Cuba / Itineraries

Natural Cuba

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This 14 night suggested itinerary around western Cuba includes the colonial highlights of Havana, Cienfuegos & Trinidad but primarily focuses on the island’s natural beauty with plenty of included forays into a variety of glorious, unspoiled countryside.

  • Day 1 — Havana

    After the long flight from Europe, it is a mercifully short, 30 minute transfer into the centre of Havana and your choice of accommodation.

    With most flights arriving towards the end of the day, most clients will generally be happy to simply stretch their legs, have something light to eat and perhaps sample the first of many Cuban cocktails.

    Suggested Accommodation: Havana Casa Particulars
    • — Havana, Malecon sunset
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    • — Mojito
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  • Day 2 — Havana

    Although this itinerary is very much focussed on Cuba’s great outdoors, it would seem remiss to experience nothing of its fascinating and ebullient capital city, if only for a day.

    Accordingly, your holiday begins after breakfast with a private walking tour of Old Havana, the perfect way to stretch your legs while at the same time gaining an insight into the city’s UNESCO World Heritage historic district.

    Wandering around Old Havana’s many characterful streets and squares, your local guide will be on hand to explain the city’s history and development and answer any questions you may have.

    After exploring tightly packed Old Havana on foot, and after a quick break to sample a refreshing cocktail, you can put your feet up as you are scooped up by a vintage American car from the 1950s or 60s for a tour around New Havana.

    Along the way, you will pass by the Capitol Building, Revolution Square, the University of Havana and Hotel Nacional de Cuba as well as driving down the iconic Malecon.

    Ending your tour in time for a late lunch, the rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore further on your own or relax back at your accommodation.

    Suggested Accommodation: Havana Casa Particulars Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    • — Havana, Plaza San Francisco
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    • — Havana, Capitol building
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  • Day 3 — Havana to Las Terrazas

    After a leisurely breakfast, you will be collected from your accommodation for the approximate hour’s long drive to Las Terrazas.

    Once the centre of coffee growing in Cuba, the region around Las Terrazas was the focus of a major re-forestation programme that commenced in the late 1960s.

    Today, the small eco-community of Las Terrazas lies at the heart of the UNESCO Sierra Del Rosario Biosphere and, with its proximity to Havana, is a popular destination for anyone looking to get out of the city and enjoy the great Cuban outdoors.

    As well as a number of walking trails and one of Cuba’s first zipwire rides, the area is a popular birdwatching destination while nearby Soroa is home to Cuba’s foremost Botanical Gardens.

    For those who wish to do no more than relax, Las Terrazas is built opposite an attractive, man-made lake while, within easy walking distance, are a river and natural pools that are ideal for a refreshing swim.

    Having checked in at your accommodation, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure for you to go for a wander or simply relax.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel La Moka Meals Included: Breakfast
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    • — Las Terrazas
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    • — Las Terrazas, Buenavista ruins
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  • Day 4 — Las Terrazas

    After breakfast, you will be collected from your accommodation by a local guide who will provide an introduction to the area, explaining all about the ongoing sustainable-living projects in and around Las Terrazas.

    You will then set off on a gentle hike around the base of El Taburete hill, culminating in reaching the 19th century ruins of San Idelfonso and El Contento coffee plantations.

    At the end of the walk there will be an opportunity to cool off in the shallow pools of the San Juan river so don’t forget to take your swimming costume with you.

    Returning to your accommodation, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.

    Suggested Accommodation: Hotel La Moka Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    • — Las Terrazas
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    • — Las Terrazas
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    • — San Juan River
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  • Day 5 — Las Terrazas to Vinales via La Guira

    Departing Las Terrazas after breakfast, you continue your journey westwards towards Vinales, with a stop en-route at Parque La Guira.

    Parque La Guira is one of those places that very few visitors to Cuba seem to know about, let alone visit.

    The original estate belonged to Jose Manuel Cortina, one of Cuba’s foremost businessmen and politicians. After the Cuban Revolution ended in 1959, he was forced into exile and his assets and land were seized by the government.

    Although the original, Gothic mansion is now in ruins, the primary reason to visit Parque La Guira is for its beautiful garden, around which you will find strewn numerous Greco-Roman pillars, statues and decorative ornaments.

    No guide is needed to explore the gardens and there is every chance that you will have them all to yourself.

    From Parque La Guira, it is then another hour or so to the Vinales Valley where, on arrival, you will check-in at your chosen accommodation. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure for you to explore the town of Vinales which boasts a charming main street and square, together with numerous, characterful one storey homes with their traditional porches.

    Suggested Accommodation: Vinales Casa Particulars Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Parque La Guira
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    • — Parque La Guira
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    • — Vinales, main street
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  • Day 6 — Vinales

    One of the most popular tourist destinations in Cuba, the Vinales Valley is commonly described as a karst landscape, the stand out feature of which are the numerous limestone mogotes that tower up over the valley floor.

    Being almost entirely comprised of limestone, the Vinales Valley also boasts a vast cave network although little of it has been developed for tourism. One of the few exceptions is the Cueva del Indio where visitors journey along a subterranean river by boat.

    For most people however, the Vinales Valley is primarily famous for its high quality tobacco, the natural ingredient for Cuba’s world famous cigars.

    After breakfast, you will commence your tour of the Vinales Valley, starting at Mirador de los Jazmines with its panoramic views of the valley. You will then proceed through the town of Vinales itself and on to Dos Hermanas Valley for a viewing of the vast Mural de la Prehistoria.

    Although a visit to a cigar factory is not included in this tour, you will visit a tobacco plantation and learn all about the process of cigar making before ending with a visit to the aforementioned Cueva del Indio. Lunch is included at a local restaurant.

    Returning to your accommodation after lunch, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.

    Suggested Accommodation: Vinales Casa Particulars Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    • — Vinales Valley
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    • — Vinales, tobacco barn
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    • — Vinales, Cueva Del Indio
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  • Day 7 — Vinales

    Today you will enjoy a full-day hike through the Three Valleys of Vinales.

    As the name suggests, this tour takes in three different valleys, two of which have barely been touched by tourism. Along the scenic route you will stop and meet farmers growing a variety of crops such as mangos, sugar cane and, of course, tobacco.

    The appropriately named Valley of Silence is home to just a handful of families and, at the equally apt Paradise farm, you will enjoy a lunch prepared with produce grown right there on the farm.

    Returning to your accommodation in the afternoon, the rest of the day is at leisure.

    Suggested Accommodation: Vinales Casa Particulars Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    • — Three Valleys hike
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    • — Vinales farmer
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    • — Vinales, birdlife
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  • Day 8 — Vinales to Cienfuegos

    You’ll be up and bright and early this morning for the long bus journey from Vinales to Cienfuegos. Exact times will be advised locally but departure time from Vinales is normally before 07.00 and travel time is approximately 7 hours, including a 30-minute break en-route.

    Distinguished by its wide avenues and grand, civic buildings, Cienfuegos is much more peaceful and relaxed than one would expect from a city of its size and, slightly overshadowed by nearby Trinidad, receives less visitors than it deserves.

    From a visitor’s point of view, the city can be broadly divided into two areas, the city centre and Punta Gorda.

    The city centre, the focus of which is Jose Marti square, is home to many of the city’s grand, formal buildings as well as one of its most beautiful and revered, the iconic Teatro Tomas Terry.

    A short taxi ride from the city centre, or walkable if it’s not too hot, is Punta Gorda, a narrow peninsula that juts out into the Bay of Cienfuegos. Once the smartest neighbourhood in town, Punta Gorda is still home to numerous grand mansions from its halcyon days as well as one of the most whimsical buildings anywhere in Cuba, the Palacio de Valle.

    Arriving in Cienfuegos in time for a late lunch, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure for you to explore on your own.

    (Alternative: We suggest taking the bus from Vinales to Cienfuegos for cost purposes. Private transfers are possible and will be quicker but much more expensive).

    Suggested Accommodation: Cienfuegos Casas Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Cienfuegos, Parque Central
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    • — Cienguegos, Teatro Tomas Terry
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    • — Cienfuegos, Palacio De Valle
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  • Day 9 — Cienfuegos (Day trip to El Nicho)

    After breakfast, you will be picked up from your accommodation in Cienfuegos for the jeep transfer to El Nicho Natural Park, part of the much larger Topes de Collantes National Park.

    On arrival at the Park entrance, you will meet up with up your local guide who will escort you along El Reino de los Aguas trail, an approximate 45 minute walk through beautiful, lush countryside and past small streams and natural pools.

    If walking along this trail leaves you slightly hot & sticky, don’t worry, it all just sets you up perfectly for El Nicho and the beautiful waterfalls where a series of natural pools beckon you into enjoying a refreshing swim. Don’t forget your costume.

    Lunch is included at a local restaurant before you return to Cienfuegos, stopping briefly en-route at a nearby lookout point to take in the panoramic views.

    The rest of the day is at leisure – why not end it with a sunset boat trip on Cienfuegos Bay?

    Suggested Accommodation: Cienfuegos Casas Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    • — Cienfuegos, El Nicho Waterfalls
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    • — El Nicho Valley
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    • — Cienfuegos Bay
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  • Day 10 — Cienfuegos to Trinidad

    Departing Cienfuegos after breakfast, you will be glad to hear that it’s no more than an hour’s drive along the coast to the town of Trinidad.

    Despite being relatively small, Trinidad is second really only to Havana in terms of its importance when it comes to Cuba’s ‘non-beach’ tourism. It doesn’t take long to discover why.

    Having checked in at your chosen accommodation, you will meet up with your guide for a walking tour around town, one of the first in Cuba to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status back in 1988.

    Some 500 years after its founding, pretty much the entire centre of Trinidad feels stuck in a time warp with cobbled streets, beautiful plazas and magnificent colonial-era architecture and buildings around every corner. Not for nothing has Trinidad been termed ‘Cuba’s Museum Town’.

    Not only is Trinidad perhaps the most beautiful town in Cuba, it also boasts numerous casa particulares, bars, restaurants and live music venues, making it the ideal base for a few days.

     

    Suggested Accommodation: Trinidad Casa Particulars Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Trinidad, Plaza Mayor
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    • — Trinidad, Museo Romantico
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    • — Trinidad, street
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  • Day 11 — Trinidad (Day trip to El Cubano Park)

    In addition to being an historic and truly beautiful colonial town, Trinidad is also located in the foothills of the Escambray Mountains and Topes de Collantes National Park, home to some of the most spectacular countryside on the island.

    There are numerous options for exploring the surrounding countryside but as a gentle introduction, you will be collected from your accommodation after breakfast and driven the short distance out of town to El Cubano Natural Park.

    With your guide, you will take in the wonderful scenery along the gentle, 7-kilometre round-trip hike that winds its way through El Cubano Natural Park. Situated alongside the banks of the picturesque Rio Guaurabo, a series of hanging bridges and a well-laid out trail lead visitors to the Javira waterfall where it is possible to enjoy a cooling swim in the natural pools.

    Returning to Trinidad in time for lunch, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.

    Suggested Accommodation: Trinidad Casa Particulars Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — El Cubano
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    • — Rio Guaurabo
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    • — Trinidad
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  • Day 12 — Trinidad (Day trip to Guanayara Park)

    After yesterday’s gentle stroll around El Cubano Natural Park, today you will get to give your legs a bit more of a workout.

    After breakfast, you will be collected from your accommodation for the hour plus drive up and into the Guamuhaya mountain range to Guanayara Park where you will begin your hike along what is known as the Centinelas del Rio Melodioso trail.

    This 6kms round-trip hike starts off easily enough but soon descends quite sharply, following the course of the river and passing waterfalls before arriving at Poza del Venado where there will be a chance to cool off in the welcoming natural pools while enjoying a packed lunch.

    You will then return to Trinidad where the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.

    If you fancy a change from swimming in freshwater, natural pools then, just a 20 minute drive from Trinidad are the beautiful, sandy white beaches of Playa Ancon along Cuba’s Caribbean coastline.

    Suggested Accommodation: Trinidad Casa Particulars Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    • — Trinidad, Topes De Collantes
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    • — Parque Guanayara
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    • — Waterfalls
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  • Day 13 — Trinidad (Day trip to Valley of the Sugar Mils)

    This morning, you will combine countryside and history with a visit to the Valley of the Sugar Mills.

    Located between Trinidad & Sancti Spiritus, the Valley of the Sugar Mills was once the epicentre of the Cuban sugar industry and is still home to a number of atmospheric, decaying relics from that era.

    The most visited of these landmarks are Casa Gauchinango and Manaca-Iznaga whose haunting slave tower offers panoramic views of the valley. Also included is a visit to a local ceramic workshop and lunch at a local restaurant.

    Returning to Trinidad after lunch, the rest of the day is at leisure.

    Suggested Accommodation: Trinidad Casa Particulars Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    • — Trinidad, Valley of the Sugar Mills
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    • — Valley of the Sugar Mills, Manaca Iznaga,
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    • — Valley of the Sugar Mills
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  • Day 14 — Trinidad to Havana

    The morning is at leisure for you to either relax at your accommodation in Trinidad, further explore this beautiful little town or perhaps do a bit of shopping before your transfer back to Havana.

    On arrival in Havana the rest of the day is at leisure but, if you wish to end your holiday with a flourish, how about a visit to the Legendarios del Guajirito show where you can give your legs, hips and feet a final workout?

    (The itinerary costing for this journey from Trinidad to Havana is based on a private transfer but you can save money if you wish by taking the tourist bus).

    Suggested Accommodation: Havana Casa Particulars Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Trinidad, museum
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    • — Trinidad, lace market
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    • — Havana, Tropicana
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  • Day 15 — Havana & Home

    Depending on your flight time, today is free for you to relax or perhaps take in one of the city’s parks before transferring to the airport and your overnight flight home.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    • — Havana, musicians
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    • — Heading home
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Please Note

This itinerary is no more than a sample idea which can be tailor made to your exact requirements.

The 'From price' is for travel in September and is based on two adults sharing the same room throughout. Supplements apply for sole occupancy / transport.

The quoted price does not include international flights which we are happy to arrange as part of an ATOL protected package.

Beach Extensions

Beach Extensions

For clients wishing to extend their holiday with time at one of Cuba’s numerous beach resorts there are plenty of options we can suggest although, for logistical reasons, we would suggest sticking to the western half of the island. Please call or email for advice.

Suggested Accommodation

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