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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 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 Fort Lauderdale to the city of Holguin, Cuba. Our private transport will take us to the small coastal town of Gibara, where Christopher Columbus first step foot in 1492. We continue to Santiago which is Cuba’s second largest city, and quite different from Havana. We spend 4 days there immersing ourselves in music, art, dance, and Cuban culture. Next is the lovely city of Bayamo–which predates both Havana and Santiago. Then we go into the lovely rural area around Bartolome Masó and have the option of hiking up the mountain to visit the original headquarters where Fidel, Che, and others commenced their revolt against the Batista Regime.

The small resort and port of Marea del Portillo awaits us next where we will spend time in a smaller town atmosphere of Cuba. Many options are available to mingle with everyday Cubans here. Finally, we will introduce you to the colonial gem of Camaguey, a city known for its horse buggies and lovely plazas. From there we will fly back to Fort Lauderdale.

 

Detailed Itinerary for Tour to Santiago & Eastern Cuba

Day One.  U.S. – Holguin, Cuba

Gibara, Cuba

Flying from Florida, we will land at the Holguin International Airport where we will be met by our guide and driver with private bus. We  drive (1.5 hr.) to the lovely coastal town of Gibara where we will spend the night at a casa particular. 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 a Welcome Dinner at our casa particular.

Lodging: Sol y Mar casa particular (or similar)

Meals included: Welcome Dinner in the casa particular

 

Day Two.  Gibara – Santiago de Cuba

Cuba is famous for its numerous classic American automobiles.

We drive (3.5 hrs) to Santiago de Cuba, the second largest city in Cuba and our home base for 4 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. We will walk about central Santiago to 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 the Casa de la Trova where we will hear local musicians play and dance.

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

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Three.  Santiago de Cuba

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.

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

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Four.  Santiago de Cuba

Music in Santiago, Cuba

Music abounds all over Cuba!

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. Later we will have a chance to practice our dance steps in the Casa de Trova, a community based gathering place for local music and dancing.

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

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Five.  Santiago de Cuba

We drive (2 hrs) to an amazing sculpture park, Zoologico de Piedras, which has over 200 carved stone animals. This represents the work of 3 generations of one family and is well worth seeing and photographing. On the way, we will pass through the city of Guantanamo and have a glimpse (from afar) of the US base at Guantanamo Bay.

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

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Six.  Santiago – Bayamo

Cuban students at ceremony honoring Fidel CastroAs we depart Santiago, we will visit El Cobre, Cuba’s most important shrine located in a famous church at the foothills of the Sierra Maestra Mountains. It is also known as the Virgin of Charity or the Black Madonna. We will continue 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: Hotel Royalton***(or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Seven.  Bayamo – Santo Domingo/Bartolomé Masó

We drive a relatively short distance 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 similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Eight. Santo Domingo/Bartolomé Masó – Marea del Portillo

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 lunch at Villa Santo Domingo. Following lunch, we will drive (3 hrs.) to  Marea del Portillo .

Lodging: Marea del Portillo

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day Nine. Marea del Portillo

Marea del PortilloThere are many options for exploring this special corner of Cuba.  There is the possibility to further study Cuban dance,  go horseback riding, or have a horse carriage ride into the local fishing village . We will seek out a Santeria experience as well. Santeria is the Afro-Cuban religion brought to Cuba by the slaves from West Africa.

Lodging: Marea del Portillo

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Day Ten. Marea del Portillo

Today is a trip to Desembarco del Granma National Park & Museum, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site due for its fauna and flora. This is also the spot where Castro and his soldiers landed in their boat, the Granma, to launch their attack on the Batista regime in 1956.

Lodging: Marea del Portillo

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Lunch at a restaurant near the National Park (not included)

 

Day Eleven. Marea del Portillo – Camagüey

Today we depart for Camagüey and along the way, we will visit the Celia Sanchez Museum in Pilón en route to Camagüey, if time allows. Celia Sanchez was a principal leader in the revolution and close friend to Fidel Castro. She is revered throughout Cuba for the role she played during and after the revolution.

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

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day Twelve.  Camagüey

Today we will enjoy a city tour of Camagüey, 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 on foot or in a horse & buggy. In the evening we will gather for a Farewell Dinner.

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

Meals included: Breakfast & Farewell Dinner

 

Day Thirteen.  Camagüey – USA

Following breakfast, we will be transferred to the Camagüey Airport for the flight to Miami.

Meals included: Breakfast

 

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

$350 Single room supplement . ($312 estimated rt Airfare from Florida to Cuba not included.)

With only 8 travelers going on the tour, the cost is $3595 per person based on double room occupancy. ($365 rt Airfare w/ Tourist Visa from Florida to Cuba not included.) $350 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 one night in a Cuban B&B (casa particular)for two people sharing
  • Transfers to and from airports in Holguin and Camaguey
  • 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.
  • All meals and beverages at Marea del Portillo.
  • 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. ($312 on JetBlue as of May 2019)
  • Cuban Tourist Visa ($50)
  • Hotel Lodging in Miami, if necessary
  • Airline baggage fees depending on the airline.
  • Trip/Travel Insurance (Strongly recommended)
  • 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

 

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)
  • $350/person Single Room supplement
  • Feb. 13 – 25, 2020
  • Group Size: 8 min – 12 max

 

 

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