The Essential Cuba Tour - Cuba
7-Night Escorted Tour of the West | May 2020 – October 2020
A 7-night fully escorted tour that has been carefully designed from over 25 years’ experience of tour planning in Cuba. You will gain a fantastic insight into Cuba, one of the most unique destinations in the world. Our fully escorted tour, led by an experienced English-speaking guide, will cover the most important sights of the island, but also allow you to discover the real Cuba.
We have included a number of unique highlights in the itinerary, these include:
☆ An afternoon cruising through Havana in a chauffeur driven old American car
☆ A visit to a famous working cigar factory in Havana ☆ A visit to the fascinating Museum of the Revolution ☆ Authentic cocktail making and tapas served at a bar & restaurant recently enjoyed by HRH Prince Charles
☆ A day exploring picturesque Vinales Valley an UNESCO World Heritage Site with spectacular scenery
☆ 2-nights in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Trinidad where history & the live music scene are at its best ☆ A visit to the beautiful El Nicho Waterfalls in the Escambray mountains
☆ A final farewell dinner in one of Havana’s famous private restaurants
☆ A final night performance by the outstanding Legendarios de Guajirito
• This tour has been designed for small groups so to maximise the experience for guests
• Unlike many other tours, this tour is guaranteed to operate when there are 2 or more guests booked, do check with us for latest availability
• This tour operates year-round offering a great choice of departure dates
• The tour will be guided in English throughout
• Maximum group size can be up to 21, but usually with an average of 6 to 14 guests
• Minimum age of 14 years old required
• This tour is designed and created by Captivating Cuba, and is marketed by us, other tour operators and travel agents in the UK & Ireland
• On the last day of the tour, we can arrange for you to continue your journey to the beach resorts of Varadero, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo or eastern Cuba or enjoy a second week exploring on our Ultimate Cuba Tour. Alternatively, why not spend a few more days in Havana exploring independently.
Saturday | Day 1 - Havana
After a welcome at Havana airport, a transfer will take you to your accommodation confirmed for the tour, well located in Old Havana. Depending on the time of arrival, there may be the chance to take a wander through the local area and sample Havana’s amazing street life before retiring to bed ready for the tour ahead.
Overnight in Havana.
Sunday | Day 2 Havana
Breakfast at accommodation
After breakfast, you will meet our guide for the first time at your accommodation at 8.30/9.00am and head to one of Havana’s fascinating working cigar factories, to see where Cuba’s famous cigar brands are still hand made by the local workers. Experience first-hand the stages in production from the dried tobacco leaves, to the famous branded boxes being ready for export around the world.
You will then continue to the Museum of the Revolution, housed in the former Presidential Palace offering a fascinating insight into Cuba’s revolutionary history. Lunch will then be served in one of our favourite restaurants in Old Havana.
After lunch, there will be a fascinating, guided leisurely walk through Old Havana, visiting the four famous historical squares, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza Vieja and Plaza de Armas. Absorb the atmosphere and amazing vibrancy of Old Havana and explore the narrow bustling streets which many have described as walking through a film set! You will experience an interesting insight into Old Havana where your guide will ensure you have seen the sights but also some hidden, but fascinating locations away from the normal tourist routes.
In the afternoon you will explore the other areas of central Havana in Old American vintage cars. Be chauffeur driven through the city in fantastic vehicles dating back to the 50s, a thrilling way to enjoy this unique city.
The cars will take you to the impressive Revolution Square overlooked by the mural of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, through the downtown Vedado district of the city, and then on a spectacular drive along the Malecon, Havana’s seafront promenade. Next, past the elegant mansions and embassies in Miramar district as the tour then heads further into fascinating residential areas that are far from the main tourist areas. You will then enter the ‘Bosque De La Havana’, a beautiful tropical woodland and park area with the Almendares River running through and known as the lungs of Havana. This area of parkland is a beautiful place to drive through and you can stop to take photos and explore the area.
Your old American cars will drop you at bustling and vibrant tapas bar, visited in 2019 by HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, where there will be an authentic Cuban cocktail making lesson and homemade tapas will be provided for a light meal. With great food and service, it is a fitting end to a fabulous day.
For those that would like to visit the world-famous Tropicana open air cabaret show that dates back to the 1930’s, you can pre-book your tickets before arriving in Cuba (or on arrival in Cuba, subject to availability). For those guests adding this optional extra, after dinner you can head off to the show.
Your guide can also recommend bars and music venues in the city for those that might want to enjoy the evening independently. Overnight in Havana.
Monday | Day 3 – Vinales Valley & Las Terrazas
After breakfast, you will leave Havana and head west to the immensely picturesque Vinales Valley, an area protected by UNESCO as a world heritage site for its outstanding natural beauty, dominated by unusual limestone mountain formations called ‘Mogotes’.
The valley is also the home of Cuba’s tobacco plantations and during your time in Vinales, there will be a subterranean boat ride through the El Indio cave system, and a visit to a typical tobacco drying house to see how the tobacco crops are turned into the world’s best cigars.
A fabulous unique lunch will be served at a local organic farm affording wonderful views across the valley and you can learn a little more about the farm and its organic methods which attracted the attention of President Obama when he visited Cuba.
In the late afternoon you will leave Vinales and head to Las Terrazas National Park an area of outstanding natural beauty which is protected as one of Cuba’s most important National Parks. After settling in at the Moka Hotel for the night, there will be a short tour of the National Reserve, local village and an introduction to the eco-activities and farming practices that take place here.
There will be another unique dinner tonight at the organic vegetarian restaurant in the village which uses only locally sourced organic ingredients. Overnight in Las Terrazas.
Tuesday | Day 4 – Santa Clara & Trinidad
Breakfast at accommodation.
After breakfast, you will leave Las Terrazas and head past Havana, down the very ‘quiet’ motorway towards the east, where our first stop will be to explore Santa Clara, a city of major historical significance in Cuba.
You will visit the final resting place of Che Guevara at the very symbolic mausoleum with time to visit the museum dedicated to his life, as well as Tren Blindado, a small museum and the iconic remains of the government train that was attacked by Che Guevara and his revolutionaries, a significant turning point in the Cuba Revolution. The city itself has a delightful, small colonial centre and enjoys a large student population who add to the vibrant and friendly nature of this important Cuban city.
A light lunch will be offered in a local restaurant in the centre before you take the picturesque road through the Escambray Mountains towards Sugar Mill Valley where the 145ft Manaca Iznaga Tower stands as a silent witness to Cuba’s history of slavery where over 30,000 slaves worked in the sugar plantations overlooked by the tower! A ghostly visit. As the day draws to a close you will head along the picturesque road to Trinidad, preserved by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, for a two-night stay and dinner will await in one of our chosen casa particular restaurants.
Overnight in Trinidad
Wednesday | Day 5 - Trinidad
Breakfast at accommodation.
After breakfast there will be a comprehensive tour of the center of Trinidad including a visit to the History Museum focusing on a family’s life in Cuba in the 1800s, and the you can sample the unique Trinidad rum and sugar cane cocktail at La Canchanchara, an old house dating back to the 18th Century, beware delicious but very strong!
After lunch in a local restaurant, the remainder of the afternoon will be free to relax in the city, or perhaps take a taxi to the nearby Caribbean beach of Playa Ancon and enjoy the beach and perhaps even sunset there.
Dinner tonight will be at a local private restaurant. It is the final evening in Trinidad, and dancing to local live music is a must so feel free to visit one of Trinidad’s growing number of bars and listen to some excellent live music!
Overnight in Trinidad.
Thursday | Day 6 - Cienfuegos
Breakfast at accommodation.
An early departure from Trinidad takes you towards Cienfuegos, with a visit to El Nicho Park, a marvel of nature with dozens of waterfalls and natural pools in an area virtually untouched, hidden among the mountains and one of the most beautiful spots in Cuba. A scenic area which combines tropical vegetation, rivers and numerous waterfalls, where water plunges more than 30 metres and you will reach the area by taking a very scenic route through many quaint rural villages.
During the tour, you can walk up through numerous walking paths with ‘El Reino de las Aguas’, a gentle hiking trail of 2 km (1.2 miles). Observe the flora and fauna and enjoy swimming in the cool river pools at the end of the walk. Lunch will then be enjoyed here.
Continuing after El Nicho to the French influenced small colonial city of Cienfuegos, which sits overlooking a picturesque bay. En route there will be a tour of the famous Botanical Gardens, one of the largest in the Americas with an abundance species of plant from tropical regions. On arrival to Cienfuegos there will be a stroll through the colonial centre and along the seafront ‘malecon’ promenade.
Dinner tonight will be at your accommodation and the evening will be free to enjoy Cienfuegos at your leisure. Overnight in Cienfuegos.
Friday | Day 7 – The Bay of Pigs & Havana
Breakfast at accommodation.
After leaving Cienfuegos you will continue to the Bay of Pigs, the site of the failed CIA backed invasion of Cuba that was repelled by Fidel and Che and their revolutionaries. There will be a short visit to the museum to gain an insight into one of the major world events from the 1960s and an important date in Cuba’s revolutionary history.
Lunch will take place in a local restaurant in Playa Larga and you can wander through the village and along the beach.
The next stop is Guama, a replica village of Cuba’s earliest settlers the Taino Indians who lived on the island in the 1100s, the original settlers on the island. Located on a string of small islands and reached by an exhilarating boat ride through the mangroves, there are also a number of life size sculptures depicting the life of these early settlers.
After arriving into Havana and settling in, there will be a farewell dinner in a carefully chosen private restaurant in Old Havana, before heading to a performance by ‘Legendarios de Guajirito’, This outstanding band is made with former members of the Buena Vista Social Club and the Afro-Cuban All Stars. Dancing is guaranteed, and the evening is a fitting finale to an unforgettable week exploring Cuba. Overnight in Havana
Saturday | Day 8 - Havana
Breakfast at accommodation.
Today is free for you to explore Havana independently, relax or leave Havana for your beach extension in Varadero, the ‘Cayos’ or eastern Cuba. For those leaving Cuba today, a transfer will collect you from the hotel and take you to the airport for your departure flight home.Holiday Name : The Essential Cuba Tour
Reference : CAP