We arrive in Havana and transfer to our start hotel. Land only clients will meet the group at the hotel in Havana.
Today we travel to Vinales Valley, in the west of Cuba. Famous for its rolling tobacco plantations and collection of limestone karsts dotted along the valley, it's not hard to see why Vinales was awarded UNESCO World Heritage site status. A local guide will take us for a light trek through the 'Valley of Silence' where we will be able to take in some of the enchanting countryside found in this beautiful area. We'll see rural Cuban life as farmers tend to their crops using traditional farming methods. After checking into our overnight accommodation in Casa Particulares, we will visit an organic farm in the hills of Vinales for a sunset dinner overlooking the valley.
This morning we set off on a fairly long drive eastwards to Cienfuegos, stopping along the way for a swim in the Caribbean. Early afternoon we'll arrive at The Bay of Pigs, site of the failed US invasion in 1961. In Cienfuegos we have time to admire the main square and restored municipal buildings before checking into our hotel for the night.
This morning we'll continue to enjoy Cienfuegos including a visit to a cigar factory to learn about one of the Island's most famous exports. We then continue by taking a short drive down the coast to Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988 and perhaps the best-preserved colonial town on the island. Exploring Trinidad can feel like entering a time warp, its colourful, cobbled streets and horse drawn transportation whisking us back. There are many interesting museums housed in old colonial buildings and music drifts through the streets and plazas, bringing the town to life. We'll stay overnight in charming Casa Particulares, private Bed and Breakfast accommodation in local Cuban houses. This evening we recommend a visit to Trinidad's Casa de la Trova (the famous 'House of Music') for traditional Cuban music and dancing.
Today is free to soak up the atmosphere of Trinidad, simply relax, or join an optional excursion to explore the surrounding areas. We offer the option to join a Catamaran trip, embarking from the beach of Playa Ancon and sailing the Caribbean to the small island of Cayo Macho (or Cayo Blanco depending on availability) to lunch on fresh seafood amongst tame iguanas and tree rats. Alternatively you can walk the 'El Cubano' trail in the nearby national park or join a horse-riding excursion.
Leaving Trinidad we head inland to Santa Clara, the site of the last battle of the Cuban Revolution in December 1958, just before Fidel Castro took Havana. Che Guevara and his troops ambushed an armoured train carrying arms to Santiago de Cuba and this was a major turning point in the Revolution. We visit the armoured train museum and the Mausoleum of Che Guevara and his comrades who died in Bolivia before driving back to Havana. An optional trip to either the Parisien or Tropicana Cabaret is available this evening.
This morning we set off for a city tour of old and new Havana, Cuba's capital and the largest city in the Caribbean. Havana is a busy, bustling, energetic capital. The area of Old Havana is often described as a living museum, with its marvellous monuments, cathedrals and palaces. This is the finest surviving Spanish colonial complex in the Americas. Preserved by a combination of minimal war damage, post-revolution restoration work and the millions of dollars invested since it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. During our tour we also visit the glitzier Miramar district and the Plaza de la Revolution with its images of the Cuban Revolution. We'll stop for lunch at one of Hemingway's old haunts, La Bodeguita del Medio, where traditional food, drink and music give us a typically warm Cuban welcome. In the early evening we will have a demonstration on how to make the perfect Mojito! With a cocktail to loosen us up we take our salsa class. Salsa is integral to the Cuban way of life and during this lesson, where each person will be partnered with a local Cuban, we get the opportunity to perfect some of the basic moves for our final night in Havana.
This morning is free to relax or do some last minute sightseeing in Havana's old town before those on group flights transfer to the airport in the afternoon.