Escape to Cuba on an adventure through this exotic Caribbean island.

Discover the old and new faces of Cuba on an adventure through the country’s vibrant towns, vast plantations, myriad waterfalls and idyllic beaches. From the elegant streets of Havana to the colourful clubs of Trinidad, sip rum with the locals, practice your best salsa moves and discover the welcoming spirit of this island nation. With opportunities to explore the twisting colonial streets of Camaguey, immerse yourself in the legend of Che Guevara, and experience local life on a farm in Vinales, this adventure is sure to leave you captivated by Cuba’s beauty, rhythm and spirit.

Start
Havana, Cuba
Finish
Havana, Cuba
Countries
Cuba
Themes
Explorer
Code
QUSZC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
333kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Old-world charm, rich history, exciting nightlife - evocative Havana is like nowhere else on earth. See the difference between city and country or coastal life on a guided walking tour of the old capital
  • Take inspiration from the locals and mix things up with a bicycle-taxi tour of the colonial city of Camaguey
  • Enjoy over two free days in Trinidad. Practice your Spanish in a language class, loll about on an unspoilt Caribbean beach or peddle through sugar plantations on a charmingly rickety bicycle
  • After an informal salsa lesson, you'll be ready to hit the dance floor with the locals. With its vibrant music scene and Afro-Cuban roots, sultry Santiago de Cuba is a great place to practice your moves
  • There's a lot more to the life of Che Guevara than what you'll learn from watching 'The Motorcycle Diaries'. Pay your respects to the famous revolutionary during an included visit to his mausoleum
  • The lush Soroa valley is known as the 'Rainbow of Cuba'. Explore an orchid garden and learn how Cubans develop their own medications at a medicinal herb farm
  • Make like Castro and roll a cigar with a tobacco farmer in Pinar del Rio Province. The newly harvested tobacco will be used to produce some of the most prestigious and expensive cigars in the world

Itinerary

Bienvenido a Cuba! A complimentary transfer is included with your trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised. The driver will have the address of your guesthouse. After collecting your luggage, continue through the 'Main Arrivals Hall' of the airport (do not exit through the side door). An Intrepid representative holding a sign with your name on it will be waiting to take you to your pre-arranged transfer. If you can't locate the Intrepid representative, please call +53 52506496. Do not rely on somebody else to call for you as they may be seeking commission to direct you to another transfer company.

There will be a welcome meeting at 7 pm this evening. Please look for a note in your room or ask the guesthouse owner where the leader has left it for you (otherwise the leader will call you at the guesthouse to advise details). If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the base guesthouse so they can contact the leader. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Havana's history is as colourful as it's cars and buildings. Consider arriving a few days early to soak up the charms of this evocative city.
Stroll along the Malecon or 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.
There are plenty of good museums to check out, including the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Make sure you visit La Catedral San Cristobal de la Habana, described by the novelist Alejo Carpentier as 'music set in stone'. Also worth seeing is the Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras (now a restaurant) and the Plaza de Armas, complete with a statue of Manuel de Cespedes, one of the leaders of the independence movement.
Havana's history is as colourful as it's cars and buildings. Today, your leader will take you on an orientation tour of the city. Afterwards, enjoy some free time to further explore on your own. Stroll along the Malecon or check out a vibrant baseball game (from October to May). 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. There are plenty of good museums to check out, including the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
On the way to Cienfuegos today, the group will pass through Santa Clara, where you'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.

Afterwards, travel on to Cienfuegos, 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. Drive along the peninsula to see Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy, the Moroccan-influenced Palacio del Valle.
Today it's a short drive along the scenic Caribbean coast to Trinidad. 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.

In the 1800s, Cuba's sugar industry boomed. Sugarcane was farmed in the Valle de Los Ingenios, just northeast of Trinidad. At one point, the area was producing one third of the country's sugar. While the boom ended with two wars of independence, the wealth generated by the industry remains visible in the town's once-grand mansions, colourful public buildings, wrought iron grill-work and cobble-stoned streets. The area also saw a lot of action during the Revolution. The Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra los Bandidos and the Casa de los Mártires de Trinidad chronicle the struggles of this period in the town's history.

You'll have over two days here to explore. There are some great Spanish-style churches to check out in town. You can also hire a bike to discover the local area but be warned, Cuba's bicycles, like its cars, are vintage. There are also some great treks to be made in the nearby Sierra del Escambray mountains.
Today is a free day in Trinidad. As a group, you can decide when you want your leader to arrange an informal Spanish lesson and set up a casual salsa class (approximately one hour each). At some point while you're here, why not take in a folklore show at one of the town's numerous open-air venues? 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. By now, hopefully you've learnt enough salsa steps to join in with the locals!
Today is another free day to enjoy Trinidad. For some beach side fun and a spot of snorkelling, head down to Playa Ancon. Just be careful you don't stand on a sea urchin.
Today travel to Camaguey. The journey should take five to six 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 disorient 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.
Today 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, you'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. 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.
Today head west along the Carretera Central to Santiago de Cuba. Today is the longest travel day of the trip. Depending on how many stops we make, this usually takes six to seven hours. Santiago is the hottest place in Cuba - both with respect to the temperature and the vibe of the city! On the way we may 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. On arrival into Santiago, head to your Guesthouse, which is approximately eight blocks from the central square.
Today your leader will take you on a three-hour city tour of Santiago. You'll visit El Morro Castle, Ifigenia cemetery and the Moncada barracks. For nearly a century, the city was the island's seat of power. It also played a vital role in the Revolution. Santiago has a large Afro-Cuban population and a vibrant music scene. It is the home of son music, which is a mix of Spanish guitar and African percussion. This is great place for even the shyest dancer to learn some salsa moves. 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.
The spectacular five-hour journey to Baracoa will take you 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. Set on a beautiful bay, this colonial town is one of the most beautiful in Cuba. You'll have a couple of days here to explore and relax.
Today is a free day in Baracoa. The town was only accessible by sea until 1960. Even after a road linking Baracoa to Guantanamo was built, the settlement maintained a small-town colonial feel. Wander along its beautiful malecon or ramble over various forts 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.
Today is another free day in Baracoa. Why not take a hike through the rainforest to explore nearby caves and waterfalls? Perhaps make a visit to Humboldt Nation Park, looking out for colourful parrots, lizards and hummingbirds. After the sun goes down, enjoy a cocktail near the beach or check out the nightlife in town.
Today take a one-and-a-half hour flight from Baracoa to Havana. Please note that it is not uncommon for these flights to be delayed. After arriving back into the capital, you'll the afternoon free. 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 and a final night of salsa. Hit the streets and celebrate the end of a fantastic adventure.
Today is departure day. As there are no activities planned for today, you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Check-out time from the Guesthouse is 10 am.
Today head to Callejon de Hamel, an alley located in Havana's working class Cayo Hueso quarter. Adorned with the evocative Santeria murals of local artist Salvador Gonzalez, this lively street is Havana's centre of Afro-Cuban culture. Every Sunday afternoon it plays host to famous Afro-Cuban rumbas. Next, head to the neighbourhood of Jaimanitas in Havana's west (also known as Fusterlandia). The artist Jose Fuster has brightened up the area by rebuilding and decorating over 80 houses (including his own) with ornate murals and domes. The project includes a park with giant chess boards and an Artists’ Wall, which has been compared to Antonio Gaudi's mosaic wall in Barcelona.

Continue on to the tiny mountain resort of Soroa in the heavily forested Sierra del Rosario. Make a stop to purchase lunch and afterwards enjoy a tour of an orchid garden, which boasts 700 species of orchid. You'll also have the option to take a stiff one-kilometre climb up a mountain path to a lookout, and a short hike to a nearby waterfall.
Today pay a visit to the nearby community of Las Terrazas, stopping at a Finca de Plantas Medicinales to learn about local herbs and their medicinal properties. Because of international sanctions against Cuba, the island nation has had to find ways to be self-sufficient. One of these is to develop its own medicines, many of which are herbal. Visit a farm where herbs are grown, dried and crushed before being sent to a factory to be processed into medicines. Afterwards, enjoy a relaxing afternoon exploring the lush surrounding forests, or challenge yourself to a hike.

Note: The Finca de Plantas Medicinales is a state-run facility. Entry is not always guaranteed due to government regulations.
Today drive the short distance to the small town of Vinales in Pinar del Rio Province. Surrounded by limestone cliffs, the scenery around Vinales is some of the most picturesque in Cuba. On arrival, your leader will take you on a short orientation walk of the town. Afterwards, there are plenty of optional activities available to fill your afternoon. Perhaps take a hike through the surrounding tobacco fields or hire a bike to explore the region. You could even visit a bodega in town, where Cuban families collect their government-appointed rations.

Vinales is a great place to mix with the locals, who love nothing better than to drink rum and dance the night away. There are only 3 bars in town so it is hard to get lost!
This morning, your leader will take the group on a half-day walking tour. Visit a local farm where you'll have the opportunity to experience the 'guajiro's' way of life. While at the farm you can choose to relax or help out with daily farm activities, such as toasting and grinding coffee or harvesting yuca, corn or tobacco. In the evening, enjoy an informal salsa lesson and eat dinner at a local eco-farm. Afterwards, practice your new moves to some live music on the dance floors in town.
This morning make an early start. Leave the mainland and cross the water over a short causeway to Cayo Jutias, a tiny mangrove-covered key situated approximately 65 kilometres northwest of Vinales. Your destination is Pinar del Rio's most 'undiscovered' beach, a long stretch of sand at the key's northern tip. Paddle about in the water or soak up the sun on the sandy shore.
Today travel back to Havana by minivan (approximately six hours). Spend your last afternoon of the trip enjoying a guided tour around Old Havana. This well-preserved part of the city was designated a World Heritage Site in 1982. The streets are lined with colonial architecture, 16th-century fortresses and countless churches. In the evening, head out on the town with your new travel friends. Havana's nightlife is varied and lively. Put your new salsa skills into practice at its many bars and clubs or check out a cabaret show.
Today is departure day. As there are no activities planned, you are able to depart at any time. Check-out from the Guesthouse is at 10 am.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
21 breakfasts, 1 lunch
Transport
Private Bus, Plane, Local Transport
Accommodation
Guesthouse (21 nights)
Included activities
  • Havana - Walking tour of Old Havana
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
  • Trinidad - Orientation walk
  • Informal Spanish lesson
  • Informal Salsa lesson
  • Camaguey - Bicycle taxi city tour
  • Santiago de Cuba - half day city tour
  • Baracoa - Orientation walk
  • Havana - Visit to Fusterlandia in Jaimanitas
  • Soroa - Orchid Garden tour
  • Havana - Visit to Callejon de Hamel
  • Las Terrazas - Finca de Plantas Medicinales
  • Vinales - Informal Salsa lesson
  • Vinales - Beach excursion to Cayo Jutias

Dates

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Important notes

1. An airport arrival transfer is included. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking.
2. A single supplement is available on this trip.
3. The first sub (QUSH) of the combination trip for all Thursday departures will be operated in reverse direction due to availability of safety approved air crafts. The itinerary and included services will remain the same.
4. 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.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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Reviews

Our Grand Cuba trips score an average of 4.39 out of 5 based on 33 reviews in the last year.

Grand Cuba , May 2016

Grand Cuba , February 2016