Eastern Cuba

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Day 1: Arrive in Havana

Upon arrival in Havana, you are met and transferred to our centrally located hotel. The remainder of the day is free to explore on your own or just relax.

In the evening, we have our introductory meeting, dinner is at your leisure at the hotel.

Overnight in Havana.

 

Day 2: To Sancti Spiritus, City Tour

After breakfast, we depart Havana for Sancti Spiritus, a colonial city founded in 1514, and is the fourth village among the first seven founded by the Spaniards in Cuba, and is the only one with a Latin name. Once we arrive, we will enjoy a city tour through the labyrinth of laneways and streets of the colonial center. After our walking tour, we check into our historic 19th century hotel for some free time and dinner at the hotel.

Overnight in Sancti Spiritus.

 

Day 3: To Gibara via Camaguey (UNESCO)

Today we depart for Gibara with a stop in the UNESCO designated city of Camaguey. We will enjoy a city tour, while traveling in bicycle taxis. Our exploration ends in Plaza San Juan de Dios where we will have lunch in one of the citiy's best and most historic restaurants.

After lunch, we depart for the fishing village of Gibara for leisure time and dinner.

Overnight in Gibara.

 

Day 4: Gibara Sites

After breakfast we will enjoy a visit to a local cigar factory, where we will see the process of making fine Cuban cigars. We continue our exploration of the village of Gibara with a local historian, who will discuss the importance of Gibara to Cuba, the famous Cine Pobre Film Festival, and the important sites and fortification system of the city. After lunch in a local paladar (family run restaurant), we make a visit to a local art museum.

The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure.

Overnight in Gibara.

 

Day 5: Jeep Adventure to Local Home, Columbus' Landing in the New World in 1492

Today we need jeeps to really get off the beaten path as we visit the home of Rosita and her husband where we can see their home, farm, and share some snacks and coffee with them. We also visit 3 significant sites related to Christopher Columbus, where he landed in the New World in 1492.

Overnight in Gibara.

 

Day 6: To Baracoa via Birán

Today after breakfast, we make our way to Baracoa via Moa & Birán.

Our first stop is Birán (Fidel Castro's birth place) and the farm estate of the Castro family. This farm was also the first farm that was nationalized after the revolution. Enjoy the guided tour of the birthplace of both Fidel and his brother Raul, gaining further insight into who Fidel was and how he developed his revolutionary ideas.

After lunch, we transfer to Baracoa and check in to our hotel, and enjoy some free time before dinner.

Overnight in Baracoa.

 

Day 7: Baracoa, Toa River

After breakfast, we begin our day with a walking tour of Baracoa, including the cathedral and main square. As you enter the cathedral, if you look to the left you will see a wooden cross, which is the only existing item left by Christopher Columbus in the Americas, when he landed here on 27th November, 1492.

After our walking tour, we depart for a cacao farm. We will have a guided tour to experience the entire chocolate making process right from the pods the region harvests, and of course, enjoy some samples!

After lunch at another local finca, we take a boat ride on the Toa River followed by our transfer back to Baracoa for free time and dinner.

This evening, we visit the infamous Casa de la Trova. The troubadour music scene has been prominent in the country for the last half-century. In fact, many members of the Buena Vista Social Club formed part of the movement.

Overnight in Baracoa.

 

Day 8: Humboldt National Park

We enjoy another excursion from Baracoa today as we take a dirt road to journey to Humboldt National Park. Humboldt has the distinction of being the most diverse park in the Caribbean, and home to the world's smallest hummingbird and the world's smallest frog. We explore the park during our hike, followed by lunch in the park.

In the afternoon, we enjoy a boat journey exploring the park from the water's edge. We can also keep an eye out for manatees, which call the park's natural bay home.

We return to Baracoa for dinner and overnight.

 

Day 9: To Santiago de Cuba Traversing the Sierra Maestra Mtns, Casa del Changui, Guantanamo Bay

This morning we depart Baracoa and traverse the Sierra Maestra mountains on our way to Santiago.
With stops at a beautiful lookout known as "La Gobernadora", with 360-degree vistas over the Sierra Maestra mountain range, Guantanamo Bay and US Base.

After lunch we visit the world famous Casa del Changui for a private musical showcase.

Overnight in Santiago de Cuba.

 

Day 10: Santa Ifigenia Cemetery & Colonial Santiago

Today, we visit one of Cuba's most impressive sites, the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery. Some of Cuba's most famous heroes, politicians, musicians and wealthy aristocrats are buried here, including the leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro. The crypts are often massive and opulent. Our visit to the cemetery will coincide with the changing of the guard that takes place at the monument of Cuba's national hero and founder, Jose Marti.

We also explore Santiago's colonial past, up until Cuban independence from Spain and a short occupation by the U.S. Our day's explorations will take us to Santiago's most impressive colonial sites, including Cespedes Square (cathedral, Casa De Diego Velazquez) and San Juan Hill (site of the battle, and present day memorial of the Spanish American War 1895-1898).

We return to Santiago for some free time before we drive to dinner at a local paladar.

Overnight In Santiago de Cuba.

 

Day 11: Fidel Castro's Revolution, El Morro, Granjita Siboney to Moncada Barracks in Vintage Cars

Today we learn about Fidel Castro's Revolution, which is generally regarded to have begun on July 26, 1953. This is when Castro and and a small group of rebels attacked the Moncada military barracks outside of Santiago de Cuba in an attempt to overthrow the Batista government. The attack failed and Castro was captured, tried, convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

While incarcerated, Castro renamed his group the "26th of July Movement" and continued to coordinate its activities through correspondence. He and his compatriots were ultimately released in 1955 under an amnesty deal with the Batista government. Fidel traveled with Raul to Mexico, where they met the infamous Che Guevara, and continued to plan their revolution.

On November 25, 1956, Fidel, Raul, Che and 80 insurgents left Mexico aboard the ship Granma and landed in Orient province, Eastern Cuba. After being met by force, the 'surviving rebels' fled to the Sierra Maestra mountains to hide from Batista's forces. The revolution gained support, particularly in Eastern Cuba and gradually had successful campaigns, including the rebel attack on Santa Clara, led by Che Guevara in December 1958. Cienfuegos finally led the revolutionary army into Havana, seizing power on Dec 31, 1958. Batista fled Cuba and Fidel Castro ruled Cuba for almost 5 decades until he relinquished power to his brother Raul due to poor health in 2008.

We start our revolutionary day with a drive to Granjita Siboney Museum, the farmhouse used as the starting point for the failed assault on Moncado barracks. We depart from Granjita Siboney in vintage cars, just as the rebels did in 1953, for our drive to Moncado barracks. Feel free to shoot as much as you want (with your camera that is) at the barracks, which today has the dual roles of revolutionary museum and school. The exterior of the barracks still bears the bullet holes from the 1953 assault.

Lunch on the private island of Cayo Granma, accessible by catamaran.

We take a short drive to the impressive San Pedro de la Roca Castle. Built in 1638, this fortress has guarded the entrance to Santiago de Cuba Bay from pirates, as well as the English and French. Enjoy a (typically) beautiful sunset, gazing out over the sea, land and mountains. San Pedro de la Roca Castle was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, cited as the best preserved and most complete example of Spanish-American military architecture.

Overnight in Santiago de Cuba.

 

Day 12: To Camaguey (UNESCO) via Bayamo, El Cobre, Casanova

Today we depart for Camaguey (UNESCO), on our way we make a stop at the impressive El Cobre. The most important shrine for Cubans, and most famous church in the country, is lodged in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra near the old copper mines that give it its name. The triple-domed church with the mouthful name of El Sanctuario de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre, built in 1927, rises on Maboa Hill and is photogenically framed by green forest. The faithful come from across Cuba on pilgrimages to pay their respects to (and ask for protection from) a black Madonna, the Virgen de la Caridad (Virgin of Charity).

We continue our journey to Camaguey, with a few rest stops for lunch and a visit to Casanova Pottery Studio to learn about Camaguey’s famous "tinajones", large red pots found outside homes, the symbol of the city. See the traditional way of making them and interact with the most famous of Cuban potters to learn about this local process and his artistic family.

Overnight in Camaguey.

 

Day 13: To Havana, via Ciego de Avila & Santa Clara

Today we make our way back to Havana via Ciego de Avila and historic Santa Clara (site of Che Guevara's Revolution).

Overnight in Havana.

 

Day 14: Colonial Havana, Farmers Market, Colombus Cemetery

This morning we start our day with a city tour and a visit to a farmer's market to learn about both the local diet and dual currency (including some of differences between CUC and CUP).

Afterwards we continue to the colonial center of Havana for a walking tour and lunch.

From here, we depart for the Colombus Cemetery (Cemetario de Colon). Colon Cemetery is one of the most important historical cemeteries in the world and is generally held to be the most important in Latin America in historical and architectural terms, second only to La Recoleta in Buenos Aires. Prior to the opening of the Colon Cemetery, Havana's dead were laid to rest in the crypts of local church catacombs and then, beginning in 1806, at Havana's newly opened Espada Cemetery. When locals realized there would be a need for a larger space for their community’s dead (due to an 1868 cholera outbreak), planning then began for the Colon Cemetery. The 140 acre cemetery is noted for its many elaborately sculpted memorials. It is estimated that today the cemetery has more than 500 major mausoleums

After our visit we transfer back to the hotel and you will have an afternoon of free time to explore the city, before our elegant farewell dinner in one of the most historic squares of Old Havana.

Overnight in Havana.

 

Day 15: Depart Havana

Our Cuban adventure concludes with a transfer to Havana Airport.

 
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