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 and dinner.

Overnight in Havana.


Day 2: To Camaguey (UNESCO), City Tour

After breakfast, we depart Havana for Camaguey, a colonial city with UNESCO designation. After our hotel check-in, we will enjoy a city tour through the labyrinth of laneways and streets, while traveling in bicycle taxis. Our exploration ends in Plaza San Juan de Dios where we will have dinner in one of the cities best restaurants

Overnight in Camaguey.


Day 3: To Santiago via Colonial Bayamo

Today we depart for Santiago with stops in the colonial city of Bayamo, founded in 1513. We explore this historic city on foot and by horse carriage and enjoy lunch here.

If time permits, we will visit the most important shrine for Cubans, and the most famous church in the country. It is lodged in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra near the old copper mines that gives it its name. The Virgin of "El Cobre" is the protectress of Cuba and the most revered image. The faithful come from across Cuba on pilgrimages to pay their respects to the Madonna, the Virgen de la Caridad (Virgin of Charity) and ask for protection. According to legend, Cuba's patron saint was found bobbing in the Bay of Nipe in 1611 by three young miners (or fisherman, depending on who's telling the story) about to capsize in a storm. The Madonna wore a sign that read YO SOY LA VIRGEN DE LA CARIDAD (I am the Virgin of Charity). With the wooden statue in their hands, they miraculously made it back to land safely.

We continue to Santiago for dinner and overnight.

Overnight in Santiago de Cuba.


Day 4: 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 remains of Cuba's national hero, Jose Marti and 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).

In the late afternoon 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.

We return to Santiago for dinner and overnight.


Day 5: Fidel Castro's Revolution, 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. 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 bares the bullet holes from the 1953 assault.

Overnight in Santiago de Cuba.


Day 6: To Baracoa via Guantanamo Bay

Today we leave Santiago de Cuba for our drive to Baracoa. Enroute, we stop at a lookout where we can see the controversial U.S. naval base of Guantanamo Bay, also known as Gitmo. From the lookout, one can see the naval base, prison and the surrounding bay. If we are lucky, we can meet a local farmer or fisherman who can give you their version of Gitmo.

As we continue eastward, we traverse the Sierra Maestra mountain range with stunning views of verdant cliffs and valleys. We finally descend to sea level and continue along the coast to the charming and historic town of Baracoa.

Overnight in Baracoa.


Day 7: Baracoa, Yumuri River

We begin our day with an excursion to a nearby river where we can enjoy a short boat ride, hike and even swim in a beautiful lush setting surrounded by steep cliffs. This is also a great place for anyone interested in birding.

In the afternoon, enjoy 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 America when he landed here on 27th November, 1492.

This evening, enjoy a cooking lesson as Baracoa is known for its tasty Caribbean dishes.

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 humming bird 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 Mts.

This morning we depart Baracoa and once again traverse the mountains on our way back to Santiago. Upon arrival, and after hotel check-in, the afternoon is free to relax or enjoy the ambience of our hotel in the historic center of Santiago.

Overnight in Santiago.


Day 10: To Gibara via Birán and Holguin, Gibara Sites & Cuba's Cine Pobre Film Festival

After breakfast, we depart for Gibara on Eastern Cuba's north coast. Our first stop, however, 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.

We also make a stop in Holguin to see it's sites and main squares and enjoy a delicious lunch before we continue to Gibara, where we visit the colonial sites on foot in the main square and also from a lookout with views of the city and sea. We can also learn about Cuba's Cine Pobre Film Festival from a local expert.

Overnight Gibara.


Day 11: Jeep Adventure to a 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 12: Gibara, Cave, Natural Swimming Hole

Today we visit a local cave and a natural swimming hole by the ocean, where we can enjoy some of Cuba's coastal scenery. After we have lunch, we can spend the rest of the day relaxing and soaking up the natural beauty of this area. After our day around the water, we return to Gibara

Overnight in Gibara.


Day 13: To Santa Clara - Revolution Sites

Today we drive to Santa Clara which is a lively university town. Santa Clara also played a significant role in the Cuban Revolution.

Overnight in Santa Clara.


Day 14: Revolution Sites, To Havana, Farewell Dinner

We visit Ernesto Che Guevara's monument and statue to learn more about his life. We continue by foot to the armored train park museum and learn how this was one of the biggest turning points of the revolution.

After lunch, we drive to Havana before our farewell dinner in Old Havana in one of the beautiful outdoor squares.

Overnight in Havana.


Day 15: Depart Havana

Our Cuban adventure concludes with a transfer to Havana Airport.

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