Travel to Cuba Now Legally Before it Becomes a Hot Tourist Spot Again!
March 1 or 2*-10, 2019
* See Friday or Saturday start below
General Trip Information
This will be our first trip out of Mexico as a group of many more to come to the enchanting island of Cuba. There is much speculation about traveling to Cuba with President Trump new position on travel to Cuba. The reality is that not much has changed since the prior administration, and travel to Cuba is still allowed much like before. However, you now have an renewed opportunity to view Cuba as much as possible in its old style before the evitable forward progress to open up Cuba to US citizens and residents.
This is a 9 day 8 night trip leaving from Tijuana Airport. Here is a video from Expedia that shows some of the areas of western Cuba where we will be going:
This tour is a fantastic introduction to Cuba that gets you out of Havana so that you can see what many visitors to Cuba do not, that Havana is not Cuba and Cuba is not Havana. Visit the rural Viñales Valley with its gorgeous landscapes and friendly locals, stroll the romantic sea wall in Cienfuegos, a city with a French influence. Spend time in Trinidad, a traveler favorite, with its colorful buildings and cobblestone streets. The focus on this tour is to learn about ordinary life in Cuba, and how individuals are impacted by the government, social structure, and the embargo. You’ll learn about Cuba’s proud and patriotic culture, its tumultuous history, its thriving arts scene, and its burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit. You’ll meet with locals from different walks of life and learn about family life, favorite pastimes, the school system and the workplace. You’ll learn about the challenges that Cubans face in getting access to necessities, comforts, and luxuries, and the interesting and often ingenious ways they've developed of "resolviendo" (resolving) to get what they need.
Accommodations are B&B in style called "casas particulares" used for licensed tours for Americans. They do not compare to the comfort levels of a modern western hotel, but every Comfort room has air-conditioning, an in suite bathroom, a window to the outside or to an interior open-air courtyard, modern imported mattresses, and cold and hot water. While these are our minimum requirements for rooms, every casa is different, and has its own unique charms. Most rooms (but not all) have a security box, mini-bar fridge, and hair dryer.
Itinerary (Tentative and Subject to Change)
The purpose of this itinerary is to give you an idea of the types of activities you will engage in during the tour, however, it may change based on factors such as availability, weather, and to take advantage of spontaneous activities and events.
FLIGHTS FROM TIJUANA AIRPORT:
1. Friday evening, March 1, 2019: Overnight flight with benefit of extra day in Havana. Arrive early in Havana, rest up and have the rest of the day to sneak in an extra day in Havana.
1. Saturday Morning, March 2, 2019: Arrive late evening in Havana, rest up for tomorrow when the tours begin.
Day 1 - Arrive Havana
Welcome to Cuba! Today we arrive in Havana and settle into our B&B accommodations. We’ll meet the local tour leader and have dinner together at a local paladar (privately owned restaurant).
Day 2 - Havana
The best place to start any Cuba experience is in the Old City. In the morning we take a guided walking tour of Old Havana. In addition to visiting historical sites, we will learn about the impact of the dual-currency economy by visiting commercial centers, where goods are purchased in CUC, and ration or peso stores, where goods are purchased in CUP. We end our day with a visit the fishing village of Jaimanitas and the home of the famous artist Jose Fuster. Fuster has made his entire home, and much of the surrounding neighborhood, into an artwork using tiles in mosaic forms.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.
Day 3 - Viñales Via Las Terrazas
Viñales is situated in one of the most picturesque parts of Cuba, among the limestone pincushion hills (mogotes) of the Pinar del Rio province. On the way to Viñales we visit in the community of Las Terrazas where we will meet up with our local community leader who will share with us some insight into how the local society works. We will reach Viñales in time to tour an organic farm and learn about sustainable farming in Cuba. Here we meet our local farmer and his family who will show us around the organic farm and explain to us the methods used to cultivate crops without the use of pesticides. With the beautiful sunset as our backdrop, we will enjoy a deliciously fresh and diverse meal prepared by the family, a truly authentic farm-to-fork experience!
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 4 - Viñales
Today we spend the morning learning the tradition of Cuban cigars from a farmer and expert cigar maker. Get an insight as to how the communist system works, how much tobacco they will keep, how much produce they give back to the government, how they make ends meet! You will learn about the process from tobacco planting to rolling the final cigar. In the afternoon we learn to cook Cuban-style with a cooking demonstration of platos tipicos Cubanos like congri, potaje, garbanzo soup, ajiaco, and flan. Fun to cook, but even better to eat!
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.
Day 5 - Cienfuegos Via Bay Of Pigs
Today we depart for Cienfuegos the Pearl of the South, a city founded by the French, which lends it a distinctly European flavor, with a wide Parisian-style boulevard and elegant colonnades. We drive along the picturesque Bay of Pigs where today there is a museum here that recounts the events of this conflict which resulted in the first defeat of a U.S backed take-over in Latin America. Time permitting we will stop for a swim along the way in the vivid turquoise ocean or take a dip in a sink hole which resembles a huge natural tropical fish tank. Make sure to pack your swimsuit!
Day 6 - Trinidad
The colonial city of Trinidad is home to numerous churches and many beautiful colonial buildings. We begin with a cultural tour of Trinidad. The city had some very wealthy residents in the 18th and 19th centuries who made fortunes out of the sugar industry, and some of their houses have been made into museums. Visiting these will give you a fascinating insight into their lifestyle during that time. On the other end of the social scale were the African slaves, who had a profound influence on the city's culture, music, and religious beliefs, and as part of our walk around the town, we drop by an Afro Cuban temple to Yemaya, an important figure in the Santeria religion. In the afternoon we visit a private dance company and learn about the cultural and social importance that dancing has to Cuba, and take a group salsa lesson in their private dance studio. Nightlife in Trinidad is probably the most accessible and intense in all of Cuba, with numerous live music venues and many dance performances every day of the week, all amongst the enchanting setting of old colonial buildings and the cobblestone streets.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.
Day 7 - Trinidad
Today we will learn about the history of the area and the local industry and biodiversity as we take a short hike to a waterfall outside of the city. On the way we stop in a very simple campesino’s home to learn about life in the rural areas of Cuba. After cooling off in the natural pools, we return to Trinidad where you’ll have the rest of the afternoon to relax and explore. For dinner tonight we have a special meal (maybe on the beach!) with live music and a delicious array of Cuban specialties.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner.
Day 8 - Havana Via Santa Clara
On the way back to Havana we first pass by Manaca-Iznaga plantation in the Valle de los Ingenios where we will learn more about Cuba’s slave trade. A 147 ft tower was built here to look over the slaves as they worked. Continuing onwards, we stop in at the town of Santa Clara, a key city in the Cuban Revolution. Upon entering Santa Clara, we will see the iconic statue of Ernesto Ché Guevara, built to commemorate his death and that of the revolutionaries who died along with him in Bolivia. We will have our lunch at a small family farm near Santa Clara and head back to Havana where we will have some free time to freshen up before our farewell dinner, and of course, one final fun-filled night of music and dancing!
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 9 - Depart Day
Say good-bye to your guide and driver as you head home with your memories (and maybe a cigar or two!).
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.
Cost is $2,850 (3% fees apply if transaction fees through Paypal): We are providing this trip at a great cost unmatched that I have found anywhere for what is included that isn't even offered in many trip offers to Cuba:
PLEASE NOTE THAT PRICES MAY INCREASE BASED ON FLIGHT PRICE CHANGES WITHOUT NOTICE. LOCK IN YOUR PRICE TODAY WITH YOUR FIRST DEPOSIT!
First deposit due of $1,450 to reserve spot.
Second Deposit due before January 1, 2018, of $1,300.00.
(Late Second deposits payments incur mandatory $100 charge. Second deposits not paid by January 15, 2019, subject to mandatory late fee of $250 or possible cancelation of entire trip without refund.)
Single Traveler Supplement fee (subject to availability) is an additional $650 due one half on each deposit date or in full with discount payment.
AFTER JANUARY 5, 2019, BASIC TRIP COST INCREASES TO 2,850 FOR TRIP.
Acceptable Payment Methods:
Venmo Transfer incurring no cost at @bajaculturistas.
Note if Transaction fees applies based on your choice of method of payments then $50 is added to each deposit transaction.)
Refund and Substitution Policy
1. No refunds on deposits.
2. Spaces are transferable at discretion of Culturistas subject to a $250 substitution fee.
3. Any and all recuperation of any funds paid by substitutor is to be worked out with substitutee
4. Substitutees must be same gender unless authorized to by Culturista.
5. Substitutees cannot be a member of a Meetup.com group where this trip is advertised unless the trip is full.
6. Additional fees for airfare charges related to substitution to be paid by substitutor or substitutee.
Included in Cost:
2. Transportation to and from Airport in Cuba.
3. Cuba Visa. (Mandatory.)
4. Cuban Tourist Health insurance. (Mandatory.)
5. All accommodations. (Single accomodation fee is $650.)
6. All breakfasts and some additional meals.
7. All transportation during group day trips (usually a mini-bus or van).
8. Local English speaking tour guide during group day trips.
9. Written itinerary packet for US authorities setting forth compliance with US rules and regulations for visiting Cuba and supporting documentation.
Not Included in Cost:
1. No Food or Drink (Except as specifically not as included above)
3. Tips for tour guides and drivers (suggested when service is agreeable).
4. Any and Everything not stated in items included above.
5. Mexican FMM Visas for Tijuana Flights.
What to Bring:
2. Sufficient cash for entire trip as ATM and credit card availability is extremely limited to non-existent
3. Sufficient cash for entire trip as ATM's and Credit Cards are extremely limited to unusable in Cuba
4. Comfortable walking or hiking shoes
5. Good hat for sun protection