Faded colonial charm, rich history, vibrant nightlife – it’s easy to see why dreamy Havana has been preserved in all its glory.. Experience the laidback Cuban lifestyle on a guided orientation tour of the old capital and wander the streets of the peculiar artists neighbourhood of Jaimanitas.. Watch life slowly roll by in Cuba’s countryside. Stroll along rural dirt roads and watch as tractors, vintage cars and horse-drawn carriages evoke a bygone era.. The lush Soroa is known as the ‘Rainbow of Cuba’. Explore an orchid garden, learn the medicinal secrets of wild Cuban herbs and venture to a gorgeous nearby eco-village en route to Vinales.
The largest island in the Caribbean is widely known for its abundance of classic cars, cigars and rum, but there is so much more to see when you scratch beneath the colourful surface and venture into the countryside. This 6-day Western Cuba adventure explores the forests of Soroa and the valleys of Vinales, with time to explore the nation’s capital at both ends. Practise some salsa steps, eat farm-to-table at an eco-village and learn about local herbs used for their medicinal properties. Your adventure takes in the bustling sights of Havana and the slow-paced charm of the countryside. You’ll be sure to gain a huge appreciation for western Cuba – a country where time stopped decades ago, and life is good.
Breakfast Included: 3 Lunches Included: Dinner Included:
Bienvenido a Cuba! Welcome to Cuba! You’ll arrive in the old-fashioned and colourful capital of Havana. There will be a welcome meeting at approximately 6 pm this evening, to meet your group leader and fellow travellers. 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. Why not take a stroll to get acquainted with Cuba’s capital, where vintage cars, plumes of cigar smoke, Neo-Gothic churches and Art Deco theatres come together in a unique mesh of histories. Otherwise, there are plenty of good museums to check out, including the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
Spend the morning enjoying a walking tour around Old Havana. This well-preserved part of the city was designated a World Heritage Site in 1982. The streets are lined with colonial architecture, 16th-century fortresses and many beautiful churches. Afterwards, take a private vehicle to Callejon de Hamel, an alley located in Havana's working class Cayo Hueso quarter. Adorned with the evocative Santeria murals of local artist Salvador Gonzalez, this lively street is Havana's centre of Afro-Cuban culture. You’ll also head on a short drive and take a quick visit to the eccentric neighbourhood of Jaimanitas, in Havana's outer western suburbs. The artist Jose Fuster has brightened up the area by rebuilding and decorating over 80 houses (including his own) with ornate murals and domes. Even though you do not enter Fuster’s House (known as Fusterlandia), you’ll see why this is one of Havana’s most peculiar sites. In the afternoon, head to Soroa, in the heavily forested Sierra del Rosario to check in to your guesthouse for the night. On your way, learn the lingo with your leader and practice some Spanish phrases to make interacting with the locals a breeze (or should we say brisa).
In the morning, enjoy a tour of a Soroa orchid garden, which boasts over 700 species of orchid. You'll also have the option to take a steep 1-kilometre climb up a mountain path to a lookout. Next, travel to the community of Las Terrazas, a pioneering ecovillage that dates back to a reforestation project in 1968. Meet some of the residents and learn how they work together to support their neighbours, as well as how they showcase their open studios, woodwork and pottery workshops. Head towards Vinales, stopping by Finca de Plantas Medicinales (a herb farm) to learn about local herbs and their medicinal properties. Because of historical sanctions against Cuba, the country has had to find ways to be self-sufficient, with a prime example being to develop its own medicines, many of which are herbal. You'll see how herbs are grown, dried and crushed before being sent to a factory to be processed into medicines. Afterwards, drive a short distance to the small town of Vinales in Pinar del Rio Province. On arrival, your leader will take you on a short orientation walk of the town.
This morning, take an early guided walking tour of surrounding farmlands and the Vinales valley. Surrounded by limestone cliffs and interspersed with small farms, the scenery around Vinales is some of the most picturesque in Cuba. The valley receives some of the highest amounts of rainfall in the country, and so, you’ll see the limestone karts and valley floor covered in vegetation. Visit a local farm where you'll have the opportunity to experience the guajiro (agricultural worker) way of life. Depending on the season, you can choose to help out with daily farm activities, such as toasting and grinding coffee or harvesting yuca, corn or tobacco. This is also your opportunity to marvel at the speed and skill of the local’s cigar rolling technique. In the afternoon, perhaps book in for a cave tour or a beach excursion to Cayo Jutias but be sure to get back in time for a relaxed salsa lesson with your group. After dancing your heart out, you would’ve worked up an appetite, so an optional dinner at one of Vinales’ farm-to-table restaurants is highly recommended. Eat organic like the locals at an eco-friendly ranch and learn how Cubans have lived off their land for decades.
Today travel back to Havana by private vehicle (approximately 3 hours). You’ll have a free afternoon to explore the city’s Old Town and wander the harbourside esplanade called the Malecon. This esplanade also acts as a seawall and roadway, diving the historic French and Spanish-inspired architecture from the Straits of Florida. In the evening, head out on the town. Havana's nightlife is varied and lively, full of bars, clubs and places to see a cabaret show. Why not put your new salsa skills into practice on one of the city’s many dancefloors?
With no activities planned for today, you are free to depart your accommodation at any time. If you do have some extra time in Havana, why not book an Urban Adventures tour, like the Classic American Car Tour of Havana: a cruisy ride through the washed-out elegance of the city’s suburbs, finishing in style with a drink at the Hotel Nacional (see urbanadventures.com/destination/havana-tours).