Bienvenido a Cuba! Welcome to Cuba! A complimentary arrival 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. Kick off your adventure in Cuba’s gloriously old-school capital; you'll be dodging ’50s Cadillacs as you stroll the Melancon and smile at every local you pass. There will be a welcome meeting at approximately 6pm this evening. Please expect a letter from your leader in the afternoon of Day 1 to confirm the place of your meeting (if by 5pm you cannot locate this letter then please ask your guesthouse owner if one has been delivered, or ask to call our assistance line listed in the "Problems and emergency contact information" section of this document). 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. The tour briefing is generally followed by an optional group dinner. As there's a great deal to do in Havana, we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist. If you arrive early, please note most activities in Cuba can only be booked through the tourist desk in the lobbies of the larger hotels or direct with the venue. Otherwise, there are plenty of good museums to check out, including the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Random facts about Cuba: one in four cars on the road is a Russian Lada, there are no poisonous snakes, sex-change operations are free and legal. Practical stuff: there are two types of currency here; you'll use convertibles (CUC), while the locals use pesos (CUP). Hola, Havana!
First up, hit the pavement with a walking tour of old Havana. Go to the cathedral, Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Central Park. Later you will drive inland (approximately 3.5-4 hours) to the historic city of Santa Clara. You've seen his face on so many t-shirts and posters, but what do you really know about Che Guevara? Well it'll be a lot more after today, as Santa Clara is home to his mausoleum and museum. Stand in the shadow of his statue in Revolutionary Plaza and look through his letters, firearms and photos on display. Next, head south to touch down in Trinidad (approximately 2 hours). This city is everything you imagine Cuba to be – horses trot down cobblestone streets, old men strum guitars on doorsteps and stretches of white sand are ripe for exploring. Set off on your own exploration of Trinidad - maybe climb the bell tower of Central Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos for epic views of this well-preserved colonial city, or sip on a canchanchara (Trinidad's signature drink of lemon juice, honey and Santero Cuban rum served in a glazed ceramic pot).
Today's a free day in Trinidad so you can get busy with some optional activities, or just get your chilled beach fix, (maybe with some snorkelling at Playa Ancon too). Just be careful you don't stand on a sea urchin! There are some great Spanish-style churches to check out in town, loads of local markets to browse, and treks to make in the nearby Sierra del Escambray mountains. You can also hire a bike to discover the local area but be careful, Cuba's bicycles, like its cars, are vintage! Maybe throw yourself into the local culture with an informal Spanish or music lesson, a casual salsa class, or a folklore show at one of the town's numerous open-air venues.
Today get prepared for a long day of travel to Vinales (approximately 7 hours total). On the way you’ll stop at the peaceful sandy arc of Playa Giron (approximately 2.5 hours), better known as the Bay of Pigs. It was famously here that the CIA sponsored a failed invasion by exile forces in 1961. Today you’ll discover the story of the Cuban victory at the Museo Giron, which holds displays of various military equipment and photos of the men who fought here. It’s not just the history that’s the attraction here – with crystal clear Caribbean waters, a deep underwater wall, and an outstanding variety of coral and fish, it’s a haven for snorkelers. Strap on a mask and some flippers and take a dive into sapphire-coloured water teeming with tropical marine life. Next, on to Vinales which is in one of the most scenic parts of the country, where tobacco and sugarcane fields lie side by side, locals chill in their porches, and the mojitos are made with honey. If you like your cigars, then practice blowing smoke rings from your porch seat overlooking the giant bubbles of limestone that cover the landscape.
Today your leader could help you organise a local guide to take you around the farmlands and crops of the area to learn more about the tobacco industry. You would see the starting point of origin of tobacco that will become world famous cigars. A farmer will swiftly roll one up fresh for you as well! In the afternoon, stroll to the main square and the 19th century Casa de la Cultura, the museum, and the next door Galeria de Arte with a collection of paintings by local artists. There are also many other optional activities on offer here. Perhaps a visit to the Santo Tomas cave complex (one of the biggest in all of the Americas), or the Cueva del Indio cave walk and boat trip. Or maybe jump on a bicycle and do some exploring of your own.
The valley feels remote, like something out of Jurassic Park, with huge mounds of rock covered in vegetation thrusting out of the earth at random spots. Take advantage of one the many optional activities to help you enjoy this picturesque location - hike though tobacco fields or up into the mountains and to Cueva de San Miguel and El Palenque de los Cimarrones. Take the free day to explore the stunning landscapes of the valley of Vinales or there's an option for a beach excursion to Cayo Jutias.
It's time to head back to the capital today (approximately 2 hours). On the way back in you will stop by Revolution square with an option to climb the Jose Marti Tower for a better view of the city. Later tonight maybe drop by the legendary Buena Vista Social Club and take the chance to toast the end of your trip with a mojito. You can also join the hundreds of locals lining up to eat a Coppelia ice-cream, and then you could shake the night away with one last salsa lesson at Casa de la Musica.
Today is departure day. Check-out time from the guesthouse is by 10 am.