You’ll begin and end your trip in this iconic Latin American city!
Travel by horse, boat, and foot through several of Cuba’s Central and Western provinces to some of the island’s most remote destinations. Participate in mangrove restoration and sea turtle conservation efforts along the Rio Zaza and in Maria de la Gorda. Relax on the beaches of secluded keys only accessible by boat and snorkel in the infamous Bay of Pigs. Wander the streets of Havana and Trinidad as you marvel at Cuba’s extensive history and architecture that spans over five centuries.
In order to travel to Cuba, students must travel using a direct charter flight from Miami to Havana and back. Since students are connecting from all over the United States, we’re asking that students fly in on Tuesday to be prepared for their early morning flight on Wednesday. Students departing from the U.S. on the chaperoned group flight should arrive to Miami International Airport (MIA) by 6pm on Tuesday. The timing of charter flights to Cuba requires an early Wednesday departure (check-in will begin at 3:30am).
Rustic Pathways staff members will meet students upon arrival to Miami. Students will overnight in a hotel near the airport with our staff to prepare for an early morning departure. We take care of all the logistics and costs (transportation, meals, and hotel) –you only need to arrange for domestic connection to Miami.
Upon arrival to Havana, you’ll travel to La Guabina, an ecologically responsible horse ranch tucked into the hills of Pinar del Rio, Cuba’s westernmost province. Here you’ll have an orientation and introduction with your group and experience your first taste of Cuban cuisine.
After lunch, you’ll explore the former Spanish horse farm that you’ll call home for the next few days and begin to enjoy the peaceful guarijo life.
Today you will head out on your first adventure to the Viñales Valley National Park. Entering the park, you’ll witness unbelievable views of the area’s limestone outcrops called mogotes. Then explore the valley below where most of Cuba’s world-famous tobacco is grown. Work alongside farmers and learn about traditional techniques that are used to grow the area’s local produce at one of the many organoponicos (organic urban gardens). After lunch, spend some time to walk through town before taking a boat tour of the Cueva del Indio, an underground ancient indigenous dwelling discovered in 1920.
Wake up early and head to Cayo Levisa, one of Cuba’s mangrove covered northern coast keys. Unlike other keys in the area, there is no causeway to Cayo Levisa, meaning students will have to make the 45-minute journey by boat. They will be welcomed by a pristine beach and crystal clear water, perfect for a relaxing swim or snorkeling.
Today you will explore Rancho La Guabina on horseback and have a cultural exchange with the local community in the afternoon.
Departing La Guabina, you’ll continue west as you head to Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park, an area declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1987. The peninsula is one of Cuba’s most untouched natural areas. During your stay you will aid environmental researchers with local conservation efforts as they monitor, observe, and protect the eggs of nesting loggerhead and green sea turtles.
Today you’ll head to Las Terrazas, an eco-community that was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1984. Explore the Sierra del Rosario preserve and witness how the people in the community strive to live sustainably. Learn about the successful terrace style reforestation efforts that were introduced in order to re-establish over 80% of the surrounding forest. You’ll visit with shop owners and restaurateurs and discuss sustainable sourcing and practices. After lunch, hike down to the breathtaking falls at the Baños del San Juan and then take to the sky as you explore the area by canopy tour.
In the evening, you’ll camp alongside the river in tents and bungalows.
Depart for Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s second largest and most important city. Spend the day exploring the city’s Casco Historico (“old town”) with highlights including visits to the infamous Moncada Barracks, Casa de Diego Velazquez (the oldest house in Cuba), and the San Pedro Fort. In the evening, join your fellow travelers and a local folkloric dance group for a dance or percussion lesson.
Set off on an exploration trip to one of Cuba’s most isolated areas and one that served as a hideout to Fidel and his rebels for nearly two years. You will arrive at Villa Santo Domingo, the gateway to the Sierra Maestra National Park and an ideal base to begin your 9km trek to Comandancia de la Plata, Fidel’s camp and rebel headquarters. Get lost in history as you marvel at the guerrilla camp that has been kept much as it was left in the late 1950’s. Today you are able to visit 16 simple wooden building including a museum, Casa de Fidel, and rural hospital.
Today you’ll take to the skies to return to the capital where you’ll visit the Revolutionary Museum and Paseo del Prado in the Centro Habana neighborhood before settling into your hotel.
Depart Havana for Trinidad, a 500-year-old colonial city and one of Cuba’s most picturesque.
Arriving to Trinidad, you and your group will stroll down the cobblestone streets, taking in sights of horse-drawn carriages and colorful facades. After checking into your casa particular you’ll enjoy dinner at one of the town’s many paladares (private restaurant). At night, lose yourself to the rhythm of salsa and son as you listen to a live music performance at the Casa de la Música.
Wake up early for a walking tour of Trinidad before hiking to the Javira Waterfall in Parque El Cubano.
After working up a sweat, head down to the beach at Playa Ancón and enjoy amazing views and crystal clear water at one of Cuba’s best southern beaches.
Your last two days in Cuba will be dedicated to getting to know one of Latin America’s most iconic cities, La Habana.
Starting in Habana Vieja, you will visit the historic neighborhood’s four main plazas and stroll along the world famous malécon. At night, you will witness the firing of the cañonazo, a tradition dating back to the 18th century.
Your last day will include a city tour in a classic 1950’s American car, a visit to the local market, and a goodbye dinner filled with lots of local music and dancing.
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.
The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.
“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.
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You’ll begin and end your trip in this iconic Latin American city!
Travel to Pinar del Rio to stay at La Guabina, an ecologically responsible horse ranch.
Spend time in the beautiful Viñales Valley National Park.
Travel to Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park, an area declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1987 one of Cuba’s most untouched natural areas.
Explore the Sierra del Rosario preserve in Las Terrazas, an eco-community that was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1984.
Snorkel and swim in the infamous Bay of Pigs.
Trinidad is a UNESCO World Heritage site and full of historical and cultural significance.
Topes de Collante in the Sierra de Escambray is home to Cuba’s second-largest mountain range, and offers the best network of hiking trails in Cuba.