Colorful Cuba Small Group Tours
January 17th - 25th 2021
Optional Hidden Cuba Extension: January 25th - 31st 2021
For YEARS' we've been waiting for the right moment to create a one-of-a-kind experience throughout Cuba and the time is now! The USA regulations are STILL as flexible and "loose" as they've ever been, even with our current government's new proposals which have not taken effect (and likely won't anyways). Our tour is 100% LEGAL for US Citizens. *It is extremely unlikely our adventure will be affected EVEN IF the laws change at some point before the trip.
Our Cuba small group tours are the ideal way to get up close and personal with this colorful country's people, food, culture, & incredible scenery. From the rural Viñales Valley with its gorgeous landscapes and friendly locals, to the romantic sea wall in Cienfuegos, a city covered in French influence, to Trinidad with its colorful buildings and cobblestone streets, we're just scratching the surface of these unforgettable experiences that await us. Learn about Cuba’s proud and patriotic culture, its tumultuous history, its thriving arts scene, and its burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit. And, of course, it goes without saying the photography opportunities are truly unique and found nowhere else on the planet!
*Please see the disclaimer at the bottom of this trip page for more info about the current regulations and why NOW IS THE TIME TO JOIN US in the event the laws do become more strict.
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for the daily itinerary!
CHECK OUT our Hidden Cuba Extension at the bottom of this trip page!
"On first impressions, Havana can seem like a confusing jigsaw puzzle, but work out how to put the pieces together and a beautiful picture emerges...No one could have invented Havana. It’s too audacious, too contradictory, and – despite 50 years of withering neglect – too damned beautiful. How it does it is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s the swashbuckling history still almost perceptible in atmospheric colonial streets; the survivalist spirit of a populace scarred by two independence wars, a revolution and a US trade embargo; or the indefatigable salsa energy that ricochets off walls and emanates most emphatically from the people...(And it must be noted that the) art culture in Havana is currently one of the city's biggest surprises! Don’t come here with a long list of questions. Just arrive with an open mind and prepare for a long, slow seduction."
* Old Havana: With a majority of the buildings over 100 years old, rich history oozes out of every street, building, & alleyway. Our Privately guided walking tour includes many of the historical sites, and we'll also learn about the impact of the dual- currency economy by visiting commercial centers, where goods are purchased in CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso), and ration or peso stores where goods are purchased in CUP (Cuban Peso).
* "Fusterlandia" & Jaimanitas Fishing Village: On the outskirts of the Havana coastline we'll encounter a colorful fishing village made famous by local artist, Jose Fuster. Fuster has made his entire home, and much of the surrounding neighborhood, into a vast and varied piece of art using tiles to create beautiful mosaics around every corner.
"Known appropriately as the 'rainbow of Cuba,' Soroa, a gorgeous natural area and tiny settlement 50 miles southwest of Havana, is the closest mountain resort to the capital. The growth of tall trees and orchids thrive here" (- Lonely Planet) thanks to the protection and designation as an Unesco Biosphere Reserve. Fantastic hikes, birdwatching, botanical gardens, cycling, & horseback riding are all at our fingertips here...
* Callejon de Hamel: En route to Soroa we'll visit this attractive street art project where local resident Salvador Gonzáles Escalona has decorated and painted in vibrant colors, a pedestrian alleyway with scrap objects like bathtubs, hand pumps, and pinwheels. Many of these works are dedicated to various Afro-Cuban deities from the Santeria religion, making this an excellent stop to learn about this fascinating belief system and snap some awesome photos to boot!
* Las Terrazas: Nearby Soroa, this mountain community was built as a reforestation project in the 1960s and is now part of the same Unesco Biosphere Reserve. We'll take a walk around town & meet a local community leader who will give us some insight into how the community project being carried out here works. We can also discover great art, woodwork, and pottery studios open to the public.
* Orchid Garden: The highlight of Soroa is arguably this specialized botanical garden, with a collection of 20,000 specimens and more than 350 species of orchids, some Cuban and others from Asia & Latin America. Amazing macro photography opportunities here!
This slow, relaxed, wonderfully traditional settlement is a place that steadfastly refuses to put on a show. What you see here is what you get – an agricultural town where front doors are left wide open, everyone knows everyone else, and a night out on the tiles involves sitting on a sillón (rocking chair) on a rustic porch analyzing the Milky Way. Here we dip indulgently into the natural world, hiking, horse-riding or cycling through some of the most wonderful landscapes in Cuba." - Lonely Planet
* Sustainable Farm Discovery: Meet a local Cuban farmer and his family who'll show us around their organic farm and explain the methods they use to grow their produce without pesticides or artificial fertilizers. The icing on the cake is a delicious dinner with the family using fresh produce right from the farm we've just learned about!
* Valley Walking Tour & Tobacco Plantation: A beautiful walk through the valley will take us to a local tobacco farm to learn about the making of Cuba’s famous cigars. Viñales is one of the premier locations in the world for tobacco cultivation & a local farmer will give us a cigar rolling demonstration and insight into how the socialist system in Cuba works, with regards to how much of the tobacco produced by the family is given to the government, and how much of it they are free to sell on the private market.
* Cuban Cooking Class: Learn to cook Cuban-style with a cooking demonstration of 'platos tipicos'. Cubanos like congri (black beans & rice), potaje (vegetables & legumes), garbanzo soup, ajiaco (meat & potatoes), and flan. Fun to cook, but even better to eat!
"Cuba's so-called 'Pearl of the South' is arranged around the country's most spectacular natural bay, & has long seduced travelers from around the island with its elegance, enlightened French airs, and feisty Caribbean spirit. If Cuba has a Paris, this is most definitely it." - Lonely Planet
* Bay of Pigs: Enjoy a scenic drive along the site where the landing of U.S. sponsored counter-revolutionary exile militia occurred in 1961.
* Sinkhole Snorkel: Stop for a swim and snorkel by a sinkhole which resembles a huge natural tropical fish tank!
* Guided Orientation Walk & the Palacio de Valle : On arrival in the city we'll take a short walk to see and learn the local landmarks followed by a visit to the Palacio de Valle, an "Arabian Nights" like aspiring restaurant with a fantastic terrace bar. This colorful riot of tiles, turrets, and stucco resembles an outrageously ornate Moroccan casbah.
"Trinidad is one of a kind, a perfectly preserved Spanish colonial settlement where the clocks stopped in 1850 and have yet to restart. Huge sugar fortunes amassed in the nearby Valle de los Ingenios during the early 19th century created the illustrious colonial-style mansions bedecked with Italian frescoes, Wedgwood china and French chandeliers. The cobblestone streets, replete with leather-faced guajiros (country folk), snorting donkeys and melodic troubadours, retain a quiet air. Come nightfall, the live-music scene is particularly good." - Lonely Planet
* Guided Trinidad Walk: Home to numerous churches and many beautiful colonial buildings, we'll begin with a cultural tour of Trinidad. Some of the extravagant colonial houses have been made into museums so we'll visit a couple to gain fascinating insight into the lifestyle during these times gone by. On the other end of the social scale were the African slaves, who had a profound influence on the city's culture, music, and religious beliefs, and as part of our walk around the town, we drop by an Afro Cuban temple to Yemaya, an important figure in the Santeria religion.
* Learn to Bartend: With our sights on the Trinidad foodie scene we'll enjoy a bartending demonstration and discussion of the history behind Cuba’s most popular cocktails.
* Salsa Lesson: Visit a local dance school for a demonstration and lesson in the dances of Cuba. And of course, experiencing Trinidad wouldn’t be complete without a night of dancing and music, and what better way to burn calories and practice what we've learned!
* Salto de Javira Waterfall: An easy hike brings us to this beautiful waterfall, perfect for photos and a dip to cool off! If we're lucky, we might even be able to swim behind the falls and see the stalagmites and bats that call the small "cave" their bedroom for their day long slumber.
* Dinner on the Beach: Weather permitting, we'll celebrate this amazing journey though Cuba together with a feast on the beach!
Single Supplement: $595.00
E-mail us at email@example.com for the daily itinerary!
Hidden Cuba (Optional Extension)
January 25th - 31st 2021
This island country is quite large and there is so much left to explore, so we've put together this awesome extension to the off the path gems in the southeastern region of Cuba. From the rhythms of Santiago de Cuba to the lush coastal forests and mountain-backed coastline of the former capital, Baracoa, we'll continue this once-in-a-lifetime journey to the other side of the country packed with more culture, colors, beaches, music, & mountains!
Santiago de Cuba
The country's cultural capital, Santiago is a frenetic, passionate and noisy beauty. Situated closer to Haiti and the Dominican Republic than to Havana, it leans east rather than west, a crucial factor shaping this city's unique identity, steeped in Afro-Caribbean, entrepreneurial, and rebel influences. Not to mention, nearly every Cuban music genre from salsa to son first emanated from these dusty, rhythmic and sensuous streets!" -Lonely Planet
* Guided City Exploration: The origins of so much iconic Cuban history, culture, music, & dance make our guided walking tour a must. We'll visit Santiago’s museums, colonial churches, and buildings of more recent historical importance, such as the Moncada Barracks, the site of Fidel Castro's armed attack during the revolution.
* Santiagueros Music Venue: A local arts expert will introduce us to Santiago's music & dance scene first hand. Learn about Cuban street rumba, danced during Santiago’s famous Carnaval & finish the day with an unforgettable night of music and dance with local Santiagueros (the proud name of those born and bread in this much loved cultural epicenter)
"Beguiling, outlandish and surreal, Baracoa's essence is addictive. On the wet and windy side of the Cuchillos del Toa mountains, Cuba’s oldest and most isolated town exudes original atmosphere. Delve into fantastical legends, and acquaint yourself with an unorthodox cast of local characters" - Lonely Planet
* Epic Road Trip: A spectacular drive through Eastern Cuba’s hugely varied landscape brings us to Cuba’s first capital. On the way we pass by the city of Guantanamo and its infamous bay nearby. There is a lookout from where we can see the highly controversial U.S. Navy Base, Mirador los Malones (closed to the public for the last few years but we will see if we can arrange for us to take a peek!). We'll also stop at a local home to learn about cucurucho, a sweet treat made of honey, nuts, and coconut that is as much fun to eat as it is to say!
* Yumuri River Canyon: Float down the Yumuri River and enjoy meeting the colorful locals who live and work on the lush banks and fish filled waters.
* Where Chocolate Comes From!: Visit a family-owned cacao farm to learn how this magical fruit is cultivated and eventually processed into delicious chocolate.
Single Supplement: $349.00
KEEP CALM AND GO TO CUBA. IT'S STILL LEGAL!
Despite the hullabaloo about Trump’s intended changes to Cuba travel rules in 2019, nothing for the moment has changed and legal tourist travel to Cuba is now the easiest it has been in decades! Our Cuba small group tour is fully licensed and compliant with all US regulations mandated to legally travel to Cuba.
Please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for full details and explanation.
Cancellation Policy & Refunds
*There is a $100.00 administrative fee for all cancellations. Cancellations made 120 days (September 19th 2020) or more prior to trip departure date are fully refundable except for the $100 fee. Cancellations less than made 120 days (September 19th 2020) prior to the trip departure date will receive no refund of the full amount due. No refunds on unused portions of the tour. Credit card fees and paypal processing fees cannot be refunded. After airline tickets are issued, airline cancellations are per the airline’s policy and are usually non-refundable and changeable with a fee plus new ticket price. Travel insurance strongly encouraged (ask us about policy options).
*Hotels subject to change based on availability
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Local Planet Travel
1754 Woodruff Road, #211
Greenville, SC 29607
CST # 2101181-40