Day 1: Arrive Havana
Arrive in Havana at any time. Today is the arrival day of the tour so there are no planned activities and you can check into the hotel and relax or go and explore the city. Adventure among the splendorous crumbling architecture of the streets of old Havana and sit on the famous sea wall (malecon) to take in the view and some fresh air, and to socialize with the colourful and friendly 'Habaneros'. We will provide you with contacts for local guides, so if you wish, you can pay a small price to have someone show you around.
Day 2: Bay of Pigs/Cienfuegos
We head to the French founded city of Cienfuegos through the densely vegetated Peninsula de Zapata swamp-lands, and along the beautiful Bay of Pigs. This is where the landing of counter-revolutionary exile militia occured in 1961. There is a musuem here that recounts the events of this conflict which resulted in the first defeat of a U.S backed take-over in Latin America. We will also make stops at a beautiful swimming hole (cenote) which resembles a huge natural tropical fish tank, and if the conditions are favourable, at beach for snorkelling. Cienfuegos appeal lies partly in the European flavour of its colonial hub, with a wide Parisian-style boulevard and elegant colonnades, and there is an ambience to inspire Cuba’s most celebrated Son singer to write the words “Cienfuegos is the city I like best”.
Day 3: Trinidad via Santa Clara
On the way to Trinidad, we take a detour back inland to Santa Clara, a key city in the Cuban Revolution. Upon entering Santa Clara, there is a huge statue of Ernesto Ché Guevara, to commemorate his death and that of the revolutionaries who were murdered along with him in Bolivia. There is also a museum here dedicated to his amazing life (free entry). We have time to visit this musuem, to wander the city centre, and to see a few other historical sites mostly to do with Che.
Santa Clara isn’t a thriving tourism hub, and that in itself creates its own interest as you can experience a more authentic Cuban city. We then head back to the Caribbean Coast and the beautiful colonial city of Trinidad.
Day 4, 5: Trinidad
Trinidad is home to numerous churches and many beautiful colonial buildings. We are near the lovely Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of Sugarmills) and Playa Ancón, where you can enjoy long stretches of unspoiled, white sand beaches. Scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming in waterfalls and horse-riding are other optional activities.
The nightlife in Trinidad is probably the most accessible and intense in all of Cuba, with numerous live music venues and many dance performances everyday of the week, all amongst the enchanting setting of old colonial buildings and the cobblestone streets.
Day 6, 7: Camagüey
Cuba's third largest city lies about half way between Havana and Santiago de Cuba - about a 5 hour drive from Trinidad. Camaguey was designed in the 17th century to disorientate potential invaders such as pirates and plunderers, so the street layout is a jumble of narrow alleys where no two streets are parallel. There are large parks, various private art galleries, and a thriving market garden, and one will enjoy strolling through this city. This is also a university town and has a rich cultural tradition, and like just about everywhere in Cuba, there is plenty of night time entertainment to be had.
Day 8, 9: Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is known as the “cradle of the Revolution” and is home to much of Cuba’s famed music, like the Son. There are also museums, colonial churches and buildings of more recent historical importance, such as the Moncada Barracks, which are well worth exploring.
Santiago de Cuba has a very vibrant traditional music scene, which will entice even the shyest dancer out to experiment with some salsa moves. Culturally, Santiago has a different feel to the rest of Cuba, undoubtedly coming from the mix of French speaking slaves from Haiti and its proximity to Jamaica.
Day 10-12: Baracoa
A spectacular drive past the region’s most controversial leasehold of Guantanamo Bay, then along the coast and finally through lush mountains of eastern Cuban, brings us to Cuba’s first colonial capital. When Christopher Columbus first encountered Cuba it was here, and he duly noted in his log-book that this was the most beautiful land that human eyes could set upon. You will understand what he meant when you see the beaches and verdant mountain landscape that surround Baracoa. Situated on a beautiful bay with the mountains of the Sierra del Purial in the background, Baracoa was the first settlement founded by the Spanish in Cuba, and was only accessible by sea until the end of the 1960s. There are numerous options for outdoor activities in the nearby mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and beaches. There is wide variety of delicious seafood available in Baracoa.
Day 13,14: Havana
The Caribbean's largest and most exciting urban concentration. Havana is one of the oldest cities in the Western Hemisphere, and was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Options are to take the included walking tour of the Old town with the guide or to find your own adventure.
Day 15: Depart Havana
If you have more time to spend in Cuba before flying out, the tour leader can suggest a number of excellent options for spending a few extra days, and give you details on how to get there and where to stay.