Cuba / Itineraries

Eastern Cuba Highlights

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Starting and finishing in Holguin in eastern Cuba, this suggested, week-long private tour takes in the key highlights of eastern Cuba, combining both city and countryside with the option, at the end, of extending your holiday at one of Cuba’s beautiful beaches.

  • Day 1 — Holguin to Bayamo

    Clients will be met at Holguin airport and transferred by road to Bayamo.

    The second of Cuba’s original seven towns, Bayamo was founded by Diego Velazquez in 1513, thereby making it older than both Havana & Santiago de Cuba.

    Bayamo also plays an important part in the collective, Cuban psyche as, during the wars of independence from Spain, it was an important centre of nationalist resistance. Indeed, so determined was the town’s resolve that much of Bayamo was burned to the ground by its own residents rather than see it fall into enemy hands.

    Today, Bayamo is an attractive, sleepy little town that makes for an appealing overnight break. Within its historic centre you will still find plenty of graceful, colonial-era buildings including San Salvador cathedral, the town theatre and Parque Cespedes (named after Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, a resident of Bayamo and one of the leaders of the independence movement).

    Depending on your time of arrival, there should be time for a guided stroll around the town centre. If you wish, you can also take a ride around town on one of the numerous horse-drawn carriages for which the town is famous.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Royalton Meals Included: Breakfast
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    • — Bayamo, Parque
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    • — Bayamo, Horse & carriage
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  • Day 2 — La Plata

    After an early breakfast, a private jeep will collect you from Bayamo for the drive into the nearby Sierra Maestra. You will be dropped at Alto del Naranjo where you will join a small group for the beautiful 3kms hike up to La Plata, headquarters for Fidel Castro and a small bunch of comrades in the early stages of the Cuban Revolution.

    Aside from its historic importance, the beautiful surrounding countryside and views also make this a hugely worthwhile trip. Returning to Alto del Naranjo, you will then be driven to Villa Santo Domingo for lunch before returning to Bayamo.

    The rest of the afternoon is at leisure for you to relax at your accommodation or explore Bayamo on your own.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Royalton Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    • — La Plata hike
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    • — La Plata sign
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    • — Bayamo, Church exterior
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  • Day 3 — Bayamo to Santiago via El Cobre

    Departing Bayamo after breakfast, en-route to Santiago you will stop to visit at El Cobre.

    Located some 20kms from Santiago in the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Maestre, El Cobre is Cuba’s most important pilgrimage site. The church was built in 1927 and houses a black Madonna which many Cubans come to venerate and ask for protection from. In 1998, the then Pope visited El Cobre, blessed the shrine and referred to the Madonna as the Queen of Cubans.

    Today, the Madonna is located on the second story of the church behind a glass case. The church is open daily from 6 till 6 and entrance is free. If you are visiting during September, an annual pilgrimage takes place on the 12th of the month

    Leaving El Cobre, you will arrive in Santiago in time for a late lunch after which the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.

     

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Casa Granda Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — El Cobre
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    • — Santiago, El Cobre
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    • — Parque Cespedes, Santiago
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  • Day 4 — Santiago

    Once the island’s capital and now its second largest city, Santiago de Cuba has a very different feel to Havana which is almost 900kms away.

    The city is probably the most ethnically diverse in Cuba having experienced waves of immigration over the centuries, including from nearby Haiti. This has led Santiago de Cuba to being described as more Caribbean and slightly less Latino than elsewhere on the island. It has also led to the city being home to a diverse cultural mix and rich musical heritage.

    The city’s slight disconnect from the rest of the island also explains why it was here that the Cuban Revolution first gained traction. For visitors with an interest in this aspect of Cuban history, a visit to the Moncada Barracks is an absolute must, as is the City Hall from which Fidel Castro pronounced final victory.

    With so much to see in the city, your near full day tour of Santiago begins right after breakfast with visits to the aforementioned Moncada Barracks, Revolution Square, Museum Diego Velazquez and the Santa Ifigenia cemetery to, hopefully, see the changing of the guard at Fidel’s grave.

    You will then head out the city for the short drive to the San Pedro de la Roca fortress (aka the Morro Castle) which guards the entrance to Santiago Bay and which boasts superb views along the coast.

    Lunch will follow at nearby Cayo Granma before you return to the very heart of the city, Parque Cespedes, for a final, relaxing stroll. The remainder of the day is at leisure

    (Alternative: If you wish to extend your stay in Santiago by a day, you might wish to consider our full day Trip to La Gran Piedra).

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Casa Granda Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    • — Santiago, Moncada
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    • — Santiago, Fort
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    • — Santiago, Cayo Granma
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  • Day 5 — Santiago to Baracoa via Guantanamo

    Departing Santiago after breakfast and heading east along the coast, there will be a brief visit to the town of Guantanamo, famous the world over both for the song Guantanamera and for the nearby US naval base.

    Shortly after leaving Guantanamo, the previously flat roads thus far give way to the winding, mountainous route known as La Farola, which links Santiago to Baracoa. Until 1965, Baracoa was the most isolated town in Cuba and one that could only be accessed by sea, making La Farola the crowning building project in the early years of the Revolution.

    Today, it is probably the most spectacular drive in Cuba, especially the final 60kms stretch from Cajobabo to Baracoa which crosses over and along the lush, steep sided ravines of the Cuchillas de Baracoa mountain range.

    On arrival in Baracoa, and a late lunch, you will proceed on an afternoon walking tour of this charming, coastal town.

    Suggested Accommodation: La Habanera Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Baracoa, La Farola
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    • — Baracoa Bay
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    • — Main square
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  • Day 6 — Baracoa

    While it may not be immediately obvious, Baracoa is both Cuba’s first Spanish settlement as well as the oldest colonial town anywhere in the Americas.

    Although it lacks the superb architecture of say, Old Havana or Trinidad, Baracoa does enjoy one of the most attractive settings on the island as well as, even by Cuban standards, an incredibly laid-back atmosphere.

    However, Baracoa’s main draw isn’t history or fine colonial buildings. Rather, it is its beautiful surrounding countryside which is as rich and varied as anything you will find elsewhere in the Caribbean.

    Because there is so much to explore nearby, no activities are pre-included in this itinerary, allowing you to choose from one of our optional, pre-bookable Trips (excursions) such as to Alejandro de Humboldt park.

    Suggested Accommodation: La Habanera Meals Included: Breakfast
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    • — Rio Miel
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    • — Alejandro De Humboldt National Park
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  • Day 7 — Baracoa

    As with the day before, no activities are pre-included today so you can either relax in town, explore on your own or, take one of our optional Trips.

    If you fancy a dip in the sea, there is a lovely beach around 30 minutes’ drive north of town at Playa Maguana.

    Suggested Accommodation: La Habanera Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Rio Toa
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    • — El Yunque
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    • — Playa Maguana
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  • Day 8 — Baracoa to Holguin or Guardalavavaca

    Departing Baracoa this morning, it is either a long, bumpy drive north along the coast to the beaches of Guardalavaca or back the way you came to Santiago for an onward / return flight to Havana.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Quiet road
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    • — Guardalavaca, Holguin
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Suggested Accommodation

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