Cuba may be a nation frozen in time with its pretty, decaying, neoclassical buildings and vintage American cars, but this country rocks. Dance, music and mojito’s literally flood the streets of Havana making it one the most exciting places to step into.
This unique 3 week road trip will show you Cuba’s highlights – from the meandering streets of Havana to the tobacco filled valleys of Vinales, to the glorious Caribbean beaches. We promise to get you off the beaten track and immerse you fully by teaching you to dance, volunteering speaking Spanish and roll a cigar. What are you waiting for…
A typical 3 week itinerary will include:
Days 1 – 8 Starting in Havana
Your base will be in an apartment in the heart of Old Havana, in the centre of this stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site. This area is a myriad of gorgeous neoclassical buildings packed with local people living cheek by jowl. At street level, there is a constant musical buzz floating out from the many hip bars scattered throughout this popular neighbourhood – heaven.
Explore, volunteer and brush up on your dancing and Spanish
Your time here will involve a mix of volunteering, Spanish lessons, dance, cultural exchange and exploration lead by our guides, whose contacts will take you way off the tourist trail.
Typically a day will involve Spanish lessons in the mornings before refurbishing one of the community centres we support and exploring the cities museums and galleries, with a few salsa dancing lessons thrown in for good measure.
The evenings will range from home cooked fun at the Casa to chilling along with Malecon with local Habeneros or a trip to Vedado to enjoy the music and nightlife of this incredible city.
You will also enjoy a couple of half day trips to the local beaches along Playas del Este to enjoy the refreshing Caribbean waters.
Days 9 – 11 Road Trip Begins
Next it’s time to hit the road and explore the rest of Cuba, starting with Viñales, a peaceful farming town, 3 hours away from Havana. Viñales is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to its outstanding landscape, traditional architecture and agricultural techniques still used on the tobacco farms.
Whilst here you can horse ride into the valley to see the tobacco drying houses were you will learn about the art of curing tobacco and rolling cigars, along with an early morning sunrise hike.
You will also visit the ‘Cueva del Indio’ and take a boat trip learning about the ‘Guanajatabey’ Indians who built primitive homes hollowed out of the limestone mogotes.
Day 12 Playa Giron
The Caribbean’s Largest Wetlands
After leaving Viñales you’ll head south towards Trinidad with an overnight stop to explore Playa Giron – a village on a white sandy beach on the east bank of the ‘Bahis de Cochinos’ (Bay of Pigs). Playa Giron gained new found fame after the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961, but the area is equally renowned for its amazing beauty firstly its beaches and marine life and furthermore with the ‘Gran Parque Natural Montemar’, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – it contains the largest wetlands in the Caribbean, home to flamingos, manatee, crocodiles and the world’s smallest bird, the bee hummingbird.
Here you’ll head to its beautiful white sand beach for some snorkelling. A magnificent reef is less than 30 meters away from the beach and so you are guaranteed an array of tropical fish. You may also try and spear the invasive ‘Pez León’ (lion fish) and enjoy some ceviche, and a BBQ dinner.
Day 13-15 Trinidad
Salsa and Hiking
Trinidad is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the Caribbean’s best-preserved towns from the sugar-trade and Spanish colonialism era. Expect pastel coloured houses, pretty churches and cobbled streets. Stunning.
Trinidad is Cuba’s most popular tourist destination after Havana and during the weekend it is particularly lively with some of the best salsa clubs in the world, live music and open air bars – as well as tiny indoor clubs, so pack your dancing shoes. Our local guides will take you to the best places depending what’s on, including the famous ‘Cave Club’, high above the town.
Daytime activities include a half day hike to the ‘El Cubanito’ waterfall and beaches.
Day 16 – 21 Santa Clara + Havana
Revolution’s Turning Point
After leaving Trinidad it’s time to head back to Havana via an overnight stop in Santa Clara. This is an important city in Cuba and the scene for one of the turning points during the revolution when reinforcements, sent from Havana to quell the uprising in the east, where derailed by a bulldozer. In the ensuing battle the revolutionaries captured much needed military supplies. Loads of history to read up on here.
It is also home to a spectacular memorial and mausoleum to Che Guevara which you will visit along with enjoying a half-day walking tour of the city.
Once back in Havana, you’ll spend another 5 days finishing off your community project and dancing the night away.
We have two departures in May and July, limited numbers per departure so book yourself on.