CURIOSITIES OF CUBA

 

2 MAY - 25 MAY 2020

    

Duration 24 Days   

A very special tour rich in history and culture.  Visit the historic cities of Havana and Santiago plus the colonial gems of Trinidad and Camaguey.  Be enthralled by it’s beaches, mountains, architecture and rich musical heritage that Cuba is renowned for

– but most of all by it’s charming people. We will take an exhilarating classic car ride along the Malecon (promenade), just fantastic. 

We’ll visit the rum factories and the tobacco producing farms with cigar making attraction. 

This is the best time to travel to Cuba before the inevitable change happens. 

Limited numbers on this tour. Max 16 people.

Highlights:

Traditional Cuban music

Ride in a Classic car along the Malecón (promenade)

Visit Rum museum and Cigar factory

Bicycle taxi tour in Camaguey

Orchid garden in Soroa

Visit Sugar mills in Trinidad

Walking tour of Cienfuegos

Visit the infamous Bay of Pigs

Boat trip along Toa River

BBQ Lunch in Baracoa

3 nights in Varadero All Inclusive luxury resort

AND SO MUCH MORE!!

Day 1:       Depart Auckland – Lima via Santiago

Overnight in Lima Airport hotel

Day  2    -    LIMA - HAVANA

 Welcome to Cuba! Our representative will be waiting your arrival to transfer you in a private air conditioned vehicle to your hotel.

Day 3  -   HAVANA

This morning you will be met by your Guide for your Havana City walking tour including lunch.

The best place to start any Havana experience is in the Old City. Havana's Old City is one of the

best preserved and  was designated a World Heritage Site in 1982. The streets are lined with colonial architecture,

16th century fortresses and countless churches. After breakfast your local guide will take you on a walking tour of

Old Havana and you will visit La Catedral San Cristobal de la Habana, described by the novelist Alejo Carpentier

as 'music set in stone'. You will also visit famous landmarks such as 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. You will also have lunch at an authentic family-run

Cuban restaurant (Paladar).  On conclusion, the remainder of the day is at leisure for you to relax and enjoy

your surroundings before your included dinner.

Day 4 -  HAVANA

This morning you will be collected from your hotel for your day of sightseeing.  First stop is the Hotel Conde de Villanueva,

an attractively restored 18th century mansion in the historic centre of the city.  The hotel has one of the most popular

cigar shops in town, and many people have personal humidors here to store their precious cigars.  Here you will

meet a “torcedor” or cigar roller, who will answer all your questions while you watch him go about his special craft. 

At the end of the demonstration you can do a cigar and coffee tasting, and buy some of the freshly-rolled cigars. 

                         

Your guide will take you on a tour of greater Havana by Classic Car. There are currently an estimated 60,000 pre-1960

American cars hurtling through Cuba today and before the embargo there were at least 150,000. Buicks, Chevys,

and countless other cool-finned cruisers rumble down the crumbling streets of Havana, many abandoned by their

American owners when they fled in 1959 and kept going by Cuban ingenuity. This iconic mode of transport is the perfect

way to see wider Havana and a very different side of the city. Here you will be chauffeured around some of the most

famous areas of Havana including New Havana, Old Havana, the affluent neighbourhood of Miramar and the

amous cemetery of Colon.

Day  5 -  HAVANA

  Your morning tour will start at your hotel, where you will meet your expert guide. 

 Your first stop will be the Havana Rum Museum, housed in a converted old Palace where you can see the entire

production process for this valuable export.  Of course you will have the chance to taste some good rum in the

Havana Club and also buy some to take home with you. Then you will visit Callejon de Hammel in central Havana.

Callejon de Hammel is where the Cuban artist fraternity congregate, and is a wonderful place to experience day-to-day

Cuban life. Located in central Havana, the alley is brightly decorated in Cuban sculptures, art and paintings.

You might also be able to catch a glimpse of a dance exhibition or meet Lazaro Salsita, who opens his home to

teach neighbourhood children the art of papier-mâché. Make sure you check out Local artist Salvador González

Escalona’s neighbourhood makeover.  

 

You will also have the opportunity to meet local artists, both established and emerging, visit their studios and find

out how their art has been influenced by the turbulent history of Cuba and the previous restrictions that were placed

on self-expression.  Learn how international trends have started to filter into their work and who they take inspiration from.

The rest of the day is free for independent exploration.

Day  6 -  HAVANA - VINALES

 Today after checking out of the hotel you will be collected and transferred to Vinales, a journey of approximately 2½ hours.

 It’s time to travel to the dramatic limestone pincushion hills of the Pinar del Rio province and the rural town of Vinales.

Along the way we will pass lush, green landscapes and bright, coloured houses before arriving at the small village of Soroa.

Referred to as The Gate to The Garden of Eden, this stunning village is the starting point for many hikes to the soaring

Sierra del Rosario. After exploring the village we will visit the famous Orchid Gardens of Soroa. In 1943, inspired by the

natural beauty of Soroa Cuba, the Spanish landowner Thomás Felipe Camacho compiled 700 different orchids to start a

botanical garden in the area. Now hugely popular, there are thousands of orchid and other plant

species on display at the gardens.

 

Outside of the botanical gardens there are 20,000 different plant and fern species all around Soroa, as well as countless tree

species all held in this UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. You will visit the Salto Arco Iris, a magnificent

waterfall that forms part of the Rio Manantiades. The great river bubbles through the rainforest before gushing

down as a 22-metre-high waterfall; at its feet, the refreshing water culminates in an enclosed basin, which is

perfect for dipping in and cooling off.

 

Set in a beautiful, lush valley of the Pinar del Rio province, Vinales is one of the most breath-taking locations in Cuba.

In the heart of Cuba’s prime tobacco growing region, Vinales sits quietly surrounded by several stunning karst hill

formations known as mogotes (pin cushions). Today you will have the chance to have a look around the township

and experience Vinales’ lively music and dance scene. 

Day 7 -  VINALES  

 Your guide will take you on a walking tour of the Vinales Township and surrounding farmlands, followed by lunch at an

authentic Cuban Paladar. To learn about the local tobacco-growing process we visit a tobacco plantation

and see a fully operating secadero (drying house) in which tobacco leaves are cured from February to May.

he staff give brief explanations to help you understand the process.

After the tour concludes you will be returned to your Casa for an evening at leisure.

Day 8 -  VINALES - BAY OF PIGS - CIENFUEGOS

Today after checking out of your Casa you will be collected for your transfer to Cienfuegos stopping on the way for

sightseeing at some of Cuba’s highlights.

The first stop of the day – the infamous Bay of Pigs (Playa Giron), long associated with the USA’s first

military failure in Latin America. You will have some time here to enjoy the area before continuing to Cienfuegos.

Day 9 - CIENFUEGOS

 Today your guide will escort you on a walking tour of this charming and historic city.

 If Cuba had a Paris then it would be Cienfuegos, which stands out for its rich French influenced architecture.

A harbour city by location, the ‘Pearl of the Caribbean’ has seduced Cuban travellers for years due to its elegance

and beauty. Founded in 1819 by Don Luis de Clouet, Cienfuegos luckily managed to remain free of pirate attacks,

allowing this popular city to prosper. Explore the wide streets and promenades, visit Parque Jose Marti and enjoy

a walk by the Malecon, the longest promenade on the island before enjoying a drink at the Palacio del Valle.

Day 10 -  CIENFUEGOS - SANTA CLARA - TRINIDAD

 After leaving Cienfuegos your next stop is Santa Clara, a relatively short drive away.

 Santa Clara was the site of the last battle in the Cuban revelation in 1958, and there are many tributes to the

City’s troubled history. On your journey you will see many interesting buildings in rather eclectic architectural styles.

On your tour today you will have the opportunity to visit Che Guevara Mausoleum and memorial, where the mortal

remains of this Cuban revolutionary are interred. Here you will learn about how Guevara played a pivitol role in the

demise of the dictator Batista and the rise of Fidel Castro, a turning point in the Cuban revolution. You will also

visit the armoured train museum and other points of interest. After some time in Santa Clara continue onto Trinidad

After checking into your accommodation you will have some time at leisure before your evening excursion.

Every night the area beside the Cathedral in Plaza Mayor come alive with live Salsa band. Entrance is free,

the atmosphere is great, the mojitos are cheap, and what is more …. you get one of the most

beautiful starry skies thrown in for nothing!

Day 11 -  TRINIDAD

We start with either visiting Palacio de Cantero or the History Museum, followed by a visit to La Canchanchara,

an old house dating back to the 18th century, where we can try the unique Trinidad rum and sugar cane juice cocktail.

You will then set off to visit the Valle de las Ingenious. The ruins of dozens of ingenious (small 19th century sugar mills),

including slave quarters and manor houses, are scattered throughout this valley. The royal palms, waving cane

and rolling hills are timelessly beautiful. The prime sight is Manaca Iznaga, an estate purchased in1795 by the

dastardly Pedro Iznaga, who became rich trafficking in slaves. 

 After a visit here return to Trinidad and enjoy the atmosphere of the town.

Day 12 - TRINIDAD

Today is at leisure for you to relax and enjoy your surroundings – perhaps visit the lovely Playa Ancon. Situated some 15 minutes from Trinidad, it is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Cuba..

Day  13 - TRINIDAD - CAMAGUEY

Today you depart Trinidad and enjoy scenes of rural Cuba as you head to the charming town of Camaguey.

Day 14  -   CAMAGUEY

 This morning enjoy a bicycle taxi tour through the UNESCO listed historic centre of Camaguey.

Famous for its gorgeous architecture and Cuban-baroque churches, Camaguey is a delight!

There are several interesting churches, most in the Cuban Baroque style, intriguing

winding streets (built like a maze to confuse the pirates), and lovely town squares. 

Camagüey has an active performing arts scene and is considered by some to be the cultural centreof Cuba.

As the birthplace of Nicolas Guillen, Cuba’s national poet, Camaguey has a rich tradition of celebrating the arts.

If you have the opportunity to catch a performance by the Ballet de Camaguey, your guide will help you get your tickets.

When not touring internationally, the Camaguey Ballet Company performs at the Teatro Principal,

located at Padre Valencia 64, two blocks northeast of Plaza de los Trabajadores.

Otherwise this evening enjoy traditional Cuban and local music at Casa de la Trova, located in the

historical centre of the city in front of Agramonte Square. The handsome colonial structure has a large,

open-air patio under tall palm trees and an elegant but relaxed atmosphere.

Day 15 - CAMAGUEY - SANTIAGO DE CUBA

   Today you will head to the epi-centre of Afro-Cuban culture, the city of Santiago de Cuba.

Day 16 - SANTIAGO DE CUBA

This morning is spent exploring Santiago with your guide. Enlivened by a cosmopolitan mix of Afro-Caribbean culture,

and situated closer to Haiti and the Dominican Republic than to Havana, Santiago's influences tend to come

as much from the east as from the west, a factor that has been crucial in shaping the city's distinct identity.

Also included on your tour are the Plaza de la Revolucion and the Moncada Barracks, the latter being

the site of an armed attack by a small group of revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro on 26 July 1953, the

date which is widely accepted as the beginning of the Cuban Revolution.          

Day 17 - SANTIAGO DE CUBA - BARACOA

Depart from Santiago de Cuba this morning and travel to Baracoa - a fascinating and idyllic small town surrounded

by beautiful natural scenery, where Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba on his first voyage.

Set amongst a mixture of palm, chocolate and banana trees, it is a land blessed with many rivers and a healthy

annual rain fall that has worked to create some of the lushest vegetation and rainforest you will ever encounter.

The town has remained relatively unchanged over the years, with several houses dating back to the 19th century

and a system of colonial fortifications that includes Matachin Fort and La Punta Fort.

Accommodation: 3 Nights in a Casa Particular in a standard room including breakfast daily.

Day 18 - BARACOA

 Your orientation tour of the town will include a stroll down Baracoa’s seafront promenade the “Malecon”, a miniature of

Havana’s seaside promenade, which ends in a park dedicated to Christopher Columbus, who arrived here in 1492.

His statue, hand-hewn out of a giant tree stump, stares inland with a stern expression.

Baracoa’s cobblestone streets are lined with one-story buildings whose peeling, carnival coloured paint jobs

and weathered tile roofs add, rather than detract, from their charm. Baracoa is famous for its white chocolate

sold in round, flat cakes encased in palm bark. Also, try the Cucurucho, an ambrosia of honey, coconut,

nuts and fresh seasonal fruit served in cones of palm bark. 

Baracoa’s cuisine is world famous in Cuba and a BBQ group lunch is the best way to

sample the delicious local produce.

Day 19 -  BARACOA

Today continue to explore the area including a boat trip along the Toa River the largest river in Cuba.  

 By the river bank there is a typical restaurant in a country ranchon that serves traditional Cuban lunch for visitors.

There are abundant birds in the area and species of great scientific and environmental value like the Almiqui,

the Polymitas, the parrots and the Tocororo, among others.

Day 20 -  BARACOA - HAVANA - VARADERO

 This morning you will be transferred to the airport in Baracoa for your flight back to Havana.

On arrival we travel 2.5 hours to the all-inclusive beach resort in Varadero. 
Accommodation: 3 Nights Sol Palmeras in a standard room including all meals and local brand drinks.

 

Day 21 & 22 - VARADERO

These days are at leisure for you to relax and enjoy your surroundings.

 

Day  23 - VARADERO – HAVANA

Today at the advised time you will be collected and transferred back to Havana International Airport in

time to check in for your departure flight back to New Zealand

Day 24: In Transit

Day 25:  Arrive New Zealand 

                                            

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