This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2017 to 01 January 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Overview & Itinerary


Start
Havana, Cuba
Finish
Havana, Cuba
Country
Cuba
Style
Original
Theme
Family
Code
QUFA
Travellers rating
4.5
Ages
Min 5
Group size
Min 4, Max 16
Validity
01 Jan 2017 to 01 Jan 2018

Is this trip right for you?

  • Cash is difficult to access in Cuba. Credit cards (not debit cards) are essential – ideally multiple credit cards from several different banks.

  • Luxuries such as air conditioning, and even kitchen sinks, are often scarce. Part of the experience here is learning to appreciate everyday Cuban resourcefulness.

  • There's plenty of time to eat the delights of the sea, but it's good to keep in mind that accompaniments are not as expansive as in another countries, due to limitations on imports.

  • Internet access can be hard to come by, and when it's available it's often unreliable and expensive. This is, on the other hand, a great opportunity to take a break from modern devices and have a true holiday.

  • 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.

Physical rating

These trips are setup to involve and include all the family so no real physical preparation is necessary. The trips all have some degree of physical activity but nothing that is too strenuous. Please check the physical rating on the trip notes and if you need further explanation please contact one of our sales consultants who will provide you with more detailed information.

Joining point

Hotel Presidente
Calzada Street #110 (Corner of Avenida de los Presidentes)
Vedado
Havana
CUBA
Phone: +53 7838 1801

Joining point instructions

If you have booked an arrival transfer your driver will be waiting just outside the customs hall. He will be holding a sign with Intrepid on it and/or your name. If you are unable to locate him please go to any of the airport desks and ask them to call our local agent on either of the following numbers - 052506496- Eria (first emergency number)
052735506- Nelson – (second emergency number)- driver.
If your flight has been delayed as long as we have been given the correct flight information our driver should be there to meet you.

If you have not arranged an arrival transfer please take a taxi to your hotel.

Problems and emergency contact information

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.

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact Intrepid's representative for Cuba on Tel: +61 430 504 636.

The local assistance number is +53 53338121

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

Big Planet: +61 430 369 284

Itinerary

Bienvenidos a Cuba! Welcome to Cuba!

Today is an arrival today while families fly in from around the world. If you arrive early, Havana is a fantastic city to explore.

Havana is one of the finest colonial cities in the Americas with narrow streets, spacious plazas and glorious Spanish architecture. There is an air of faded glory about the place with paint peeling off buildings and '50s and '60s American automobiles still dominating the roads.

A welcome meeting will take place in the morning of day 2. On check-in the hotel will advise where the group meeting will be, there are no activities planned for this evening.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Presidente or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
After breakfast we set out on the 200 km (approx 3 hours) drive west to Vinales, crossing typical landscapes of cane fields, tobacco plantations and tall palm trees along the way. En route we'll stop at Soroa, and take a short walk (approx 30 minutes) to a nearby waterfall.

We then continue north on a scenic road, climbing into the Sierra de los Organos towards the sleepy village of Vinales.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Vinales - Leader Led Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • Vinales - Botanical Gardens - USD1
  • Vinales - Salsa lesson (per hour) - CUC10
  • Vinales - Bicycle hire (per day) - CUC5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The Vinales Valley boasts the oldest geological formations in Cuba, unique to the area. Spectacular mogotes - sheer-sided, conical towers of limestone - some over 300 metres high are all that is left of a great plateau after millions of years of erosion by wind and water.

The resultant karst terrain is similar to southern China or Vietnam, especially when a layer of mist carpets the valley floor in the early morning. It is a fascinating scene, all the more so when oxen are working the fields and the scent of tobacco fills the air.

We'll take a guided walk through this rich countryside to see something of rural life, and hopefully stop at a farmer's house.

In the afternoon we'll visit the Cueva del Indio, an impressive limestone cave once inhabited by local Indians and filled with stalactites and stalagmites. A river runs through the second half of the cave and we'll board a boat to take us through and out into the daylight. At dusk thousands of bats stream out of the cave to go and feed.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Vinales - Cueva del Indio (Cave visit with boat trip)
  • Vinales - Guided valley walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we start with breakfast before driving the relatively short distance to Soroa (approximately 1 hr 30 minutes). Soroa is known by some as the "Rainbow of Cuba". It is a gorgeous natural area set within the mountains. It is significantly cooler here than the other places we go on the tour and refreshing during the summer months.

The rainfall here promotes the growth of tall trees and orchids and bird life here is abundant. We will undertake an enjoyable walk to a waterfall and get the chance to swim at a water hole, all very relaxed and enjoyable.

We stay tonight in a set of guesthouses in the village, being country folk the locals are humble and very friendly and hospitable.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Soroa - Hike to waterfall
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Our route today takes us past the badlands of the Zapata Peninsula to Playa Larga, standing at the head of the famous Bay of Pigs where, in 1961 a force of CIA-trained Cuban exiles landed to stir up a counter-revolution. Further along the coast at Playa Giron a small museum commemorates this failed US effort to impose its will on socialist Cuba.

We stay tonight at a homestay near this beautiful Caribbean beach. While here this is an opportunity to go snorkelling and time spent on the beach.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Caleta Buena - Snorkelling
Optional Activities
  • Museo Giron - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we head to Cienfuegos. Cienfuegos' appeal lies partly in the European flavour of its colonial centre, with a wide Parisian-style boulevard and elegant colonnades.

There is ambience enough here to have inspired Cuba's most celebrated 'son' singer to write the words 'Cienfuegos is the city I like best'. He was born nearby, which may have helped.This afternoon we will take a walking tour of the town. We will also visit one of the famous Coppelia ice cream parlours where you can enjoy a sweet treat on us!
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cienfuegos - Coppelia ice cream parlour
  • Cienfuegos - Walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning we continue on towards Trinidad (approx 1 hour). For most visitors to Cuba, the World Heritage site of Trinidad is their standout favourite destination. No other colonial city in Cuba is so well preserved, and the local residents are extremely friendly and festive.

The town rose to prominence during the sugar boom and 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. Trinidad is also steeped in religion, such as Santeria, which is one of the Afro-Cuban religions (related to voodoo).
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Trinidad - Orientation walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Our last day in this wonderful World Heritage site. Trinidad is one-of-a-kind, a perfectly preserved Spanish colonial settlemen. Built on huge sugar fortunes amassed in the adjacent Valle de los Ingenios during the early 19th century, the riches of the town's pre–War of Independence heyday are still very much in evidence in illustrious colonial-style mansions.

During our time here we will take a half day walk to Salto de Javira, a beautiful waterfall with a natural pool you can swim in. We will also take a trip to Playa Ancon, a classic Caribbean beach where you can relax and unwind and just soak up the Caribbean vibe.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Trinidad - Half day trip to Ancon Beach
  • Trinidad - Trek to El Nicho Waterfall (taxi, entrance fee & guide)
Optional Activities
  • Trinidad - Snorkelling trip - CUC15
  • Trinidad - Salsa Dance Lesson - CUC8
  • Trinidad - Bicycle rental (full day) - CUC5
  • Trinidad - Afro-Cuban folklore show - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
We drive today from Trinidad to Havana, stopping at Santa Clara on the way.
Santa Clara was the first major city to be liberated by Castro's army in December 1958. Today a number of monuments commemorate this important period of Cuba's history, including the mausoleum of the legendary Che Guevara, where we stop for a visit.

We arrive into Havana in the afternoon and head to our homestay, where we will sleep for the remainder of the trip.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Santa Clara - Visit to Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we take a walking tour of Old Havana. Havana's Old City is well preserved and was designated a World Heritage Site in 1982. The streets are lined with colonial architecture, 16th century fortresses and countless churches. Sites we may visit include La Catedral San Cristobal de la Habana, described by the novelist Alejo Carpentier as 'music set in stone', 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.

We also visit the Plaza de Revolucion, Miramar and the Malecon on a tour, driven in vintage American cars.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Havana - Guided walking tour of Old Havana
  • Havana - Vintage American car tour
Optional Activities
  • Havana - Morro Castle - CUC3
  • Havana - Baseball game (Oct - Apr) - CUC3
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Finishing point

A Guesthouse
Multiple guesthouses are used in order to accommodate all travellers in the same group
Havana
CUBA

Itinerary disclaimer

Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Essential Trip Information 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 and are subject to availabilities. For our families we have priced an all inclusive package including entrance fees, transport and local guide where relevant to assist you with budgeting the exact amount required on tour. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. The optional activities listed in your itinerary are activities that are available to you as a guideline and have been checked locally.

The decision to partake in any activity not listed above is entirely at your own discretion and risk. If you do have any complaint about or problem with, any such optional activity your claim should be directed to the activity provider and not to Intrepid Travel.

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/

Essential Trip Information

Important notes

A discount of 10% applies on this trip to children 17 years and under at time of travel.
Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 with you.
Age restrictions apply to this trip: minimum age 5.

Passport and visas

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.

CUBA:
A tourist card is required for most nationalities, which is considered a visa for entry for tourism purposes. These cards can be obtained from Cuban embassies and consulates in your home country. Depending on the airline you are travelling with to Cuba, you may be able to purchase the tourist card at the airport on the day of your departure - please check with your airline. All passengers must hold tickets and other documentation required for their onward or return journey unless holding special annotation issued by a Cuban Consulate.
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 - https://travel.state.gov - for the latest advice.

Medical and health information

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.

Food and dietary requirements

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. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. 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.

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.

Accommodation

Guesthouse (9 nights), Hotel (1 night)

We have classified guesthouse rooms into two standards for the comfort levels of our trips: Standard and Premium. Most differences can be a little hard to tell at first, particularly when taking aesthetic into account which varies greatly not only between rooms but also between cities and provinces. For this itinerary, guesthouse rooms will have an ensuite and air-conditioning however will not necessarily have a split system, an in-room or in-house safe or imported bedding.

Stairs are prevalent in Cuban homes. If this presents a problem to you, then please advise us at time of booking so we can request rooms on or closer to ground level.

PRE-TOUR ACCOMMODATION:
We aim to confirm the first night of your tour in Old Havana however occasionally due to availability we will confirm it in either Central Havana or Vedado. If you book pre-tour accommodation through us we will also aim to book these nights in Old Havana, and will advise your booking agent if we cannot do so. Please note: Late requests and requests of 3 nights or more have a lower chance of being confirmed in Old Havana.

POST-TOUR ACCOMMODATION
The final night of your tour may be booked in either Vedado, Central Havana or Old Havana. If you book post-tour accommodation through us, we aim to confirm it at the same property of your final tour-night (regardless of the area we have secured) to avoid the inconvenience of you having to move. If you specifically prefer your post accommodation to be booked in old Havana (knowing you may have to move areas on your own accord), you must inform your booking agent and we will request this. Please note: Late requests and requests of 3 nights or more have a lower chance of being confirmed in Old Havana.

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.

GENERAL ROOMING CONFIGURATIONS:
Family of two - All family groupings of two will be put into a twin room.

Family of three - Wherever possible we will put you in a triple room. Please be aware that in some places triple rooms are in short supply. This means that, in practice, a triple room will often simply be a twin room with a mattress on the floor or a further bed squashed in. Where it is impossible to provide a triple room, you will have to decide which of your party takes the single room.

Family of four or more - You will most likely stay in two twin rooms. If and wherever possible we will aim put you in a quadruple room. Whilst we will do our very best to ensure that families are roomed close together (in some cases, we can arrange adjoining rooms), we can’t guarantee this. Most family holidays occur during peak season and we sometimes have little to no control over where you will be put. You need to come prepared for this.

Transport

Minibus

Money matters

Cuba currency information:
There are two 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 subject to change at any time. Ensure that you use up both currencies before departing the country as they are not accepted for exchange elsewhere.

Credit Cards & ATMs in Cuba:
The success of Debit cards and Credit cards is inconsistent in Cuba. We recommend you bring at least two types of cards, and make note of your PIN in order to use these in ATMs. Previously, only Visa cards work in the ATMs but they have just started accepting Mastercard (usually not Cirrus) but unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any set rule to which cards work in which ATMs. We do know that a card obtained through Travelex will not work in Cuba, nor will a card from Citibank or any 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 cards don't work.

Exchange houses in Cuba:
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. Please note that most are closed on Sundays. If you arrive on a Sunday we suggest you exchange or withdraw money at the airport, otherwise the best option is the CADECA located in Hotel Nacional but expect a line.
To utilise any of the services offered, as below, you will need your passport. Credit cards (both Visa and MasterCard) should be accepted at the CADECAs for cash advances. 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.

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).

Commissions at exchange houses in Cuba:
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. 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 (CUP3) 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.

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).

TIPPING:
If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many destinations. Due to the low Government-set wages in Cuba, tipping is relied upon heavily so expect to tip for just about everything. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.

Hold on to your smaller notes and coins to make tipping easier. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

- Restaurants: Local markets, government and private (paladares) restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest 10%. There's no need to tip at dinners taken at Guesthouses.
- Guesthouse: You may consider tipping the employees (not the owners) of a Guesthouse; CUC1-2 is suggested, although a clothing item, a towel or the like will be kindly received.
- Toilet attendant: CUC 0.25 per use.
- Musicians: CUC1-2 per session.
- Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest CUC2 per person per day for local guides.
- Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of CUC1-2 per day is generally appropriate.
- Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline CUC2-4 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 CUC10-15 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

Budget for meals not included: 180.00

CONTINGENCY FUNDS:
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.

Packing

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).

Many 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 also 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:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

CLOTHING & EQUIPMENT:
Below is a suggestion of what you might find useful to take on this trip.

* Lightweight cottons & linens (shorts & T-shirts are acceptable just about everywhere)
* Light fleece (for cool evenings in the mountains).
* Lightweight waterproof (and/or a collapsible umbrella)
* Swimwear & towel
* Sun-hat
* Trainers or Lightweight trail boots
* Sandals for relaxing
* Torch & spare batteries (power cuts are common!)
* Sunglasses, high factor sunscreen & lipsalve
* Insect repellent
* Water bottle
* Towel
* Small personal first aid kit

NB: many commodities which we regard as essential are scarce or even simply unobtainable in Cuba. These include medicines, toiletries, tampons, photographic supplies, torch and batteries.

WATER BOTTLE
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.

Climate and seasonal information

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.

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 and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. 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 all included activities, however during your trip you'll 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

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.

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.

LUGGAGE PROTECTION:
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.

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 violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders, local operators or locals.

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.

Travelling on a group trip

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.

A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information.

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 group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

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

TRAVEL INSURANCE:
The Cuban government has declared that travel insurance (which covers at least medical expenses) is compulsory for all travellers to Cuba. Proof of travel insurance may 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. Cuban authorities also announced that they will not recognise any insurance policy issued or underwritten by any insurance company which has an affiliation with a US company. You should take this into account when purchasing your insurance before departure from your home country.

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/