said that, temperatures can vary significantly depending on where you are at certain time of the year. The rainy season starts in May but this is still normally a great month to visit. 

Currency

Money provokes a certain sense of confusion in Cuba as the dual-economy takes some getting used to. Two currencies circulate in Cuba: convertible pesos (CUC$) and Cuban pesos (referred to as moneda nacional, abbreviated MN). The currency situation is made more confusing since Cubans will refer to both CUCs and Moneda Nacional as Pesos.

Electricity

Generally Cuban electricity is 110V with the square American plug socket. Some hotels have predominantly 220V and round sockets.

Languages

The official language spoken in Cuba is Spanish and it is the first language of about 90 percent of the entire population. Other languages spoken in the country include Haitian Creole, Lucimi, Galician, and Corsican.

Visas

Australians require a tourist visa or tourist card for entry for purposes of tourism to Cuba. It is valid for one single entrance into national territory for a 30-day trip and can be extended for an additional 30 days at the office in the hotel where one has accommodations or with the immigration authority. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your exit date and must have two blank facing visa pages.

Visa requirements do change, and it’s always advisable to check the current situation before leaving home. 

Let us handle your travel arrangements

Two's a Crowd is a full service travel business. We are happy to provide very competitive quotes on all international airfares from your nearest capital city. 

 

 

Tour inclusions:

  • All transport, sightseeing and excursions as per the itinerary 

  • 15 nights hotel accommodation in your own room — always! 

  • Local English speaking tour leader throughout the tour.

  • Local guides at some sights. 

  • Meals as per itinerary: 15 breakfasts, 3 lunches.

  • Group Airport Arrival and Departure Transfers 

  • Two’s a Crowd tour host from Australia. 

  • Standard CHI Travel Insurance Policy. Additional premium may be payable if over 59 years, have an existing medial condition or wish to extend your travelling dates (underwritten by Allianz). 

Tour exclusions:

  • International airfares. 

  • Visas.

  • Services not mentioned in the itinerary

  • Late check out at hotels.

  • Meals and drinks not mentioned in the itinerary. 

  • Tips for leaders, guide and driver. 

  • Expenditure of personal nature.

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