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Colourful Cuba - May 2018 - 16 Day Solo Tour

Price A$6,180


Destination

HavanaVinalesCienfuegosTrinidadCamagueySantiagoBaracoa


Category
Group Tours

Duration
16 days 15 nights
Tour Details

Cuba: 15 - 30 May 2018 A$6,180 plus air

Step back in time and discover the real Cuba on this exhilarating and colourful 16 day solo tour.

Behind the peeling pastels and crumbling masonry, behind Cadillac chrome and the tang of cigar smoke and fresh papaya, cobbled streets and colonial relics, behind economic embargoes and a cultural time warp, there’s the real Cuba.And the real Cuba isn’t easy to fit onto a postcard. Want to try a cigar? We’ll introduce you to the Viñales farmers that make them. Want to give salsa a go? Our leaders know the best clubs in Havana. From the Afro-Cuban rhythms of Trinidad to turquoise waters in Gaujimico, this is the Cuba most travellers never get to see.Want to join us?

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 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 Guesthouse 

Meals : Dinner
Day 2: Havana

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 Guesthouse

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3: Havana

Today we'll jump in classic American style cars for a spectacular Havana city tour that takes us to some fantastic spots, such as the Malecon, Revolution Square and ending in the suburb of Vedado to drop you at the infamous Hotel Nacional. 

Accommodation: Havana Premium Guesthouse

Meals : Breakfast
Day 4: Vinales

Today we head to Vinales, stopping via the tiny mountain resort of Soroa, in the heavily forested Sierra del Rosario. We'll enjoy a tour of an orchid garden, which boasts 700 species of orchid, before we continue to Vinales where tobacco and sugarcane fields lie side by side and limestone outcrops dot the landscape.Once we've settled into our accommodation, we'll take an orientation tour to get to know the city. 

Accommodation: Province Standard Guesthouse 

Meals : Breakfast
Day 5: Vinales

This morning we'll set off on a half-day walking tour to visit a local farm where we'll have the opportunity to experience the 'guajiro's' way of life. Marvel at the speed and skill of the locals cigar rolling technique, before we head to the 'Cueva del Indio' - a natural cave just outside of Vinales.This evening we head to the top of the valley for dinner at an Eco-Farm. Everything is grown organically on the farm itself so get ready for one of the freshest dinner experiences in Cuba! 

Accommodation: Province Standard Guesthouse 

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6: Cienfugos

On our way to Cienfuegos today, we'll stop at the Bay of Pigs to learn more about the botched US Military counter- revolutionary invasion in the Giron Museum, before we stop at the bay itself, to enjoy the stunning surroundings and take a dip in the crystal clear water. Next we head to Cienfuegos, a relaxing, seaside town known as the 'gem of the south'. There's a photo stop at Palacio del Valle, Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy and we'll learn a little more about the history of this dazzling town. Don't forget to try some Cuban coffee while you're here – it's served black, strong and super sweet. 

Accommodation: Province Premium Guesthouse

Meals : Breakfast
Day 7: Cienfugos

After breakfast we set off on a walking tour of Cienfuegos. Part of the city's appeal lies in its colonial centre, which features wide Parisian-style boulevards and elegant colonnades. We'll take a drive drive along the peninsula to see Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy, the Moroccan-influenced Palacio del Valle.The rest of the day is free to explore and spend at your leisure. 

Accommodation: Province Premium Guesthouse

Meals : Breakfast
Day 8: Trinidad

We say goodbye to Cienfugos today and make our way north to the final resting place of Cuba’s most famous son. We'll stop at Santa Clara to 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. Our short drive south takes us through the Topes de Collantes National Park to Trinidad, which sits on the scenic Caribbean coast. For many visitors to Cuba, Trinidad is a stand out 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 our city walk, 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 why not take in a folklore show at one of the town's numerous open-air venues?

Accommodation: Province Premium Guesthouse

Meals : Breakfast
Day 9: Trinidad

Today we'll get the opportunity to head outside of Trinidad to the Valle de Ios Ingenios, also know as the Valley of the Sugar Mills, where we'll learn a little more about the history of sugar in the country.Later this afternoon, we'll take an informal salsa class. 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. Shake those hips!

Accommodation: Province Premium Guesthouse

Meals : Breakfast
Day 10: Trinidad

Today is yours to continue exploring!Trinidad is the gateway to the Valle de los Ingenios, and a bike is a great way to explore 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 and there’s plenty of opportunity for relaxing on its long, unspoilt beaches or snorkelling through the clear waters.

Accommodation: Province Premium Guesthouse

Meals : Breakfast
Day 11: Camaguey

Today we travel through the centre of the country to Camaguey. Despite its size, Cuba's third largestcityhas 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 disorient any would-be assailants. As you walk through the city you may still seetinajones – 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 Guesthouse

Meals : Breakfast
Day 12: 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 the 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 Guesthouse

Meals : Breakfast
Day 13: Santiago

Today we head west along the Carretera Central to Santiago de Cuba. 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.The evening is all yours to explore! 

Accommodation: Province Premium Guesthouse

Meals : Breakfast
Day 14: Santiago

Today we head out 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 Carnaval 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 Guesthouse

Meals : Breakfast
Day 15: Baracoa

After breakfast we'll be transferred to the airport for our flight back to Havana.This evening we'll enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate the end of a fantastic adventure.

Accommodation: Havana Premium Guesthouse 

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
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

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, 4 dinners.

  • 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.

Deposit and final payments are not refundable. Please see our Terms & Conditions on our website for more information.

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