Cuba escorted tour west east 23 days
In 23 Days from West to East Cuba
Arrival at Havana > Vinales > Soroa > via Bay of Pigs, NP Zapata > Cienfuegos > Trinidad > Camaguey > Santiago de Cuba at Caribbean sea > Baracoa at Atlantic ocean > return to Santiago > domestic flight Santiago to Havana > Havana, flight home.
With all homestays – casas particulares
In case of group of 6-9p + Tourleader by minivan taxi transfers from door to door (and we will have local guides at every location)
In case of group of 10p or more + Tourleader by medium sized bus transfers from door to door (and we will have local guides at every location)
" Our guide made us feel part of a big Cuban family. The trip was amazing, we had nothing to care about, all was tip top arranged in all details from gourmet restaurants to coffee breaks in the mountains. It was a real offline journey into another universe, amazing…" By Diana, USA travelparty
This specific Grouptrip can be requested at several dates on yearly basis.
First tour departs at 14th April 2020.
Start date can be adapted and is flexible when requested by a party of 6 persons booking together in one time.
Dates and program can be fully tailormade for groups. For families, friends, couples, honeymooners and solo travelers it can be tailormade for individual travel formats.
For this escorted Cuba Journey you have the opportunity to be personally guided by the director Marcel of Latinamerica Journeys Guru when booked on time. He is committed to guide 2 to 3 travels per year to Latin America Guru destinations and is besides being an expert on Latin America a certified mountainleader. Make use of this unique travel opportunity before he will retire and be dedicated to specialized leadership and meditation trainings in the Andes. These travels are published in our Newsletter and in each Itineraries section of the Destination.
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Day 1 – Arrival of main group. You will be received by our agent and tourleader on arrival on the airport and travel by private taxi / bus to your boutique homestay in Old Havana.
Extra notes in italic: You can arrive before the main group in case culture, ambiance, cultural tours, private salsa classes in / from Havana interests you very much, all is tailor made, no problem! You can also start with 1 or 2 extra beach days going from old Havana to Playas del Este. In 20 min you are at beautiful beaches with a cheap hop on hop off bus from Old Havana.
_Briefings on the program will be given by Group Skype conference about 4-12 weeks before departure, date and planning of the conference to be determined by the group. _
_In Havana this first evening there will be a welcome chat of course and as usual there will be every evening a briefing for the next days.
With a bigger group dinners will have to be planned, they will be reserved at interesting and ambient locations. Dinner is always a la carte and not included. _
Day 2: Day Havana, boutique homestay.
Excursion in morning included: a private guided walking tour of 4 -5 hours through the old city and to the other side of the bay of Havana with your tourleader. Start early so you have a free afternoon for your own to wander and wonder through Old Havana.
And when there is interest: salsa classes can be arranged when requested on time with a private teacher in a great school near Prado Avenue end of afternoon or in evening.
Day 3: By bus / taxi drive to Vinales in around 3,5-4 hrs, homestays at quiet lane in village Vinales, it has a terrace on rooftop and view into valley, excellent home cooking.
Lunch with views over Vinales valley. In midday included the cave Santo Thomas and the tobacco fermentation factory (despalillo of Vinales).
Day 4 & 5: Two days of walking through different parts of Vinales valley.
For people who dont like to walk that much but their partner, family or friends do, there are always solutions. We can offer everyday alternative programs that are much less strenuous, we can have this all arranged with local guides or you can have some more free time on your own, as you prefer.
Day 4: Full day hike with a guide of the NP. Start with a taxi transfer to starting point. Hike uphill to Los Acuaticos (few people left of a community that healed everything with water, beautiful views) and walk close along the vertical mogote walls with excellent views into the valley. From there descending again through the valley to Palmarito cave where it might be possible to have a swim in the cave (permission depends of NP). From there hike back through the valley to Vinales.
With our group size we return to Vinales and start next day first with a small transfer and with the continuation of the trail on Day 5.
Local transfers this day included.
Second day, day 5: We start with some birdwatching of 1 - 2 hrs at the San Vicente area where we have a special birdwatchers trail where 18 endemic species can be seen with a specialist guide of the 26 endemic species Cuba has. This excursion takes 1- 2 hrs depending on interest and is located in a beautiful quiet mogote landscape away from the main tourist stream.
After the birdwatching we proceed from the same location with our hike with the same guide on a trail of 13 km from mogote mountains via off the beaten trails into the Vinales valley. Will be a hike of around 5 hrs with all typical Vinales ingredients of mogotes, tobacco culture, farmers life and end with a typical cocktail in rocking chairs above the Vinales valley at a nominated organic farm.
Local transfers included.
Day 6: Drive from Viñales to Soroa homestays (estimated driving time 3 hrs) Visit its viewpoint, waterfall and orchid garden of Soroa. To visit the viewpoint you have to ascend a hill with tropical vegetation and in the end you have a spectacular view over the landscape. Total walking time full program 2-3 hrs. Stay in different homestays at Soroa with the main family an art family with beautiful garden and workshop.
Day 7: Walk of the Wizard, full day hike with local guide (easy to moderate walking, some hills up and down, start walk at 9 am, back at homestay at 4 pm, but effective walking around 5 hrs), Soroa.
Hike in which you cross through the valleys of Sierra Rosario. At the end of the program we can visit a little mountain school with our guide, which is next to your homestay (or do that the day before). It is a one day walk in Soroa, called walk of the Wizard, off beaten trek with private guide, some birdwatching, history & lunch at a farmers place.
Local transfer to start hike included.
Day 8: Drive from Soroa via Bay of Pigs to Cienfuegos. At Bay of Pigs in the NP Zapata we will have a snorkelling (eventually also diving) and continue same say to Cienfuegos historical center (with all stops included full day). At Bay of Pigs we will visit one of the 2 musea about the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, we can visit a crocodile farm, have a small trail into the NP to the cenote system and main fault zone, we will have lunch and a snorkelling and/or diving stop. Homestays in the middle of the historical heart of Cienfuegos.
The cenote trail is not yet included as we should start the trail not later than 2pm and it might be too much to do all on this day. Depends on interests what has the priority and we can add later on.
Day 9: In the morning we have a private guided excursion through colonial Cienfuegos and along the bay of Cienfuegos of 3-4 hrs. In the afternoon we have included a boat trip over the Cienfuegos Bay. This is with a private fisher boat licensed for tourists to visit the fort at the other side of the bay, enjoy the views. Stay overnight Cienfuegos.
Day 10: Early departure to the Guanaroca lagoon for birdwatching around the lake and making a tour by rowing boat to see the flamingoes. Recommend to start the birdwatching tour at 8am before other tourists arrive, after this we visit the botanical garden of Cienfuegos, both are located near to each other. Entrances and boat ride are not included.
From Guanaroca lake continuation to Trinidad (+ 1,5 hrs), homestays with terraces and views in village Trinidad. Cultural afternoon Trinidad, we have a 2 hr private guided tour through the colonial center included. Late afternoon free time to wander through Trinidad, or visit beach Ancon for snorkeling, there are specific locations at the beach from where you can swim in 5 min to the coral reefs or snorkel directly from the shore on the reefs.
Also if you like to take private salsa classes in Trinidad our homestay coordinator can introduce you to licensed salsa teachers who give salsa classes at the homestay or in the colonial heart of Trinidad. Classes are during the Day or in the evening. They may accompany you in case it is a night class, and practice further on the dance square where every night there is live salsa music & dancing.
Day 11 & 12 – APRIL 24 & 25: Two day trekking Sierra Escambray. Start excursion 09:00 hrs, pick up at 08:00 in Trinidad by bus / taxi, we meet our guide at Topes Collantes in Sierra Escambray. Walk starts with visit to coffee center & cup of coffee in Topes. Then depart on foot into the mountains to Hacienda Codina. Hike is about 3-4 hours to arrive at hacienda depending if you make a swim and excursion into the open cave of la Batata. Here you can swim, walk and climb upstream to several small waterfalls through an open cave (excursion takes about 45 minutes up and down, recommended). On the hacienda Codina you will have a typical lunch on the veranda, and after lunch continue with an easy roundwalk through orchid garden, batcave, viewpoint, bamboo garden, very nice place to be. Dinner at hacienda Codina, overnight at veranda of the hacienda or in tents. You need only a lightweight liner to bring with you (at haciendas they have extra warm blankets if requested on location on time).
**Second day, day 12: ** Small transfer by Russian truck or jeep, continuation hike to Hacienda Gallega in NP Guayanara, visit of coffee farmer El Sirio along the way. In afternoon walk to waterfalls and possible descend along river from waterfall to Deer lagoon, is an interesting outdoor water program (program of 1 hr being in the water & needs to be requested specially), hike back to hacienda and pick up by truck who brings you back to Topes Collantes, from there back by our own bus / taxi to Trinidad homestay.
Local taxi transfers to/from mountains and in mountains all included.
Meals included: 2 lunches, 1 dinner and 1 breakfast, included 2 welcome cocktails at the 2 different haciendas. Rest drinks paid apart.
Day 13: Full day Catamaran group excursion to tropical island Cayo LEGUANO with snorkeling, beachlife, time for exploration island, its mangrove forest and shallow water marine flora and fauna, with paella fish lunch on the island. The island is habited by large populations of leguanos & some hutias (big tree rodents). An easy Day for complete relaxation, swimming & taking a sunbath ! The captain decides sometimes to go for lobster fishing on the way before arriving to Cayo Leguano for the fish paella & people who like to have extra lobster (additional payment). To arrive at the island is about 2 hrs going on motor.
Cayo Leguano is of the 2 available keys the most beautiful key but with the Cayo Blanco excursion you are less time on the catamaran and more time on the beach, so depends what suits best.
Local transfers to harbor and back again included. Softdrinks at catamaran included and lunch at key included with one drink.
_> For those not interested in a catamaran excursion: free day Trinidad for horse riding, salsa classes, deep sea fishing, beach, snorkeling or diving, homestay.
When you would be interested in diving: you then depart via the diving school at Playa Ancon with a catamaran to the sea where you will have 2 dives, this is altogether with transfers and time on the boat a full Day program. You will come back in Trinidad still on time for a cocktail in the afternoon and some salsa classes if there is interest.
For deep sea fishing we can offer a private sea fishing trip by boat at Trinidad where you both can fish on Sierras, bonitos, albacoras, pargos, barracudas (according to season) and it includes all fishing materials, bite, boat and crew. Can be 4 hrs or 6 hrs, it is almost same price if it is 4 or 6 hrs._
Horseriding can be organized to the entrance of the Park El Cubano and visit a waterfall with a small walk or by horse riding in the Sugarmill Valley.
" Our Tourleader was the one who created the golden edge of this Cuba travel; he brought in a lot of expertise, showed very good social skills, was helpful, made good & quick decisions and last but not least he knows Cuba and loves the Cuban people " By Edward, UK travelparty.
Day 14: Travel by own bus / taxi to Camaguey boutique homestay in historical center (about 6 hrs). We include a cultural stop close to Trinidad at one open air museum in the Sugarmill valley. That can be hacienda Iznaga or at the ruins of San Isidro, both are very interesting. They are the remains from the period of the sugarboom, wealthy hacienda owners and the use of slavery in this Caribbean period.
After arrival in Camaguey and check in homestays, in late afternoon included 3 hrs guided tour by bike taxi and some walking through colonial Camaguey included.
Day 15: Travel by own bus / taxi from Camaguey to Santiago (estimated travel time around 6 hrs), homestay in historical center.
In afternoon we have a private guided walking tour through Santiago of 3 hrs, visiting house of Velazquez, the cathedral, Casa de La Trova and the balcony of Velasquez.
Day 16: Today full day excursion with local transfers included, first we can visit the cemetery of Santiago which is the resting place of Jose Marti & Fidel Castro, Square of Revolution, Moncado garrison which played a key role in Cuban history, then the beautifully located fortress El Morro with views over the Caribbean (or vica versa).
After this go into the mountains into the NP of Bacanao to visit the Gran Piedra which is already worth visiting the tour through the mountains and the views on top of the rock, from here we make a small walk to visit the oldest French settlement near to the Gran Piedra. It is a hacienda museum beautifully located in nature (good for birdwatching as well) with very little tourism and gives some insight in this part of the Cuban history. Along the way there is a typical lunch and Cuban creol coffee waiting for you. When time is left we can visit in the late afternoon a small museum dedicated to the start of the Revolution and we go to a tropical beach for a swim. Entrances as elsewhere not included.
Day 17: By bus/taxi to Baracoa and have several stops along the way included. One stop will be a beachstop of 1,5 hrs at the south coast road. This swim break is at a Cuban campismo, later on the south coast we the visit of the famous beach monument and museum of the landing of Jose Marti at Playita Cajobabo. Other photostops are at Guantanamo bay viewpoint and the highest view point in the mountains going to Baracoa via the Farola road. Baracoa boutique homestays in center village with terraces and views.
Day 18: Day hike, with crossing the saddle of El Yunque from Juncal to Rencontra in the morning with visit of a local school in the mountains, visit of a cocao plantation, farmer with a coffee stop. Have a lunch included at Rio Toa, with a boat ride to Cayo Chino and walk over this small coco plantation key, pick up by boat again and have a boat ride to the beach. From here we will have then a beachwalk from Rio Toa to Rio Duabe. All transfers included, with the best guide of Baracoa**,** transport with classical American cars when small group or private, with Vintage American truck in case of a somewhat bigger group.
All local transfers included. Lunch included at ecofriendly lodge. Drinks paid apart.
This program is designed together with local guides after having done many different programs and is the most interesting outdoor program at Baracoa. It has mountains, rainforest and jungle, rivers, coconut plantations, beach and the Atlantic ocean all in one day. Also for families with children a real adventure. For people who dont like to hike that much they can stay at an ecological lodge at the river and only do the active part in the midday.
Day 19: Small group guided excursion by English speaking guide of Baracoa, full day with the same best guide of the village with a lot of knowledge of plants, animals and local culture. Visit of a cacao plantation and see how Cuban families make chocolate, see local farmers, have a small walk along some villages and a mangrove forest ecosystem, lunch at a beautiful beach and fishers village & visit Yumuri canyon by rowing boat, small stroll into the canyon with a swim. Transport with classical American cars when small group or private, with Vintage American truck in case of a somewhat bigger group. Program can be reversed, that we first do the Yumuri canyon and have a longer stay at the beach in afternoon depending on sea tide. This day is a very favorite among travelers and a real easy vacation day with many things to see and learn.
All local transfers included. Lunch not included, is usually lunch at fishers village at the beach.
Day 20: Suggest free day and leave it open for now, so no program is included yet. Participants can inscribe on different programs or just go to beach Maguana with a Vintage car.
This can be filled in later with our local guide after the first or second day in Baracoa.
Participants can inscribe on different waterfall programs, go on horseback riding, on a jeep safari to El Faro, and/or have different hiking programs or just go to beach Maguana. The hike Balcon of Iberia in the NP Humboldt can be combined with snorkeling at Baracoas best reef location and with going to the beach Maguano.
The ascend to the summit of El Yungue is for those that wish to hike more. Note that the hike to the summit of El Yunque has a higher difficulty degree than all other hikes done before and is cancelled with extreme rainshowers as rivers rise too much and the descent from the top becomes too difficult, slippery & dangerous.
" Having Marcel as our guide throughout the holiday made all the difference to our trip. If you have the budget to have a private guide with you for the whole trip (we had a large group and could share the costs), do go ahead with asking Marcel to be your guide. Without him, we would not have experienced half of the things we did in Cuba. Through Marcel’s language skills, knowledge of the Cuban culture (and its constant changes) and the connections he has established in Cuba throughout his many years running tours in Cuba, we were able to see, meet and experience parts of Cuba that would simply have been inaccessible to us had we decided to explore the country by ourselves " By Stephanie Chu, Australian travelparty
Day 21: By bus / taxi return to Santiago. Photostops and coffee at Guantanamo. Dinnertime included at Santiago in case of flight delay. The domestic flight to Havana will be scheduled at 6pm. Flight is included. We need to be at airport at 4pm. Usually there is some delay and flight departs at 22 hrs or even later in some cases, so keep this in mind, take it easy and calculate late arrival in Havana. In Havana transfer included to boutique homestay in Old Havana.
**Day 22: **Extra day Havana, boutique homestay.
This day in Havana is essential for security in case the domestic flight is delayed or cancelled and we would have an international flight directly this day.
Included as a nice closing off from a large travel: 2 hour tour in American classical Vintage cabriolet through Havana including a visit to the Plaza de Revolucion, Rambla, Lighthouse at other side of the bay, Russian missiles of crises 1962, etc. Tour can be placed from 10-12 am with a lunch reserved at the famous restaurant La Guarida after the tour or can be done late afternoon followed by a dinner at La Guarida. Lunch not included.
Rest of the day free on own. You will see Havana now with very different eyes after having traveled all over Cuba. You will have time to visit museums, stroll through Old Havana again, go for some shopping at the souvenir market in the harbour.
For the late evening at 10pm there exists the option to go to the Tropicana Cabaret show, it lasts from 10pm to 12pm and is a beauty of performed Cuban folkloric dances and salsa.
For those who wish to have some cultural excursions these can be booked as well. This can be also done in the morning of day 24 as KLM direct flights depart according to present schedules at 5pm. Bus transfer out will be then at 1:15pm so still many free hrs.
Optional Cuban Revolution excursion: In morning private guided tour of 3 hrs visiting Museum of Revolution and Che Guevara museum / house at the other side of the bay with a taxi.
Optional art / cultural excursions: visit as full or half day several Cuban city art locations and artists with a guide as Furlandia, Murallandia, Cacho artist, Callejon de Hames (sunDays) and/or specific artists in Cuba or cultural exchange programs on request via a specialized Cuban institute.
OTHER CULTURAL EXCURSIONS POSSIBLE FOR HAVANA
Private guided Art tour – learn about and visit artists and galleries and museum of art.
Cultural tour included Conservation tour of social projects in Old City.
Cultural tour about Religion – restored churches, Santeria, and visit Regia.
Or any cultural exchange programs on request via a specialized Cuban institute.
FOR BEACH: Note that from Parque Central square there is a bus departing every hr to the Playas del Este, the beaches East of Havana. With this bus you can visit several beaches by hopping on and off the bus. We can also arrange a private American Vintage car for a half or full day going to the beach.
We can include vouchers for a tour at Rum factory and cigar factory Partagas, this both you can do on your own and you receive the entry vouchers from the agent.
_Time for salsa classes with a private teacher in a great school near Prado Avenue in morning, afternoon or early evening. _
" First of all I would like you to know that I had a marvellous holiday, thanks to the weather, the beautiful nature, but certainly because of the entertaining & cosy tourleader. Well this you can add to your list of compliments ! This positive radiance of you, this you have to keep as long as possible, as it is a big gift to the world and to the people around you. That is what I wanted to say. A message from a happy fellow traveler " By Dorien Beusekom, Dutch travelparty
Day 23: Free morning at Havana, in afternoon transfer out by private bus/taxi to international airport included depending on flight schedule.
For those who wish to have some cultural excursions in the morning these can be booked for this morning. - END SERVICES - Flights home -
For this escorted Cuba_ Journey you have the opportunity to be personally guided by the director Marcel of Latinamerica Journeys Guru when booked on time. He is committed to guide 2 to 3 travels per year to Latin America Guru destinations and is besides being an expert on Latin America a certified mountainleader. Make use of this unique travel opportunity before he will retire and be dedicated to specialized leadership and meditation trainings in the Andes. These travels are published in our Newsletter and in each section of the Destination under the Tab More info._
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How an escorted Cuba holiday from West to East makes a difference and creates a golden edge for your tripMingle with the Universe and Cuban celebration