21 February 2017
14 nights fr £1749ppIncludes flights
Enjoy this escorted colonial tour with G Adventures
Salsa dancing with the locals, walking in Che Guevara's footsteps, bonding with the Cuban people during overnight stays and exploring breathtaking beaches. The melody of horns floating through the air, classic cars parked in colonial squares and revolutionary statues . . . get over the resort wall and discover the real Cuba on this exciting 15 day tour. From Havana you travel east to Santiago de Cuba and Baracoa and encounter the birthplace of Cuban rhythms and revolutionary fervour. Soak up Spanish heritage while exploring churches, forts and cobblestone streets and stay in local homes to get a real flavour of the country. Don't just walk down the road less travelled - dance down it.
Arrive in Havana, check into our hotel and go out and enjoy the city. Havana is one of the oldest cities in the western hemisphere and a Unesco World Heritage Site. It contains a wealth of colonial architecture, and the old city and streets around the malecon (ocean-side walkway) are best discovered on foot. The city is home to various museums and cigar factories but perhaps its best attractions are its music and clubs . . . everywhere you go you will hear and feel the music and see people dancing in the streets.
Heading east along the island, you come to Santa Clara, a key city in the Revolution. Santa Clara is probably best known as the home of the statue of Ernesto Che Guevara at the Plaza de la Revolución. Che's remains are interred in the mausoleum at this site. Santa Clara was founded in 1689 by Spaniards hoping to evade pirate raids on the coastal cities but today it is a modern, industrial centre which holds a special place in the history of the revolution as the first large city to be liberated by the Revolutionary Forces in December 1958.
Enjoy the beautiful scenery today as you continue your journey to the colonial city of Trinidad, another Unesco World Heritage Site and home to lovely Spanish-style churches and great museums. It was founded by Velásquez in 1514 and is a charming, small town with the green mountains of the Sierra del Escambray in the background, and the turquoise waters and pure white, sand beaches of the Caribbean Sea just a short distance away.
Another day in this lovely city. Trinidad is a hub of cultural activity, and you are never out of earshot from a group of musicians playing local salsa. The town also has the requisite Casa de la Trova, a mainstay of Cuban musical culture in every town, the Palenque, Las Ruinas, Teatro de Brunet, the Artex, the nightlife, the conga lessons and salsa lessons. Enjoy an included salsa lesson during your time in Trinidad.
Visitors who wish to pursue outdoor activities will find Trinidad a haven for horseback or bicycle riding. If an unspoiled, white sand beach is what you're looking for, try snorkeling or diving in nearby Playa Ancón, just 7.5 miles from town. The nearby Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of Sugarmills) is where you will see some remains of the island's vast sugar cane plantations. The beautiful green landscape has attracted visitors from around the world who come for its historical and cultural attributes.
Your journey will continue east across the Carretera Central to Camagüey, the third largest city on this big island. It retains much of its colonial heritage in its buildings, plazas and its tinajones - large clay pots traditionally used in Spain and in its New World colonies for collecting rain water. Enjoy an included city tour and explore the narrow winding streets and impressive sites.
Continuing east today you arrive at Santiago de Cuba, the cradle of the Revolution, and home of traditional son rhythms. There are also museums, colonial churches and buildings of more recent historical importance, such as the Moncada Barracks, which are well worth exploring. Santiago has a very vibrant traditional music scene that will entice even the shyest dancer out to experiment with some salsa moves!
Another day to explore Santiago, which holds the title of “Hero City of the Republic of Cuba” for its leading role in significant events during the revolution. It was in Moncada Barracks that Fidel Castro struck out against Batista’s government in 1953. The people of Santiago were the first to rise up in arms against government troops in 1956, and it was here on January 1st, 1959, that Castro declared the triumph of the revolution in a broadcast message to the country and the world.
The city’s half million residents are proud of their cultural traditions and you will find many museums and cultural associations and clubs around the city. Santiago is where son and boleros originated, and the richness of the island’s strong African heritage is evident through institutions such as the Ballet Folklorico Tucumbá, a world renowned Afro-Cuban dance company. The city is also well known for its vibrant and energetic Carnaval celebrations. About 20 minutes drive from the city centre, beautiful "Castillo del Moro" castle will be visited in the evening where you will take part in the gun salute ceremony at dusk.
Situated on a beautiful bay with the mountains of the Sierra del Purial in the background, Baracoa was the first settlement founded by the Spanish in Cuba, and was only accessible by sea until the 1960s. It is now a quaint colonial city where you have numerous options for outdoor activities in the nearby mountains and bays. The first paved road linking Baracoa to Guantanamó was finished in the 1960s, but the settlement maintains a small town, colonial feel, with a beautiful malecón, various forts built to withstand pirate attacks and colourful buildings.
The best way to get around town is on foot and you will want to take time to visit places like the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. Castillo de Seboruco, Fuerte de la Punta and Fuerte Matachín are Baracoa’s three remaining buildings attesting to the town’s beleaguered past as a magnet for privateers in the Caribbean. Outside of town the mountains and black sand beaches beckon outdoor enthusiasts, with optional hiking excursions to the table lands.
Controversial Guantánamo Bay Naval Base is located at the southeastern end of Cuba This base has been used by the United States Navy for more than a century. America controls the land on both sides of the southern part of Guantánamo Bay and while staying in Baracoa you may want to visit the area.
Today you transfer to Santiago de Cuba for your flight back to colourful Havana, one of the oldest cities in the western hemisphere. Generally this is an early afternoon flight and will get you into the capital in time to check in to your hotel and go out and make the most of the incredible nightlife.
Spend the day exploring "La Habana". Walk around the old town and then stroll down the malecon watching the locals proudly polishing their amazing old American cars. Take a salsa or music lesson, rent a vintage car or take a carriage ride through the old city before spending a last night relaxing at a bar, restaurant or club while listening to Cuba’s infectious musical rhythms.
Today your wonderful tour of this amazing island comes to an end. You may wish to take another tour or extend your stay at a luxury beach side hotel in the nearby glamorous resort of Varadero before making plans for your journey home.
Standard fr £1172pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated