Mexico and Cuba Trip Notes

Mexico and Cuba

Last Modified: 16 Aug 2016
Mexico and Cuba
Trip code: QVKGC
Validity: 01 May 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Get a good dose of fun, sun, history and culture on this three-week journey through Mexico and Cuba. Become immersed in the mesmerising mayhem of Mexico City, taste the distinctive foods on offer in Oaxaca's traditional markets, gaze in awe out over the pyramids of Palenque and live it up in the hedonistic haven of Playa del Carmen. Then catch a flight over to Cuba and get a taste of history while strolling through Havana's tumble-down buildings, learn about the country's renegade spirit and settle into a plaza cafe to watch sleepy Trinidad stir into motion. Teeming with stunning natural scenery and brimming with history, this Mexico and Cuba adventure serves up fun and fascination in equal measure. TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017: The itinerary of this trip will change from 1 February 2017. In order to improve our trips we regularly review feedback from past travellers and our local operations team. As a result of that process, in 2017 we’ll make the following changes to this itinerary: Puebla will be a stop en-route to Oaxaca. We will travel by overnight bus from Oaxaca to San Cristobal de las Casas (enabling us to drop an overnight stop in Tehuantepec) and We will remove the overnight stop in Campeche. These changes will enable us to spend more time in highlight destinations, including Mexico City, Oaxaca and Playa del Carmen. The overall itinerary will look like this: Day 1 Mexico City Day 2 Mexico City Day 3 Teotihuacan / Mexico City Day 4 Puebla / Oaxaca Day 5 Oaxaca Day 6 Oaxaca Day 7 San Cristobal de las Casas Day 8 San Cristobal de las Casas Day 9 Palenque Day 10 Palenque Ruins / Merida Day 11 Merida Day 12 Chichen Itza / Playa del Carmen Day 13 Playa del Carmen Day 14 Tulum / Playa del Carmen Day 15 Playa del Carmen Day 16 to 22 - will remain unchanged.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationEmergency contact
ThemesAccommodation NotesVisas
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionWhat to take
Why we love itMealsClimate and seasonal information
MapTransportHealth
ItineraryMoney mattersTravel insurance
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderA couple of rules
Physical ratingSafetyResponsible Travel
Included activitiesJoining pointThe Intrepid Foundation
Important notesContinuing pointFeedback
Group sizeContinuing point instructions
Your fellow travellersFinish point
Style
Comfort
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
-  
- Some included activities, such as guided tours of archaeological sites, can be quite strenuous. Be sure to bring suitably sturdy footwear.
- There are a few long days of travel, as you'll be covering a lot of ground. You will, however, make stops at interesting locations to break up the longer drives.
- Due to increased activity by the Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque, some changes to your itinerary may be necessary for your safety.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cuba is different and that’s what makes it such a fascinating destination. You will find that things don’t always go according to plan or work the way they do back home. Regulations concerning foreigners and currency may appear strange to you, buses and planes often run late and sometimes the water in your bathroom can run cold and the electricity fail. In order to get the most out of your holiday, a degree of patience, good humour and understanding is a definite advantage. Cuba may not be wealthy in a monetary sense, however if you approach your holiday with an open and enquiring mind, the warm welcome you receive from Cubans will ensure you a rich and rewarding holiday experience.
Why we love it
- Be dazzled by Mexico City's sprawling urban jungle
- Take a stroll down Teotihuacan's 'Avenue of the Dead'
- Shop for colourful handicrafts in Puebla's bustling markets
- Wander among the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban
- Cool off in the turquoise pools of Agua Azul
- Bask on the glittering sands of Playa del Carmen
- Journey back through time while navigating Havana's tumble-down neighbourhoods
- Get sashaying to the salsa in Vinales
- Admire the charming colonial architecture of Trinidad
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Mexico City
An airport arrival transfer is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Intrepid. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel). Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 7pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, 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 hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Following the meeting, the leader will take the group out for an (optional) group dinner.
Modern meets ancient in Mexico City, the world's fastest growing urban centre. Although crowded and smoggy, the former Aztec capital offers a great variety of impressive museums, galleries and architecture.
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 Mexico City
    Today we'll embark on a city tour taking in the Metropolitan Cathedral, Zocalo, National Palace and Museum of Anthropology.
    The rest of your time here is free. Head to the city centre and see Aztec ruins or take the subway right through one of the temples. If you prefer to get out of the city and escape the crowds, take a trip to the canals and gardens of Xochimilco. In the evening, explore Mexico's exciting night life. Learn some dance moves from the locals, or try out your own to the music of a mariachi band.
    Included Activities
    • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
    • Mexico City - Museum of Anthropology
    • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
    • Mexico City - City Tour
      Optional Activities
      • Mexico City - Leon Trotsky Museum - MXN40
      • Mexico City - Mariachis in Garibaldi Square (entry is free, price to hire a band for 2-3 songs) - USD8
      • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum - MXN140
        Accommodation
        Hotel (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast
        Day 3 Teotihuacan/Puebla
        Today we travel by private minivan to Puebla, stopping en route to explore the 'must-see' archaeological ruins of Teotihuacan - the site of the massive Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline of the complex.

        This was once the country's biggest ancient cities, and capital of the Aztec people, who ruled over the largest empire in the pre-Hispanic era. Guarded by mountains, this magnificent city is thought to have been founded early in the 1st century AD and reached its peak around 500 AD, when its influence extended down to Guatemala and as far north as present-day Texas.

        With the help of a local guide, you will have time to stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’, uncover its many wonders and imagine what life must have been like nearly 2000 years ago.

        After the tour we continue on to Puebla.
        Although a rapidly growing city, Puebla has managed to combine modern development with its colonial past and there are plenty of well-maintained churches and colonial buildings to admire. Head to the markets to brush up on your bargaining skills and take some fantastic photos. This is a great place to pick up hand-painted tiles and other handicrafts. If you're looking for something more active, go for a hike near one of the area's looming volcanoes. After a day sightseeing and shopping, why not try some mouth-watering mole Poblano, a dish that is famous all over Mexico and that originated in Puebla, or try your hand at making it yourself at an optional cooking class.
        Included Activities
        • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
        • Puebla - Santo Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel
        • Puebla - City Tour
          Optional Activities
          • Puebla - Cooking class - USD85
            Accommodation
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast
            Day 4 Oaxaca
            This morning we travel by minibus to the colonial city of Oaxaca.
            A beautiful old colonial town, Oaxaca is full of graceful arcades and colourful markets largely populated by descendents of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians, who come here to sell their colourful woven blankets and shawls. Oaxaca is also known for its well-respected arts scene, including folk art, fine art and dance. Explore the markets and narrow, cobbled streets or simply sit in the square drinking the local mezcal and watch life go by.
            Accommodation
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast
            Day 5 Monte Alban/Oaxaca
            Today we drive the short distance to the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban, located on top of a hill near the city.
            Monte Alban was inhabited over a period of 1,500 years by a succession of cultures (Olmecs, Zapotecs and Mixtecs) and it is an outstanding example of a pre-Columbian ceremonial centre. With the help of a local guide, we'll have plenty of time to explore the remnants of plazas, tombs, palaces and temples that make up this fascinating site.
            We return to Oaxaca for the afternoon, which is free for you to explore at your leisure.
            Included Activities
            • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins (entrance fee)
              Optional Activities
              • Oaxaca - Folkloric ballet (seasonal) - USD10
              • Oaxaca - Santo Domingo Cultural Centre - USD8
                Accommodation
                Hotel (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast
                Day 6 Tehuantepec
                This morning we drive south towards the Pacific coast. On the way to Tehuantepec we'll stop to see the Tule Tree (an impressively large Montezuma cypress tree), a mezcal factory, and the ruins at Mitla.
                Mitla is an important Zapotec archaeological site and was the main religious centre for the Zapotec people. It was originally built as a gateway between the world of the living and the world of the dead and the name Mitla is derived from the Nahuatl word Mictlan, meaning ‘underworld’.
                We spend the night in the town of Tehuantepec.
                Included Activities
                • Oaxaca - Mitla ruins visit
                • Oaxaca - Mezcal Factory
                • Oaxaca - Tule Tree
                  Accommodation
                  Hotel (1 nt)
                  Meals
                  1 breakfast
                  Day 7 San Cristobal de las Casas
                  Today we continue driving east into the state of Chiapas.
                  On the way we visit Sumidero Canyon, an 800-metre deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River and dating from the same time as the Grand Canyon. We then continue on to San Cristobal de las Casas.
                  With winding cobblestone streets and colonial Spanish architecture, San Cristobal de las Casas maintains a lovely old-world feel mixed with strong indigenous roots.
                  Included Activities
                  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Sumidero Canyon (inc. transport)
                    Accommodation
                    Hotel (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 breakfast
                    Day 8 San Cristobal de las Casas
                    Take a tour to the Mayan villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan.
                    In the highlands around San Cristobal are villages like Chamula, which serve as market places and religious ceremonial centres for the indigenous people who live in the surrounding hills. The local people have retained their traditional way of life and are often seen dressed in their own distinctive colourful costumes. We will take a tour to explore these villages and learn more about the culture and history of these mainly Maya communities.
                    Included Activities
                    • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
                      Optional Activities
                      • San Cristobal de las Casas - Lagunas de Montebello - USD35
                      • San Cristobal - Bicycle rental (per hour) - USD30
                        Accommodation
                        Hotel (1 nt)
                        Meals
                        1 breakfast
                        Day 9 Palenque
                        Depart San Cristobal de Las Casas and head for Palenque today. The afternoon is at your leisure to relax and explore the town.

                        The local Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque has been quite active in recent months, occasionally holding protests or blocking roads. Our local operations team is constantly monitoring this situation to ensure the safety of our passengers and leaders. In some cases we might need to use an alternative route from San Cristobal to Palenque to avoid this activity - more so to bypass long traffic delays than any real danger. It's also possible that the Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls will not be accessible at the time we are scheduled to visit.
                        Included Activities
                        • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
                          Accommodation
                          Hotel (1 nt)
                          Meals
                          1 breakfast
                          Day 10 Palenque
                          Today we enjoy a guided tour around the ruins of Palenque.
                          Situated on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle, lie some of the most incredible Maya ruins in the region, dating back to AD600. The eerie calls of howler monkeys echo through the jungle as you wander among ancient ruins, further enhancing the majestic nature of this magnificent site. Some ruins remain unexcavated and hidden in the surrounding forest.
                          Included Activities
                          • Palenque - Entrance to Palenque Ruins
                            Optional Activities
                            • Palenque - Jungle Trail tour - USD15
                              Accommodation
                              Hotel (1 nt)
                              Meals
                              1 breakfast
                              Day 11 Campeche
                              Pack your swimsuits today as we drive north towards the Gulf of Mexico, where we stop at the beach for a swim. We then drive on to Campeche where we spend the night.
                              Campeche is a typical Spanish colonial harbour town, complete with walls and fortifications. A UNESCO World Heritage site, many of the town's buildings have been restored, and as a result it is one of the most picturesque towns in Mexico.
                              We take an orientation tour of the city and also visit the San Miguel Fort and museum.
                              Included Activities
                              • Campeche - San Miguel Fort
                              • Campeche - City Tour
                                Accommodation
                                Hotel (1 nt)
                                Meals
                                1 breakfast
                                Day 12 Merida
                                This morning we head into the ancient ruins of Uxmal to view the amazing Palace of the Governors, considered by many to be the finest example of classic Maya architecture, and the mystical Pyramid of the Magician, which consists of 5 super-imposed temples.
                                We then continue on to the beautiful city of Merida, and take a tour of the city.
                                Founded in 1542, Merida still retains much of its old-world charm with a well-preserved Old Town, wonderful museums and city streets alive with art and culture. It was also a centre for Maya culture long before the arrival of the conquistadors.
                                Included Activities
                                • Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. transport and guide)
                                • Merida - Guided city tour
                                  Optional Activities
                                  • Merida - Celestún Bird Sanctuary (entrance and transport) - USD50
                                  • Merida - Contemporary Art Museum - USD5
                                    Accommodation
                                    Hotel (1 nt)
                                    Meals
                                    1 breakfast
                                    Day 13 Merida
                                    You will have a free day to explore the many sights and your leader will be able to recommend a number of sightseeing options, including the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan.
                                    Hang out in the green and shady Plaza Grande, with the twin-towered 16th century Cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the others. For a taste of Merida's 19th century glory go for a walk along the mansion lined Paseo de Montejo. Mornings are the best time to visit the outdoor markets and you can stock up on hammocks and Maya replicas. It's a great place to try out the local food specialities, like cochinita pibil or the head-blowingly spicy El Yucateco hot sauce.
                                    Accommodation
                                    Hotel (1 nt)
                                    Meals
                                    1 breakfast
                                    Day 14 Playa del Carmen
                                    Our first stop today is the archaeological site of Chichen Itza.
                                    One of the most impressive Mayan sites, Chichen Itza contains both Toltec and Mayan ruins lying alongside each other. The famous El Castillo pyramid dominates the ruins and the site also has the largest ball court where games used to be held. The games are depicted in carvings on the walls. Nearby, excavations of the Well of Sacrifice offered up treasures of jade, copper and gold as well as many human and animal bones.
                                    Following a guided tour of the site, we continue to the resort town of Playa del Carmen.
                                    With azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city close to Cancun but without the party atmosphere. Spend your time snorkelling among the mangroves, diving in underground caverns or strolling along the white sands. In the evenings kick back and watch the waves with a margarita. For adventures further afield take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving.
                                    Included Activities
                                    • Chichen Itza - Entrance
                                      Accommodation
                                      Hotel (1 nt)
                                      Meals
                                      1 breakfast
                                      Day 15 Havana
                                      The Mexico part of the trip ends after breakfast this morning. You will then transfer to Cancun airport for your flight to Havana. Please note that this flight is not included in the trip and you will need to book it separately. We recommend booking a flight that arrives into Havana in time for the welcome meeting at approximately 7pm.

                                      Bienvenido a Cuba!
                                      After collecting your luggage, please continue walking through the main arrivals hall of the airport. An Intrepid representative will meet you and transfer you to your Premium Guesthouse.

                                      In the evening, at approximately 7 pm, you will meet your leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. Please expect a letter or a phone call on Day 1 from your leader to confirm the time and place of your meeting. The briefing is generally followed by an optional group dinner.

                                      Havana grew from an obscure port to a bustling hub when gold and silver that was being pillaged by the Spanish from the New World was taken to Spain. While the ships gathered in growing numbers, the pirates were not far behind and the treasures resting in Cuba's ports were attacked again and again by Dutch, English and French pirates. The Spanish built fort after fort for protection but the English eventually captured the territory. An economic boom followed due to the English lifting the Spanish trade restrictions. Spain eventually exchanged the Florida territory for the island, but these years left an indelible mark on the city and the country, and Havana is slowly restoring its beautiful colonial buildings.
                                      Included Activities
                                      • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
                                        Accommodation
                                        Premium Guesthouse (1 nt)
                                        Meals
                                        1 breakfast
                                        Day 16 Soroa/Vinales
                                        This morning your leader will take you on a walking tour of Old Havana, including the cathedral, Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Central Park.
                                        Drive west to Soroa where you will stop for lunch and tour the impressive orchid garden.
                                        Continue on to Vinales where tobacco and sugarcane fields lie side by side and limestone outcrops dot the landscape.
                                        The scenery here is some of the most picturesque in Cuba and there are many outdoor, optional activities available to help you enjoy it. Choose from cycling, hiking through tobacco fields, or hiking to mountain caves.
                                        Included Activities
                                        • Soroa - Orchid garden tour
                                        • Vinales - Guided valley walking tour
                                        • Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
                                          Optional Activities
                                          • Soroa - Hike to waterfall - CUC3
                                          • Vinales - Bicycle hire (per hour) - CUC2
                                          • Vinales - Beach excursion to Cayo Jutias - USD30
                                          • Vinales - Salsa lesson (per hour) - CUC8
                                          • Vinales - Cueva del Indio - CUC5
                                          • Vinales - Palenque Cave - CUC1
                                          • Vinales - Live music venues - CUC1
                                          • Vinales - Santo Tomas cave visit & return taxi - CUC35
                                            Accommodation
                                            Guesthouse (1 nt)
                                            Meals
                                            1 breakfast, 1 lunch
                                            Day 17 Vinales
                                            A walking tour of the farmlands and crops is included today. Learn more about the simple lifestyle here and see first hand the farmers who grow tabacco for some of the most expensive cigars.

                                            Vinales is a small and charming rural village. It's probably the easiest place to mingle with locals in Cuba, who are very sociable. Many of them love nothing better than to drink rum and dance the night away. An informal salsa lesson is included so you are confident to be involved. There are only three bars in this town, so you probably won't find yourself getting lost!
                                            Accommodation
                                            Guesthouse (1 nt)
                                            Meals
                                            1 breakfast, 1 dinner
                                            Day 18 Trinidad
                                            Today you will board the bus and head to Trinidad. There's no doubt it's one of Cuba's alluring destinations, a great place to wander around, with almost every scene offering a photo opportunity. Watch as locals casually smoke their huge cigars on the doorsteps of their homes, and hear the old Chevrolets rumbling by. Kick things off by strolling along the cobbled streets and marvelling at some of the colourful colonial architecture on display (this town was put on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988 for good reason).

                                             
                                            Included Activities
                                            • Trinidad - Informal Salsa lesson
                                              Optional Activities
                                              • Trinidad - Snorkelling trip - CUC15
                                              • Trinidad - Cayo Blanco island catamaran cruise - CUC45
                                              • Trinidad - Ancon beach shuttle bus - CUC4
                                              • Trinidad - Trek to El Nicho Waterfall (taxi, entrance fee & guide) - CUC27
                                              • Trinidad - Train ride - CUC10
                                              • Trinidad - Bicycle rental (full day) - CUC5
                                              • Trinidad - Live music venues - CUC5
                                              • Trinidad - Salsa Dance Lesson - CUC8
                                              • Trinidad - Musical instrument lesson (guitar, double bass, tres, percussion - per hour) - CUC10
                                                Accommodation
                                                Premium Guesthouse (1 nt)
                                                Meals
                                                1 breakfast, 1 lunch
                                                Day 19 Trinidad
                                                Enjoy a day of free time. There are some great Spanish-style churches to see, and nearby is the Valle de los Ingenios, where sugar plantations stretch out as far as the eye can see. For some seaside fun, head down to Playa Ancon and stroll its long stretches of white sand. You can go for a snorkel too. Just be careful when you're in the water, as sea urchins can be a problem here. Back on the land, you can go horse-riding, cycling or hiking. If you rent a bicycle, be careful on the cobblestones, and remember your bike will be of the vintage variety. The trekking is great in the Sierra del Escambray, the local mountains. A folklore dance and music show in one of the open-air venues is highly recommended – a great chance to immerse yourself in Cuba's African, French and Spanish-influenced music and dance culture.
                                                Accommodation
                                                Premium Guesthouse (1 nt)
                                                Meals
                                                1 breakfast, 1 dinner
                                                Day 20 Cienfuegos
                                                A short drive will take you to Cienfuegos today. This is the gem of the south, a seaside town of relaxing streets and dazzling buildings that strike a beautiful pose by the water. You will enjoy a photo stop at Palacio del Valle, which is Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy. Learn more about its history as you take in the beauty of its intricate carvings of Venetian alabaster. If you haven't done so already, perhaps try some Cuban coffee while you're here – it's served black, strong and super sweet.

                                                 
                                                Included Activities
                                                • Cienfuegos - Visit to the Palacio del Valle
                                                  Accommodation
                                                  Premium Guesthouse (1 nt)
                                                  Meals
                                                  1 breakfast
                                                  Day 21 Havana
                                                  On your way back to Havana, you'll stop in at Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial. In the museum you can get a rare insight into the legacy of the revolutionary leader, with some interesting ephemera and artefacts on display – letters, firearms, even medical devices. Upon arrival in Havana, prepare for a final night of celebrations.

                                                   
                                                  Included Activities
                                                  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
                                                    Accommodation
                                                    Premium Guesthouse (1 nt)
                                                    Meals
                                                    1 breakfast, 1 lunch
                                                    Day 22 Havana
                                                    Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast. Check-out time is 10 am.
                                                    Meals
                                                    1 breakfast
                                                    Itinerary disclaimer
                                                    ITINERARY CHANGES 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. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! 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. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

                                                    OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
                                                    Physical rating

                                                    None of the activities featured in this trip require special training or skills, just a reasonable level of fitness and a willingness to participate. If you are in any doubt, please share these concerns or issues with your sales consultant so that your leader is aware prior and can pre-empt your needs. 
                                                    Included activities
                                                    Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
                                                    Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
                                                    Mexico City - Museum of Anthropology
                                                    Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
                                                    Mexico City - City Tour
                                                    Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
                                                    Puebla - Santo Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel
                                                    Puebla - City Tour
                                                    Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins (entrance fee)
                                                    Oaxaca - Mitla ruins visit
                                                    Oaxaca - Mezcal Factory
                                                    Oaxaca - Tule Tree
                                                    San Cristobal de las Casas - Sumidero Canyon (inc. transport)
                                                    San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
                                                    Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
                                                    Palenque - Entrance to Palenque Ruins
                                                    Campeche - San Miguel Fort
                                                    Campeche - City Tour
                                                    Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. transport and guide)
                                                    Merida - Guided city tour
                                                    Chichen Itza - Entrance
                                                    Soroa - Orchid garden tour
                                                    Vinales - Guided valley walking tour
                                                    Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
                                                    Trinidad - Informal Salsa lesson
                                                    Cienfuegos - Visit to the Palacio del Valle
                                                    Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
                                                    Important notes
                                                    1. The international flight from Cancun to Havana on Day 15 of this itinerary is not included in the price of this trip.
                                                    2. A single supplement is available on this trip.
                                                    3. An airport arrival transfer is included in Mexico City and in Havana. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking.
                                                    4. An airport departure transfer is included from Playa del Carmen. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking.
                                                    5. 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.


                                                    Group size
                                                    Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
                                                    Your fellow travellers
                                                    GROUP TRAVEL
                                                    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.

                                                    SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                                                    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

                                                    A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
                                                    Accommodation
                                                    Hotel (14 nights), Premium Guesthouse (5 nights), Guesthouse (2 nights)
                                                    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

                                                    Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

                                                    If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.


                                                    GUESTHOUSES:
                                                    Cuban Guesthouses (known locally as Casa Particulares) are more similar in style to B&Bs than they are our homestays. Guests are served their meals separate to the family, and, while some guesthouse owners speak English, interaction mostly consists of gestures, smiles and ‘Spanglish’.

                                                    Because families must have the space and resources to accommodate guests, Guesthouses, if possibly more rustic than the accommodation you might be used to back home, are much nicer than your average Cuban dwelling. Moreover, because renovations in the country’s government-run hotels tending to be few and far between, Premium and Deluxe guesthouses very often rival, if not surpass, Cuban hotels when it comes to décor, amenities and (certainly) customer service.

                                                    Just like the residences in your own neighbourhood, each Guesthouse is unique; expect there to be differences between the rooms you and your travelling companions stay in (generally we arrange things so that there are 1-4 group members in each home). The rooms, although basic, are always clean and comfortable. While most Standard rooms will have air-conditioning, some may just have a fan. Each has a private bathroom with towels provided, though make sure to bring any toiletries you might require as not all guesthouses provide soap and shampoo. Also note that electric shower heads with visible wires are a normality in Cuba! As with many developing countries, power cuts do occur on occasion, meaning that hot water can’t always be guaranteed regardless of the standard.

                                                    We have classified guesthouses into three standards for the comfort level of our trips: Standard, Premium and Deluxe, although please note not all standards exist in each city or province.

                                                    The rooms in our Premium and Deluxe guesthouses are larger than in the Standard and also usually feature a desk or armchair. The mattresses and pillows are imported rather than locally made, the linen is cotton rather than synthetic, and there will always be soap, split system air-conditioning, and an in-room safe. Most other differences can be a little harder to tell at first, and you’ll probably only be able to notice the difference once you’ve stayed in both standards. Be assured though that the comforts to which foreign travellers are accustomed have been taken into account in classifying premium and deluxe guesthouses a higher standard of accommodation.


                                                    ACCOMMODATION OVERBOOKINGS:
                                                    Cuba is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination and unfortunately the number of rooms available is not increasing at the same rate. Hotels and Guesthouses occasionally cancel bookings at the last minute and do not always offer an alternative option that meets our standards. While these types of cancellations are outside of our control, our local team is presented with the difficult task of sourcing the next best from whatever else is available; choosing the option that  will have the least impact on your experience. This overbooking is affecting all tour operators in the country and you need to be aware that it may affect your trip.
                                                    Meals introduction
                                                    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

                                                    There are some simple breakfasts included on this trip which are comprised simply of bread, butter, jam, coffee / tea and juice (or similar).

                                                    Food in Cuba has a reputation for being bland and lacking variety, however it has improved dramatically over the last two years. It is possible to eat well in Cuba, however some travellers like to bring their own sauces and spices to add some more flavour to their meals.
                                                    Beans and rice are the staples, with cucumber, tomato and cabbage, conventional ingredients for a Cuban salad. Chicken and pork are the most common meats served in Cuba, however fish and a variety of seafood is also frequently on offer. Vegetarians should be aware that while you can get vegetarian meals in Cuba, you generally won't find much variety and you may get tired being offered the same (ie - rice, beans, omelet and salad) everyday. Vegetarians are often surprised that their meals are no cheaper than those containing meat, and this is because vegetables on the free market in Cuba are of similar prices to those of meat.

                                                    It can be hard to find a suitable place to eat while travelling in Cuba, as roadside restaurants tend to cater for large tour groups and either offer a fixed meal or a very limited selection of snacks. In the cities and towns small privately-owned restaurants, paladares, offer a little more choice but can often only seat a maximum of twelve people (the number for which they are officially licensed) though some proprietors will often find a practical solution.
                                                    To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility.
                                                    Our groups tend to eat dinner together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though. Your group leader will also be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip.

                                                     
                                                    Meals
                                                    21 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
                                                    Transport
                                                    Private minivan, Private Bus

                                                    There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. Windy roads, rough surfaces and cramped conditions make for some challenging travel experiences. On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination. If you experience travel sickness we recommend you consider medication to help ease the discomfort.

                                                    For your information, there are two systems of public transport in Cuba - one for locals and one for tourists. Much of the transport for locals is subsidised by the government, and it is illegal for tourists to take this transport. If the driver is caught with a tourist on board, it is assumed that the driver is taking extra money for this from the tourist and the driver can be fined. The government therefore has a separate bus company for tourists to take - called Viazul. The Viazul buses are large modern buses that are quite comfortable and have air-conditioning, and sometimes movies on board.
                                                    Money matters
                                                    The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN).

                                                    With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.

                                                    Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day.

                                                    It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US dollars is the most readily changeable currency.

                                                    VERY IMPORTANT:
                                                    USD100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other USD bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.

                                                    SPENDING MONEY
                                                    When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

                                                    If you're happy with the services provided 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.

                                                    The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

                                                    Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

                                                    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest USD2-USD4 per passenger per day.

                                                    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 suggest USD1-USD2 per day for drivers.

                                                    Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline USD2-USD4 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.

                                                    In total, we recommend you budget approx USD5-USD10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

                                                    Please allow USD25 for international departure tax from Mexico. This is sometimes included in your international airfare.

                                                    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.

                                                    ATMs:
                                                    You will need a PIN for your credit card to be able to use the ATMs. Generally only Visa cards work in the ATMs (usually 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 or any cards from banks associated with the USA. 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.

                                                    EXCHANGE HOUSES:
                                                    CADECAs are the official government exchange houses. These can be found in every city, at the airport and are commonly found in the larger hotels in Havana. To utilise any of the services offered, as below, you will need your passport. It is in your best interest to specifically ask for smaller bills.
                                                    - Exchange foreign cash to CUC.
                                                    - Make cash advances on credit cards.
                                                    - Exchange travellers cheques.

                                                    Credit cards (both Visa and MasterCard) should be accepted at the CADECAs for cash advances.

                                                    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 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).

                                                    To exchange travellers cheques you will also need the receipt of the bank where you bought them. Travellers cheques are becoming increasingly difficult to exchange so are not recommended. AU$ and NZ$ are not currently accepted in Cuba.

                                                    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$.

                                                    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 CADECAs 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.

                                                    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.

                                                    DEPARTURE TAX:
                                                    The 25CUC departure tax from Cuba will now most likely be included in your international air ticket. Please check with your airline.

                                                    EMERGENCY FUNDS
                                                    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                                                    Group leader
                                                    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

                                                    Your leader 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. While not being guides in the traditional sense 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. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
                                                    Safety
                                                    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

                                                    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

                                                    Your leader will accompany you on most included activities but you won’t be accompanied while travelling between locations. During your trip you'll also have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

                                                    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

                                                    http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety

                                                    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
                                                    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

                                                    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 or in the Guesthouse rooms.

                                                    LOCAL LODGINGS:
                                                    On this trip you will be staying in some restored houses and local lodges - these are one of the charms of this journey, but their staircases, balconies and passages etc may not always comply with western safety standards. Please do not expect elevators in these properties as they are preserved to their original state.

                                                    FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
                                                    Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

                                                    TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
                                                    Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

                                                    SEAT BELTS:
                                                    Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

                                                    LIFE JACKETS:
                                                    While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.

                                                    WATER SAFETY:
                                                    Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
                                                    Joining point
                                                    Hotel Century Zona Rosa
                                                    Liverpool No. 152, Cuauhtémoc
                                                    Zona Rosa
                                                    Mexico City
                                                    C.P. 06600
                                                    MEXICO
                                                    Phone: 01 55 5726 9911
                                                    Continuing point
                                                    A Premium Guesthouse
                                                    [The Base Guesthouse is "La Gargola" - 1st floor #82 Cuba St, between Cuarteles y Chacon Streets, Old Havana]
                                                    Havana
                                                    CUBA
                                                    Phone: +53 (7)8628285
                                                    Continuing point instructions
                                                    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 Premium Guesthouse (or Guesthouse).
                                                    After collecting your luggage, please continue walking 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 near the information point 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 commissions to direct you to another transfer company).

                                                    If you are already in Havana prior to your trip, or if you do not require a transfer, please make your way to our base Guesthouse which has 24 hour service. From here you will be given directions to your starting Guesthouse.

                                                    BASE Guesthouse:
                                                    "La Gargola"
                                                    1st floor #82 Cuba street between Cuarteles & Chacon Streets,
                                                    Old Havana
                                                    PH: +53 (7)8605493

                                                    The Spanish translation of the address is "La Gargola" - 1° Piso #82 Calle Cuba entre Cuarteles y Chacon, Havana Vieja.
                                                    Finish point
                                                    A Premium Guesthouse
                                                    [The Base Guesthouse is "La Gargola" - 1st floor #82 Cuba St, between Cuarteles y Chacon Streets, Old Havana]
                                                    Havana
                                                    CUBA
                                                    Phone: +53 (7)8628285
                                                    Emergency contact
                                                    In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local ground representative for Central America and Mexico, Viaventure, can be reached on +502 5778 4100 or +502 5778 4052

                                                    Or Intrepid's representative for Cuba on +53 5333 8121

                                                    For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist. For further contact details please use the following page:

                                                    For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

                                                    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 ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

                                                    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.

                                                    +53 5333 8121
                                                    Visas
                                                    MEXICO:
                                                    Australia: Not required
                                                    Belgium: Not required
                                                    Canada: Not required
                                                    Germany: Not required
                                                    Ireland: Not required
                                                    Netherlands: Not required
                                                    New Zealand: Not required
                                                    South Africa: Yes - in advance
                                                    Switzerland: Not required
                                                    United Kingdom: Not required
                                                    USA: Not required

                                                    CUBA:
                                                    Tourists of most nationalities require a 'Tourist Card' which is similar to a tourist visa. These can be obtained through travel agents in your home country, or directly from Cuban embassies and consulates. Depending on the airline you are travelling with to Cuba, you may also be able to purchase the tourist card at the airport from the airline on the day of your departure - please check with your airline.

                                                    If you are an American citizen, American permanent resident, or hold any type of American Visa, and are considering travelling to Cuba, please refer to the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website - travel.state.gov - for the latest advice. If flying with a charter airline from Miami, you can purchase your tourist card directly through the charter company. Passengers transiting through a third country can purchase the card at the airport where you connect to Havana. You can also purchase cards in advance through www.cubavisas.com

                                                    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
                                                    What to take
                                                    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, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

                                                    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.

                                                    Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

                                                    http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

                                                    WARM CLOTHING:
                                                    Temperatures can be low in the winter months, especially at altitude, so bring a set of warmer clothes including thermal underclothes and a fleece jacket.

                                                    IMAGES FROM HOME:
                                                    During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.

                                                    CLIMATE AND CLOTHING:
                                                    Lightweight clothing is recommended throughout most of the year, especially in the summer months of June, July, and August when it can get very hot and humid. In the winter months of December, January, and February it can get colder, particularly during the evenings, and it's recommended to bring a fleece top, jacket or the like, for these months. Although the temperatures don’t get very low in Cuba (the all-time record is -1C), because of humidity levels and the fact that Cuban houses are not set up for cold weather, the cold - when it comes - can be hard to escape from. In general however, during the day the climate in Cuba is hot and tropical. There will be plenty of opportunities for swimming so be sure to bring your swimwear.

                                                    For footwear, some people can get by with just a pair of sandals. In summer, open footwear is definitely preferable, even in the evenings. There are some interesting optional day-walks, which involve walking over some steep and rocky terrain, so we advise bringing footwear that you would feel comfortable doing this in.

                                                    Despite their low income levels, Cubans love to dress up smartly and fashionably whenever they can. For going out in the evenings, casual dress is acceptable everywhere although one collared shirt for males is recommended, otherwise there's no need to bring clothes or footwear especially for this. 

                                                    TOILETRIES:
                                                    We recommend you to take your own supply of shampoo, soap and toilet paper to use in the guesthouses and public toilets. We also encourage women to take their own supply of sanitary items as these items are not widely available for purchase.
                                                    WATER BOTTLE:
                                                    Although it is not advisable to drink the tap water in Cuba, please consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day. 
                                                    Please keep in mind that due to import restrictions, availibilty of the larger water containers is inconsistent (and sometimes the smaller bottles for that matter). The leaders will do best to source the larger containers to encourage the group to refill their personal bottles.

                                                    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. 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.
                                                    Climate and seasonal information
                                                    HURRICANE SEASON:
                                                    Please note hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors situations as they arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.

                                                    TRAVEL INSURANCE:
                                                    The Cuban government has declared that from 1 May 2010, travel insurance (which covers at least medical expenses) to be compulsory for all travellers to Cuba. Proof of travel insurance will be requested at Havana airport by immigration officials. Travellers failing to produce a valid document will be required to purchase a new policy at the airport, before being granted access to Cuba.

                                                    WEATHER CONTINGENCIES:
                                                    Please note that Hurricane season is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors these situations as they may arise, so that itineraries or activities can be amended as necessary.
                                                    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 Travel 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.

                                                    DENGUE FEVER:
                                                    Dengue Fever is common in Latin America and can occur throughout the year. Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil and parts of Mexico are currently suffering from a serious outbreak. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.

                                                    YELLOW FEVER:
                                                    A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

                                                    It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

                                                    WHO – WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
                                                    The World Health Organization has identified the following mosquito transmitted diseases in this region:

                                                    Dengue, Yellow Fever, Malaria and Zika (amongst others)

                                                    For more information, please visit www.who.int


                                                    Zika virus.
                                                    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in parts of Central and South America. This virus is mostly concerning to pregnant women as recently in Brazil local authorities have linked the virus to an increase in babies born with microcephaly (smaller than normal skull).
                                                    In addition to the risk mentioned above WHO have reported that Zika symptoms may include mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
                                                    In line with the above, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip to Central and South America.
                                                    At this stage, WHO is not recommending any travel or trade restrictions related to the Zika virus.
                                                    More information on the Zika virus can be found at the following links:
                                                    World Health Organisation: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/
                                                    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 trip, you won't be permitted to join the trip until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by our local representative.

                                                    If you have credit card insurance our local representative will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact telephone 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:

                                                    http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
                                                    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.

                                                    Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                                                    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.

                                                    http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

                                                    Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.

                                                    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$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

                                                    http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

                                                    The Intrepid Foundation currently supports Casaito in Guatemala - Central America:
                                                    * CasaSito provides educational opportunities in rural areas of Guatemala for children living in poverty. Guatemala has a very high level of illiteracy, particularly in rural areas which lack schools and educational resources. Our support is for their scholarship program, helping keep children in school.
                                                    www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/casasito/


                                                    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.

                                                    http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback