Travel to Cuba to experience the spirit of Havana and the rhythmic Caribbean vibe

From Cuba's historical streets of Havana to the pristine shores of the Caribbean, stroll through World Heritage cities, relive a fascinating colonial history and experience the rich heritage of music and dance that Cuba is renowned for. Prepare to be wowed as you discover Baracoa’s mountainous surrounds, visit the birthplace of salsa and admire Trinidad’s unrivalled ambience on this two-week adventure. From historic cars to fragrant cigars and with plenty of rum and rumba in between, this adventure will take you into the heart of all things Cuban.

Start
Havana, Cuba
Finish
Havana, Cuba
Countries
Cuba
Themes
Explorer
Code
QUSH
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
227kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Stroll the streets of elegant Havana
  • Discover Cuba's pirate past in Baracoa
  • Get lost in the streets of colonial Camaguey
  • Experience Trinidad's unspoilt beaches
  • Learn how to move like a local in Santiago de Cuba
  • Visit Cuba's Che Guevara museum
  • Get acquainted with Havana's neighbourhoods during a city walk

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.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
14 breakfasts
Transport
Bus, Minibus, Plane
Accommodation
Guesthouse (13 nights), Hotel (1 night)
Included activities
  • Baracoa - Orientation walk
  • Camaguey - Bicycle taxi city tour
  • Informal Salsa lesson
  • Informal Spanish lesson
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
  • Santiago de Cuba - half day city tour
  • Trinidad - Orientation walk

Dates

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip.
2. A complimentary transfer is included with your trip.

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 Best of Cuba trips score an average of 4.61 out of 5 based on 160 reviews in the last year.

Best of Cuba , January 2016

Best of Cuba , January 2016