Cuban Rhythms Map
Day 1 Havana
Arrive in Havana at any time. Check into our hotel and enjoy the city.
One of the oldest cities in the western hemisphere, Havana was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. It contains a wealth of colonial architecture, and the old city and streets around the malecon (ocean-side walkway) are best discovered on foot.
The main area of interest to visitors is La Habana Vieja (The Old City), where walking or a taxi tour are the best modes of transportation. Your CEO will take you on an included walking tour of the historical centre. Points of interest in this part of town include La Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Habana, the Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras (which now houses a restaurant), the Museo de Arte Colonial and the Plaza de Armas, with its statue of Manuel de Céspedes (one of the leaders of the Cuban independence movement). The Palacio de los Capitanes Generales is also located on the Plaza de Armas, which now houses the Museo de La Ciudad. You will find the oldest colonial fortress on the plaza’s northeast sector, the Castillo Real de la Fuerza, whose construction began in 1558.
The city is home to various museums, and depending on your area of interest, there is practically a museum for everyone. One of the city’s (and the island’s) most prominent attractions though, are its music and clubs. Everywhere you go you will hear and feel the music and see people freely dancing in the streets. The island literally pulses with the beat and blend of Afro-Hispanic rhythms and movement.
Please note: the heat of Cuba may affect you upon arrival, with a general sense of lethargy and/or loss of appetite. This is no cause for alarm, it is simply your body’s reaction to the heat. Be sure to drink plenty of water and do not attempt too much in any given day.
Day 2-4 Santa Clara/Trinidad (1B,1D)
Stop by Santa Clara en route to Trinidad and visit important historical sites, including the famous Che monument. Santa Clara was a key city in the Revolution. Santa Clara is probably best known as the home of the statue of Ernesto Che Guevara at the Plaza de la Revolución. The remains of Che and his comrades who fell in Bolivia are interred in the mausoleum at this site.
About 18 men, under the command of Comandante Ernesto (Ché) Guevara, fought against more than 400 heavily armed Batista government troops and captured the armoured train. There is a large monument deditcated to the derailing of this train full of armaments that was essential to the triumph of the revolution. Both the monument and the site are referred to as 'Tren Blindado'. The Museo Histórico de la Revolución chronicles the Battle of Santa Clara, and it is here that a gargantuan statue of El Ché was erected to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the revolutionary hero’s murder in Bolivia.
Continue onto the colonial city of Trinidad where you'll go on an orientation walk upon arrival to get your bearings. Learn some moves during a salsa dancing lesson and take in some live music at an evening out at the Casa de la Trova. Enjoy a home-cooked local dinner as a group hosted by one of the homestay families.
Trinidad is the hub of the cultural activity, and you are never out of earshot from a group of musicians playing local salsa or son. The town also has the requisite Casa de la Trova, a mainstay of Cuban musical culture in every town, the Palenque, Las Ruinas, Teatro de Brunet, the Artex, the nightlife, the conga lessons and salsa lessons. Enjoy an included salsa lesson during your time in Trinidad.
Those visitors who wish to pursue outdoor activities will find Trinidad a haven for horseback or bicycle riding (don’t expect any modern mountain bikes though!). If an unspoiled, white sand beach sounds like what you're looking for, try snorkelling or diving in nearby Playa Ancón, just 12 km (7.5 miles) from town.
The nearby Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of Sugarmills) is where you will see some remains of the island's vast sugar cane plantations. The beautiful green landscape has attracted visitors from around the world who visit it for enjoying its historical and cultural attributes. Valle de los Ingenios was fairly inactive until the 1800s, when French refugees fleeing a slav revolt in Haiti landed here en masse and brought with them sugar cane cultivation. The new residents settled and farmed in the valley. Wealth flowed into the local economy from sugar cane cultivation and the area produced one third of the country’s sugar at one point. The sugar boom was terminated by the two wars of independence, but the wealth generated by the industry remains visible in the town’s once grand mansions, colourful public buildings, wrought iron grill work and cobblestone streets.
Day 4-6 Viñales
See sugar cane and tabacco plantations in this rich agricultural town. Have a cigar or do a some rum tasting. Viñales is in the Pinar del Rio province and located in a fertile valley surrounded by the unusual mogotes, or limestone pincushion hills. Arguably one of the prettiest natural areas in Cuba, we have many opportunities here to enjoy the area, whether it be horseback riding, hiking, or simply sitting back and enjoying the view. While you're here, visit a "vega" or cigar factory, to see how the famous Cuban cigars are made. Try your hand at Spanish while staying in a local homestay.
On Viñales’ main plaza there’s a cultural centre as well as a municipal museum, however most visitors to the area come for the views and the nearby outdoor activities. The region has many extensive cave systems, as a result of the slow deterioration of the limestone bedrock by underground rivers, also creating the striking mogotes, reminiscent of the hills of Quilin in southern China. There are plenty of opportunities here for the outdoor enthusiast, such as horseback riding, and hiking which allow for incredible views of the valley and the sprawling tobacco fields.
Take a day trip to beautiful Cayo Levisa, an island just off of Cuba's coastline. It is a perfect spot for snorkelling, scuba diving or just blissing out on the beach.
Day 7 Havana
Stop at lush Las Terrazas en route back to Havana. Discover Old Havana on a short walking tour.
Day 8 Havana (1B)
Depart at any time.