Old-world charm, a rich history and sleepy rural towns – evocative Cuba is something special and like nowhere else on earth. Discover the difference between city and coastal life on this 16-day adventure.. Hike the forested jungle trails of Manuel Antonio National Park. Experience the diversity of Costa Rica’s environment.
Delight in the history, charm and culture of old-world Cuba before exploring the incredible natural environments of Costa Rica. Drink and dance with the fascinating Cuban locals in Havana and Trinidad, visit the tobacco farmers in Vinales then hike and swim in Costa Rica’s national parks on this adventure through two of Latin America’s most talked about destinations.
Breakfast Included: 15 Lunches Included: 5 Dinner Included: 5
Bienvenido a Cuba! Welcome to Cuba! A complimentary arrival transfer is included with your trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised.
There will be a welcome meeting at approximately 6pm this evening. Please expect a letter from your leader in the afternoon of Day 1 to confirm the place of your meeting (if by 5pm you cannot locate this letter then please ask your guesthouse owner if one has been delivered, or ask to call our assistance line listed in the "Problems and emergency contact information" section of this document). We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. The tour briefing is generally followed by an optional group dinner.
As there's a great deal to do in Havana, we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist. If you arrive early, please note most activities in Cuba can only be booked through the tourist desk in the lobbies of the larger hotels or direct with the venue. If you don't have the luxury of extending your time in Havana and taking up some of the suggested optional activties listed below, there are plenty of good museums to check out before your welcome meeting, including the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
Soroa – Vinales
Enjoy a walking tour of Old Havana, a perfect first taste of the city. Your local guide will show you the cathedral, Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Central Park. Later you'll make the drive to Soroa, a lush enclave nestled in a beautiful valley. You'll stop in for lunch and tour the orchid garden there. Continue to lovely Vinales, where tobacco and agricultural fields lie side by side and limestone outcrops dot the landscape. The scenery here is some of the most picturesque in Cuba. There are many ways to take it all in, including cycling, walking through tobacco fields and hiking to mountain caves (all optional activities).
A walking tour of the farmlands and crops is included today. Learn more about the simple lifestyle here and see first hand the farmers who grow tabacco for some of the most expensive cigars.
Vinales is a small and charming rural village. It's probably the easiest place to mingle with locals in Cuba, who are very sociable. Many of them love nothing better than to drink rum and dance the night away. An informal salsa lesson is included so you are confident to be involved. Later head to an ecological farm for an included dinner.
Bay of Pigs - Cienfuegos
Head towards Cienfuegos today, it is a long travel day. You will be stopping via the Bay of Pigs not only to enjoy the stunning surrounding but to learn more about the botched US Military counter-revolutionary invasion, and you could even opt for a swim in the crystal clear water.
Then the short drive to your destination for the night, Cienfuegos. This is the gem of the south, a seaside town of relaxing streets and dazzling buildings that strike a beautiful pose by the water. You will enjoy a photo stop at Palacio del Valle, which is Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy. Learn more about its history as you take in the beauty of its intricate carvings of Venetian alabaster. If you haven't done so already, perhaps try some Cuban coffee while you're here – it's served black, strong and super sweet.
Today you will board the bus for a short drive to Trinidad. There's no doubt it's one of Cuba's alluring destinations, a great place to wander around, with almost every scene offering a photo opportunity. Watch as locals casually smoke their huge cigars on the doorsteps of their homes, and hear the old Chevrolets rumbling by. Kick things off by strolling along the cobbled streets and marvelling at some of the colourful colonial architecture on display (this town was put on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988 for good reason).
Enjoy a day of free time. There are some great Spanish-style churches to see, and nearby is the Valle de los Ingenios, where sugar plantations stretch out as far as the eye can see. For some seaside fun, head down to Playa Ancon and stroll its long stretches of white sand. You can go for a snorkel too. Just be careful when you're in the water, as sea urchins can be a problem here. Back on the land, you can go cycling or hiking. If you rent a bicycle, be careful on the cobblestones, and remember your bike will be of the vintage variety. The trekking is great in the Sierra del Escambray, the local mountains. A folklore dance and music show in one of the open-air venues is highly recommended – a great chance to immerse yourself in Cuba's African, French and Spanish-influenced music and dance culture.
Santa Clara - Havana
On your way back to Havana, you'll stop in at Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial. In the museum you can get a rare insight into the legacy of the revolutionary leader, with some interesting ephemera and artefacts on display – letters, firearms, even medical devices. Upon arrival in Havana, stop by Revolution square then prepare for a final night of celebrations.
Travel to Costa Rica. Although the flight is not included, an airport arrival transfer is included. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel. Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Costa Rica’s capital sits in the centre of a lush, wide valley which has a comfortable subtropical climate. The streets of the town are laid out along a grid iron pattern, with avenidas running east to west and callés running north to south. Many of the most interesting buildings are in the region of Avenida Central – the Teatro Nacional is an elaborate confection of marble staircases, statues, frescoes and mirrors. There are a number of interesting museums in the city; the Museo de Oro has a good collection of golden pre-Columbian figurines. The Mercado Central is the main market which dates back to 1881 – there are some good food stalls here as well as countless artefacts for sale.
At 9 am, after breakfast, take a leader-led walking tour San Jose’s dynamic downtown area (1.5 hours). Around 11 am, you’ll take a private vehicle to Los Santos (two hours) and for a coffee tour and tasting at Don Cornelio, in Costa Rica’s coffee capital of Zona de Los Santos, Frailes. Lunch is also included there. Continue driving to Savegre (2 hours) with an informal Spanish lesson from your leader on the way, and spend the evening at a lodge in the cloud forest.
Your entry to Los Quetzales National Park is included today which opens at 7:30 am (40 minute drive away), so expect an early start to maximise your chance of spotting birdlife. There are several optional activities to choose from to fill your afternoon. Fly through the rainforest on an adrenaline-filled zip-wire tour of the canopy, or take a adventurous and rewarding hike starting in the highlands. The area is also home to the resplendent quetzal and you could join a birdwatching tour in search of the elusive yet striking bird, before returning to the lodge for optional dinner and exchanging stories with other travellers.
Leave Savegre at 6 am in a private vehicle and drive two hours to the Finca 6 museum where you’ll spend an hour learning about the mysterious, pre-Columbian spheres whose significance remains unknown. Continue driving to the port, ready for the 11 am boat trip to Drake Bay. Utilise this travel time to ask your leader about the activities on offer in the area (most activities need to be pre-booked). Corcovado, a national park on the Osa Peninsula that’s known for its biodiversity. With 13 major ecosystems, over 400 species of birds and all the monkeys, turtles and butterflies you’d ever wish to see, it’s a nature-lover's heaven. Enjoy dinner at the secluded lodge hidden away in the pristine rainforest.
The Osa Peninsula ranked highly on Nat Geo’s list of the most romantic places to visit and it’s not hard to see why. With deserted beaches, shimmering blue water and a huge rainforest, there aren’t many better places to take a lover. That being said, it’s just as good exploring by yourself or with some new Intrepid friends. There are several optional activities to choose from today. Work up a sweat on a hike through the national park, or perhaps choose to kayak during the day with colourful macaws then take a night walk, or maybe you’d prefer horseback riding and sunset bird-watching instead.