Day 1: Arrival: Welcome to Havana!
At the Airport Jose Marti in Havana, we will be greeted by a Chill Expeditions representative. This afternoon we will orient ourselves to the city of Havana. After dinner, we will travel to the Morro Fortress to enjoy the Cannon Ceremony, an old Havanan tradition that marked the closing of the walls of the city. There are many differences between Cuban and American cultures, and part of the orientation will be to discuss, as a group, noticeable differences in the way Cubans spend their free time together. This will also give us the opportunity to set the tone for the trip and get to know each other a little better.
Overnight at Havana
Day 2: Modern History of Havana
This morning, enjoy breakfast and fresh coffee before we head to Fusterlandia, an ongoing project first hatched 20 years ago. On this art project, you will enjoy sculpture and – above all – mosaic tiles of every color and description, beautiful spiraling walkways, rippling pools and sunburst fountains.
Over half the neighborhood has been given similar artistic treatment from street signs to bus stops to the local doctor’s house. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. After lunch, we will learn about modern Havana by visiting Miramar and Vedado, Havana University, and Plaza de la Revolution. This is where most political figures, including Castro, address the public. We will then ride the American Old Cars by Malecon towards Old Havana. Finally, in the historic center of Havana, we will visit the Four Plazas of Old Havana, Hemingway’s room at Ambos Mundos hotel, and the City Museum. After some free time in the Craft Market, we return to the hotel to get ready for dinner.
Overnight at Havana
Day 3: Havana – Cienfuegos – Trinidad
This morning after breakfast, we will depart to Cienfuegos, a city known as “the South Pearl,” the only city that was founded by French colonists. Visit Tomas Terry Theater, Valle Palace, Boulevard and Paseo del Prado. Lunch at a local restaurant in Cienfuegos.
Afterwards, we continue towards Trinidad and we visit the city: Plaza Mayor, a perfect place for people watching. We can learn the art of pottery at the Pottery House, visit the Municipal Museum “Cantero Palace” or the Romance Museum, a former sugar baron’s mansion, which offers a peek into Cuba’s rich colonial past. Trinidad was declared World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 1988 and we will discover why.
Overnight at Trinidad.
Day 4: Topes de Collantes
We will start our day with a drive out to Topes de Collantes, located in the Sierra del Escambray which is Cuba’s second-largest mountain range.
Topes de Collates has caves, rivers, canyons, waterfalls, grottos and crystal clear water. We are picked up in a specialized truck to travel one of the paths.The opportunity to enjoy the flora and fauna of this area of Cuba is unmatched during this drive. We enjoy a nature hike with local experts, who help us spot the famous Tocororo Trogon, the cuban national bird. You will have lunch at the ranger station.
Afterwards, we will visit “El Manantial” Farm to learn about organic farming and sustainability practices. Here we will meet Oscar and Aray who will show us how their dream of a sustainable living is becoming a reality. Enjoy a cup of coffee we learn about sustainable construction and how they built their own house, and eat fresh produce from their farm.
Overnight at Trinidad
Day 5: Trinidad- Santa Clara- Havana
This morning we will be traveling back to Havana, but on our way, we will visit Santa Clara city and its Mausoleum, as well as the Armored Train Memorial. Here we will learn more about the executed marxist revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara.
After some free time at the Central Park, we will have lunch in Santa Clara.
Continue driving back to Havana City. Arrive on time to have dinner and enjoy Havana’s nightlife.
Overnight at Havana.
Day 6: Havana – Las Terrazas – Viñales
After an early morning breakfast, departure to Las Terrazas eco-community, located an hour west of Havana in the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve. Las Terrazas is located in an area of around 5,000 hectares, in which a project of sustainable rural economy is being developed, based on the rational use of its natural resources for tourism.
We will visit Lester Campa’s home-studio. Campa’s work features the rich landscape of Las Terrazas with its flowing waters, soaring Royal Palms, and beautiful forests.
Lunch is at one of the restaurants in Las Terrazas.
Early afternoon, we head to Viñales Valley, with its outstanding karst landscape encircled by mountains and dotted with spectacular limestone formations named mogotes, some of them rise as high as 300 meters.
Overnight at Viñales.
Day 7: Viñales – Havana
After breakfast, we will visit Santo Tomas Cave -the most extensive cave system in Cuba. There are over 46km of galleries on eight levels, with a 1km section accessible to visitors. There’s no artificial lighting, but headlamps are provided for the 90-minute guided tour. Highlights include bats, stalagmites and stalactites, underground pools, stunning rock formations and a replica of an ancient native Indian mural.
Lunch is at Agroecological Farm “El Paraiso” with a great view of the valley.
In the afternoon we head back to la Havana. Stop en route for a visit to one of the several tobacco producers in the area, to learn about this traditional crop and the way it goes from green leaves into the final product: a fine Cuban cigar. Upon arrival in Havana, we will head out to dinner in the city.
Overnight at Havana.
Day 8: Havana
This morning after breakfast, we will enjoy a dance lesson. We will have the chance to learn traditional and popular Cuban dances, such as Salsa, mambo, rumba and Cha-Cha-Cha. After lunch, we will visit the “Callejón de Hamel”, a neighborhood that has been converted into a cultural center rich in Afro-Cuba religion, art and dance. Spend the afternoon learning about Santeria and other Cuban religions. We will also have the chance to practice some of the Rumba steps that we just learned in the morning. At night, we will head out to our final farewell dinner and our last chance to enjoy Havana’s very lively nightlife.
Overnight at Havana.
Day 9: Home with Inspiration!
After a quick breakfast, we depart for the airport to board our flight home. We return filled with inspiration and memories to last a lifetime of our wonderful Cuban Expedition.