Cuba Culture & Heritage – Legal People to People trip for US citizens Trip Notes

    • 8
    • QISA
    • Trip Price tool tip
      USD $3,999
    • Extras tool tip
      USD $490 Flight Miami - Havana - Miami
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $4,489*
      *
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    • Original
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Last Modified: 13 Apr 2014
Cuba Culture & Heritage – Legal People to People trip for US citizens
Trip code: QISA
Validity: 01 Nov 2013 to 31 Dec 2014
Table of Contents
StyleYour fellow travellersWhat to take
MapAccommodationHealth
ItineraryMealsSafety
Itinerary disclaimerTransportTravel insurance
Culture shock rating Group leaderResponsible Travel
Physical ratingJoining point A couple of rules
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
TippingEmergency fundsFurther Information
Group sizeIssues on your trip
Rousing rhythms, luscious landscapes and loquacious locals make charismatic Cuba a top travel destination for lovers of music, food, culture and life! Offering so much more than antiquated cars and coveted cigars, Cuba has a bounty of beaches, villages, farms and forests for travellers to explore. Viva Cuba!
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Map
Cuba Culture & Heritage – Legal People to People trip for US citizens
Itinerary
Day 1 Miami
You can arrive in Miami anytime and take a free shuttle from the airport’s to the Miami airport hotel.
There is a group orientation meeting in the lobby at 6pm. After the meeting there is an optional dinner at a nearby Cuban restaurant.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Havana
This morning you meet your leader in the hotel lobby at 6:15am and take the 7:00am shuttle transfer to the airport for check in.
Breakfast is not included unless provided by the selected hotel but there is time to eat something at the airport while travelers and bags are being checked in as a group. There are very few choices inside security so it’s best to get something before going through airport security.
Fly from Miami to Havana with CTS charter currently departing on Saturdays at 9:00am on Sky King Airlines arriving Havana at 10:00am. Upon arrival, clear immigration & customs and meet your Havanatur guide.
Drive to the town of San Francisco de Paula just outside of Havana to Finca Vigia for a guided visit to Hemingway’s home.
Afterwards you drive to your hotel with a stop in Revolution Square for photos.
This evening you will enjoy dinner at a private restaurant, Paladar Dona Eutimia, at Cathedral Square in Old Havana. After dinner walk on Obispo Street to the Floridita (Hemingway’s favorite bar for daiquiris) and meet the vehicle to return to the hotel. Those who wish to stay out later may do so, and make their own way back to the hotel.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Havana/Cienfuegos/Trinidad
After breakfast we drive approximately 3.5 hours to Cienfuegos. Visit town centre and have lunch at a bay side restaurant on the peninsula.
We then drive for a further hour to Trinidad and begin a guided walk in the old colonial heart of Trinidad.
Late afternoon visit to Casa del Alfarero Santander, then meet 4x4 vehicles and drive into the mountains to Hotel Los Helechos. We have dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Topes de Collantes
We meet our local guide at the park information center and get an orientation of the park surroundings.
Hike with local naturalist for a couple of hours along the Rio Melidioso to El Rocio waterfall. Cool down with a swim in the pool at the waterfall.
After lunch visit a coffee house for a discussion with Cuban residents about the importance and intricacies of this traditional industry. If time permits, visit the Cuban modern art museum located in the former summer home of a Batista supporter.
End up back at Casa de la Gallega, the hacienda for Gaunayra, for a roast chicken dinner.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Bay of Pigs
Today we depart at 8am and drive to Playa Giron and the Bay of Pigs.
Visit the Bay of Pigs Museum at Playa Giron. Meet and discuss the history of the area and the Bay of Pigs invasion with a Cuban local.
Continue fifteen minutes to Cuevas de los Peces for lunch.
Then it's a short drive to Hotel Playa Larga where we have dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 6 Playa Larga/Boca de Guama/Havana
Today we start very early in the morning for a birding activity or a Zapata swamp hike with the park director.
Any remaining non-hiking participants depart the hotel at 8:45 for a 9:00am visit to Korimacao Project where one of the directors, Hilda Tamayo welcomes the group for an unbeatable opportunity to interaction with Korimacao artists, musicians & dancers. Hikers are brought straight to Korimacao Project to catch up with the rest of the group.
We visit a crocodile farm and take a boat across Treasure Lake for lunch. We return by boat and drive to Havana. If time permits we visit El Morro fortress and Che Guevara's home/ museum.
After dinner, you can opt to visit Bogequita del Medio or other locations in Old Havana for music and mojitos.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 7 Havana
Today is another early start as we leave the hotel for a visit to a community social project at Our Lady of Belen Convent.
Later on we visit artists working on prints and lithographs at Taller Experimental de Grafica and also visit the upstairs gallery or visit artists galleries or the Rum Museum.
In the afternoon we visit either the Museum of the Revolution and the Bellas Artes Museum or visit the arts & crafts market. Also, there is a chance to visit the home of revolutionary, Che Guevara
At 7:00pm we head out for a farewell dinner at a private restaurant in Old Havana.
Later that evening we can opt to visit the Buena Vista Social Club show.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 8 Havana
Today we transfer to Jose Marti Airport Terminal 2 for an morning flight from Havana to Miami. Trip ends upon arrival to Miami airport.
      Itinerary disclaimer
      Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
      Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
      Culture shock rating

      At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
      Physical rating

      Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
      Money Exchange
      There are 2 official currencies in Cuba:
      - Cuban Peso Convertible (CUC). Value: CUC1 = US$1.00
      - Cuban Peso (CUP or Moneda Nacional M.N). Value: CUP24 = CUC1
      The exchange rates of these currencies are fixed by the Cuban Government, however they are liable to change at any time.
      In Cuba there are official government exchange houses called CADECA. These can be found in every city and also at the airport. They are commonly found in the larger hotels in Havana. The CADECA exchange houses offer the following services:
      - Exchange foreign cash to CUC.
      - Make cash advances on credit cards.
      - Exchange travellers cheques.
      To do any of these operations you will need your passport. To exchange travellers cheques you will also need the receipt of the bank where you bought them.
      In terms of cash, the only currencies that you are guaranteed to be able to exchange are CAD, EUR, and GBP. You can also exchange US$, however, the Cuban Government charges an additional 10% fee for accepting US$. The same rules apply for travellers cheques in US$.
      Please note that until further notice AU$ and NZ$ are not accepted in Cuba. Please also be advised that slightly torn notes, notes that have been heavily marked or are faded, may be difficult to exchange. It's best to bring notes in fairly good condition, in denominations lower than US$100 (or equivalent).
      Eurocheques are not accepted in Cuba. Visa and Thomas Cook traveller cheques issued in USD are not a problem, except that you will incur the 10% charge for exchanging from US$.
      Credit cards (both Visa and MasterCard) should be accepted at the CADECAs for cash advances.
      ATMs: At present, the only cities with ATMs are Havana, Camaguey, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba. You will need a pin number for your credit card to be able to use the ATMs. Only Visa cards work in the ATMs (not Mastercard or Cirrus). We find occasionally people come with a Visa debit card that doesn't work in the ATMs. For others they work perfectly fine. We don't know why this happens. We do know that a Visa debit card obtained through Travelex will not work in Cuba, nor will a Visa card from Citibank. Because of these unpredictable difficulties it's best to come to Cuba with a 'back-up' plan for obtaining cash if your credit card doesn't work.
      Bank Commissions: The exchange rates used by the CADECA are the same in every CADECA around Cuba and represent about a 3% commission for the bank (included in the exchange rate). For cash advances and when using the ATMs, there is a 3% fee charged. This means that for value for money it's approximately the same if you are making a cash advance or exchanging a travellers cheque or cash.
      Local Cuban Peso: The 'local' Cuban Peso has very limited use, especially for travellers. You may get the chance to use it occasionally so it's perhaps a good idea to exchange about CUC1-3 to CUP at one of the CADECA after you arrive. Only some CADECAs, offer this service. This currency is mainly used for buying goods at ration stores (for which you need to be a resident and have a ration card), but some other products are also available in this currency and mainly from street stalls, such as ice-cream (CUP1-3) and pizzas (CUP10).
      What's confusing for travellers is that the Cubans call both currencies 'pesos', so you have to know the value of something to know which currency they are referring to. Otherwise you have to ask. CUC is also colloquially known as convertibles, divisa, dolares, fula, chavitos, baros, and cabillas.
      Spending money
      Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
      Tipping
      If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
      The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
      Restaurants: Local markets, government and private (paladares) restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest 10%. There's no need to tip at dinners taken at homestays.
      Homestay: You may consider tipping the employees (not the owners) of a homestay. A CUC1-2 is suggested, although a clothing item, a towel or the like will be kindly received.
      Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2 per person per day for local guides.
      Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$1-2 per day is generally appropriate.
      Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
      Group size
      Maximum of 14 travellers per group.
      Your fellow travellers
      As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
      Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
      Accommodation
      Hotel (7 nts)
      Meals
      6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners
      Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
      USD 320.00
      Transport
      Plane, Minibus
      Group leader
      This Intrepid Cuba trip is accompanied by both an expedition leader and a local Cuban guide. Their aim is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible.
      They will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. You can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit.
      Joining point
      Miami
      Miami
      FL
      UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
      Arrival complications
      We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
      No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
      Finish point
      Miami
      Miami
      FL
      UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
      Emergency funds
      Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
      Issues on your trip
      While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
      We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please contact our operations base on 1-800-786-8735 (toll free in the USA and Canada) or +1 707 523 1800 (office hours).
      You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
      What to take
      GIFTS:
      Cubans are delighted to receive gifts from foreigners even if they're items that you would consider throwing out at home. Second hand clothes are warmly accepted as gifts as they can be distributed among family members and friends. Soap, shampoo, perfumes, and pens or pencils are also very popular with the Cubans. Inexpensive soap is readily available in Cuba if you intend buying some as gifts. Used mobile phones are valued in Cuba, especially if they are unlocked and work on the 900Mhz frequency.
      Though they would be most happy to receive them, it is not necessary to bring gifts for your host families, as they are probably some of the more well-off families in Cuba and will be happy enough with just your good-natured presence.
      What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
      Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
      You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
      Health
      All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
      You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
      Safety
      Past travellers have advised their luggage was broken into when flying on international and/or domestic flights in Cuba. It's advisable that you use small padlocks to secure your luggage. This will also come in handy to lock your valuables at your hotel and homestay rooms.
      Travel insurance
      Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
      When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
      If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
      Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
      Responsible Travel
      We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
      A couple of rules
      Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
      The Intrepid Foundation
      Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
      The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
      Feedback
      After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
      Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.
      Further Information
      A book is a great way to get inspired about a destination… and make long waits at airports more bearable! These books should get you in the mood for a trip to Cuba: