Wander Cuba

10 Days / 9 Nights

Day 1 Santiago de Cuba

Santiago de Cuba has soul. Cuba’s second-largest city is justifiably proud of its heroes, beautiful plazas and vibrant musical tradition. Its proximity to Jamaica and Haiti has infused the city with a distinctly Afro Caribbean spirit that is seen in its art and architecture, heard in its music, and celebrated in its exuberant festivals. Its rum made from sugarcane and aged in oak barrels is the best of all the rum produced in Cuba. Depart Miami at 8:45 AM on American Airlines flight 1519 and arrive Santiago de Cuba at 10:25 AM. Pick up at airport by your driver and your Journey Leader. Next, check into your accommodations. Then we will have lunch at St. Pauli Paladar (a “paladar” is a restaurant not owned by the communist Cuban government). Following we will visit the Carnaval (Carnival) Museum. Inaugurated in 1983, the Carnaval Museum shows the popular celebration of the carnivals in the city of Santiago de Cuba that take place every July and that are a tradition and a sign of identity of the inhabitants of this Cuban town. Then we will visit the Rum Museum and learn about the rum production process and the history that accompanies it in Santiago de Cuba. This evening we will dine at Primos Twice. Later, dancing, cigars, Cuban coffee and or a nightcap at a local nightclub.

Day 2 Santiago de Cuba

Visit the Museo Nacional del transporte (National Museum of Land Transport) which maintains an impressive collection of antique cars. Then discover the incredible multi-level stone fortress known as Castle of San Pedro de la Roca del Morro. Designed in the early 1600s as a defense against raiding pirates, the legendary fortress is among the most picturesque places in Santiago de Cuba. Visit the First Coffee Plantations in the Southeast of Cuba. It is a cultural landscape highlighting colonial coffee production from the 19th century. For lunch take a short ferry ride to El Cayo Paladar. This paladar is located right on the water, with great views of Santiago and the surrounding Sierra Maestra mountains. After returning to the mainland take in a guided tour of Santiago’s historical center as you walk through the romantic streets of Parque Cespedes. Dinner at Paladar Aurora. Live music and dancing at La Casa de la Trova; Santiago’s shrine to the power of traditional music is still going strong 50 years after it was opened. The place warms up on the ground floor in the late afternoon, then the action slowly gravitates upstairs where, come 10pm, everything starts to get a shade more “caliente!

Day 3 Camagüey

This morning we’re off to Camagüey. This city was founded in 1514 by Spanish colonists. It’s Cuba’s third-largest city, the suavest and most sophisticated after La Habana. The arts shine bright here and it’s also the bastion of the Catholic Church on the island. The town was developed on the basis of an irregular urban pattern that contains a system of large and serpentine streets. In 2008, Camagüey’s well-preserved historical center became Cuba’s ninth UNESCO heritage site. The city celebrated its quincentennial in 2014. Upon arrival we will check into our accommodations then take in a guided walking tour of this city’s center with Maria, our Camagüey expert. We will then stop over at Martha Jimenez’s Studio Workshop. Martha is an artist with international fame. You will be impressed by her colorful and impressive paintings and her sculptures. This evening we will head to the countryside and visit King Ranch located in a small town that was frozen in time. You will enjoy a concert, a barbecue dinner, a rodeo exhibition, and most interestingly a visit to the cowboy’s humble homes.

Day 4 Cayo Guillermo – Moron

Today we will drive to Cayo Guillermo in the Jardines del Rey archipelago, off central Cuba. Cayo Guillermo is one of the most spectacular tropical islands in the entire Caribbean. It’s known for its clear, shallow coastal waters and towering sand dunes and beaches. We Will spend the day at the beach and eat lunch at Ranchon Cuba Libre. This is among one of the best paladars on the Island of Cayo Guillermo. Popular among both locals and tourists, this eatery serves some deliciously fresh lobster. This evening we will stay overnight and eat dinner in the town of Moron. Often bypassed by visitors en route to the beach, this small city is not without charm, and an evening here will reveal a close-knit, slow-moving, unaffected place, its streets lined with pastel  houses where families hang out on their verandas, old men relax in rocking chairs, and corn fritters and fruit juice are sold from roadside peso stalls.

Day 5 Trinidad

This morning we travel to Trinidad, a town in the province of Sancti Spíritus. While those with limited time or desire stick to La Habana, those in the know take the time to swing by this UNESCO protected city. Together with the nearby Valle de los Ingenios, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988, because of its historical importance as a center of the sugar trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. Trinidad is one of the best-preserved cities in the Caribbean from the time when the sugar trade was the main industry in the region. The island’s colonial masterpiece is located between mountains and a beautiful ocean. Trinidad is a colorful city stuck in the 17th Century. Start your visit by immersing yourself with a walking tour of the city and enjoy its colonial architecture and rich history. Then we check into our accommodations. Subsequently, we will have lunch at Adita Café. Following, visit the artisan bazaar. Later we will take a tour of El Valle de los Ingenios (valley of the sugar mills). Dinner at the fabulous San Jose paladar followed by dancing at disco Ayala or listen to live music in the town square.

Day 6 Trinidad – La Habana

After breakfast we will head to Playa Alcon, one of the region’s best beaches. Then, we will have lunch on the beach. Afterwards, we will depart Trinidad for La Habana. Upon arrival, we will head to paladar Le Chansonnier. The menu offers specialties inspired by French cuisine. This paladar is run by an entrepreneurial family that owns several independent businesses in La Habana. Subsequently, you will check into your accommodations. Next, we will go to Jardines 1830. It is one of the best places in Havana to dance salsa and listen to live music next to the ocean.

Day 7 La Habana

This morning we will take a guided historical and architectural walking tour of Old Havana with our La Habana specialist, Alejandro. Later, we will visit the studios of 3 artists; Kevin López Nieves, Mabel Poblet and Flora Fong. Followed by lunch at “San Cristobal.” This paladar was made famous by visits from Jay Z and Beyonce. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore La Habana as you wish. At sunset we will take a tour of the city’s Malecon (esplanade/sea wall) in a convertible 1950’s classic car. Subsequently, we will have dinner at El Atelier. Chef NiurisHigueras describes her paladar as, “an experimental culinary workshop.” The menu is eclectic and changes every day; from patoconfitado (candied duck) to Lomito de res con camarones y espuma de apio (sirloin steak with shrimp and celery mousse). Followed by Live music and dancing at Casa de La Música.

Day 8 La Habana

We will head to La Plaza de la Revolución and awe at the giant image of Ché Guevara and the towering monument to José Martí, Cuba’s national hero. Subsequently we will visit Finca Marta (Martha’s farm). We will explore the farm and enjoy a BBQ lunch. The remainder of the afternoon is yours to explore Havana as you wish, we can make suggestions if you’d like. Dinner at Tierra, a paladar built out of shipping containers. Their Latin American influenced menu is a delight. Afterwards we will enjoy some Live music, art exhibits and dancing at La Fabrica de Arte Cubano. Listed by Time Magazine as one of the 100 places to visit in the world.

Day 9 La Habana

This morning we’ll visit Santa María del Mar beach, 14 miles of palm-lined seashore of the Caribbean Sea. Just 30 minutes from the capitol, enroute, we’ll gaze at the incredible tropical vistas of the sea and countryside. We will have lunch near the beach. Upon our return we’re off to support the Cuban people by visiting El Convento de Nuestra Señora de Belén [the Convent of Our Lady of Belén], a humanitarian healthcare and community service project in Old Havana. It is home to elderly people and provides physiotherapy and ophthalmological services to many seniors in the community. We will bring donations of over the counter medications to the residents (Ben Gay, Aleve, Advil, etc.). Tonight, we will have dinner at CASA, one of the first paladars to open after the fall of the Soviet Union. Followed by a night at the infamous Tropicana Outdoor cabaret for a stunning performance of Cuban Music and dancing. Known as one of the hottest cabaret shows in the world, the Tropicana Nightclub show is a world-famous spectacle set in a lush, tropical open-air venue that bursts with colorful lights, glitter, and glam. Salsa-charged and sensual, it’s a must-do activity during any trip to Havana Cuba.

Day 10 La Habana

Today we will visit Finca Vigía, the former colonial home of Ernest Hemingway, just outside of La Habana. It’s where he wrote some of his most famous novels like: For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. Explore the grounds and check out the museum. Afterwards we will visit bar El Floridita, Ernest Hemingway’s old watering hole, for some of their world-famous daiquiris. Lunch will be had at La Guarida, definitely the most famous and oldest of La Habana’s paladares. President Obama dined here. Afterwards we check out of your accommodations and head for the airport for your return flight home.

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