Friday 8th of September 2017 until Wednesday 27th of September 2017
Castro's Cuba - 20 Days / 19 Nights - from $11730* per person.
Trapped in a time warp as a result of the Cuban revolution in 1959 and subsequent economic embargo, there is nowhere else like Cuba. On this journey we visit the great historic cities of Havana and Santiago de Cuba, where 1950s Chevys cruise past in a range of vivid colours; a contrast to the pastel hued architecture of smaller colonial gems such as Trinidad and Camaguey. The stunning natural beauty and fascinating history is only outshone by the Cuban people, incredibly warm and friendly, opening up their homes and their hearts to visitors. Che Guevara and Fidel Castro are still venerated, but times are changing. The embargo has been lifted, it's time to visit before the old Cuba is gone forever!
Day 1: Auckland > Lima We fly to Lima via Santiago in Chile.
Day 2: Lima (B) Enjoy a half-day sightseeing tour of historic Lima.
Day 3: Lima > Havana (B,D) We transfer to the airport and then fly to Havana. On arrival we will be transferred to our hotel. This evening enjoy a welcome dinner and a chance to meet our Cuban guide.
Day 4: Havana (B,L) Today we explore colourful Havana. Wander through pastel coloured boulevards, narrow cobbled streets and flaking Spanish colonial buildings, where faded colours bring charm rather than define age. Highlights include the Cathedral, Museum of the Revolution and the beautifully restored parts of the city. Enjoy a delicious lunch in a paladar before being whisked away in a classic (pre 1959) American car. We'll drive along the 8km Malecon, a broad esplanade beside the Caribbean and a wonderful place to see the locals relaxing and playing music. We will end up at our hotel, the iconic Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Sip a cocktail and stroll through the gardens, which display two guns from the old Santa Clara Battery that stood on the site.
Day 5: Havana & Vinales (B,L) Today we visit the beautiful Pinar del Rio province, a UNESCO Heritage Site where we will see traditional plantations of tobacco, taro and bananas. We will visit a tobacco farm to learn about the entire production process, and we will tour an organic farming operation. Then visit the charming agricultural town of Vinales and enjoy lunch before returning to Havana late afternoon.
Day 6: Havana > Bay of Pigs > Cienfuegos (B,L) Today, we drive to Cienfuegos, via the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos), scene of the botched 1961 American invasion. In Cienfuegos, enjoy the seaside vibe with a walking tour through spruced-up colonial streets, past the Palacio de Valle, an architectural jewel with influences of Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque and Mudejar architecture-like something out of Arabian Nights. This evening is at leisure with your host on hand to offer suggestions.
Day 7: Cienfuegos > Santa Clara > Trinidad (B,D) We drive to Santa Clara, where history was made over 50 years ago. It was here, that Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and a band of soldiers derailed a train carrying 350 heavily armed government troops. Using a borrowed bulldozer and some homemade Molotov cocktails, this action sealed the fate of the Batista dictatorship. We'll see the statue of Che guarding a museum and the mausoleum beneath it. On to UNESCO listed Trinidad, a perfectly preserved Spanish colonial settlement. Enjoy a walking tour along the cobbled streets of the town and then visit the famous Casa de la Musica, popular with the locals for its live salsa band and delicious mojitos sipped under the warm Caribbean night sky.
Day 8: Trinidad (B,L,D) Today we learn how to make Cuban specialties in a cooking class, followed by a salsa lesson. Afterwards we visit an old sugar plantation in the picturesque Valle de los Ingenios about 10km outside Trinidad. The day ends with a barbeque dinner at the beach, accompanied by live music.
Day 9: Trinidad > Remedios > Cayo Santa Maria (B,L,D) Today we stop at Remedios for a tour of this lesser-glimpsed colonial jewel. Then we head for Cayo Santa Maria, considered one of the finest beach resorts in Cuba. Relax in our beachside hotel and enjoy the warm Caribbean waters.
Day 10 & 11: Cayo Santa Maria (B,L,D) Two days to soak up the sun and enjoy the facilities of this superb resort on a beautiful beach.
Day 12: Cayo Santa Maria > Camaguey (B) A relaxing start to the day before continuing west, experiencing scenes of rural Cuba as we head to the charming town of Camaguey.
Day 13: Camaguey > Santiago de Cuba (B) Enjoy a bicycle taxi tour through the labyrinthian centre of Camaguey, a UNESCO Historic Site. The town was built that way to confuse pirates. Also famous for the gorgeous architecture and Cuban-baroque churches, Camaguey is a delight. After touring the town, we'll head to the epicentre of Afro-Cuban culture, the city of Santiago de Cuba.
Day 14: Santiago de Cuba (B) Explore this fascinating city with our guide. Diego Velazquez de Cuellar made Santiago his second capital, Fidel Castro used it to launch his nationalist Revolution, Don Facundo Bacardi based his first-ever rum factory here, and just about every Cuban music genre first emanated from somewhere in these dusty and rhythmic streets. Included is a visit to Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca, the UNESCO listed fortress built to defend Santiago from an attack by pirates. Those interested may enjoy an optional guided evening excursion to visit some of the city's famous music venues.
Day 15: Santiago de Cuba > Havana (B) Late morning flight to Havana and transfer to your hotel.
Day 16: Havana (B,D) Tour the colourful art district of Havana, Callejon de Hammel. Afternoon at leisure before a special farewell dinner, followed by a visit to the world-famous open air cabaret show at the Tropicana Nightclub where little has changed since pre-Revolutionary times. You will be delighted by the colourful costumes and salsa dancing.
Day 17: Havana > Lima (B) Transfer to the airport and fly to Lima. Overnight at the airport hotel.
Day 18: Lima > Auckland (B) Depart Lima and transit Santiago.
Day 19: In flight
Day 20: Auckland We arrive in Auckland.
Includes: • Economy Class airfares ex Auckland • A World Journeys host • Accommodation in 4 or 5 star hotels but in some places best available (hotels or superior guesthouses) • Transfers, sightseeing and entrance fees as per the itinerary • Meals as indicated (B,L,D) • Gratuities • Cuban Tourist Card (visa)
Booking conditions: A non-refundable deposit of $1,500 per person is required, with the balance due 90 days prior to departure. As cancellation fees apply, travel insurance is mandatory.
* It is our policy to present the cost of our flights & holidays inclusive of all airport and government charges. Please accept however that these charges are not within our control, therefore we reserve the right to pass on any increase. Travel agent professional service fees where charged, will be additional to the advertised prices.