Visit eco-community Las Terrazas in the Sierra de Rosario Biosphere reserve

Trek through the stunning tobacco growing fields of Viñales Valley

Climb Pan de Guajaibón, Western Cuba’s highest peak

Enjoy the buzz of the Caribbean’s largest city, Havana

Learn about Cuba’s wildlife in the Zapata Peninsula wetlands

Step back in time in colonial Trinidad

Day by Day

Day 1 ➤ Arrival in Havana

A Cubania representative will be waiting for you on arrival at Jose Martí International Airport in Havana. Once you’ve collected your luggage you’ll be transferred to your accommodation with time to relax after your long flight. If you fancy a bit to eat you can head into the old town for dinner. (dinner not included)
Casa particular, Havana

Day 2 ➤ Warm-up trek along the Serafina Trail in Las Terrazas biosphere reserve

After an early breakfast we collect our transfer to Las Terrazas, a biosphere reserve tucked away in the Sierra del Rosario Mountains about an hour’s drive from Havana. Las Terrazas is a nature area of around 5,000 hectares which is being developed as a sustainable rural economy for eco-tourism. Created after the Revolution to replant the area which had suffered badly from over-foresting, it’s now a haven for migrating birds from the North. We start off today with a 5kms warm-up trek in the reserve along the ‘La Serafina Trail’. After lunch at one of the reserve restaurants we continue to Soroa Village for dinner and over-night.
Hotel La Moka or Hotel Soroa (B, L, D)

Day 3 ➤ Easy trekking through the tobacco growing fields of rural Viñales

We have an early start this morning and set off for Viñales further west in the Pinar del Rio province.  Viñales is another Cuba’s World Heritage Sites and rightly so, thanks to the dramatic natural scenery of mogote hills rising up sharply from the flat valley floor. The area of Pinar del Rio is Cuba’s most fertile tobacco growing region as important to cigars as the Bordeaux region is to wines. It’s here that that the tobacco plants are carefully harvested using traditional methods to create the world-class cigars for which Cuba is so famous. When we arrive in Viñales we check into our accommodation and set off on the ‘’Maravillas de Viñales” trail.   The rest of the afternoon is free to relax or explore the tiny town center.  Tonight dinner isn’t included so you can you choose whether to eat at your casa or at a local paladar in town.
Casa particular, Viñales (B, L)

Day 4 ➤ Medium intensity long trek around Viñales valley

Another early start today as we prepare for a long trek around the Viñales valley, a distance of around 20kms.  We’ll be walking through tobacco farms dotted with drying houses where the best leaves are dried ready for the selection process.  This is rural Cuba at its best.  Dinner isn’t included this evening so you can decide whether you want to eat at your casa or in town.
Casa particular, Viñales (B, L)

Day 5 ➤ Medium intensity trek around the Mil Cumbres eco-reserve

After breakfast we transfer to ‘Mil Cumbres’, an eco-reserve in western Cuba protecting the area’s highest mountains which rise to 799 m above sea level. On the Southern side are the gardens and ruins of a mansion which were abandoned by its owners during the Revolution. The main field station is a beautiful old timber coffee–planter’s house which has been converted into dormitory-style accommodation for eco-tourists. On arrival we receive an explanation of the history of “Mil Cumbres’’ and have a trek around the area. We’ll take the ‘Camino de Caiimito’ from Costanera Cajaibana to San Marco, setting off from the Ceiba community, a trek of around 16kms. Dinner and over-night at Mil Cumbres.
Eco-lodgings at Mil Cumbres (B, L, D)

Day 6 ➤ Challenging trekking to the top of Western Cuba’s highest peak, the Pan de Guajaibón

Today we trek to the top of Pan de Guajaibon, the highest peak on the Western side of the island. The trek is around 20kms long and takes about 4-5 hours so requires high fitness levels. Once at the top we enjoy a boxed lunch on the summit from where you can see spectacular views of the northern coastline including Cayo Levisa beach. Dinner and over-night at Mil Cumbres.
Eco-lodge, Mil Cumbres (B, L, D)

Day 7 ➤ Free day relaxing on the white sand beaches of Cayo Levisa

Today we have a relaxed day visiting the gloriously unspoilt beaches of Cayo Levisa which are perfect for swimming and snorkelling. We have lunch at the beach restaurant on the island where toilet and changing facilities are also provided. Snorkelling gear is available to rent from the beach store. In the afternoon we transfer to Havana for over-night. Dinner this evening isn’t included so you’re free to wander into town and eat out locally.
Casa particular, Havana (B, L)

Day 8 ➤ Gentle bird-watching walk around the Ciénaga de Zapata natural park and visit to Playa Girón
Today we transfer to Zapata Peninsula in the Ciénaga de Zapata natural park. This area is a protected nature reserve and one of the most important bird-watching sites in Cuba.   It’s the natural habitat of the smallest bird in the world, the bee hummingbird, and there’s a good chance you’ll see one of these as well as Cuba’s national bird, the Cuban Trogon or Tocororo. The swamp is also one of the few remaining habitats of the sea cow – otherwise known as the manatee, a gentle relative of the dolphin which inhabits the shallow waters of the Zapata swamp. The Cuban Crocodile – cocodrilus rhombifer – is now a protected species and we’ll be visiting a breeding programme which has been set up in the area. Here you’ll be able to see literally 1000’s of crocodiles! We then take a gentle walk to observe local flora and fauna, particularly birds such as the Tocororo and flamingoes. Continuing by bus we make a stop to visit a primary school in Playa Girón before we reach Caleta Buena for lunch and a swim in the beautiful natural sea pools. We then transfer to Cienfuegos for a brief orientation tour and overnight. You can dine at the hotel this evening or try out one of the local paladars in town. (dinner not included)
Casa particular, Cienfuegos (B, L)
Day 9 ➤ Medium intensity trekking through the Escambray Mountains

An early transfer from Cienfuegos takes us to the Escambray Mountains, Cuba’s central mountain range which dominates the landscape. We leave our bags at the Hotel Hanabanilla and pick up a packed lunch (sandwich, juice, fresh fruit, and bottled water) and head for the La Atalahaya trail. This trail takes us along the banks of the Lake Hanabanilla through the Escambray Mountains with a steep climb to the top of La Atalahaya hill where you’ll have amazing views of the surrounding countryside. The trail ends on the banks of Lake Hanabanilla, where a boat will pick us up and take us for refreshments at the Rio Negro Café. At Rio Negro there’s an opportunity to climb to another mirador (lookout point) for those who still have the energy! We return to Hotel Hanabanilla for dinner and overnight. Dinner isn’t included this evening so you’re free to eat out locally or at the hotel.
Hotel Hanabanilla, Hanabanilla (B, L)

Day 10 ➤ Easy trekking through Topes de Collantes natural park

Today we leave the hotel by boat and cross Lake Hanabanilla to the Cortina de Jibacoa. From here we trek for an easy 13kms on jeep tracks along a finger of the lake and upstream above the Rio Guanayara, stopping halfway at Tito’s Farm for a water break. The route today is low-medium intensity on a good surface. It’s also very pretty, skirting between forested hillside and the lake. We arrive at Casa de la Gallega for lunch and some time to relax. We then continue upstream on a 3km trek to the beautiful El Rocio waterfall where there is a natural swimming pool close-by for you to enjoy a refreshing dip and enjoy the views.  From here we continue across a coffee plantation to reach the Russian army truck which takes us to our accommodation for dinner and over-night.
Hotel Los Helechos (B,L,D)

Day 11 ➤ Medium intensity trekking along the Codina Trail in Topes de Collantes

This morning we set off from our hotel on foot heading first for la Casa del Café where we enjoy a cup of local coffee and hear about its history and production in Cuba.  We then continue our trek through the Topes Arboretum, a wooded area planted in the 1930’s with over 300 varieties of trees.  We keep moving until we reach La Batata, a point where the river pushes through a crack in the limestone; here there’s time for a swim before continuing on to Codina for a traditional Cuban lunch of roast pork.  After lunch we take the ‘’Alfombra Magica’’ trail, a trek of approximately 1 hour at a height of 1100 metres, taking in a visit to an orchid plantation and exploring a cave to see the rich natural fauna where we complete the walk at the arboretum.  There’s time to enjoy a swim before returning to the hotel to change and go out for dinner at a local paladar.
Los Helechos (B, L, D)

Day 12 ➤ Easy trekking along the Mangos Pelones- El Cubano trail through Topes de Collantes down to Trinidad

A transfer this morning by Russian truck takes us to the beginning of our trail at the look-out point where we stop for pictures of the spectacular views across the mountains and down to the Caribbean Sea.  From here we cross the road and take the jungle trails towards Trinidad cutting through the gorgeous tropical forest.    After a 6 kms descent we have an opportunity for a refreshing swim in a natural pool before trekking the last 2-3 kms to the El Cubano restaurant for lunch.  We continue by transfer to Trinidad and check into our accommodation.

Trinidad is probably Cuba’s most famous provincial town and rightly so. It’s a picture perfect colonial town with cobbled streets, pastel painted colonial homes and very little traffic in the centre – other than horse drawn carts and the occasional vintage car. Walking around the town is like stepping back in time! In the evenings Trinidad welcomes visitors with live music and local bars where you can kick back and enjoy a rum cocktail or practice your salsa steps.

We’ll be enjoying Cuban hospitality, staying in a Cuban style bed and breakfast (casa particular).   Accommodation is simple but rooms are clean with air conditioning and en-suite bathrooms. You’ll enjoy tasty home-cooked food in your casa this evening before you head out into Trinidad to explore this charming World Heritage Site by night.

Once you’ve had a chance to shower and change, we set off in the afternoon on a sight-seeing tour of one of Cuba’s best loved cities, prized for its beautiful colonial architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Included in the tour is a visit to the Casa Cantero, former home of one of Trinidad’s wealthy sugar barons, followed by lunch at the Plaza Mayor restaurant. There’s also time to explore the local handicrafts market and pick up some souvenirs to take back home.

This evening we’ll have the chance to enjoy Trinidad by night, a city that comes alive with music and dance after dark.   It’s a great opportunity to meet the locals and have a go at practicing your salsa moves to those catchy Cuban salsa rhythms. Dinner will be at one of the local paladars in town.
Casa particular, Trinidad (B, L, D)

Day 13 ➤ Free day to explore Trinidad

Today is a free day to enjoy a number of activities at your leisure including horse riding, salsa classes, a trip on a catamaran out to one of the keys offshore, or trekking in the nearby mountains. Trinidad’s small scale makes it easy to explore and the many cafes, museums and shops are perfect for browsing and whiling away an afternoon.   Ancon beach, 12kms away, is a classic Caribbean beach and well worth visiting.   Lunch and dinner today aren’t included but there are plenty of choices to choose from in town or you can eat at your casa.
Casa particular, Trinidad (B)

Day 14 ➤ Visit the Che Memorial mausoleum in Santa Clara and later return to Havana

After an early breakfast we depart on our journey back to Havana, making a stop in Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevara mausoleum and museum. The city of Santa Clara played a greatly important role in the history of Cuba, for it was here that Ché Guevara waged the final battle that toppled the Batista government and led to the triumph of the Cuban revolution.  We stop here for lunch and a visit of the mausoleum and museum.   After lunch we transfer back to Havana and check into our accommodation for our final night. You can wander into town for dinner or eat at your casa. (dinner not included)
Casa particular, Havana (B, L)

Day 15 ➤ Walking tour of old Havana and departure day

After breakfast your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby to take you on your guided walking tour of old Havana town for your last morning on the island.  The old town has undergone a comprehensive restoration programme to bring back the full splendour of the colonial buildings that have seen much deterioration over the years.   Your tour will last approximately 3 hours, taking you to the main places of historical interest and stopping off for a mojito and some live music at one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite hangouts,- La Bodeguito del Medio where we have our final group lunch.   After some free time to do some last minute relaxing or souvenir shopping before your transfer to Jose Martí International Airport for check-in 3 hours prior to flight departure.
(B)

Trek Route

Activity Level

Trekking Profile

*all distances shown are approximate

Day 1
arrival day

Day 2
5km

Day 3
5km

Day 4
20km

Day 5
16km

Day 6
20km

Day 7
free day on Cayo Levisa beach

Day 8
4km

Day 9
12km

Day 10
16km

Day 11
10km

Day 12
13km

Day 13
free day to explore Trinidad

Day 14
visit the Che Memorial in Santa Clara

Day 15
departure day

Essential Information

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Health & Medical Insurance

No need for any complicated jabs to visit Cuba but you will need to ensure you have medical insurance in order to enter the country. Pack a copy in your hand luggage along with your passport in case Immigration asks for proof of insurance on arrival in Cuba. Drink bottled water and pack a good insect repellent and you should have a problem free trip.
See trip notes for more info

Passports, Visas, Departure Tax

You´ll need a visa (Tourist Card) to enter Cuba which can be obtained from the Cuban Consulate. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months beyond your entry into Cuba. Make sure you keep 25CUC per person for a departure tax which is payable in cash after check in for all passengers leaving Cuba.
See trip notes for more info

Money Matters

Cuba currently runs a complicated 2 currency system: the CUC (Convertible Peso) has the same value, more or less, as the USD. Most of your transactions will require this currency. The CUP (Moneda Nacional ) is used by Cubans to buy food, pay utility bills and buy certain goods. It’s unlikely you’ll use these at all during your trip.

Cuba’s economy is cash driven so make sure you bring plenty of money in small denominations (GBP, EUR and CAD are the best options). Only exchange cash at a bank or the official exchange house CADECA (Casa de cambio) on arrival to avoid being ripped off. There is very little variation in exchange rates as all banks and CADECAs are government owned!
See trip notes for more info

Food & Drink

Cuba is as famous for its delicious rum cocktails as it is infamous for its dreary food. Luckily the food is improving and you can now expect to eat, as well as drink, quite well! However, expect little variety and plenty of rice and black beans, especially when you’re travelling in the provinces. Cuba’s repertoire of ingredients is quite limited and those with special dietary requirements (especially gluten free, vegetarians and vegans) should consider bringing some extra food with them to supplement their diet.
See trip notes for more info

What to Bring

Walking boots, water bottle or CamelBak and Leki sticks, if required. Light trousers/shorts, a hat or cap and High Protection Sunscreen (SPF 50+) and a small day rucksack. You should bring light cotton and linen clothing suitable for tropical climates and a jacket or fleece for cooler evenings. Cubans dress casually but are always impeccably turned out. Avoid bringing expensive or flashy jewellery. Ensure you bring all necessary medication as well as a good insect repellent and some antihistamines in case you get bitten. We also recommend you bring a small first aid kit to cover any basic needs you may have.
See trip notes for a more detailed packing list
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Safety Matters

Cuba is one of the safest destinations to travel to and it’s highly unlikely you will feel threatened during your stay. However, common sense dictates that you take the usual precautions and avoid backstreets and uninhabited areas. Dress down and keep jewellery to a minimum.

During your stay you’ll almost certainly have an encounter with a friendly local trying to sell you cheap cigars, or take you to a local restaurant/casa particular and possibly even try to set you up with one of his family members! Known locally as “jineteros” these Cuban hustlers earn their living from commissions made from steering tourists towards the services they offer. A polite refusal is usually all you need to get rid of them!
See trip notes for more info

Tipping

Tipping is part and parcel of everyday life in Cuba. Wages here are very low so people who look after tourists expect a tip for good service. 10% is the minimum expected amount when eating out, and if you have a guide and/or driver you should budget for a tip which you can give them at the end of your tour. Usually we will recommend you on the amounts but when in doubt, set aside CUC5 per guide/driver per day for each person. Tip the bell boy 1CUC for carrying your bag to your room.
See trip notes for more info

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