Complete Cuba Itinerary

Learn more about people-to-people travel.


Day 1

Arrive Miami

Our Cuba people-to-people travel program begins in Miami with a briefing and welcome reception before an overnight at the Cambria Suites Miami Airport. (Meals Aloft)


Day 2

Miami / Camaguey or Cienfugos / Sancti Spiritus

Early this morning, return to the airport and board our charter flight to Cuba. Depending on your departure day, you will travel to either Camaguey or Cienfugos. In Cienfugos, enjoy a performance by the Cienfugos choir. Those traveling to Camaguey will head to the Camaguey Ballet Company, meeting the dancers and talking to them about upcoming productions. Later, a walking tour introduces you to colonial architecture of these cities while you enjoy spirited interactions with vendors who line the atmospheric squares. Continue to Sancti Spiritus and spend tonight at the Hotel Del Rijo or similar. (D)


Day 3

Sancti Spiritus / Valle De Los Ingenios / Trinidad

Drive through the spectacular Valle De Los Ingenios - Valley of the Sugar Mills - an UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site where we see the ruined hulls of 19th century sugar estates. During the 19th century there were more than 40 sugar mills with elaborate estate houses but now most are in ruins. Chat with villagers in Manaca Iznaga while enjoying a glass of cold mango juice. Travel to the architectural jewel of Trinidad, an architectural jewel proclaimed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Red tiled roofs atop pastel stucco structures line the cobbled streets. This port city reflects its 16th century past and founding by Conquistadors. Eighteenth century smugglers and pirates made frequent calls here or even used this port as their base of operations in the Caribbean. The wealth and importance of Trinidad continued into the 19th century, when sugar barons reigned. Experience the community like a local, visiting with shop owners and sampling local fare as we walk through the colonial heart of the city. At Casa Del Alfarero Santander, an artisan workshop, meet local artists and learn about traditional pottery techniques. Stroll through town, with the chance to visit a music club to mingle with the locals and enjoy authentic Cuban music. Spend two nights at Hotel Costa Sur or similar. (B,L,D)
 

Day 4

Topes de Collantes / Trinidad

Enjoy a spectacular morning drive into the Sierra de Escambray to Topes de Collantes National Park. Join a local naturalist for a short nature walk, finding endemic birdlife, including the Cuban trogon and Cuban tody, as we share stories about our favorite sightings. Enjoy a picnic lunch of traditional roast pig before stopping in at a local coffee house. Relax over a cup of coffee, where you are free to chat with your guide and other Cubans. Visit a modern art museum, seeing pieces by important artists. This evening, dinner is in a paladar, a privately owned, family run restaurant. Learn about the challenges and opportunities facing this new generation of Cuban entrepreneurs. Sit down with local Jorge Ortega and his family to discuss daily life and enjoy a few laughs as well. (B,L,D)

 

Day 5

Trinidad / Zapata Wetlands / Bay of Pigs

The Zapata Peninsula encompasses a national park protecting Cuba’s most important wetland area. It is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve closely resembling the Florida Everglades. There are 900 species of flora, 171 species of birds (18 endemics), 31 species of reptiles and many mammal species calling the Zapata Wetlands home. Join Orlando Ramirez, a local farmer, and his friends for a fun nature hike to observe the world’s smallest bird, the bee hummingbird. On the Bay of Pigs, discuss the importance of the wetlands with a local environmentalist. Spend time getting to know the locals who gather in the evening. Spend tonight at Hotel Playa Larga or similar. (B,L,D)

 

Day 6

Bay of Pigs / Soroa & Vinales

Set out toward the western part of Cuba, traveling to Pinar del Rio Province. An exclusive stop for IE travelers, begin our day at the Korimacao Project, where we meet one of the directors Hilda Tamayo. The project houses some of Cuba’s finest musicians and artists, who refine their skills before traveling to remote villages to perform and teach. Present art, music and dance supplies to Ms. Tamayo and the project staff before an open discussion on the transformative power of art in the lives of ordinary Cubans. Spend two nights at Villa Soroa or similar. (B,L,D)


Day 7

Soroa & Vinales

Wind our way through the Sierra de los Organos Mountains to Vinales. Along the way, stop at a tobacco sorting factory, chatting with the 50 women who prepare tobacco to become famed Cuban cigars. Sample the homegrown vegetables grown at an organic farm while meeting the family who is responsible for the land. Enjoy a boating excursion into one of the huge limestone caves running through a mogote — limestone karst outcroppings. While here, visit the private Maria Lezcano Garden, where the owner shares openly about the garden’s joys and difficulties, and browse a bodega, where locals bring their ration books. (B,L,D)
 

Day 8

Soroa & Vinales / Havana

Survey an orchid garden with staff from the University of Pinar del Rio. Meet local naturalists, business owners and farmers in the planned “green” community of Las Terrazas. Stop at Cafe de Maria for a cup of locally grown coffee and chat with the family who runs the business. Stop to pay homage to Ernest Hemingway by discussing his work with Cuban Hemingway specialists at his former home Finca Vigia, preserved as it was on the day of his death. Travelers can only peer through the open windows of this museum, but the inside is arranged almost as if the home was waiting for him to return with guests. Hemingway’s fishing boat, El Pilar, is still on the grounds. Drive along the oceanfront Malecon Avenue, seeing Revolution Square. Discover the atmospheric squares of Old Havana. Spend time in the Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Plaza de Cristo. Spend two nights at the Melia Cohiba or similar. (B,L,D)


Day 9

Havana

Havana is the center of all things Cuban, and as we stroll these streets it is like being on a movie set. Classic American cars from the 1940s and 1950s cruise wide boulevards while paint peels from glorious Spanish colonial buildings. Old men in straw hats puff on huge Cuban cigars and while music fills the air. Begin our day in Old Havana at a community social project at Belen Convent, discussing humanitarian assistance programs with the volunteers. While touring the facility with director Lourdes Bartolí, meet the senior citizens and young children participating in program activities. Continue to a public library, where we meet librarian Adrian Guerra and local children. Present the children with Spanish versions of popular books and share your favorite classic tales.  Interact with the locals as we explore an art market along the harbor’s edge. Our last dinner in Cuba is at a local restaurant. Tonight, we have organized an optional excursion to the famed Buena Vista Social Club (at your own expense). (B,L,D)

Day 10

Havana / Miami

Transfer to the Jose Marti Airport for our charter flight to Miami, where you connect with flights home after 8 p.m. (B)


Please Note:
IE’s people-to-people program itinerary and /or specific hotel accommodations may vary depending on license regulations or other local conditions. Remember, we are not traveling to a typical “tourist” destination and must plan to be flexible. Our hotels will range from basic to comfortable and you will enjoy a truly engaging experience. A people-to-people license does not allow for time to explore independently.