Cuba | Ragen Family
Havana, Viñales Valley,
Las Terrazas and Varadero
December 23 – December 31, 2019
HAVANA, only 90 miles off the shores of the Florida Keys, is one of the most romantic and bustling cities of the Caribbean islands. The Malecón (waterfront) is washed day and night by the Atlantic Ocean's deep blue crushing waves. Next to the crumbling pastel facades, the sidewalks fill with young musicians and artists, and local Cubans on their way to and from work. All over town, you will find amazing small family run restaurants, and despite the country's limited resources, they are able to provide visitors with some of the most exquisite and creative cuisine of the region. Enjoy music and dance at local bars and clubs along the cobble stones streets in Old Town or at the Jazz and Blues clubs in Havana's Vedado district and Miramar neighborhoods. Meet amazing contemporary young painters and sculptors, visit art galleries and museums you will never forget. Don't miss visiting a cigar factory or trying the local specialties; Mojitos and frozen daiquiris made with the local Havana Club or Santiago rum! Finally, check out a true Havana treasure, only 45 minutes away, the white sand beach of Santa Maria.
Day 1 | Havana Upon arrival in Havana, you will meet your Cuban guide and drive to Havana. On the way, your guide will show you the historical memorial to José Martí at Plaza de la Revolución, Revolution Square, and give you a short driving tour to see the general layout of this beautiful city including the Malecón, Havana’s famous waterfront. After checking into your accommodation, and a short break, we will depart for our welcome dinner at Paladar La Modeda Cubana featuring traditional Cuban food. Included nighttime outing. Hotel Parque Central (B/L/D)
Day 2 | Havana After breakfast, begin your first full day in Cuba with a walking tour of the history of the city’s fascinating past venturing out into the streets and see the four plaza that make up on to Habana Vieja (Old Havana). Continue the walking tour to visit Ambos Mundos, the former residence of Ernest Hemingway and La Floridita, where he claimed served some of the best daiquiris in Havana. Enjoy lunch in Old Havana at a local paladar. After lunch, we depart for a meeting with a Cuban baseball player to learn about the sport in Cuba, and visit a baseball stadium to interact with kids and trainers during their practice session, and maybe even get to play some baseball with the athletes. Late afternoon visit to Rafeal Trejo Boxing gym for an optional workout. After baseball, boxing is the biggest sport in Cuba.
Dinner at La Guarida. Included nighttime outing. Hotel Parque Central (B/L/D)
VARADERO is best known as a destination resort, with more than 20 km of spectacular, white sandy beaches. Tourism began as early as in the 1870s, and in those early years mostly a destination for Spanish elite. An annual rowing regatta was started in 1910, followed by the first ever hotel, named Varadero, in 1915. Varadero grew in the early 1930s as Irénée du Pont, an American millionaire, built his estate on the peninsula (now Maison Xanadu or DuPont House). Many famous and infamous people, (like Al Capone!) have stayed in Varadero.
Day 4 | Viñales After breakfast, your guide will accompany you to Viñales National Park, a green, dreamlike landscape, where you will go for a morning hike among giant limestone rocks unique to this area of Cuba. Other activities available, based on group members interest are horseback riding; rock climbing; zip lining and mountain biking. This day will include a light packed lunch (i.e. sandwiches or the like). After lunch, we visit a pineapple farm and a to tobacco farm, to learn about the life from the Cuban families living and running these farms, that have been in the same family for several generations. Return to the hotel for a brief rest, before you enjoy dinner included at Paladar el Olivo. Included nighttime outing at salsa club. Hotel Los Jasmines (B/L/D)
VIÑALES VALLEY is a Cuban gem! Well known for its many world-famous Cuban tobacco plantations, this valley in the Sierra de Los Organos has a lush karst landscape surrounded by green rolling hills and mountains. The so called mogotes (limestone), tower around the valley, are one of the features that make the landscape of Valle de Viñales unique. Sprinkled with farms on fertile red soil it is suitable for all kinds of agriculture, where traditional methods and techniques are still used. The Valley is as UNESCO World Heritage Site and also a National Park. Visitors enjoy a variety of activities such as zip lining, horseback riding, rock climbing, hiking and visiting the famous crystal caves.
Day 3 | Vinales After breakfast, we begin our drive West with a stop on the way to visit some crystal caves. Lunch en route. In the afternoon, we continue our journey to Viñales. Arrive late afternoon, check in to the hotel, relax and swim in the pool before exploring the bustling nightlife of this quaint little town. Dinner included at a local paladar. Included nighttime outing at salsa club. Hotel Los Jasmines (B/L/D)
LAS TERRAZAS is a small eco-community and nature reserve located in the Artemisa province in the Sierra del Rosario mountains. Nestled in a lush green landscape, and built around a creek, this region was designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1984.
Day 5| Las Terrazas to Varadero After breakfast, we begin our journey East to Varadero. We will stop for a day visit in Las Terrazas, an eco-community founded in the 1960’s, where we will enjoy a walking tour to learn about local community life. We will stop in to the gallery of Lester Campa, a well-known local painter, whose work has been on exhibition in art galleries across the United States. Lunch at el Romero or other local restaurant. After lunch, continue your drive to Varadero, where we will kick-back for the rest of our time in Cuba. Iberostar Varadero (B/L/D)
Day 6 | Varadero For those interested, morning fishing excursion to meet with Cuban fishermen and sports fishing guides, to learn how catch and release is done, Cuba style! Lunch and dinner included at the resort. Iberostar Varadero (B/L/D)
Day 7 | Varadero Activity packed beach day for kayaking; swimming; snorkeling / diving and sun bathing. Lunch and included dinner at the resort. Iberostar Varadero (B/L/D)
Day 8 | Varadero Activity packed beach day of kayaking, swimming, snorkeling / diving and sun bathing. Lunch and included dinner at the resort. Iberostar Varadero (B/L/D)
Day 9 | Varadero / Havana / Home After breakfast, we bid Cuba farewell and depart for the José Martí Airport and our flights back home. (B)
DATES: December 23 – December 31, 2019
NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change to take advantage of the serendipity of the moment when we are in Cuba... to meet someone special, to engage in an activity that might occur unexpectedly, or to accommodate circumstances beyond our control. Due to circumstances beyond our control in Cuba, restaurants or hotels may change in similar category.
INCLUDED: Itinerary and documentation for legal travel from the US to Cuba under the category “Support for the Cuban People”; Cuba entry cards; accommodation in 3-5 star hotels and resorts; in country transportation per itinerary, ALL meals - B/L/D per itinerary, bi-lingual local guide, all excursions and entrance fees on itinerary, preparation materials, tips for included meals on itinerary, potable/bottled water on the bus.
NOT INCLUDED: International airfare, special medical insurance while in Cuba, meals not on itinerary, alcoholic drinks, excursions not on the itinerary, tips for local guide and driver (optional, but customary), travel cancellation and evacuation insurance (strongly recommended). Information regarding travel insurance will be sent upon registration.
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