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Cuba Cultural Discovery

Trip Length 9 days

From $5,195

  • Meet the people of Cuba on this fascinating insider tour of a rapidly changing country
  • Visit the UNESCO Heritage Sites of Old Havana and Las Terrazas, and explore Hemingway’s retreat at Finca Vigía
  • Dine on fresh farm-to-table meals and enjoy authentic Cuban fare in the living-room restaurants of local homes
  • Exchange ideas with local Cubans at less-visited gems, such as the fragrant tobacco fields of Viñales or the burgeoning arts community of Muraleando

Though just 94 miles from the tip of Florida, Cuba has long been an enigma. But now, the mysteries of this island nation are yours to unravel—and this is the time to visit! Our special People-to-People license lets you journey into a changing Cuba, from the iconic streets of Old Havana to its less-traveled heartland. Accompanied by our expert Cuban guide, you’ll meet locals from all walks of life: artists and teachers, farmers and cigar makers, economists and historians. You’ll learn about Cuba’s cooperatives, from the urban gardens of Alamar to the groundbreaking eco-community of Las Terrazas. You’ll see how aging barrios have been transformed by public art into Muraleando and “Fusterlandia.” And you’ll visit some of the best-loved corners of Cuba, including Havana’s sun-drenched oceanfront Malecón, Hemingway’s retreat at Finca Vigía, and the fragrant tobacco fields of Viñales. To top it off, we’ll dine with locals in authentic home restaurants, known as paladares, where the tastiest Cuban fare can be found. This trip is the best kind of person-to-person experience—an opportunity to learn about the many layers of the country’s rich culture and history, and get a first-hand view of emerging Cuba from those who know it best.

Why Travel to Cuba with MTS?

We have been operating our current Cuba trip for four years and have taken hundreds of guests into the country via the People-to-People license. While diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba are easing, the rules for travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens remain in effect. Our role at MTS is to navigate the continuing complexities involved in traveling to Cuba by arranging the following:

  • Travel visa
  • Charter flight
  • Travel affidavit
  • Accommodations
  • Local guides
  • Insider experiences

At MTS we strive to make every Cuba experience special, while also ensuring that guests are aware of the realities of travel within the country. For example, the best accommodations in Cuba might not be equal to the standard experienced on other group trips and the itinerary not as flexible. We also recommend that travelers expect the unexpected along the way!

Day 1: Arrive in Miami

Welcome to Miami, the gateway to Cuba! This trip begins with a meeting and orientation at 6:30pm in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza Miami International Airport Hotel, where you’ll meet your MTS representative and fellow travelers. The evening is free to enjoy a meal of your choice at a nearby Cuban restaurant in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.

Please note that the order of days may change but all of the activities covered in the itinerary will be available.

  • Accommodation:Miami Crowne Plaza or similar

Day 2: Fly to Cuba and explore the treasures of Old Havana

Plan on a morning check-in at Miami International Airport, where we’ll board our short charter flight directly to Havana. We’ll meet our English-speaking, Cuban guide as soon as we arrive, and then head directly to Old Havana. Our visit begins at the Plaza de la Revolución, which is dominated by a 358-foot monument to the 19th-century Cuban patriot José Martí . The plaza was the site of numerous political rallies and many of Fidel Castro’s public addresses. After enjoying lunch along the Malecón, we’ll meander through the Plaza de Armas, finding our way to the used-book market, a cross-cultural treasure trove for readers of every genre. Strike up a friendly conversation with Cuban fellow readers at the market, and engage in conversation about popular Cuban and American literature with the independent booksellers we’ll meet. Enjoy a welcome dinner at a paladar (privately owned restaurant) within walking distance of the hotel, in the company of our guide. Afterward, you can take your time settling in, or feel free to venture out and explore Havana on your own.

  • Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Telégrafo

Day 3: Visit Colón Cemetery, Vedado, Miramar and La Lavandería

Since 1872, Havana’s notables have been buried in Colón Cemetery, including former Cuban president José Miguel Gómez and musicians Ibrahim Ferrer and Ruben Gonzalez, both members of the internationally acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club. This elaborate cemetery, named after Christopher Columbus, rivals Buenos Aires’ renowned La Recoleta in its grandeur, and we’ll explore its acres of angels, saints, cherubs, urns, and crosses—and even a few statues of faithful dogs. Then, it’s on to Vededo and Miramar, considered Havana’s upscale residential neighborhoods, where fine mansions line tree-shaded streets. Many of these older homes fell into ruin after their owners fled Cuba following the Revolution, and we’ll learn about their incredible architecture as well as the role of the wealthy upper class in pre-revolutionary Cuba with our local Cuban guide. Miramar maintains its upscale reputation through the many fashionable hotels, restaurants and shops, that have emerged here in recent years.

After a lunch of typical Cuban cuisine at El Aljibe Restaurant, a must do if you’re in Havana, we’ll visit La Lavanderia (The Laundry)—a contemporary artists’ studio created in a dilapidated public laundromat. Here we’ll meet the artists dedicated to reinvigorating old techniques in the visual arts and to the education of the children of the Buena Vista neighborhood. Dinner is on your own this evening

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Hotel Telégrafo

Day 4: Take a university tour, experience Callejón de Hamel and the National Museum of Fine Arts

We’ll begin our day with a University of Havana campus tour, where we’ll get a glimpse into Cuba’s higher education system. Next, we’ll take in the sights and sounds on one of the most fascinating and colorful streets in Havana—Callejón de Hamel—soaking in its bright Afro-Cuban street murals, its surrealist folk art, and its pulsing rumba music. Here we’ll learn about Santeria, consider one of the main religions in Cuba. We’ll then make a stop at the impressive National Museum of Fine Arts, with its fascinating collection of Cuban art—from the colonial era to the present day. After lunch we have the option to visit the artisan market, located on the Malecón, or return to the hotel where you can rest and relax for a while.

This evening we’ll gather together and meet a Cuban expert, who heads an open discussion on the Cuban economy and recent changes announced by the government in terms of free enterprise. The evening is free to rest up at our centrally located Old Havana hotel, or venture out to explore the vicinity. Dinner is on your own tonight, and there are many nearby options for local cuisine.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Hotel Telégrafo

Day 5: Journey to Las Terrazas UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and charming Viñales

This morning we’ll depart for the Artemisa province, in the lush Sierra del Rosario mountains, where we’ll spend the day exploring the small community of Las Terrazas. Shortly after the Cuban Revolution in 1959, local farmers or campesinos moved to this model community to share resources, and help each other overcome the hardships of living in thatched roof huts, without electricity, schools, or medical services. Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1984, Las Terrazas is an absolute “must-see”—world-renowned for its wild, exquisite natural beauty and its culture of cooperative living and sustainability.

Our first stop is the Clinica Las Terrazas, where we’ll learn how medical services are handled in rural Cuba. Next we’ll visit Café María, the town’s only coffee shop, where we’ll discuss coffee culture in Cuba and throughout the world as we enjoy a delicious brew. We’ll also have the chance to visit the art studio of landscape painter Lester Campa when he is in residence.

For lunch, we’re in for an authentic, farm-to-table country-style Cuban meal prepared and served outdoors at a local farmhouse near Las Terrazas. Afterward, we’ll take a well-deserved break and optional swim with local residents in the idyllic waters and gentle cascades of nearby San Juan River. We’ll end our afternoon in charming Viñales, in the heart of Pinar del Rio Province, and enjoy dinner at a local paladar.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Los Jazminez or similar

Day 6: Go deep into the Valley of Viñales

The Valley of Viñales is a picturesque, serene, lush area of Cuba, known for its old-world tobacco fields and its mogotes—the boulder-like hills that surround the valley floor. We’ll spend the day taking in this remote, unhurried landscape, while seeing how tobacco, cassava, and taro are grown. We’ll talk with local Cuban families and learn how they live and work on our tour of a local farm, and learn about goods distribution and supply in Cuba at a local state-run ration store.

Today’s lunch is a special treat as we enjoy a delicious farm-to-table lunch at a local farmhouse! Our moderate afternoon walk gives us the chance explore the valley’s remarkable terrain, riddled with caves and subterranean rivers. We’ll hike through the area known as Del Mirador al Valle (View of the Valley). Be sure to have your cameras ready! Dinner is at one the many paladares available in the small town of Viñales.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Los Jazminez or similar

Day 7: Tour a cigar factory and return to Havana

This morning we’ll travel to the city of Pinar Del Río, nestled in the midst of the world’s best tobacco-growing lands, to learn about the Cuban cigar industry. On our guided tour of the Francisco Donatien Cigar Factory, we’ll talk with factory workers and gain insight into the history and the manufacturing process of this iconic Cuban trade. The factory also serves as a school for learning the trade.

After stopping for lunch at a local paladar, we’ll head to the village of Jaimanitas to see “Fusterlandia”—a neighborhood like no other. José Fuster, the “Picasso of the Caribbean,” transformed the area surrounding his small wooden home into an evocative, surrealist microcosm with colorful murals, mosaics, and ceramic techniques. José’s work is labor of love—he uses the money he makes from selling his work to adorn the homes of his friends and neighbors and to beautify communal spaces. Afterwards, we’ll return to Havana and dine at a paladar near our hotel.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Hotel Telégrafo

Day 8: Explore Havana: Finca Vigía, Alamar, Cojimar and Muraleando

After breakfast, we’ll visit Ernest Hemingway’s Cuban retreat, Finca Vigía. Now a national museum, it was Hemingway’s home for twenty years, and it was here that he wrote The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms. Next we’ll drive to the Alamar district, a barrio on the outskirts of Havana, known for its Soviet-style pre-fabricated architecture. An expansive social housing project built in the 1970s, the concrete apartment blocks are now home to hundreds of thousands of Cubans. The shining gem of Alamar is the Organopónico Vivero Alamar: cooperative urban gardens where residents have been growing fruit, vegetables, and medicinal plants since the mid-1990s. After visiting the gardens, which few visitors to Cuba have had the opportunity to see, we’ll loop back and enjoy our lunch in Cojimar, which Hemingway made the setting for The Old Man and the Sea.

We’ll spend most of our afternoon visiting a vibrant barrio known as Muraleando, which was founded by a small, devoted group of Cuban artists in 2001. What began as an informal collective of artists, coming together and volunteering their time to better their community, has developed into a lively center for arts, music, and dance. Tonight’s dinner will be at a nearby paladar, one of the best in Havana, located a leisurely stroll from our hotel.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Telégrafo

Day 9: Fly from Havana to Miami

We’ll bid farewell to Cuba as we enjoy one last breakfast, then transfer to Havana’s José Martí International Airport for our charter flight back to Miami.

NOTE: This itinerary is operated under People-to-People License # CT-2013-305287-1 and provides a full time schedule of educational activities that will result in meaningful interactions between you and individuals in Cuba. U.S. law requires that all persons who participate in this program adhere to this full time schedule, and imposes on Mountain Travel Sobek the obligation to ensure such adherence.

Itinerary Changes:
When traveling abroad, things don't always go according to plan and, particularly in Cuba, itinerary changes or shifts mid-trip are quite common. In the event of a last-minute change to the scheduled activities, your leaders will find alternate activities that you're sure to enjoy. Expect the unexpected in this region—it's all part of the adventure!

Accommodations & Meals
As "luxury" accommodations in Cuba can generally be characterized as large all-inclusive, resort-style hotels, our accommodations on this trip are not typical of the MTS experience. While the hotels are the best available and offer numerous amenities, even the nicest properties in Cuba do not come close to equaling the accommodations on other MTS trips.
 

  • Breakfast

May 06 - 14, 2016 Guaranteed Departure

Oct 07 - 15, 2016 Hotel Parque Central in Havana

Oct 21 - 29, 2016 Hotel Parque Central in Havana

Nov 04 - 12, 2016 Guaranteed Departure

Dec 02 - 10, 2016

Jan 13 - 21, 2017

Jan 20 - 28, 2017

Feb 03 - 11, 2017

Feb 17 - 25, 2017

Mar 10 - 18, 2017

Mar 17 - 25, 2017

Mar 31, 2017 - Apr 08, 2017

Apr 14 - 22, 2017

pricing

2016 Prices
$5,495 per person (Spring 2016)
$5495 per person (Fall 2016)
$700 single supplement
$495 round trip charter flight Miami-Havana (subject to change)
$85 Cuban Visa

2017 Prices ( Jan-May)
$5,595 per person, double occupancy (4-16 members)
$700 single supplement
$495 round trip charter flight Miami-Havana (subject to change)
$85 Cuban Visa

 

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Hotel Los Jazminez or similar — Viñales

With its unbeatable position overlooking the Viñales valley, Los Jazmines is one of the most renowned hotels in Cuba. It's also a great bargain. The views alone are worth the price. But this hotel also has plenty of charm. The main building in a Mediterranean neo-colonial style rises three-stories over a swimming pool suspended on the very edge of the valley.

Hotel Telégrafo — Old Havana, Havana

A century ago, the press called the Hotel Telégrafo one of Havana's most modern hotels. A recent restoration from top to bottom has the Telégrafo vying for the same praise. Just steps from the Gran Teatro, the Capitolio, the famous El Floridita bar and Museo Nacional de las Bellas Artes, Telégrafo anchors a vibrant part of Old Havana. Standard rooms are comfortable and modern, with well-appointed bathrooms, while junior suites have all this plus an additonal half-bath and a sitting area.

Miami Crowne Plaza or similar — Miami, Florida

Located conveniently next to Miami International Airport, the Crowne Plaza offers a variety of amenities to allow for a seamless transition to Cuba. Whether you're hungry for a delicious meal, or want to relax outside on a warm Miami night, this hotel has all the bases covered. Crowne Plaza boasts a fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, restaurant, lounge, and business center. The combination of convenience, comfort, and top-notch service make this a wonderful place to recharge on the eve of a new experience.

"The Cuban experience was amazing...it was like stepping back in time. Our guide did a wonderful job making sure we saw as much as possible and experienced Cuban life." Jayne Hare

"We saw more, did more, and learned more about living in Cuba with the superb MTS local guide. She went beyond the itinerary to enhance the history and culture of this country in transition. Havana's frozen-in-time colonial architecture may be peeling and decaying, but it is a city free of franchises, enlivened with a new generation of entrepreneurs and private restaurants." Jan Jessup

"A marvelous experience that puts you in touch with the Cuban people and culture. The trip far exceeded our expectations." Michael Miller

"The local guide in Cuba had an incredible depth of knowledge on the culture, history, politics and economics of her country. Her frank and open discussions were more informative than I expected." Lee Kleinman

"I have always shied away from group travel but this experience was so great that I would seriously consider group travel (a small group) again!" Diane Meyer

"I have taken many trips with MTS and have enjoyed each trip." Diane Ausonio

 

  • Meet the people of Cuba on this fascinating insider tour of a rapidly changing country
  • Visit the UNESCO Heritage Sites of Old Havana and Las Terrazas, and explore Hemingway’s retreat at Finca Vigía
  • Dine on fresh farm-to-table meals and enjoy authentic Cuban fare in the living-room restaurants of local homes
  • Exchange ideas with local Cubans at less-visited gems, such as the fragrant tobacco fields of Viñales or the burgeoning arts community of Muraleando

Though just 94 miles from the tip of Florida, Cuba has long been an enigma. But now, the mysteries of this island nation are yours to unravel—and this is the time to visit! Our special People-to-People license lets you journey into a changing Cuba, from the iconic streets of Old Havana to its less-traveled heartland. Accompanied by our expert Cuban guide, you’ll meet locals from all walks of life: artists and teachers, farmers and cigar makers, economists and historians. You’ll learn about Cuba’s cooperatives, from the urban gardens of Alamar to the groundbreaking eco-community of Las Terrazas. You’ll see how aging barrios have been transformed by public art into Muraleando and “Fusterlandia.” And you’ll visit some of the best-loved corners of Cuba, including Havana’s sun-drenched oceanfront Malecón, Hemingway’s retreat at Finca Vigía, and the fragrant tobacco fields of Viñales. To top it off, we’ll dine with locals in authentic home restaurants, known as paladares, where the tastiest Cuban fare can be found. This trip is the best kind of person-to-person experience—an opportunity to learn about the many layers of the country’s rich culture and history, and get a first-hand view of emerging Cuba from those who know it best.

Why Travel to Cuba with MTS?

We have been operating our current Cuba trip for four years and have taken hundreds of guests into the country via the People-to-People license. While diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba are easing, the rules for travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens remain in effect. Our role at MTS is to navigate the continuing complexities involved in traveling to Cuba by arranging the following:

  • Travel visa
  • Charter flight
  • Travel affidavit
  • Accommodations
  • Local guides
  • Insider experiences

At MTS we strive to make every Cuba experience special, while also ensuring that guests are aware of the realities of travel within the country. For example, the best accommodations in Cuba might not be equal to the standard experienced on other group trips and the itinerary not as flexible. We also recommend that travelers expect the unexpected along the way!

review

"The Cuban experience was amazing...it was like stepping back in time. Our guide did a wonderful job making sure we saw as much as possible and experienced Cuban life." Jayne Hare

"We saw more, did more, and learned more about living in Cuba with the superb MTS local guide. She went beyond the itinerary to enhance the history and culture of this country in transition. Havana's frozen-in-time colonial architecture may be peeling and decaying, but it is a city free of franchises, enlivened with a new generation of entrepreneurs and private restaurants." Jan Jessup

"A marvelous experience that puts you in touch with the Cuban people and culture. The trip far exceeded our expectations." Michael Miller

"The local guide in Cuba had an incredible depth of knowledge on the culture, history, politics and economics of her country. Her frank and open discussions were more informative than I expected." Lee Kleinman

"I have always shied away from group travel but this experience was so great that I would seriously consider group travel (a small group) again!" Diane Meyer

"I have taken many trips with MTS and have enjoyed each trip." Diane Ausonio

 

DAILY itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Miami

Welcome to Miami, the gateway to Cuba! This trip begins with a meeting and orientation at 6:30pm in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza Miami International Airport Hotel, where you’ll meet your MTS representative and fellow travelers. The evening is free to enjoy a meal of your choice at a nearby Cuban restaurant in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood.

Please note that the order of days may change but all of the activities covered in the itinerary will be available.

  • Accommodation:Miami Crowne Plaza or similar

Day 2: Fly to Cuba and explore the treasures of Old Havana

Plan on a morning check-in at Miami International Airport, where we’ll board our short charter flight directly to Havana. We’ll meet our English-speaking, Cuban guide as soon as we arrive, and then head directly to Old Havana. Our visit begins at the Plaza de la Revolución, which is dominated by a 358-foot monument to the 19th-century Cuban patriot José Martí . The plaza was the site of numerous political rallies and many of Fidel Castro’s public addresses. After enjoying lunch along the Malecón, we’ll meander through the Plaza de Armas, finding our way to the used-book market, a cross-cultural treasure trove for readers of every genre. Strike up a friendly conversation with Cuban fellow readers at the market, and engage in conversation about popular Cuban and American literature with the independent booksellers we’ll meet. Enjoy a welcome dinner at a paladar (privately owned restaurant) within walking distance of the hotel, in the company of our guide. Afterward, you can take your time settling in, or feel free to venture out and explore Havana on your own.

  • Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Telégrafo

Day 3: Visit Colón Cemetery, Vedado, Miramar and La Lavandería

Since 1872, Havana’s notables have been buried in Colón Cemetery, including former Cuban president José Miguel Gómez and musicians Ibrahim Ferrer and Ruben Gonzalez, both members of the internationally acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club. This elaborate cemetery, named after Christopher Columbus, rivals Buenos Aires’ renowned La Recoleta in its grandeur, and we’ll explore its acres of angels, saints, cherubs, urns, and crosses—and even a few statues of faithful dogs. Then, it’s on to Vededo and Miramar, considered Havana’s upscale residential neighborhoods, where fine mansions line tree-shaded streets. Many of these older homes fell into ruin after their owners fled Cuba following the Revolution, and we’ll learn about their incredible architecture as well as the role of the wealthy upper class in pre-revolutionary Cuba with our local Cuban guide. Miramar maintains its upscale reputation through the many fashionable hotels, restaurants and shops, that have emerged here in recent years.

After a lunch of typical Cuban cuisine at El Aljibe Restaurant, a must do if you’re in Havana, we’ll visit La Lavanderia (The Laundry)—a contemporary artists’ studio created in a dilapidated public laundromat. Here we’ll meet the artists dedicated to reinvigorating old techniques in the visual arts and to the education of the children of the Buena Vista neighborhood. Dinner is on your own this evening

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Hotel Telégrafo

Day 4: Take a university tour, experience Callejón de Hamel and the National Museum of Fine Arts

We’ll begin our day with a University of Havana campus tour, where we’ll get a glimpse into Cuba’s higher education system. Next, we’ll take in the sights and sounds on one of the most fascinating and colorful streets in Havana—Callejón de Hamel—soaking in its bright Afro-Cuban street murals, its surrealist folk art, and its pulsing rumba music. Here we’ll learn about Santeria, consider one of the main religions in Cuba. We’ll then make a stop at the impressive National Museum of Fine Arts, with its fascinating collection of Cuban art—from the colonial era to the present day. After lunch we have the option to visit the artisan market, located on the Malecón, or return to the hotel where you can rest and relax for a while.

This evening we’ll gather together and meet a Cuban expert, who heads an open discussion on the Cuban economy and recent changes announced by the government in terms of free enterprise. The evening is free to rest up at our centrally located Old Havana hotel, or venture out to explore the vicinity. Dinner is on your own tonight, and there are many nearby options for local cuisine.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Hotel Telégrafo

Day 5: Journey to Las Terrazas UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and charming Viñales

This morning we’ll depart for the Artemisa province, in the lush Sierra del Rosario mountains, where we’ll spend the day exploring the small community of Las Terrazas. Shortly after the Cuban Revolution in 1959, local farmers or campesinos moved to this model community to share resources, and help each other overcome the hardships of living in thatched roof huts, without electricity, schools, or medical services. Designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1984, Las Terrazas is an absolute “must-see”—world-renowned for its wild, exquisite natural beauty and its culture of cooperative living and sustainability.

Our first stop is the Clinica Las Terrazas, where we’ll learn how medical services are handled in rural Cuba. Next we’ll visit Café María, the town’s only coffee shop, where we’ll discuss coffee culture in Cuba and throughout the world as we enjoy a delicious brew. We’ll also have the chance to visit the art studio of landscape painter Lester Campa when he is in residence.

For lunch, we’re in for an authentic, farm-to-table country-style Cuban meal prepared and served outdoors at a local farmhouse near Las Terrazas. Afterward, we’ll take a well-deserved break and optional swim with local residents in the idyllic waters and gentle cascades of nearby San Juan River. We’ll end our afternoon in charming Viñales, in the heart of Pinar del Rio Province, and enjoy dinner at a local paladar.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Los Jazminez or similar

Day 6: Go deep into the Valley of Viñales

The Valley of Viñales is a picturesque, serene, lush area of Cuba, known for its old-world tobacco fields and its mogotes—the boulder-like hills that surround the valley floor. We’ll spend the day taking in this remote, unhurried landscape, while seeing how tobacco, cassava, and taro are grown. We’ll talk with local Cuban families and learn how they live and work on our tour of a local farm, and learn about goods distribution and supply in Cuba at a local state-run ration store.

Today’s lunch is a special treat as we enjoy a delicious farm-to-table lunch at a local farmhouse! Our moderate afternoon walk gives us the chance explore the valley’s remarkable terrain, riddled with caves and subterranean rivers. We’ll hike through the area known as Del Mirador al Valle (View of the Valley). Be sure to have your cameras ready! Dinner is at one the many paladares available in the small town of Viñales.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Los Jazminez or similar

Day 7: Tour a cigar factory and return to Havana

This morning we’ll travel to the city of Pinar Del Río, nestled in the midst of the world’s best tobacco-growing lands, to learn about the Cuban cigar industry. On our guided tour of the Francisco Donatien Cigar Factory, we’ll talk with factory workers and gain insight into the history and the manufacturing process of this iconic Cuban trade. The factory also serves as a school for learning the trade.

After stopping for lunch at a local paladar, we’ll head to the village of Jaimanitas to see “Fusterlandia”—a neighborhood like no other. José Fuster, the “Picasso of the Caribbean,” transformed the area surrounding his small wooden home into an evocative, surrealist microcosm with colorful murals, mosaics, and ceramic techniques. José’s work is labor of love—he uses the money he makes from selling his work to adorn the homes of his friends and neighbors and to beautify communal spaces. Afterwards, we’ll return to Havana and dine at a paladar near our hotel.

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation:Hotel Telégrafo

Day 8: Explore Havana: Finca Vigía, Alamar, Cojimar and Muraleando

After breakfast, we’ll visit Ernest Hemingway’s Cuban retreat, Finca Vigía. Now a national museum, it was Hemingway’s home for twenty years, and it was here that he wrote The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms. Next we’ll drive to the Alamar district, a barrio on the outskirts of Havana, known for its Soviet-style pre-fabricated architecture. An expansive social housing project built in the 1970s, the concrete apartment blocks are now home to hundreds of thousands of Cubans. The shining gem of Alamar is the Organopónico Vivero Alamar: cooperative urban gardens where residents have been growing fruit, vegetables, and medicinal plants since the mid-1990s. After visiting the gardens, which few visitors to Cuba have had the opportunity to see, we’ll loop back and enjoy our lunch in Cojimar, which Hemingway made the setting for The Old Man and the Sea.

We’ll spend most of our afternoon visiting a vibrant barrio known as Muraleando, which was founded by a small, devoted group of Cuban artists in 2001. What began as an informal collective of artists, coming together and volunteering their time to better their community, has developed into a lively center for arts, music, and dance. Tonight’s dinner will be at a nearby paladar, one of the best in Havana, located a leisurely stroll from our hotel.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation:Hotel Telégrafo

Day 9: Fly from Havana to Miami

We’ll bid farewell to Cuba as we enjoy one last breakfast, then transfer to Havana’s José Martí International Airport for our charter flight back to Miami.

NOTE: This itinerary is operated under People-to-People License # CT-2013-305287-1 and provides a full time schedule of educational activities that will result in meaningful interactions between you and individuals in Cuba. U.S. law requires that all persons who participate in this program adhere to this full time schedule, and imposes on Mountain Travel Sobek the obligation to ensure such adherence.

Itinerary Changes:
When traveling abroad, things don't always go according to plan and, particularly in Cuba, itinerary changes or shifts mid-trip are quite common. In the event of a last-minute change to the scheduled activities, your leaders will find alternate activities that you're sure to enjoy. Expect the unexpected in this region—it's all part of the adventure!

Accommodations & Meals
As "luxury" accommodations in Cuba can generally be characterized as large all-inclusive, resort-style hotels, our accommodations on this trip are not typical of the MTS experience. While the hotels are the best available and offer numerous amenities, even the nicest properties in Cuba do not come close to equaling the accommodations on other MTS trips.
 

  • Breakfast
lodgings

Hotel Los Jazminez or similar — Viñales

With its unbeatable position overlooking the Viñales valley, Los Jazmines is one of the most renowned hotels in Cuba. It's also a great bargain. The views alone are worth the price. But this hotel also has plenty of charm. The main building in a Mediterranean neo-colonial style rises three-stories over a swimming pool suspended on the very edge of the valley.

Hotel Telégrafo — Old Havana, Havana

A century ago, the press called the Hotel Telégrafo one of Havana's most modern hotels. A recent restoration from top to bottom has the Telégrafo vying for the same praise. Just steps from the Gran Teatro, the Capitolio, the famous El Floridita bar and Museo Nacional de las Bellas Artes, Telégrafo anchors a vibrant part of Old Havana. Standard rooms are comfortable and modern, with well-appointed bathrooms, while junior suites have all this plus an additonal half-bath and a sitting area.

Miami Crowne Plaza or similar — Miami, Florida

Located conveniently next to Miami International Airport, the Crowne Plaza offers a variety of amenities to allow for a seamless transition to Cuba. Whether you're hungry for a delicious meal, or want to relax outside on a warm Miami night, this hotel has all the bases covered. Crowne Plaza boasts a fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, restaurant, lounge, and business center. The combination of convenience, comfort, and top-notch service make this a wonderful place to recharge on the eve of a new experience.

Dates and Pricing

May 06 - 14, 2016 Guaranteed Departure

Oct 07 - 15, 2016 Hotel Parque Central in Havana

Oct 21 - 29, 2016 Hotel Parque Central in Havana

Nov 04 - 12, 2016 Guaranteed Departure

Dec 02 - 10, 2016

Jan 13 - 21, 2017

Jan 20 - 28, 2017

Feb 03 - 11, 2017

Feb 17 - 25, 2017

Mar 10 - 18, 2017

Mar 17 - 25, 2017

Mar 31, 2017 - Apr 08, 2017

Apr 14 - 22, 2017

pricing

2016 Prices
$5,495 per person (Spring 2016)
$5495 per person (Fall 2016)
$700 single supplement
$495 round trip charter flight Miami-Havana (subject to change)
$85 Cuban Visa

2017 Prices ( Jan-May)
$5,595 per person, double occupancy (4-16 members)
$700 single supplement
$495 round trip charter flight Miami-Havana (subject to change)
$85 Cuban Visa

 

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Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure

Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure