Day 1: ARRIVE HAVANA: TOUR HAVANA
Welcome to Cuba! Today we arrive in Havana and settle into our B&B accommodations in Havana. Upon arrival at the airport we will meet our Cuban tour leader and driver who will be with us throughout our stay.
After we have settled in and relaxed we will go for a ride in some of Cuba's classic cars and tour its many neighborhoods and the famous Malecon. Before dinner we will stop for a cocktail at the legendary 1930s era Hotel Nacional. After that we will have our welcome dinner with our Cuban guide. Meals Included: Dinner
Day 2: HAVANA: OLD HAVANA, ART MUSEUM & ARTIST VISIT
First thing in the morning we will have a walking tour of Old Havana and walk in the footsteps of Havana's colonial past visiting the main plazas of Old Havana, a UNESCO world heritage site, with our expert guide offering insightful history along the way. At the end of our walking tour we will visit the Revolution museum that is housed in the old Presidential building.
We will then drive out to the Vedado neighborhood and rom there we will travel on to the fishing village of Jaimanitas and the home of the famous artist Jose Fuster. Fuster has made his entire home, and much of the surrounding neighborhood, into an artwork using tiles in mosaic forms and created an amazing artists environment to visit.(link) Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 3: VINALES - PINAR DEL RIO VALLEY
Vinales is situated in one of the most picturesque parts of Cuba, with its limestone pincushion hills mogotes, of the Pinar del Rio province. In addition it is famous for its tobacco farms and cigar production. We will stop at Las Terrazas and have a brief tour of this eco community project and then visit with artist, Jorge LaPorte who does lovely large botanical drawings. We will have lunch at a restaurant made in the ruins of a coffee plantation with amazing views over the valley.
We will then drive on to Vinales. We will stop in to visit a magical private botanical garden in town made around a colonial home in Vinales by two older women, El Jardin de La Humanidad. In the late afternoon we will tour an organic farm and learn about sustainable farming in Cuba. Here we meet our local farmer and his family who will show us around the organic farm and explain to us the methods used to cultivate crops without the use of pesticides. With the beautiful valley landscape and sunset as our backdrop, we will enjoy a deliciously fresh and diverse meal prepared by the family, a truly authentic farm-to-fork experience! Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5: VINALES
Today in the morning we will learn about the tradition of Cuban cigars from a farmer and expert cigar maker. We will get an insight as to how the communist system works, how much the farmers will keep, how much they will give to the government. You will learn about the process from tobacco planting to rolling the final cigar and even have a chance to smoke one! We will also visit a government separation room where the women work to separate the quality of tobacco for different types of cigars.
After lunch (if he is available) we will visit with a wonderful local artist who does bird botanical drawings. In the late afternoon we learn to cook Cuban-style with a cooking lesson from a local chef and then enjoy a delicious meal again overlooking the lovely PInar Del Rio Valley. Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6: CIENFUEGOS
Today we will depart early on the long drive to Cienfuegos. (Two options here for group to decide on) We will either drive via the Bay or Pigs and see the museum there or drive to Cienfuegos and then on to a little village on the coast for a simple lunch and a swim in the ocean. There is also a botanical garden there we might visit. Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7: TRINIDAD
In the morning we will depart early for Trinidad. The beautiful colonial city of Trinidad is an Unesco landmark and it is a joy to walk and explore it's cobblestoned streets. We begin with a cultural walking tour of Trinidad where we will visit some of the local historical museums and stop in and see an interesting local artist who does wood relief portraits of elderly Cubans. We will eat lunch on the plaza and meet and listen to one of the town's many delightful Cuban groups. Late afternoon we will go out to Playa Ancon, stop and collect coral and then on to relax at the beach with a picnic or dinner at a nearby restuarant.
Music in Trinidad is probably the most accessible in all of Cuba, with numerous live music venues and many dance performances every day of the week, day and night, all amongst the enchanting setting of old colonial buildings and the cobblestone streets. Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
Day 8: TRINIDAD
Today we will relax a bit in the morning and talk with some local musicians and learn more about Cuban music. We'll meet members of the Afro Cuban Folkloric dance group that perform Afro Cuban shows at the club Palenque to learn about the cultural and social importance that dancing has to Cuba. We will be welcomed into the venue where they train and perform before taking on a Cuban salsa class. Those who want can go on a hike to a lovely nearby waterfall and there is also an option for a salsa class which everyone always enjoys. In the evening we will go out for a special meal to one of Trinidad's better restaurants and be serenaded by a local band performing just for us. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.
Day 8: PALMIRA- HAVANA
We will leave Trinidad to head back to Havana via Cienfuegos and visit a charming small town Palmira. Palmira is a very friendly relaxed town that has a large Afro-Cuban population and we will visit a Santeria temple where they will do a special musical and dance presentation just for us. This is not a town tourists normally visit and it will be an opportunity to see real life in small town Cuba. We will have lunch there in a local paladar. We will then head back to Havana where we will have some free time to freshen up before our farewell dinner. Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
Day 9: HAVANA
In the morning we will relax before our flights then wave goodbye to the city's warm waters, colonial palaces and vintage cars before boarding your flight back to the US. Breakfast and Transport to the Airport Included.