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Two Cuba Tours

Old cars and pedestrians show the quiet lifestyle of Havana, CubaCuba, long the “forbidden fruit” to American travelers, is available for legal travel with Small Footprint Travels.

We have led many tours to this enchanting island  and now we are pleased to offer a new tour to Santiago de Cuba and the eastern part of the island.  (See below for our tour to Havana, Cienfuegos & Viñales).

Founded in 1515, Santiago is famed for its colonial architecture as well as it revolutionary history, the birthplace of  Rum, and the Santeria religion. Come with us as we explore a less visited part of this large alluring island.

Our tour begins with a quick flight from Miami to the city of Camagüey, Cuba. It is  lovely colonial gem with many parks and squares scattered throughout the city. Our private transport will take us to the small city of Las Tunas for a meeting and tour with a local journalist. Next is the small coastal village of Gibara, where Christopher Columbus first step foot in 1492. It is now the site of an international film festival. We continue to Holguin where we will visit a cigar factory.

We continue to  the lovely city of Bayamo–which predates both Havana and Santiago. It is our gateway to the lovely rural area around Bartolome Masó where we will have the option of hiking up to visit the original headquarters where Fidel, Che, and others commenced their revolt against the Batista Regime.

Finally, we will visit Santiago de Cuba, which is Cuba’s second largest city. Much of Cuban music and dance originated in Santiago and we will immerse ourselves in that cultural ambiance during the three days we are there. We fly from Santiago directly back to Miami.

 

Detailed Itinerary for Tour to Santiago & Eastern Cuba

Day One.  U.S. – Camagüey, Cuba

Gibara, Cuba

Flying from Florida, we will land at the Camagüey International Airport where we will be met by our guide and driver with private bus. We  drive to the lovely private hotel close to the city center. Camagüey is Cuba’s 3rd largest city and the 9th UNESCO World Heritage site on the island. Its downtown colonial architecture along with its many hidden plazas make it a wonderful place to explore. We will meet for a Welcome Dinner after checking in to our hotel.

Lodging: Hotel Santa Maria*** (or similar)

Meals included: Welcome Dinner

Day Two.  Camagüey

Cuba is famous for its numerous classic American automobiles.

Today we will enjoy a bici-taxi city tour of Camagüey. The three wheeled bici-taxis are unique to Camagüey and a popular form of pedal transport. We will stop in to visit the Ballet of Camagüey during rehearsal. This is the second most important ballet company of Cuba and they have traveled extensively internationally.  The Ignacio Agramonte Museum is not to be missed as well as an art walk on the Calle Republica. We will also visit the peaceful Sueños Park on the edge of the city. In the evening, we will enjoy the music and dance venue of the Casa de la Trova.

Lodging: Hotel Santa Maria*** (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Three.  Camagüey – Minas – Las Tunas

Today we drive to the village of Minas where we  will visit a Violin Factory. This will be stepping back in time to see the craftsmen at work making violins. We will speak with them about their craft and the challenges they face in marketing and selling these instruments.

From Minas we continue to the small city of Las Tunas. We will have a tour of the city with a local journalist who will also describe the challenge and satisfaction of her profession in Cuba. In the evening, we will stroll after dinner and meet locals in the main plaza. Conversing with Cubans is always a fun and stimulating enterprise!

Lodging: Casa Particulares

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Four.  Las Tunas – Gibara

Music in Santiago, Cuba

Music abounds all over Cuba!

Continuing on our drive (2.5 hrs), we arrive in the small coastal town of Gibara, where we will spend the night at a casa particular (privately owned Bed & Breakfast). Gibara, once a sleepy fishing village, is now home to an international film festival. It was here that Christopher Columbus first set foot in 1492, claiming the island for Spain. Enjoy a  walk into the village and the fishing port. We will enjoy dinner at our casa particular.

Lodging: Casa Particulares

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Five.  Gibara – Holguin – Bayamo

We depart Gibara and will stop in Holguin for lunch and visit a local cigar factory. We will continue on to Bayamo, a lovely city which predates Havana and Santiago. Known as the “City of Horse Carts” (nearly half the population use horses for travel daily), it is a special place seemingly trapped in time.

Lodging: Casa Particulares

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Six.  Bayamo

Cuban students at ceremony honoring Fidel CastroWe begin our day with a walking tour of the central district of Bayamo. The Catedral de San Salvador de Bayamo is a lovely structure famous in the history of this city. On the Paseo Bayames we will stop in at a Wax Museum and the famous ice cream shop next door. Bayamo boasts the last remaining horse cart production line in Cuba and we will visit to speak with the workers and admire their craftsmanship. In the evening we will enjoy local musicians and dancers at the Casa de la Trova.

Lodging: Casa Particulares

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Seven.  Bayamo – Guisa – Santo Domingo/Bartolomé Masó

We will take a short side trip to the Jardin Botanico de Cupaynicú (The Botanical Garden of Cupayanicú) which is the third botanical garden of importance of Cuba–and the most natural one. The garden contains lovely old-growth trees plus a number of Cuban endemic, variety-specific gardens. Bird-watchers will be pleased to find species on hand such as the Cuban Green Woodpecker and Yellow-faced Grassquits.

Then we will drive a relatively short distance (1.5 hrs) to the small peaceful town of Bartolomé Masó, which is our jumping off point for exploring the mountain headquarters (Comandancia General de la Plata) where Fidel, Che, Camilo Cienfuegos, and Raul Castro initiated the revolution. There is a museum in the mountains and the hike to see it is an optional activity the next morning.

Lodging: Villa Santo Domingo or casa particulares

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Eight. Santo Domingo/Bartolomé Masó – Santiago

In the morning, you have the optional (guided) hike to La Comandancia de la Plata in the Sierra Maestra Mountains.  After the hikers return we will enjoy lunch at Villa Santo Domingo. Following lunch, we will drive (3.5 hrs.) to Santiago de Cuba, the second largest city in Cuba and our home base for the next 3 days.

Santiago played a pivotal part in the two main revolutions of Cuba. This is where the Spanish-American War ended, freeing Cuba from Spain. The city has a decidedly more African influence than does Havana as most of the slave ships arrived in Santiago directly from Africa.

Lodging: Hotel Imperial****  (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day Nine. Santiago

Today we will enjoy a walking tour of central Santiago. We will visit Parque Céspedes, including Casa de Diego Velázquez, (the oldest house in Cuba), Museo del Carnaval (a small museum dedicated to Carnival in Cuba—which happens each August!), and visit the Orisha Market dedicated to all things involved with the Santeria religion.

Lodging: Hotel Imperial****  (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Ten. Santiago

Today we will take a salsa dance class (included), enjoy local music and then visit the Rum Museum, a small, understated museum which offers rum tastings. We will also visit the Museum/House of Antonio Maceo, one of Cuba’s earliest leaders. Later we will have a chance to practice our dance steps in the Casa de la Trova, a community based gathering place for local music and dancing.

Lodging: Hotel Imperial****  (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Eleven.  Santiago

Fidel Castro's Tomb in Santiago, Cuba                                                             Fidel’s grave in Santa Ifgenia Cemetery © Jenny Cressman

Today we travel in our bus to other parts of the city in to visit the Moncada Barracks where Fidel’s first attempted revolution occurred in 1953.  Next will see the Loma de San Juan (San Juan Hill) where Teddy Roosevelt’s famous charge took place during the Spanish-American war. We will visit the Santa Ifgenia Cemetery, a lovely place in which many of the revolutionary heroes are buried, including Fidel. The views of the bay of Santiago are stunning where we will visit the Castillo del Morro and enjoy lunch nearby. In the evening we will enjoy a Farewell Dinner of a Cuban pig roast (vegetarian food also provided) on the rooftop of a casa particular with a stunning view of the city.

Lodging: Hotel Imperial****  (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Farewell Dinner

 

Day Twelve.  End of Tour. Fly Santiago – Miami

Today, we will be transferred to the airport for our return flight to Miami.  Adiós Cuba!

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Santiago & Eastern Tour Price: $3295 based on double occupancy with  6 – 12 travelers in group.

$300 Single room supplement

 

 

What’s Included

  • Cuban health insurance which is required
  • Compliance with US Treasury Department for Support the Cuban People  Visa.
  • Cuban Airport Departure Tax
  • Twelve nights in 3 & 4 star hotels and Casa Particulares (privately owned B&Bs) for two people sharing
  • Transfers to and from airports in Camaguey and Santiago
  • All local ground transportation with driver and English-speaking Cuban guide.
  • Admission to venues as described in itinerary.
  • Dance class in Santiago
  • Breakfast everyday, two dinners.
  • Full time Spanish speaking American Tour Leader and English speaking Cuban guide.
  • A personalized packet of information including market buying tips, restaurant recommendations and information on places you will visit.

What’s Not Included

  • Airfare to/from your home to Cuba.
  • Cuban Tourist Visa ($85)
  • Hotel Lodging in Miami, if necessary
  • Airline baggage fees depending on the airline.
  • Trip/Travel Insurance (Strongly recommended)
  • Single Room Supplement for rooming alone. ($300)
  • Some meals as per itinerary
  • Beverages
  • Tips at Meals
  • Gratuities for Guides and Drivers.
  • Taxis or other ground transport not included in the itinerary
  • International airport taxes

 

Classic Tour to Havana, Cienfuegos & Viñales

Overview. We will fly from Florida to Santa Clara, Cuba and then drive (45 min) to Cienfuegos. This lovely city was founded in 1819 by French settlers.  Known as the ‘Pearl of the South’, Cienfuegos is a  UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will make a day trip to Trinidad, the jewel of Cuba’s colonial heritage. Subsequently,  we will visit a lovely botanical garden founded with support from Harvard University.

Above all,  Havana is the lively and colorful heart of Cuba. We walk through beautifully restored Old Havana, attend a private dance demonstration and enjoy a curated tour of the Museum of Bellas Artes.  After that, you can take an optional salsa class, and visit an organic farm participating in the Farm to Table organic food movement in Cuba.

To fully explore this region, we will experience rural life when we visit the beautiful valley of Viñales,  famed for its limestone  mountains, called Mogotes, that rise majestically from the valley floor. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Viñales gives us the experience of how Cubans live and work in the countryside. After that,  we will be taken directly to the Havana Airport for the return flight home.

 

 

Detailed Itinerary of Tour to Havana, Cienfuegos & Viñales

Day One.  US – Cienfuegos

Lovely architecture in Cienfuegos Cuba

Palacio de Valle in Cienfuegos

We board our flight in Miami and fly directly to Santa Clara, Cuba. Our English speaking Cuban guide and driver with private comfortable bus will meet us at the airport.  After that, the first stop will be at the Che Guevara Museum and Mausoleum in Santa Clara.  We will continue after dinner to Cienfuegos (1 hr. drive) where we will check into our casa particulares (privately owned B&Bs).

Lodging: Casa Particular.

Meal Included: Dinner

 

Day Two.  Cienfuegos

The historic Teatro Terry © Lou Stewart

The historic Teatro Terry © Lou Stewart

Following breakfast, we will have a walking tour through the downtown center  of Cienfuegos. The urban planning and colonial architecture of the city reflect the influence of the early settlers who were from the Bordeaux region of France. Our guide will take us into the beautiful and famous Teatro Terry, in which such luminaries as Enrico Caruso and Sarah Bernhardt performed.

In addition,  we will travel along the Malecon to the enchanting Palacio de Valle where we will enjoy a refreshment on the rooftop.  We will then board a boat to cross the bay to a small fishing village for lunch of fresh seafood. In conclusion, we will visit  Castillo de Jagua, built in 1742 to protect the country from British pirates.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day Three. Trinidad

Santeria belief is strong in Cuba.

Cuban street scene © Dan Callan

Today, we drive (1.5 hrs) to Trinidad, the colonial gem of Cuba. Founded in the early 16th century, it was from the port of Trinidad that Hernan Cortez began his expedition in 1518 to conquer Mexico. Moreover, today it is the best preserved example of colonial architecture on the entire island. We will walk the cobblestone streets to visit artist studios and photograph daily life. At the end of the day, we return to Cienfuegos to enjoy dinner at our casa particulares.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast,

 

Day Four. Cienfuegos to Havana

Capital Building and Opera House in Havana, Cuba

El Capitolio (L) and the newly renovated Opera House © Seth Arlow

We board our comfortable air-conditioned bus for the pleasant (4 hr) ride to Havana. Upon arrival we will  check into our casa located in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana. Vedado is a pleasing blend of homes, apartments and businesses, in a convenient location of Havana. Later in the day, we will meet our guide and enjoy a 1.5 hr tour of Havana in classic 1950s American convertibles.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day Five. Havana

Music and history come together in Havana Vieja.

Musicians perform in Havana Vieja © Dan Callan

Today, we put on our walking shoes to enjoy a walking tour through Havana Vieja–Old Havana–the beautifully restored historical center of Havana. Our guide is a prominent Cuban architect who is expert in the history and architectural restoration of Havana Vieja. In the afternoon we will visit the Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) for a private guided tour of the Contemporary and Modern Art Collections.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day Six.  Havana

Murals dedicated to the revolution are plentiful throughout Cuba.

Student & mural. © Lou Stewart

Next, we will learn about Santeria, an Afro-Cuban religion based on Yorumba beliefs and traditions. In addition, there are Roman Catholic elements added. It grew during the slave trade in the Caribbean and is still practiced in Cuba. Our guide is a Cuban scholar of Santeria. He will explain the role of African religion and culture in Cuba and the importance of Santeria in everyday Cuban life. In addition, he will take us to the home of a Yoruba priestess to learn about  the religious deities and elaborate altars in her home.

In the afternoon, we will visit Cuba Libro, an English language bookstore opened by American journalist Conner Gorry.  A resident of Havana for 15 years, she will share her thoughts about life in Cuba. Her view of what is happening in Cuba is fascinating. In conclusion, she will also introduce 2-3 English speaking Cubans to share their perspectives with us. Lastly, we will visit the Fabrica del Arte which is the most current collaborative arts venue in Havana.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast

 

Day Seven.  Havana

Tractors are rare in Cuba and this sight of a farmer with oxen is very common.

A farmer with oxen is a common sight. © Dan Callan

The Farm to Table food movement is taking hold in Cuba and today we will visit  Vista Hermosa, an organic farm outside of Havana. We will to see what organic products are grown and what animals they raise. Morevover, you can go for a horse ride, should you like. We will return to the city to enjoy lunch at the Mediterraneo-Havana restaurant, which is an acknowledged leader in the use of organic foods in their restaurant.

Following lunch, we will visit the whimsical fishing village of Jaimanitas and the home of artist, Jose Fuster, considered by many to be the Cuban Gaudi meets Picasso.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day Eight.  Havana

Modern dance as expressed by the Habana Compas Dance Company

A performance by Habana Compas Dance Company.

Today you will have the morning free and we will give you interesting options for you to explore on your own. In the afternoon we will visit the Rafael Boxing Gym. Above all, Cubans are very proud of their achievements in sports. Therefore, we will see how Cubans train in the sport of boxing.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast

 

Day Nine.  Havana

Experience the dance and music of Havana! First, we will attend a workshop/demonstration at the dance studio of Havana Compas Dance Company. This modern dance troupe recently performed in Florida.  Their lively performances are filled with a mixture of traditional Spanish, Afro-Cuban and modern dance styles. Later in the day, we will have the opportunity to take a salsa class at Baila Habana. During the hour long class, you will have your own instructor to help you learn the basics or even more of salsa dancing!  On our last evening we will attend a jazz concert at a venue close to our casa particular.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast

 

Day Ten.  Havana to Viñales

Green and verdant, the land in Viñales is among the best in Cuba.

Beautiful Viñales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Adios Havana and Hola to the beautiful countryside of Viñales today. The 3 hour bus ride passes through the most beautiful landscapes of Cuba with our destination being Viñales, the prime tobacco growing region of Cuba. Tall limestone mountains, called Mogotes, are a UNESCO World Heritage site. We will relax in the small town of Viñales and listen to live music that evening in the central plaza.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day Eleven.  Viñales

Cigars are an important part of Cuban life

Farmers in the tobacco growing region of Viñales roll their own cigars.

After breakfast we will meet our guide who will lead us on our hike into the surrounding countryside. There are opportunities for walking to local farms to see the  tobacco fields. In addition, the farmers will demonstrate cigar rolling techniques. And you might  prefer a more active hike up  along the mountain vistas. By mid-day we will meet up for a delicious traditional Cuban barbecue lunch in a setting overlooking the beautiful landscape.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

 

Day Twelve.  Viñales – Havana – Miami.  End of Tour

In the morning, we will be transferred directly (3 hr. drive) to the Havana Airport where we will board our  flight back to Miami and other points in the U.S.

Meals Included: Breakfast

 

Tour Price: $3995 based on double occupancy with 12 travelers in group.

$545 Single room supplement .

What’s Included

  • Round Trip Airfare from Florida to Santa Clara, Cuba & Havana to Florida on a US carrier.
  • Cuban Tourist Visa and Cuban health insurance.
  • Compliance with US Treasury Department for Support the Cuban People  Visa.
  • Cuban Airport Departure Tax
  • Eleven nights in locally owned B&B’s (called Casa Particulares), for two people sharing
  • Transfers to and from airports in Cienfuegos and Havana
  • All local ground transportation with driver and English-speaking guides.
  • Admission to venues as described in itinerary.
  • Breakfast everyday, two lunches and six dinners.
  • Full time Spanish speaking American Tour Leader, local English speaking guides.
  • A personalized packet of information including market buying tips, restaurant recommendations and information on places you will visit.

What’s Not Included

  • Airfare to/from your home to Florida, USA
  • Airline baggage fees depending on the airline.
  • Single Room Supplement for rooming alone.
  • Some meals as per itinerary
  • Beverages
  • Tips at Meals
  • Gratuities for Guides and Drivers.
  • Taxis or other ground transport not included in the itinerary
  • International airport taxes

Download Registration Form


  • Legal Support the Cuban People Visa
  • Santiago & Eastern Cuba Tour: $3295/person (double occupancy)
  • $300/person Single Room supplement
  • Feb. 13 – 24, 2020
  • Group Size: 6 min – 12 max

 

 

“Benjamin and Myo were the perfect guides. What a wonderful introduction and immersion into fascinating Cuba.”
– Tom, Asheville, NC