The People and Culture of Cuba | 11 days/10 nights
October 26 - November 5, 2019
based on double occupancy
($695 optional single supplement)
• 10 breakfasts,
• 5 lunches
• 7 dinners
• One drink per included lunch and dinner, as offered by the paladar
• Transfers from Cienfuegos airport to the hotel at the start of the tour and from the hotel to the Havana airport at the end of the tour
• All accommodations from start to end of tour in casa particulars or hotels
• All transportation during the tour (air-conditioned cars, mini bus or 8-12 passenger van)
• All included group activities, entry fees as per itinerary
• A full-time local English-speaking guide
• A full-time Two Dog Travel tour director with you and available 24/7
• All local guide, driver and restaurant tips are included per itinerary
What's not included
• Airfare, airport taxes and other transportation to and from the pickup location
• Cuban visa
• Additional alcoholic beverages beyond those offered with the meal according to each paladar
• Personal charges such as laundry, telephone calls, wifi, rooms service, mini-bar, souvenirs
• Private excursions not mentioned in the itinerary
• Gratuities for chambermaids or personal porters
• Gratuities for your Tour Dog Travel tour director (at your discretion)
Tour Director - Kim Boubel
YES! You can still travel legally to Cuba.
Our tour adheres to the new restrictions recently announced by the US Government. We still and have always traveled under the authorized category of "Support for the Cuban People." Please contact us regarding any questions you may have. Don't miss out! Enjoy this beautiful country while you can.
The tour begins and ends in Havana.
NOTE: a visa/tourist card is required to enter Cuba. You are responsible for obtaining this, however, Two Dog Travel will be available if you have any questions. Cuba also requires all tourists to have (non-American) travel medical insurance before visiting. Currently, this insurance is included in the price of your airline ticket, however, it is your responsibility to confirm this with your US-based airline.
Day 1 - Overnight in Havana - D
Welcome to Cuba! After your arrival at Havana Airport, you will be met by a driver and transferred to the Vedado district, our home for the next four nights. We will begin our Cuban adventure with a welcome dinner where we will enjoy our first taste of Cuban fare at a chic restaurant located in a banker’s villa dating from the 1860s. If you arrive early in the day you may decide to hop on the double decker Habana Bus Tour and get an overview of the city.
Day 2 - Overnight in Havana - B, L
Our first full day in Havana will begin with some of Cuba’s best leisure activities, cigars and rum. We’ll start with a visit to a cigar factory where a specialist will guide our group through the cigar-making process. We will later visit a cigar shop where you might choose to purchase a few to take home with you. Next we’ll move on to the local drink of Cuba as we visit a rum museum, learn the distilling and mixing process and, of course, taste the final product. After stopping for lunch, we will participate in some leisure of our own as we head to a local flea market where we will enjoy a bit of shopping. The market is a place where the locals shop so we will have the chance to experience life in Havana as we talk with the vendors and find some treasures to take home. Next we will enjoy a walking tour through Old Havana and better understand why UNESCO made this area of Havana a World Heritage Site. Next it’s time to dig deep into the passionate side of Cuba with ... a salsa lesson! After dancing we’ll, no doubt, need a bit of refreshment so we’ll head to a unique spot in Old Havana and enjoy the famous Cuban mojito. After a fun-filled day of Cuban pleasures, we’ll head back to the hotel where you will have the evening free to do as you like.
Day 3 - Overnight in Havana - B, D
After breakfast we will begin our day with the Missile Crisis Monument, followed by a visit to San Carlos de la Cabana Fortress, an 18th-century fortress complex and the third-largest in the Americas, as well as the Morro Fortress, where we will have another great view of Havana. Next we will stop by the Triada Shop to see the Official Guinness World Record holder for the longest cigar. After free time for lunch we will experience the true Cuba as we walk through a typical Havana neighborhood and get a better understanding of the local people and their lives. We’ll then head back to the hotel for a time to freshen up before heading out to dinner at a local palador. After dinner we will enjoy the cannon shot ceremony overlooking Havana, a tradition going back to colonial times, signaling when the city gates would be closed.
Day 4 - Overnight in Havana - B, D
We’ll start the day with a visit to the artist community of Fusterlandia, a vibrant arts neighborhood named after its creator Jose Fuster, sometimes called the “Picasso of the Caribbean.” You might think you’ve entered a fantasy land as we weave through the mosaic tile-lined streets and marvel at his work. Next we will go back in time as we make a visit to the Cemetery of Colon. With over 140 years of history and incredible structures, the cemetery is known as the third most important cemetery in the world based on its architecture and history. We will continue to better understand the history of Cuba with a visit to Revolution Square and the Jose Marti Memorial. Next we take a break from the revolution and move into the present day as we visit the Callejon de Hamel, a funky small neighborhood known for its street murals and art shops representing Afro-Cuban culture and religions. It is here on Sundays where you can enjoy live rumba music as it kicks off around noon. After stopping for lunch, we will end at the famous Hotel Nacional, where we will enjoy drinks outside overlooking the Malecon and the sea. The rest of the afternoon will be free to spend as you wish until we meet back up for dinner at a local palador
Day 5 - Overnight in Viñales Valley - B, L, D
Today we head west to the province of Pinar Del Rio and the tobacco fields of the Viñales Valley, a UNESCO world heritage site, where we will enjoy one of Cuba’s most beautiful landscapes. We will first stop at the Mirador Los Jazmines where we will enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the valley. Then it’s time to get out into the tobacco fields. We’ll spend the rest of the day on horseback as we enjoy the beautiful scenery up close and understand why it’s been named a UNESCO world heritage site. Our licensed local cowboy will lead us along a path before taking a break at a traditional farmhouse and tobacco plantation. We’ll meet a local tobacco farmer and learn about the cultivation and drying process of the best tobacco in the world. We’ll watch as he demonstrates how to roll a cigar and explains how they choose which leaves to use. We may even have the opportunity to roll a cigar ourselves and perhaps smoke one too. We will also learn how they grow and roast the local coffee bean. After the visit to the farm, we’ll ride farther into the national park to a small natural lake. Once at the lake we will have some time to relax, have a drink, enjoy lunch and listen to some local music. After we ride back into the town we’ll check into our casa for the night and enjoy a bit free time. Perhaps you’ll choose to enjoy drinks at the famous Casa del Mojito, known for their great mojitos. Later we will meet back up for dinner at a local palador.
Day 6 - Overnight in Trinidad - B, L, D
After breakfast and checking out of our casa we will drive to the colorful town of Trinidad, a perfectly-preserved Spanish colonial town and UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you will get the sense of stepping back in time. After stopping for lunch we will continue our drive to Trinidad where after checking into our casa we will enjoy a leisurely dinner prepared by the owner of our casa.
Day 7 - Overnight in Trinidad - B, L
On our first full day in Trinidad, a town built by the fortunes made from the nearby sugar mills during the 19th century, we will first visit a local farm where we will meet a professional photographer and Horse Whisperer, Julio Muñoz. Mr. Muñoz has been featured in National Geographic Magazine as well as several other publications. We will tour his home town of Trinidad as he explains to us his approach to photography, capturing life as it happens. After hopefully getting some good shots of our own, we will enjoy lunch at a local palador. After lunch we will enjoy a tour of the rest of Trinidad via bicycle taxi, visiting a local school, old train station, artist gallery and a few other highlights, Then we will pull out our creative side as we visit a local artist’s ceramics studio. Here we will enjoy learning about Cuban ceramics as we enjoy a ceramics lesson. Our tour will end at the local Trinidad hot spot, the Factoria Santa Ana where you will taste their local brew as we listen to live music. The evening will be free to explore Trinidad on your own and, if you are feeling energetic, perhaps you will choose to stop by the Casa de la Musica, one of Trinidad’s (and Cuba’s) classic venues, where people congregate on the staircase beside the Iglesia Parroquial to take in a salsa show.
Day 8 - Overnight in Trinidad - B, D
Today we'll slow down a bit after being so busy the past several days. You'll have the morning free to explore Trinidad on your own and perhaps browse the local crafts market, the largest in Cuba. We'll meet in the early afternoon and drive east to Valle de los Ingenios, the center of sugar production in the 18th and 19th centuries and an area of stunning landscapes. Here we will visit the plantation of Manaca Iznaga, where the owner’s house, a tower and some barracones (the original slave quarters) still stand. You will have the opportunity to climb the tower for an incredible view over the countryside. Next we'll drive to the coast to enjoy drinks and the sunset at a beach bar followed by a local seafood dinner in the fishing village of Casilda.
Day 9 - Overnight in Trinidad - B, D
After breakfast we'll enjoy another horse ride as we ride from town to the beautiful Parque Cubano. Here we'll walk through the park for about 20 minutes to a beautiful waterfall where you can cool off with a swim. (Have you had enough of horseback riding? You have the option of riding in a horse drawn carriage instead.) After riding back to town you'll have the afternoon free to do as you'd like. We'll meet back up in the evening to walk to a local palador for dinner.
Day 10 - Overnight in Havana - B, D
After a leisurely breakfast we'll check out of our casa and make our way back to Havana. After checking into our hotel you'll have free time to enjoy Havana before meeting up for our farewell dinner where we can reminisce about the wonderful time we've had in Cuba.
Day 11 - B
Unfortunately, it’s time to leave this beautiful country. After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Havana airport in time for your flight home.
Please note: Tourism for Americans has opened up a bit in Cuba, however, Cuba itself has not changed. Standards are different then what we have come to expect so you must approach Cuba with an open mind. It’s necessary to understand that the star ratings that the Cuban state assigns to its own hotels are very generous and fall below accepted international standards. Also keep in mind that things don’t always run as smoothly in Cuba as in other places. Itineraries are subject to change before and during the tour due to circumstances beyond our control. It is necessary to be flexible and understanding throughout the tour. Resources are limited in Cuba, thus some establishments may not be renovated and kept up to date in repairs and style compared to what we are used to. Wifi, when available, is normally very slow and somewhat unreliable and expensive. If you go in with an open mind and an understanding that Cubans are doing the best they can with the resources at hand, you’ll have a better experience. We have no doubt that all of these perceived inconveniences will be offset by the hospitality of the Cuban people and the beauty of the country itself.