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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 under the Support the Cuban People Visa.

We have led many tours to this enchanting island  and now we are pleased to offer two tours: one to Havana and Western Cuba and the other  to Santiago de Cuba and the eastern part of the island.

 

Tour to Havana, the Bay of Pigs & Viñales

Overview. We will fly from Florida to Havana, which is the lively and colorful heart of Cuba. We enjoy a wide range of activities to Support the Cuban People. For example, we will walk through beautifully restored Old Havana, attend a private music concert tracing the history of Cuban music, enjoy a private curated tour of the Museum of Bellas Artes, and visit the grounds of the Institute Superior de Arte.

To fully understand the history of this region, we will visit the Bay of Pigs and spend the night after visiting the museum dedicated to the U.S government’s failed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro. We will also visit the eco-village called Las Terrazas. Further west we drive to Pinar del Rio and the beautiful valley of Viñales,  famed for its limestone  mountains, called Mogotes, which rise majestically from the valley floor. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Viñales shows us how Cubans live and work in the countryside.

 

Itinerary

Day One.  Arrive in Havana, Cuba.  Tues. Feb. 18

Capital Building and Opera House in Havana, Cuba

Upon arrival in Havana, we will be met by our guide, driver and private vehicle. We will take a drive through Havana with stops at historical locations such as the Plaza de la Revolucion where Fidel Castro made many speeches to the Cuban people.  Check into our casa particular located in the stylish Vedado neigborhood. Evening concert by Dr. Alberto Faya, noted musician, professor and researcher.  Enjoy a Welcome Dinner on our first night in Cuba.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Dinner

 

Day Two.  Old Havana.     Wed. Feb. 19

We will enjoy a walking tour of Havana Vieja (Old Havana) led by noted architect Anibal del Prado. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts an abundance of architectural jewels spanning 500 years. Mr. del Prado has been involved in a number of major restorations in this district and with his guidance we will learn of the accomplishments and the challenges still facing the preservation of Havana. We will also meet with a Cuban family living in Havana Vieja and learn how they get by despite the continuing sanctions of the American Embargo

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast

 

Day Three. Western Havana, Vedado & the Malecon. Thurs. Feb. 20

We start the day with a morning bus tour of western Havana, notably the neighborhood Jaimanitas, where Jose Fuster spawned the renaissance and creativity of  painting colorful

 

murals on over 80 houses. Later, we will see how food is distributed throughout Havana by visiting a local grocery store and an open-air market. In the afternoon, we will meet Cuban business advisors who help Cubans navigate the new world of the private business sector.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast

Santeria belief is strong in Cuba.

Day Four. Havana to Las Terrazas.  Fri.  Feb.  21

We drive 45 minutes west of Havana to visit the eco-village of Las Terrazas. Las Terrazas was created in 1968 when the green revolution took hold on the island. This biosphere came under UNESCO protection in 1984 and today is home to more than 117 bird species.

Lodging: Hotel La Moka

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day Five. Las Terrazas.  Sat. Feb. 22

Enjoy breakfast at the Hotel La Moka and then have a full day of optional outdoor activities, ranging from zip-lining, visiting the world renowned artist Lester Campa or visiting a former French coffee plantation.

Lodging: Hotel La Moka

Meals Included: Breakfast

 

Day Six.  Las Terrazas to Pinar del Rio to Viñales.    Sun. Feb. 23

We journey to meet Fernando Funes at his farm in La Finca Marta. Dr. Funes is a world-renowned agricultural specialist who has developed a revolutionary way of farming that he uses to supply much of the produce for the paladares all around Havana. We will also enjoy lunch on the farm.

Then we continue to Pinar del Rio for a stop at Proyecto Grabadown (Down’s Syndrome Community Center). The Grabadown Project was started 10 years ago by Jesús Carrete and his daughter Linianna, who was born with Down’s Syndrome. The project has evolved into a community center that allows families with special-needs children to receive the support they need while giving the children a space to express themselves through art, singing, and dancing.

Then we continue (45 min.) on to Viñales where we will meet our local guide Yaniel Luis. We’ll check into our casas and and then have dinner.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day Seven.  Viñales and Havana.    Mon. Feb. 24

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

This morning, Yaniel will greet us for a morning stroll through the Viñales Valley, as we take in the stunning beauty of Western Cuba. We will venture to a tobacco farm where we will be greeted by a local farmer who will take us through the process creating their world-famous cigars from seed to cigar. Artisan cigars will be available for purchase (highly recommended).

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

Lunch will be a farm-to-table meal served adjacent to the tobacco barn. This authentic home-cooked meal is sure to be a highlight. Following lunch, we will visit the house of painter Ramon Vazquez, known for his unique take on the Viñales landscape and the impact of tourism on the region. Later in the afternoon, we will return to Havana and check into our casa particular.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day Eight.  Havana.     Tues. Feb. 25

This morning, we visit to the Instituto Superior de Arte (Superior Institute of Art), the most prestigious art educational institution in Cuba, from which many important artists of the nation have graduated. This tour is going to be hosted by art historian Gretel Medina and her colleagues, and/or Architect Dr. Universo Garcia.

Lunch at a local paladar with Jorge Mario Sanchez (on your own). Dr. Sanchez is a professor at the University of Havana, and holds 2 PhDs (History and Economics), and offers a unique take on the United States and the relationship between the Cuban and American people.

In the afternoon, we will visit Cuba Libro, an English language bookstore opened by American journalist Conner Gorry.  A resident of Havana for 17+ years, she will share her thoughts about life in Cuba. Her view of what is happening in Cuba is fascinating. Also, she will also introduce 2-3 English speaking Cubans to share their perspectives with us.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast

Music and history come together in Havana Vieja.

 

Day Nine.  Havana to Bay of Pigs.  Wed. Feb. 26

After breakfast, we depart Havana to journey (2.5 hrs) to Playa Giron, or what we know as the Bay of Pigs.  After arriving we will go to a local paladar for lunch .   Following lunch, we will explore the Bay of Pigs Museum, and head down to the beach where the invasion took place. We’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the area while taking in the view one of history’s most famous battlefields. Dinner will be served at a Local Paladar

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast

Murals dedicated to the revolution are plentiful throughout Cuba.

 

Day Ten.  Bay of Pigs to Havana .   Thurs, Feb. 27

Check out of our casas and board the bus to journey back to Havana. We will lunch at a local paladar upon arrival. Following lunch, we will take a private curated tour of one of Havana’s most famous museums, the Museo de Bellas Artes. This stunning collection features work from Cuba’s most prominent artists from centuries past up through the Revolution to today. We will focus on the Modern and Contemporary collections. Following our tour, we will check into our casas in Havana and enjoy the rest of the afternoon on our own. In the evening we will enjoy a Farewell Dinner at an upscale paladar.

Lodging: Casa Particular

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

 

Day Eleven.  Havana to U.S.    Friday, Feb. 28

After breakfast at our casa particular, we will check out and go to Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport where we will catch our flight back to Florida.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Tour Price: $3475 based on double occupancy with 12 travelers in group.

$600 Single room supplement

What’s Included

  •  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 Havana
  • All local ground transportation with driver and English-speaking guides.
  • Admission to venues as described in itinerary.
  • Breakfast everyday, two lunches and two 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 Cuba
  • Airline baggage fees depending on the airline.
  • Cuban Tourist Visa
  • 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

 

Tour to Santiago & Eastern Cuba

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.

Itinerary

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: $3495 based on double occupancy with  6 – 12 travelers in group.

$450 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

 

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  • Santiago & Eastern Cuba Tour: $3395/person (double occupancy)
  • $300/person Single Room supplement
  • Dates: Postponed due to Pres. Trump’s Policies against Cuba
  • 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