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Undiscovered Cuba

12 days with Alexander+Roberts   Rating: Deluxe

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Itinerary
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Day 1 - Fly to Havana
Upon arrival, you'll be escorted to the superior first class Meliá Cohiba Hotel in the heart of the city. This evening’s Welcome Dinner offers another congenial opportunity to get better acquainted with your Trip Leader, Cuban guide and fellow travelers. (D)
 
Day 2 - Out + About in Havana 
Havana was founded in 1519 and within a hundred years it had emerged as one of the Caribbean’s wealthiest ports and an important ship-building center. Although it’s now a vibrant capital with more than two million residents, its historical core still retains a wonderful mix of Baroque and Neoclassical architecture - including colorful old buildings with arcades, balconies and delicate wrought-iron gates. This morning’s guided walking tour takes you along Old Havana’s narrow streets and through impressive centuries-old plazas that embody both the city’s ancient legacy as well as its modern-day vibrancy. You’ll make your way to La Escuela Taller Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, where students and faculty will talk about their studies in architectural restoration and share their hopes for preserving the city’s heritage.

Next, you’ll be warmly welcomed as special guests at the Angela Landa Primary School. Spending time with the young children and their teachers offers heartwarming experience. Continue your focus on Cuba’s youth at a community program that uses hands-on techniques to teach and thereby preserve artisanal and traditional sewing techniques - passing both skill and knowledge to the next generation. Tonight you’ll dine at La Union Française de Cuba, an acclaimed restaurant in the popular Vedado neighborhood of downtown Havana. (B,L,D)
 
Day 3 - Life + Culture in the Capital
This morning, we’ve arranged for a lively and informative talk with a local diplomat and educator. This unique experience promises deeper understanding and appreciation of Cuban attitudes and sentiments regarding U.S.-Cuba relations. Continue with your Trip Leader and native Cuban guide to a bustling farmers market where you’ll get a firsthand look at the island’s unique dual-currency system in action.

After lunch, it’s off to the city’s Marianao district where you’ll spend time with the talented and impassioned members of La Chinche, a local theater company. You’ll also visit with the teachers and headmistress of La Casa del Niño y la Niña, an afterschool program for children in the central district of the capital. You’ll end this day with business professionals and students, sharing stories, experiences and insight into life in America and Cuba. Tonight you’ll dine on your own at one of the city’s paladars, private family-owned restaurants which can be found across the island. Of course, our in-the-know Trip Leader will be there to assist with recommendations and arrangements.  (B,L)
 
Day 4 - Journey to Santa Clara
You’ll depart the city after breakfast, traveling by motorcoach deeper into the heart of the island to the handsome colonial town of Santa Clara. Your first stop of the day will be at a community project where local residents have turned a former industrial area into a welcoming nature park. The tranquility you’ll experience here is a sharp contrast to the urban energy you left behind in Havana. After lunch in Santa Clara, you’ll visit the Che Guevara Memorial. This complex comprises several monuments including an impressive 82-foot statue of the political revolutionary as well as his mausoleum.

Then spend time with a local performance troupe that specializes in a unique style of music that was common in the early 20th century as the accompaniment for silent movies and other theatrical events. Check in to your hotel where you’ll have time to refresh before dinner. (B,L,D)
 
Day 5 - Santa Clara to Camagüey
This morning’s scenic drive brings you to Camagüey, one of the first seven villages founded by the Spaniards in Cuba. By the 17th century, it had developed into an important urban center for an interior territory dedicated to the cattle and sugar industries. And unlike many other colonial towns in Latin America, Camagüey developed in a very irregular non-grid urban pattern with a variety of large and small town squares, winding alleys and labyrinthine urban streets. Today, Camagüey reflects its rich architectural legacy as well as a thriving artistic spirit. Your exploration into the town’s vibrant arts scene begins at the studio of a local painter and sculptor who will share insight into her work. Then continue to a contemporary ballet company where the dancers will share their background and experiences. Tonight you’ll dine at the elegant Restaurante 1800. (B,L,D)
 
Day 7 - Art, Culture + Life in Camagüey
Your second day in Camagüey begins with an inspiring people-to-people visit with the staff of a community project dedicated to the development and welfare of local children. Next you’ll spend time with the creative members of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba. Founded in 1961 by Cuban poet Nicolas Guillen, this society of writers, musicians, actors, painters and sculptors is one of the island’s most unique groups. With more than 9,000 members and branches all across Cuba, it’s a non-governmental social, cultural and professional organization that aims to strengthen, develop and preserve Cuban art and literature. Continuing your exploration into the region’s strong creative heritage, you’ll also tour the galleries and studios of several local artists. After lunch, you’ll enjoy some live music at Casa de la Trova; set in a handsome Colonial-era building in the historic heart of town, this is one of Cuba’s liveliest music venues and always draws great musicians and enthusiastic audiences.

Some say that Camagüey’s winding alleys and labyrinthine streets were purposely designed to discourage pirates and pillagers in the 17th and 18th centuries. You’ll explore this fascinating facet of history, architecture and urban planning when you join an engaging local historian for a city tour by bicycle taxi!  (B,L,D)
 
Day 7 - Travel to Bayamo and Santiago de Cuba
Check out from your hotel this morning after breakfast and travel to Bayamo. Older than both Havana and Santiago de Cuba, this tranquil town boasts a timeless ambience and offers the chance to experience a quieter side of island life. After lunch in town, enjoy a congenial people-to-people visit with the talented members of the Choir of Bayamo. Continue your journey to La Caridad del Cobre. Visited by the Pope whenever he’s in Cuba, this historic church houses the Virgin of Charity, a revered statue of the Virgin Mary that was found floating offshore more than 400 years ago. In 1916, the Pope visited the shrine of the Virgin of Charity and declared her the patron saint of Cuba. Half a century later, Ernest Hemingway gave the Virgin the Nobel Prize for Literature which he received after writing The Old Man and the Sea in Havana. Over the years, thousands of votive offerings have been left here by pilgrims and visitors, making this perhaps the most important church on the island. Continue to Santiago de Cuba and check in to the superior first class Meliá Santiago, where you’ll have time to refresh before dinner. (B,L,D)
 
Day 8 - Santiago de Cuba
This morning’s tour with a local historian is the perfect introduction to Cuba’s second largest city and its handsome Old Town. After visiting an art school, a percussion or dance lesson with friendly experts is your chance to experience Cuba’s artistic traditions firsthand. Lunch today will be at the lovely Cayo Granma, a pleasant 20-minute boat ride away. In the afternoon, you’ll spend time with the staff at a local clinic to learn about the island’s socialized healthcare system. This day ends on an inspiring high note in Los Maceos where you’ll visit the Youth Impact Project, a pioneering program that fosters and celebrates amateur artists. (B,L,D)
 
Day 9 - Santiago de Cuba + Onward to Baracoa
From the unique white dress you’ll see worn by Santeria initiates throughout the city to the region’s distinctive styles of music and dance, Santiago de Cuba has a very strong Afro-Cuban spirit. This morning, you’ll learn more about this heritage during an informative and entertaining presentation by an expert on Afro-Cuban culture and traditions. Later, an engaging historian will show you around Plaza Delores. Once a bustling marketplace, this pleasant and shady town square is home to restaurants and cafes popular with the city’s residents. During lunch, you’ll have breathtaking views at El Morro de Castillo. Built by the Spanish in the 17th century, this massive stone fortress is spectacularly set on a rocky promontory overlooking Santiago de Cuba Bay. Now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the best examples of Colonial military architecture in the Americas and reflects Italian and Renaissance design principles. Later this afternoon, you’ll continue your journey to Baracoa. (B,L,D)
 
Day 10 - Historic Baracoa
Surrounded by tropical forests on the far eastern shores of the island, Baracoa is Cuba’s oldest city, a charming place where the pace of life is refreshingly simple. Many people make their living by fishing or cultivating coconut and banana. On your first morning here, a renowned local historian will offer enriching insight into Baracoa’s enduring traditions. Enjoy a short boat ride down the tranquil Rio Toa to spend time with local residents and then sit down to lunch at Rancho Toa. In the afternoon you’ll visit the Fabrica de Cucuruchos to watch the creation of a well-known local sweet made from palm leaves, coconut, sugar and pineapple. Of course you’ll have a chance to sample this popular treat before joining a local expert to tour downtown Baracoa and its historic Church.  Tonight you’ll dine on your own at another private paladar. Your Trip Leader is well-versed in the town’s dining scene and is happy to make recommendations and to assist with arrangements. (B,L)
 
Day 11 - Back to Santiago de Cuba
After breakfast, you’ll enjoy a specially arranged visit with our friends in their homes for a genuine experience of Cuban warmth and hospitality. It’s also a fascinating opportunity to learn about Casas Particulares, Cuba’s take on privately operated Bed & Breakfast type accommodations. Enjoy a walking tour of Baracoa with a city historian and visit the studio of a local artist. After lunch, you’ll meet a cacao farmer and spend time with a musician from one of the region’s well-known bands. Later this afternoon, you’ll return to Santiago de Cuba. Enjoy a congenial Farwell Dinner and another night at the superior first class Meliá Santiago Hotel.  (B,L,D)
 
Day 12 - Depart Havana
After breakfast, bid farewell to Cuba as we take you to the Holguin airport. (B)
Map
All This Included
Genuine up-close engagement with Cuba’s people, culture and history distinguish this in-depth journey. In the company of our experienced Trip Leader and native Cuban Guide, our exclusive cross-island journey form Havana all the way to historic Baracoa and vibrant Santiago de Cuba uniquely includes smaller towns rarely visited by other Americans.
  • Attentive services throughout from our experienced North American Trip Leader and knowledgeable, English-fluent local Cuban Guide
  • 11 nights in our handpicked Cuban Hotels including the superior first class Meliá hotels in Havana and Santiago de Cuba
  • 31 Meals: 11 breakfasts + 11 lunches + 9 dinners
  • Days full of guided activities with never more than 24 guests including insider access to Cuba’s famous places and those rarely seen, as well as private visits and lectures with renowned Cuban experts
  • In-country air-conditioned ground transportation and transfers
  • Comprehensive and informative Cuba Travel Guidebook
  • 24-hour emergency service hotline
Highlights
  • Go behind the scenes with our North American Trip Leader and English-speaking Cuban Guide for authentic experiences of life and culture all across the island.
  • Meet renowned artist Jose Fuster… Known as the Picasso of the Caribbean, he has turned his home and community into a vibrant living art gallery
  • Discover the splendid architecture of Old Havana and meet with local students and professors to learn about their school’s efforts to preserve their city’s architectural heritage.
  • Immerse in the island’s thriving cultural scene as you engage with local artists, dancers and musicians.
  • Engage with members of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba.
  • Get a firsthand look into the island’s economy as you browse in a local farmers market and dine at private, family-owned paladars.
  • 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Accommodations
Havana: Melia Cohiba
Santiago de Cuba: Melia Santiago
Santa Clara: Pinar Del Rio
Notes
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Alexander+Roberts terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.