A taste of Cuba - EXODUS TRAVEL

Food: Cuba is not renowned for its culinary excellence and some ingredients are just not possible to get hold of (due in no small part to the long trade embargo implemented by the US). As such, flavours tend to be relatively simple, with most mealtimes consisting of meat or fish accompanied by rice and salad/vegetables. Seafood is widely available on the coast, including cheap and abundant lobster! Vegetarians will probably find they have the most limited choice. Snack food is not freely available in Cuba so you may wish to consider taking some with you. Paladares are likely to be a highlight of any visit to Cuba - they are one of the few types of private enterprise allowed (although still heavily regulated), where families are allowed to set up a restaurant in their own house selling authentic, Cuban food. The atmosphere this creates and opportunity to integrate with local Cubans will no doubt enhance your stay! The hotel that we use in Trinidad includes evening meals for all guests, however, Trinidad is a great place to experience a local paladar or state run restaurant. There will be the option to do this (at your own expense) rather than eating at the hotel. We recommend that you allow CUC 30 pp per day for the lunches and evening meals on the days where food is not included. You may also spend money on bottled water, which will normally cost about CUC 1.50 per bottle if bought from the coach (less if you purchase from local shops).Start destination: HavanaEnd destination: Havana

  • Fly to Havana
  • To Vinales Valley; walk through tobacco plantations.
  • To Cienfuegos via the Bay of Pigs.
  • To Trinidad.
  • Free day or optional catamaran trip.
  • To Che Guevara's Mausoleum in Santa Clara; to Havana.
  • Havana city tour; evening salsa class and mojito lesson.
  • Depart Havana
  • Arrive London
Experience the best of Cuba’s beaches, cigars and ‘50s cars! Savour every taste of Cuba, from the expertly mixed mojitos to the traditional cuisine. In Vinales Valley, with its picturesque limestone karsts, the smell of cigars hangs in the air as we learn how Cuba's finest exports are carefully rolled by hand. Latin rhythms permeate the streets leaving our feet tapping - the perfect introduction to Cuban salsa. Practice all week and then perfect your moves in a salsa lesson with a local dance partner, a farewell night out to remember in vibrant Havana!

Day 1: Fly to Havana

Fly to Havana.

Day 2: To Vinales Valley; walk through tobacco plantations.

Today we travel to Vinales Valley, in the west of Cuba. Famous for its rolling tobacco plantations and collection of limestone karsts dotted along the valley, it's not hard to see why Vinales was awarded UNESCO World Heritage site status. A local guide will take us for a light trek through the 'Valley of Silence' where we will be able to take in some of the enchanting countryside found in this beautiful area. We'll see rural Cuban life as farmers tend to their crops using traditional farming methods. After checking into our overnight accommodation in Casa Particulares, we will visit an organic farm in the hills of Vinales for a sunset dinner overlooking the valley.

Day 3: To Cienfuegos via the Bay of Pigs.

This morning we set off on a fairly long drive eastwards to Cienfuegos, stopping along the way for a swim in the Caribbean. Early afternoon we'll arrive at The Bay of Pigs, site of the failed US invasion in 1961. In Cienfuegos we have time to admire the main square and restored municipal buildings before checking into our hotel for the night.

Day 4: To Trinidad.

This morning we'll depart Cienfuegos and continue by taking a short drive down the coast to Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988 and perhaps the best-preserved colonial town on the island. Exploring Trinidad can feel like entering a time warp, its colourful, cobbled streets and horse drawn transportation whisking us back. There are many interesting museums housed in old colonial buildings and music drifts through the streets and plazas, bringing the town to life. We'll stay overnight in charming Casa Particulares, private Bed and Breakfast accommodation in local Cuban houses. We'll enjoy an introductory salsa class with local teachers in a nearby Cuban home, and later on in the evening we recommend a visit to Trinidad's Casa de la Trova (the famous 'House of Music') for traditional Cuban music and dancing.

Day 5: Free day or optional catamaran trip.

Today is free to soak up the atmosphere of Trinidad, simply relax, or join an optional excursion to explore the surrounding areas. We offer the option to join a Catamaran trip, embarking from the beach of Playa Ancon and sailing the Caribbean to the small island of Cayo Macho (or Cayo Blanco depending on availability) to lunch on fresh seafood amongst tame iguanas and tree rats. Alternatively you can walk the 'El Cubano' trail in the nearby national park or join a horse-riding excursion.

Day 6: To Che Guevara's Mausoleum in Santa Clara; to Havana.

Leaving Trinidad we head inland to Santa Clara, the site of the last battle of the Cuban Revolution in December 1958, just before Fidel Castro took Havana. Che Guevara and his troops ambushed an armoured train carrying arms to Santiago de Cuba and this was a major turning point in the Revolution. We visit the armoured train museum and the Mausoleum of Che Guevara and his comrades who died in Bolivia before driving back to Havana. An optional trip to either the Parisien or Tropicana Cabaret is available this evening.

Day 7: Havana city tour; evening salsa class and mojito lesson.

This morning we set off for a city tour of old and new Havana, Cuba's capital and the largest city in the Caribbean. Havana is a busy, bustling, energetic capital. The area of Old Havana is often described as a living museum, with its marvellous monuments, cathedrals and palaces. This is the finest surviving Spanish colonial complex in the Americas. Preserved by a combination of minimal war damage, post-revolution restoration work and the millions of dollars invested since it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. During our tour we also visit the glitzier Miramar district and the Plaza de la Revolution with its images of the Cuban Revolution. We'll stop for lunch at one of Hemingway's old haunts, La Bodeguita del Medio, where traditional food, drink and music give us a typically warm Cuban welcome. In the early evening we will have a demonstration on how to make the perfect Mojito! With a cocktail to loosen us up we take our salsa class. Salsa is integral to the Cuban way of life and during this lesson, where each person will be partnered with a local Cuban, we get the opportunity to perfect some of the basic moves for our final night in Havana.

Day 8: Depart Havana

Free morning; depart.

Day 9: Arrive London

Arrive London.