Special Programs

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Announcement

March

May

June

  • A great month for gardens, celebrations, and all of our tours

November 2013

  • Bi-annual International Choral Festival. Calling all choristers and music lovers – international choirs invited. Non-competitive festival.

City & Coast Tour

Come visit this most Caribbean of Cuban cities. Once the capital of Cuba, it is a perfect introduction to the culture and history of Cuba. Our eco- walking tours are accompanied by naturalists who will help you explore the plants, birds and butterflies on this beautiful island.

When should you come – Cuba is the land of perpetual summer. Flowering trees and plants abound. Winter birders enjoy both local and transient birds, summer birders enjoy the courting displays and nestlings of local birds. Butterfly lovers feast their eyes on huge moths, and colourful butterflies whatever the season.

So pack some good shoes and a camera and enjoy our walking tours.


Day 1 – Arrival

However you arrive in Santiago de Cuba, you will be met by our friendly staff and transferred to your homestay. Dinner in your homestay


Day 2 – Tour Part 2 “Independence to Revolution – 100 years of struggle”

After a brief lecture we will begin at the starting point of the attack which launched the revolution and follow the path of the revolutionaries into Santiago. The Moncada Barracks are now a major city high school, but the bullet holes are still there! From the city we climb into the foothills of the Sierra to the summerhouse where Castro and his triumphant revolutionaries accepted the surrender of the garrison of Santiago. Picnic Lunch and return to the city. Dinner in your homestay

Optional evening entertainment – visit to local Trova


Day 3 – Religion in Cuba

The coming of the Spanish brought European 16th century Catholicism to Cuba and an attempt to impose it on the aboriginal population. Within a few years the aboriginal populations were decimated by European diseases, starvation and the brutal work in the mines and fields. Very quickly the Spanish starting importing African slave labourers. The Africans brought with them music, dance, art and religion. Suppression of outward displays of their religion led to a blending of cultures. This is an opportunity to explore the culture which emerged when the two great cultural streams mixed and merged.

The Afro- Cuban religion of Santeria informs much of the art (2), music and culture of Santiago and the island of Cuba. After an introduction to some of the fascinating aspects of Santeria and how they appear in Cuban art, we will pay a visit to a cultural centre with various temples from some of the major Afro-Cuban religions. Lunch in the city. Afternoon visit to the Basilica of the Virgin, Cuba’s patron saint. Dinner in your homestay.


Day 4 – Medical Care

Alternative medicine plays a large role in Cuban health care and we will visit a range of herbalists and other alternative practitioners.

Acupuncture and massage play significant roles in the management of pain. Acupuncture is also used as a substitute for novacaine and other anesthetics during dental surgery and other minor operations.

Lunch in town.

Free afternoon

Dinner in your homestay


Day 5 – Eco Tour 1 "Cloud Forest Exploration"

An early start for a visit to a fascinating garden. Home to a research establishment and a collection of more than 3000 tropical ferns and a growing collection of indigenous and exotic orchids, this garden provides a magical start to this day. After the garden we leave for an exploration in the Gran Piedra. This spectacular drive will take you through gentle valleys at the foot of the Sierra Maestra and then up through Tropical Forests and Bamboo Stands to a Cloud Forest. A climb of 500 stairs takes you to the top of the rock for a panoramic view of three provinces and the warm Caribbean Sea. An old Haitian style Cafetal brings to life the coffee technology brought by Haitian refugees. A tour of the Multiflora Garden with its Bird of Paradise Flowers, camellias and beds of tropical flowers will complete our time on the mountain. Your guide will be an internationally respected botanist. For lunch we’ll visit a small sea-side town and lunch on the balcony of a cottage used by the garrison General during the revolutionary wars.

Dinner in your homestay.


Day 6 – Eco Tour 2 "Desert"

Breakfast.

One of the joys of this part of Cuba is the many microclimates. Yesterday you visited a cloud forest and high altitude garden, and today we go to a large Cactus Garden. Developed by an internationally renowned cactus expert this garden displays cacti from around the world (2) and many which are indigenous to Cuba. We will start our tour in the rooftop garden of the internationally known director, who will accompany our tour.

For a lunch and a relaxing afternoon we’ll stroll around an Artisan Village. You’ll visit with the artists in their homes and studios.

Dinner in your homestay


Day 7 Eco Tour 3 "Wetlands"

We’ll end our eco-tours of Eastern Cuba with a trip to a fascinating lagoon. Here endemic and rare crocodiles bask in the sun and fresh water dolphins swim in the lagoon. We’ll take a leisurely boat ride among the mangroves to spot many of the wetland birds for which this area is famous, and try to photograph the brilliantly coloured crabs. Lunch in a traditional country-style dinning room overlooking the lake.

Dinner in your homestay

Evening Entertainment for groups of four or more


Day 8

Breakfast.

Departure


This tour can be combined with our City and Mountain

Includes
Transfers within Santiago de Cuba
Expert guides and translators where required
Breakfast and dinner in your homestay, lunch with all full day tours
Homestay accommodations in Santiago de Cuba

Does not include
Flights
Transfers outside of Santiago de Cuba
Personal expenditures – including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, snacks, additional transport.

This tour is available any time.

2 people, $1650 per person – double occupancy, single supplement applies
4 people, $1550 per person – double occupancy, single supplement applies

ALL PRICES ARE IN CANADIAN DOLLARS

Birding in Eastern Cuba

Arrival Day – Santiago de Cuba

Depending on when you arrive in Santiago we include a visit to a fern and orchid garden which is full of birds all day. It is a sheer delight and a great antidote to travel.

Includes Eco-Tour 2 – Fern and Orchid Garden

Visit to an internationally acclaimed fern and orchid garden with the most complete collection of tropical ferns in the Americas.  The collection numbers some 3000 ferns and over 300 exotic and indigenous orchids.  This is the life work of the Director of the Institute which he has created over the passed 30 years. Lunch in the garden


Day 2 – Santiago

This is a really early start – packed breakfast and a snack. Later lunch. There is time for a swim at the beach or a walk along the beach and cliffs, or time to sit and doze on a splendid veranda. The garden you visit and the surrounding area are a favourite haunt of humming birds.


Includes Eco-Tour 5 – Birds, Butterflies and Bats

Early morning start to see the owls coming home, as the dawn washes over the heavily forested slopes of the mountain side you greet dawn on the top of the mountain, the best time to see both endemic and visiting birds is during the very early morning feeding. Butterflies are late risers so you have time to explore their habitat along with that of the amazingly colourful forest birds.  You end the day near the coast,  where thousands of bats make their perfectly timed exodus from their coast cave to the mountain side for fruit, nectar and pollen.   Lunch at the beach.


Day 3 – Santiago

Packed breakfast and a snack so that you can greet the dawn and watch the birds feeding.

Includes Eco Tour 4 – Wetland Birding

This fresh water lake and its tidal channels are a haven for endemic and visiting water birds.  A morning along the channels and cannel will net avid birders lots of species for their checklist.  For those who just enjoy a wonderful journey there are fresh water dolphins, rare crocodiles, and neon-brilliant crabs.  Early morning birding through the coast.  Late morning visit to a garden.  Late afternoon birding along the coastal strip completes the day.  Lunch in an Artisan Village.


Day 4 – Santiago to Baracoa

Depart Santiago for Baracoa – this is a spectacular drive with lots of stops along the way for water and other birds – and just to enjoy the splendid vistas.

An early departure takes you through the surrounding mountains, into the small villages and farms of Secunda Frente. Golden mists drift above the plume waving sugar cane, and royal palms sail on a sea of clouds. A magical moment of every fresh day. The road winds along the coast, passing through Cuba’s desert, and through the small towns surrounded by farms benefiting from the new water sources and irrigation.

The town of Baracoa was isolated from the rest of Cuba, except by sea, until the engineering feat of the Farola highway; winding its way over precipitous slopes and vertiginous cliffs – the images of mountain upon mountain, and verdant valleys are a photographer’s delight.

The highest point of the Farola crosses from the watershed of the Caribbean.


Day 5 – Baracoa

Includes Eco Tour 1 – Birding on the slopes of El Yunque

This massive mesa, first recorded by Columbus, and still not totally explored, dominates the views of the town.  Its almost vertical sides are clothed in tall trees, and dense tropical growth.  Crystal clear waters  tumble in waterfalls and rivers rush down to the sea.  The unique structure of the mountain ranges on the north coast of this part of the island, and its physical isolation have provided unique eco-niches for flora and fauna alike. Receiving over 400 cms of rain a year makes this truly a paradise for all things living. This tour takes you around the lower slopes of El Yunque and into a nearby eco-reserve.  Lunch is a barbeque on the banks of the river (bring your swimsuit), followed by afternoon birding near a black coral beach

This tour does not include climbing El Yunque. If you wish to do so, please let us know in advance and we will arrange for local guides.


Day 6 – Baracoa

Includes Eco Tour 2 – Birding Humbolt Park

Created as a World Heritage park, this is the last known home of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.  The park has many different eco-zones; scrub land, forested head waters, and dense mangrove coastal fringes, making it the perfect environment for birders and naturalists.  Ornithologist led walks and a boat ride make for a full experience.  This tour starts very early.  Breakfast en route, snack, and Lunch during the day.


Day 7 – Baracoa to Santiago

Departure to Santiago – for small groups we recommend returning by bus – the only highway is the one to Santiago – and the bus will give you a different view and perspective.


Day 8 – Additional Day in Baracoa

Includes Eco Tour 3 – River Toa

The river Toa has the largest volume of water of all the rivers of Cuba.  Rising in the Crystals, it makes its way to the coast just outside Baracoa.  Naturalist led tour of this unique environment, with possible overnight stay.  Breakfast en route, snack and lunch during the day.  Overnight includes traditional dinner.

The tour price includes:

  1. Pick up and drop for arrival and departure in Santiago (we are happy to arrange other transfers and pickups – Please note that Holguin is in Eastern Cuba and has both charter and scheduled flights from Canada and elsewhere)
  2. 7 nights accommodation – double occupancy – in homestay accommodations in Santiago and Baracoa
  3. Meals in homestays – breakfasts and dinners – except for early start days when a breakfast and snack are supplied. All days
  4. Lunches are included with all full tour days, and for the travelling days.
  5. Tours are all led by one of Cuba’s outstanding ornithologists. He has worked in the area for 30 years and is sought out by academics and international birders, and for environmental impact studies.
  6. Bilingual tour co-ordinator
  7. We provide checklists and the loan of a birding book on Cuba. We do not provide binoculars, cameras, or other technical equipment. Please note that chargers are not available in most of Cuba – make sure that you have your charger with you. Memory cards may be available – but the supply is not guaranteed. Laptops may be brought into Cuba with periphery equipment.

Contact Us for More Information

Wild Orchid Hunting in Cuba

This tour to Baracoa will take you through some of the most breathtaking scenery on the island of Cuba.

First of the seven towns founded by the Spaniard Velasquez after his return to Cuba from Hispaniola; Baracoa was the site of the first insurrection against the Spanish by the native Indian population. Briefly the first capital of the island and the first bishopric, Baracoa’s history is told in its forts, colonial streets, colourful art and the faces of its people. Facing the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, and cut off from the rest of Cuba, Baracoa’s history is one of pirates, and treasure, precious renewable resources, fabulous forests and chocolate!

The mountains surrounding this most eastern tip of Cuba create a tropical climate which is completely different from anywhere else in Cuba. Lush vegetation, towering trees, clear streams, and white coral beaches (2) make this a tropical paradise.

For the orchid and fern lover this is indeed paradise. Come orchid hunting with our expert and discover a seldom explored part of Cuba.

Your accommodation will be in one of the colonial homes in the centre of Baracoa, or in a tiny beach hideaway (please advise us immediately if you wish this option as space is very limited and is booked very far in advance – price to be advised).


Three Days – Two Nights


Day 1

Early morning departure from Santiago de Cuba. The drive takes us through the Sierras inland for a view of sugarcane fields, fruit orchards and small towns, then back out to the coastal strip. Desert cacti and lush lagoons alternate as we follow the rocky coast beside an azure sea. To reach Baracoa we drive over the mountains on the famous Farola highway constructed in the 1960’s to connect Baracoa with the outside world. We will take frequent stops to see the changing vegetation and to photograph the breathtaking views.

Picnic lunch on the beach.

Dinner in Baracoa.

Evening walk to explore the night life of the town.


Day 2

Early morning departure to climb the slopes of El Yunque. This famous anvil shaped mountain dominates the views of Baracoa. Clothed in preserved forests it is famous for its unique plant and animal life. Your expert lecturer has hunted these forests for wild orchids for many years. A local guide will accompany you into the forest reserve as required by law.

Packed lunch to take with you.

Dinner in Baracoa.

Evening walk to explore the night life of the town.


Day 3

Morning tour of the town of Baracoa and its main historical sites. Visit to Finca Duaba a farm turned eco-preserve. Finca Duaba is famous for its trees and birds. We will stay here for lunch.

After lunch we will bid farewell to this charming town and return to Santiago.


Four Days – Three Nights


Day 1

Early morning departure from Santiago de Cuba. The drive takes us through the Sierras inland for a view of sugarcane fields, fruit orchards and small towns, then back out to the coastal strip. Desert cacti and lush lagoons alternate as we follow the rocky coast beside an azure sea. To reach Baracoa we drive over the mountains on the famous Farola highway constructed in the 1960’s to connect Baracoa with the outside world. We will take frequent stops to see the changing vegetation and to photograph the breathtaking views.

Picnic lunch on the beach.

Dinner in Baracoa.

Evening walk to explore the night life of the town.


Day 2

Early morning departure to climb the slopes of El Yunque. This famous anvil shaped mountain dominates the views of Baracoa. Clothed in preserved forests it is famous for its unique plant and animal life. . Your expert lecturer has hunted these forests for wild orchids for many years. A local guide will accompany you into the forest reserve as required by law.

Packed lunch to take with you.

Dinner in Baracoa.

Evening walk to explore the night life of the town.


Day 3

Early morning departure to the Rio Toa. This is the third largest river in Cuba, carrying more water than any other. The river passes through canyons keeping its own micro-climate and affording you breathtaking views and gentle swims in its clear waters.

Picnic lunch and dinner in Baracoa.

Evening walk to explore the night life of the town.


Day 4

Morning tour of the town of Baracoa and its main historical sites. Visit to Finca Duaba a farm turned eco-preserve. Finca Duaba is famous for its trees and birds. We will stay here for lunch.

After lunch we will bid farewell to this charming town and return to Santiago.

Gardens of Eastern Cuba


Day 1 – Arrival Day

On arrival in you will be met in Santiago de Cuba by our friendly staff and taken directly to your homestay. All our homestays are government licensed and carefully selected with your comfort in mind. (If you are arriving at another airport we will have you met – all transfers can be arranged)

Dinner in your homestay


Day 2 – Ferns and Orchids

After breakfast we start our tour with a spectacular garden. Jardin de los Helechos is a unique setting for an internationally important collection of tropical ferns (2) (3) bromeliads and orchids. This outstanding collection of over 3000 ferns and more than 300 orchids is the most complete in the Americas and is the life work of the Director, acknowledged around the world for his contributions to the world of ferns and gardens and the discoverer of several indigenous species.   As well as a marvelous garden, Jardin de los Helechos is a research establishment carrying out research into the intimate lives of ferns, their preservation and propagation.

Fern and orchid propagation and care. A short technical lecture and demonstration (for garden groups and aficionados).

Take home a unique memento of this beautiful garden.

Lunch in the garden
Dinner in your homestay.

Optional evening visit to local Trova – this is where the musical traditions of the island are preserved.


Day 3 – Drylands, Cactus and Musical Instruments

An early start will take us out of Santiago for a day on the narrow desert-like coastal strip between the Caribbean Sea and the Sierra Maestras.

The drive takes you past fields of sugar cane and elephant grass, small holdings, and gardens, with many stops to enjoy the scenery, explore the diverse woodlands and countryside, and see some of Cuba’s unique flora. Did you know that Cubans grow some of their musical instruments?

 The internationally acclaimed cactus expert of the Jardin Botanico de Santiago will be your lecturer at the Cactus garden, which is his work and his passion. This large garden is home to both indigenous cacti and those from around the world (2).

Cactus propagation and care A short technical lecture and demonstration (for garden groups and aficionados). For lunch we visit an artisans’ colony (2) with time to stroll and visit their homes and studios. A great place for something unique to take home.

On returning to Santiago we visit the personal cactus collection of our expert. 

Dinner in your homestay.


Day 4 – Clouds, Ferns, and Birds of Paradise

An early start will take us passed large state farms, through peaceful villages and onto the slopes of the Gran Piedra. We make several stops on the climb to the summit as we pass through plantations of coffee, and bananas, orange and mango groves. Every turn in the climb brings with it changing climates and plants.

Our first stop is a visit to a special private garden. With many exotic species, this small sloping garden is a delight. The work of a mother and daughter team, this garden is off a side road, across a river, and through a pasture.

Volcanic soil is the perfect medium for growing Arabica coffees beneath the tall flamboyante (flame) trees. Coffee has been grown on these slopes since the early 19th century. French Haitians, escaping the violence of the revolution fled to Cuba bringing with them new technologies, new methods of planting and processing coffee, and their slaves. We make a visit to a peaceful cafetal and its knowledgeable hostess. Nothing beats fresh coffee, made from beans toasted right where they were grown

.

Amid a cloud forest of giant ferns and orchids, our expert will open your eyes to some of Cuba’s tiniest ferns and orchids, bromeliads, and other beautiful plants.

At the top of the mountain, o
ur tour takes us to a commercial high altitude garden with a Bird of Paradise nursery. Fragrant hedges circle beds of roses, gladioli and camellias. Every path provides a vista of mountains and plains.

We finish our time on the mountain with a visit to a restored French Haitian style cafetal. Established in the early 19th century, this house and grounds are now a UNESCO museum including some of the exotic plants which the settlers brought with them



Lunch is on the coast with time for a bathe, or time just to sit and enjoy the peace and natural beauty around you.



Dinner in your homestays.


Day 5 – Urban Agriculture

Our lecturer today will introduce you to some of the geography, geology and hydrology of Cuba. Learn a little about the soil, the climate, and the various problems which confront agriculture on this island.

A visit to one of the many organoponico gardens which this year are expected to grow over 5 million tons of produce throughout the island. Started 20 years ago these gardens make a significant and essential contribution to the diet and health of everyone.   These gardens take many forms: major gardens attached to housing areas,  tiny garden areas which serve a few streets, farmers’ plots which bring food into the city, gardens at army barracks and police stations and in school playgrounds.

The garden serves part of a large population living in low rise apartments on the edge of the city. Like most of these gardens it has a sales point where is sells not just fresh fruit and vegetables, but also herbs, seasoning, and other garden products.

Our next stop is a local market selling fruit, vegetables, meat, and grains. Most people shop either daily or every couple of days, enjoying vegetables and fruit in their season. Much of the fruit and vegetables comes from major farms surrounding the city. Some comes from more specialized farms in nearby provinces.

From the market we go outside the city to visit a private small holding. Lunch features fruits and vegetables from the farm – you may get to pick your own lettuce!


OPTIONAL TOUR

For those of you who really want to experience hands on agriculture, we offer the option of going directly to the farm to spend the morning working with the farmer and understanding his problems and triumphs first hand. 


Dinner in your homestay.


Day 6 – Where sugar once was king, now vegetables, fruits, and rice grow.

After breakfast an early start will put us on the road to an eco-resort on the north side of the Sierras.



An hour’s drive takes us over the Sierra Maestras and onto the central plain.  This was once an immense forest, cut and burned when sugar became the most important crop.  From 1850 to 1990 sugar was the major foreign exchange earner in Cuba.  Cane fields stretched as far as the eye could see, punctuated by groves of oranges, avocados and mangos, and banana plantations Today we pass sugar fields planted with new crops, and sugar towns with factories for new industries.



The government of Cuba gives every incentive to individuals, collectives, and cooperatives for growing food. Its goal is self sufficiency in all of the vital staples, import substitution where possible, with a final goal of food exports.



Two stops; both gardens are noted for their excellence and are called national reference gardens.



The first garden, which is more like a small and expanding market garden, is termed a patio garden, but has little in common with your herb planters tucked between the deck chairs. Started on waste land between two apartment buildings it now covers about 5 ha (about 25 acres). It produces sufficient vegetables for many blocks of apartments, together with tilapia for the neighbours and rabbits for family meat. Inter planting and judicious use of flowers makes for good insect control, while the leftovers from the sugar mills provide the material for earth worm beds and compost.



Our second visit is to a medicinal herb garden. This garden and its maker have been recognized for their excellence and their contribution to the field of urban agriculture and the health of the population. Every square inch of garden and now the roof and stairs is under cultivation. The garden is staffed by local volunteers, who take their pay in trips to various gardens and workshops.

Lunch is in an artist cooperative studio – this group of Art Naif artists have shown their work in New York, Habana and Santiago; many works are in major collections. Enjoy the small galleries, chat with the artists, and enjoy a stroll in this friendly little town, dominated by the sugar mill and the huge reservoir which supplies much of the provinces fish rations.



From here we head into the mountains to an Eco-Resort for a break and to see more mountain plants.



Situated in a lush tropical valley this pretty wooden hotel provides an wonderful change from the bustle and sun of the city.  A natural pool below the waterfall tempts all swimmers, and the stones of the gentle river provide pleasant spots to relax. A trained masseuse is available for the ultimate pleasure of a relaxing massage

Dinner in the hotel


Day 7 – Mountain Walk

A guided early morning walk takes us above the resort through the alpine like meadows of peaceful farms. See cocoa on the tree, coffee growing in the shelter of forest canopy, peacocks strutting across the meadow, and children on their way to school. The plants, birds, and butterflies of the high mountains are fascinating in their diversity. 

Early lunch departure for

EITHER

The nearby Jardin Botanico is 30 years new, but boasts an outstanding collection of palms, cactus, and most importantly plants endemic to the northern slopes of the Sierra Maestras. Here you can also find one of the larger collections of fruit trees – many of which were unknown and underused a few years ago, but are now front and centre in health magazines around the world.

OR

The Serpentine Forest, is a unique area of vegetation growing on heavy metal soils. The brilliant colours and strange flowers are the product of long adaption to the poisonous environment. Not all plants have been investigated and described, and the area holds treasures in waiting.

Dinner in your homestay

FOR GROUPS ONLY A farewell dinner, with entertainment, will provide you with a splendid end to your time in Santiago and give you time to talk to the friends you have made.


Day 8 – Free Day

Free time to visit the city’s craftspeople and art galleries. This will be a fine time to finish buying those little gifts for home. Want to buy something big and have no room in your suitcase – we will arrange shipment for you.

It is possible to organize an extra tour for this day.

A meal in your homestay before your flight – lunch or dinner – depending on the time of your flight

You will be picked up at your homestay and transferred to the airport for your flight home or to other destinations.


Tour Details

Tour availability

Small groups, individuals – continuously available – CONTACT US FOR PRICES
Garden Groups: CONTACT US FOR PRICES

  • February 2nd week
  • March 2nd week
  • April 2nd week

See below for further information for Garden Groups

Tour Includes:

  • Accommodation
  • Homestays in Santiago generally with private bathroom, air conditioning and/or fan
  • Mountain resort – 3 Star Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Breakfasts and Lunches as specified
  • Dinners as specified
  • Other
  • All transfers within Santiago
  • Air-conditioned transportation
  • Expert lecturers
  • Translator where required
  • All entrance fees

Deposit $500.00 Canadian non-refundable

Not Included

  • Flights
  • Personal expenditures
  • Tips
  • Additional beverages
  • Evening entertainment

Garden Groups (minimum 6 people traveling together)

  • Deposit $250.00 Cdn – on booking – NON REFUNDABLE
  • 90 days prior 50% of total
  • 60 days prior balance
  • Welcome dinner in Eco resort
  • Gala dinner in Santiago
  • Bilingual tour co-coordinator
  • Security

Eastern & Central Cuba


From Santiago de Cuba, the first Colonial capital, to the medieval style city of Camaguey, this tour takes you to the music, dance and theatre, museums and historical sites of this magical island. Three full day tours of Santiago and the surrounding area, two days of tours en route to and within Camaguey. Area tours include visits to specialty gardens, cloud forests and artists’ studios, historical sites, and much more.


Day 1 – Arrival Day

However you arrive in, Santiago de Cuba, you will be met by our staff and transferred to your homestay. All homestays are near the centre of the city on quiet streets. This will be your home for the next three days. Dinner or late Snack at homestay.


Day 2 – History of Cuba Part 1: Pre-Columbia to Independence

From Indians and slaves, buccaneers and Spanish grandees, pirates and indentured servants, has come a vibrant people. Explore their history and their struggles. From the oldest house in the Americas (quite a few others burned down) to the solid fortress at the harbour, and the living remembrance of the Peace Tree, Cuban history is told in stone and wood, and the faces of its people.

We begin the day with a short orientation to the history of this island. Then we go out to see where it happened. We begin at the “oldest house” in the Americas, visit Museums to see the specific items we have talked about,. We jump ahead to the end of the War of Independence at San Juan Hill. The little launch which circles the bay will take us to one of the main islands for lunch and an afternoon stroll in this friendly community. Returning to the mainland we visit the magnificent castle which dominates the entry to the bay. Dinner in your homestay.


Day 3 – Eco-tour: Ferns, Orchids and Clouds

Breakfast.

An early start will take us out of the city and on a journey along the coastal plain with its highly productive farms for field crops, fruit, milk and vegetables grown under cover. We turn from the coastal plain and climb through plantations of coffee, oranges and bananas high on the Gran Piedra. A short hike will take you into this protected cloud forest of giant ferns and orchids. We will take time to visit the house and grounds of a 19th century Haitian style Cafetal near the summit of the extraordinary rock A visit to a Bird of Paradise Nursery and a tour a commercial high altitude garden. Fragrant hedges circle beds of roses, gladioli and camellias. Every path provides a vista of mountains and plain.

For a marvelous view of the coast and the mountains of the Sierras, climb to the very top of this volcanic plug.

While we are on the mountain we visit a modern cafetal and a private garden across a river, down a track, across a pasture! Well named the Secret Garden it is the work of a mother and daughter team.

Lunch at the beach.

Dinner in your homestay.


Day 4 – Early morning departure for Camaguey

Established initially as a sea-port this town was moved three times to escape the ravages of pirates – including the famous Henry Morgan. En route Lunch and a tour of two national reference gardens in the Urban Agriculture program. In Camaguey our homestays are located in the centre of the city. A pleasant evening stroll will often bring you to music and dance in the central square.

Dinner in your homestay.

Please note that for one or two people we use the intercity bus to Camaguey, not private transportation We can arrange an early departure in a taxi for the visit to the gardens Return to Santiago for the express bus to Camaguey.


Day 5

Camaguey is the most recent of the Cuban cities to have been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage city. Our walking Tour of Old Camaguey (2)(3) is led by an architect.and artisan Special visits to churches, museums for fine furnishings, Baccarat Crystal, and elaborate table settings and objets d’art.

Lunch.

Gallery and Studio visits Camaguey is known for the excellence of its ceramicists and sculptors. Some of the leading artists in Cuba have generously agreed to open their private studios (located in their homes) so that you can enjoy an intimate interaction with them and their art in progress.

Free Evening to enjoy the fun of impromtu nightlife in the city squares.


Day 6

Early visit to Camaguey’s Ballet School – if possible we shall be invited to view a class in progress. Exclusive visits behind the scenes to the wardrobe and shoe making shop.

Lunch.

Free Afternoon to Enjoy the city.

Return to Santiago Dinner in your homestay.

For those traveling by intercity bus the bus departs shortly after lunch.


Day 7 – Religion in Cuba

The coming of the Spanish brought European 16th century Catholicism to Cuba and an attempt to impose it on the aboriginal population. Within a few years the aboriginal populations were decimated by European diseases, starvation and the brutal work in the mines and fields. Very quickly the Spanish starting importing African slave labourers. The Africans brought with them music, dance, art and religion. Suppression of outward displays of their religion led to a blending of cultures. This is an opportunity to explore the culture which emerged when the two great cultural streams mixed and merged.

The Afro- Cuban religion of Santeria informs much of the art (2), music and culture of Santiago and the island of Cuba. After an introduction to some of the fascinating aspects of Santeria and how they appear in Cuban art, we will pay a visit to a cultural centre with various temples from some of the major Afro-Cuban religions. Lunch in the city. Afternoon visit to the Basilica of the Virgin, Cuba’s patron saint. Dinner in your homestay.

Dinner and Entertainment by local Afro-Cuban dance group, an opportunity to say goodbye to the Cubans who have been part of your experience. For groups of 4 or more.


Day 8 – Departure


This tour includes:

  1. Airport Pickup and transfers in Santiago de Cuba – other transfers arranged
  2. B&B style Accommodation including breakfast and dinner
  3. Tours including expert lecturers, translators, transportation, and lunches
  4. Entrances and photography fees at all sites visited
  5. Airconditioned transportation – private bus or inter-city bus link

This tour does not include:

  1. Flights and expenses associated with entering or leaving the country
  2. Personal expenditures
  3. Transportation prior to start or after conclusion of tour
  4. Evening entertainment except where specified

THIS TOUR IS ALSO AVAILABLE WITH HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS
(Some substitutions of tours are permitted – contact us for your special interests)

Prices and Availability

Available Anytime
Travel by Commercial Inter-city Bus (Mercedes Benz, airconditioned etc.)

Option
Travel by Private Bus (airconditioned – dedicated chauffeur)

PRICES ON REQUEST – Please contact us.

Bicycling Through Cuba

Cuba is a land of soaring mountains covered with rainforests, gentle waterfalls, diamond-dust beaches, exotic flora, sugar cane fields, and citrus groves. Although the landscape climbs and rolls, the back roads wind through the hills maintaining a gentle gradient. You’ll share the road with the easy pace of caballeros on horses, Brahma bulls on leads, and people doubling with loved ones on bicycles.

This is a land of great variety with warm and welcoming people. Come with us and cycle through the heart of the country. Swim in the clear, turquoise waters of the sea and soak in the warm sunshine. Explore the unspoiled, unhurried ambiance of sun, sea and sand on two wheels! Enjoy the unique and vibrant culture!

ABOUT OUR TRIPS

Level of Difficulty: Most of our tours are not difficult, but some advance preparation is recommended. Some days you may be riding up to 5-6 hours a day, or 30 to 60 kilometers. Although there is a support van throughout the trip, the fitter you are, the more enjoyable this trip will be. Previous experience is not necessary, but riding up and down hills (on a bike or Exercycle) is highly recommended. Guests of every fitness level will enjoy this trip, from the energetic beginner to the enthusiastic expert.

Fitness:
Most moderately active people should enjoy these holidays. (20 to 100 km per day, your choice)

Equipment: Bikes are included in the price.

Size of Group and Support: A bilingual guide will accompany you during all of the rides each day. There is vehicle support as required by group. Our groups are small so you never feel that you are in a race. From our base in Santiago de Cuba we can offer enjoyable day trips for individuals, couples, family groups or friends most of the time through the winter.

Guides: Our main guide is a Canadian who lives in Cuba from November to May. We also have local guides who have traveled extensively throughout the country.

Who Can Go: Anyone can join our group tour. If you have medical concerns please advise us and we will endeavour to accommodate you.

What’s Covered and What’s Not: Your package includes hotel accommodations, all meals, bike rentals. Flights and some transfers are not included.
It is recommended that all participants purchase cancellation and medical insurance.

Expect the Unexpected: All travel in remote regions involves some risk and the unknown. We believe that part of the reason you will be joining us is to experience the adventures, explore and discover Cuba. We look forward to meeting new challenges with you!

Photography Workshops in Cuba

Photographic Workshop

Place The workshop will take place in Santiago de Cuba. The island’s first capital, Santiago is a city of hills, lookouts, colonial squares and beautifully preserved buildings. It is a people city with much of the life of the city in the streets, the heart of the city is a park, peopled by lovers, dancers, musicians and sometime hoards of children on bicycles, scooters. This is a city of neighbourhoods, each with its distinct appearance and lifestyle.

The clarity of light blends and fractures colours, a new palette with each hour and every day. Beautiful children, neo-colonial buildings, and a vivacity to life which blends old and new, provide prolific material for the well-placed lens.

Whether you are sticking to black and white, 35mm and multiple lens, or 8 pixels this workshop will provide an intensive experience of composition, history, and techniques. Together you will discover the inside of Cuba, its history, people, and places.

This workshop is available year round. A personalize one on one experience is available as well.


 

Workshop Leader Rene Silviera, Photographer – Santiago de Cuba

Rene Silviera is one of Santiago de Cuba’s leading photographers. As senior photographer for the Office of the Conservador of the City of Santiago de Cuba, he knows and loves this beautiful city and its inhabitants.

Starting in television in his early 20’s he became a noted prize winner of awards for still photography starting in 1987. Since that time there has barely been a year in which he did not win awards, have his work appear in prestigious exhibitions, or in some of Cuba’s leading publications. In 2002 he was the chosen photographer for the catalogue for an exhibition of art dedicated to the 100th anniversary of Cuba’s foremost hero and poet, Jose Marti, which included 100 of Cuba’s leading artists.

Rene’s working is exciting in its clarity of vision and its use of vibrant colour. His techniques of composition and use of the special tropical light of this part of Eastern Cuba bring his images off the page. Whether he is photographing every day life, architectural details, or the natural beauty outside the city, Rene brings an affection to his subjects which invites further exploration.

Rene wants workshop participants to come to know and love his city and people through the lens of their cameras. To explore with him the possibilities of tropical light; to take home with them images of faces and places, but to leave a part of their heart in this city by the bay.


 

Objectives

The workshop is designed for beginning and intermediate level photographers . The learning emphasis of the workshop will be on the special effect of light in tropical countries, candid photography, and photography is rapid movement situations.

This workshop has been designed for still photography. Digital imagery can be processed and examine. If you wish to take video images – please let us know and we will make some arrangements.


 

Day 1 – Arrival

You will be met at Santiago de Cuba’s Antonio Maceo airport or alternative arrival point and taken to your homestay in the centre of this vibrant and lovely city. After settling in, you will have time to explore your new neighbourhood and enjoy the vivid life on the streets, or just relax in the city’s central park.

Day 2 – Workshop 1

Meet the leader of your workshop and your translator. Review of the workshop, its Objectives, Content and Process.

Theory and Practice – Part 1 Tropical Light

A City Walk to explore the possibilities of the city for unique and interesting photographs.
Lunch

History of Photography in Cuba – Part 1.
See the images, the photographers and explore their development


 

Day 3 – Workshop 2 – La Cuidad (The City)

6.00 a.m. start – your homestay will provide you with a breakfast sandwich to take with you
Architecture and urban life. The early start will put you in position for some unique photos of this city waking up. The sleepy resident reeling in the basket of bread to an upstairs apartment, the early market shoppers, the tired guards, and the laughing children on their way to school. All against a background of pastel coloured buildings, rosy dawn skies and the encircling mountains as a constant backdrop.

9.30 – breakfast

Theory and Practice – Part 2 Nature

Lunch

History of Photography in Cuba – Part 2 – The Photography Club of Santiago 1940-60

Late afternoon photographing

Evening visit to the Trova


 

Day 4 – Workshop 3 – Nature – Flora and Fauna

7.00 a.m. start – breakfast before you leave

Visit to the world famous Fern and Orchid gardens and then explore a cloud forest with its pre-historic fern trees, brilliant flowers, birds and butterflies. Each turn in the mountain road brings new vistas. Clear flowing rivers, coffee plantations, orange and mango groves, a tiny school house perched on the very edge of the mountain, gardens, and historical properties – the stuff of wonderful photographs. Lunch among the studios of an artisan’s village.

Coastal exploration

Theory and Practice – Part 3 – Stylized and Candid – photographing people

Review of the Cuban tradition of the Quinze


 

Day 5 – Workshop 4 – The Quinze

7.00 a.m. start –

This whole day will be taken up with the preparations and photographs of the most important time in a young girl’s life. Like a wedding without the nuisance of a groom a quinze combines all the dreams that a nearly 15 year old can have for being the centre of attention! With professional make up and hairstyling, gowns, dresses, and sexy costumes these young women explore their new- found glamour and love every minute of it.

For the young woman selected, your photographs will be a reminder all of her days of a moment when she was young and beautiful, and life was full of possibilities. Your photographs will be seen by family, friends and neighbours for generations to come – Mi quinze is a uniquely important event in a Cuban woman’s life.

Lunch at the end of the shoot

Theory and Practice – Part 4 – Movement


 

Day 6 – Workshop 5 – Sports, Dance and other fast action

You will visit sports and dance in practice, stroll Santiago’s busy streets and parks, ending the day with a gala evening and some traditional Cuban African dance. – for groups of 4 or more.


 

Day 7 – Workshop 6

Your workshop leader will be on hand to talk about your pictures and provide feedback and solutions to problems

Lunch

Free afternoon or departure from Santiago de Cuba


 

Day 8 – Departure.


 

This tour includes:

  1. Airport Pickup and transfers in Santiago de Cuba – other transfers arranged
  2. B&B style Accommodation including breakfast and dinner
  3. Workshop including workshop leader, expert lecturers for tours, translators, transportation, and lunches
  4. Entrances and photography fees at all sites visited
  5. Airconditioned transportation

This tour does not include:

  1. Flights and expenses associated with entering or leaving the country
  2. Personal expenditures
  3. Transportation prior to start or after conclusion of tour
  4. Evening entertainment except where specified Gala Evening for groups of 4 or more
  5. FILM PROCESSING NOT INCLUDED – local film processing can be obtained overnight by arrangement.

THIS TOUR IS ALSO AVAILABLE WITH HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS

Prices and Availability

Available Anytime

2 People $1750 CANADIAN per person

4 people $1250 CANADIAN per person

ALL PRICES IN CANADIAN DOLLARS

Christmas in Cuba

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
December 22 – January 2

Christmas and New Year’s are special holidays. Cuba Beyond the Beaches wants you to have the “best Christmas ever”.

Christmas in Cuba combines some of our most popular tours in and around Santiago, with a family Christmas and a fun New Year’s Eve party.

Join us for all or part of the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. Meet folks from around the world, enjoy Cuban hospitality, learn about our history and culture, and dance the nights away.

Come a little early, stay a little longer, and enjoy some of our tours in other cities or some time relaxing at the beach or in the mountains.

This tour is suitable for all the family, for couples, friends and singles. Special diets and vegetarian food are available on request.

This tour is based on homestays – hotel accommodations available on request.

(Minimum numbers apply to full tour)

Modified tour available to individuals and small groups


Day 1 – December 22 – Arrival Day

Your first stop is at your homestay in a government licensed private home (casa particular). Your room has an air-conditioner and/or fan, private bath and double or single beds. Most meals will be taken at your homestay.

If you want to arrive before December 22 early arrivals are welcome as Santa’s helpers to help deck the tree, make decorations, and generally enjoy a child’s Christmas. If you have specific skills – know how to make pipe cleaner decorations, graduated in snowflake design, can guarantee that the angel will stay on the top of the tree – let us know and we will have work for you.

  • Early arrivals December 22 – lunch and tour of a wonderful garden
  • Eco-Tour 2 Fern and orchid Garden — Visit to an internationally acclaimed fern and orchid garden with the most complete collection of tropical ferns in the Americas. The collection numbers some 3000 ferns and over 300 exotic and indigenous orchids. This is the life work of the Director of the Institute which he has created over the passed 35 years. Lunch in the garden

Day 2 – December 23

  • History of Cuba Part 2 — From Indians and slaves, buccaneers and Spanish grandees, pirates and indentured servants, has come a vibrant people. Explore their history and their struggles. From the oldest house in the Americas (quite a few others burned down) to the solid fortress at the harbour, and the living remembrance of the Peace Tree, Cuban history is told in stone and wood, and the faces of its people.

Day 3 – December 24

  • Eco-Tour 1 – Gardens of clouds and forest — Join us in the enchanted world of ferns and clouds. We journey out of the city to a cloud forest with ancient fern trees and simple pines which existed in the time of the dinosaurs. Visit to a high altitude garden with beds of bird of paradise flowers and many exotic tropical plants. Visit a private garden hidden among the slopes and trees. Walk in the magical world of bromeliads and orchids, brightly colour butterflies and brilliant birds. Lunch at the beach
  • Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at the cathedral. Evening entertainment in most venues is open its normal hours.

Day 4 – December 25

  • Free Day or Beach Day
  • Afternoon entertainment
  • Christmas dinner, Victorian style games and favours. If you have a favourite family game we hope you’ll let us all join in! Silly hats included at dinner.

Day 5 – December 26

  • Architecture Walk 1 — The Historic Centre – One of Santiago’s leading architects takes you on a walk through history. Each city in Cuba has its own unique style and decoration. As one of the oldest of the cities, Santiago offers the most eclectic mix. Pirates, fire and earthquakes have enforced urban renewal – the Cathedral is the 3rd building on that site, and almost none of the very early buildings escape the attention of English and French pirates. Early colonial sits next to Art Deco and buildings from the Republic and later periods. Learn to spot the fakes and the overbuilding and explore some of the glorious courtyards which can be glimpsed through half closed doors.

Day 6 – December 27

  • Eco-Tour 3 — Gardens of desert, cacti and musical instruments – Join us for a tour in the arid hills of the south coast between the Sierras and the azul Caribbean sea. This coastal strip is full of micro climates permitting elephant grass here, and cacti there. We make lots of stops along the way to peer into gardens, tramp through the undergrowth (no sandals please) and look and point. The Cactus Garden represents a major collection of exotic and indigenous species and we spend time learning to propagate these heat and drought tolerant plants. Visit to private collection. Lunch in an Artisan Village

Day 7 – December 28

  • Art and Religion in Cuba — From the time of Columbus, Spanish Catholicism with it panoply of saints and many festivals was the principal religion of Cuba. Here and there were tiny pockets of Indians, still practicing their religions, but much of their culture had been swept away by the middle of the 16th century. The influx of African slaves building to major imports by the mid-19th century changed the face of Cuba and its religions. At first allowed to practice their own religions, their sheer numbers became a threat especially during their festivals. Their religions were suppressed and Christianity imposed. However, the Yoruba transferred the attributes of their African gods to Christian saints and so found a way to stay within the law and practice their religion. This tour explores the importance of these mixtures as they inform art, music and dance in Cuba.

Day 8 – December 29

  • History of Cuba Part 5 Life and Work in a 20th century Sugar town. — The history of Cuba and of the Caribbean is intimately connected with sugar. Sugar defined the wealth of a few, the colour of its people, the dominance of superpowers, and the poverty of its citizens. Visit a small town where sugar is still king. Understand the history of its barrios , ride a train to the cane fields which still surround it, and visit the sugar mill which dominates it. This is the history of much of Cuba in the twentieth century. This is an exceptional opportunity to visit a working sugar mill.
  • Lunch in an artists’ cooperative

Day 9 – December 30

  • History of Cuba Part 3 Independence to Revolution — A century of turbulence and civil war has led to over five decades of relative calm. The struggle to become an independent nation in the face of US opposition is a poignant and triumphant story. Come with us to explore the Revolutionary Civil War as played out around Santiago. Have history come alive and tangible.
  • Picnic Lunch

Day 10 – December 31

  • Eco Tour 4 – Wetland Birding — This fresh water lake and its tidal channels are a haven for endemic and visiting water birds. A morning along the channels and cannel will net avid birders lots of species for their checklist. For those who just enjoy a wonderful journey there are fresh water dolphins, rare crocodiles, and neon-brilliant crabs. Late afternoon birding along the coastal strip completes the day.
    Lunch 


  • Traditional dinner with entertainment. New Year’s festivities in the central square.

Day 11 – January 1

  • Free Day or Beach Day. January 1st is a political holiday to celebrate the Triumph of the Revolution. Lots of files – marches, speeches in the Plaza de la Revolution, and other activities. Go out into the streets, march with the marchers or just watch from the sidelines, or sleep late and watch it all on TV.

Day 12 – January 2, Departure Day

  • Time to pick up some souveniers to take back with you. Depending on your leaving time we can provide a packed breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Transfer to departure point in Santiago is included in your package.
  • One or more extra days? – there are lots of tours to choose from. We can arrange transportation and homestays throughout Cuba.

Christmas in Cuba includes:

  • Accommodation – homestay accommodation with breakfast and dinner. 11 nights and 12 days (additional accommodation on request)
  • Christmas Dinner and Festivities
  • New Year’s Eve Party (minimum number required)
  • All-day tours including lecturer, translator (where appropriate) transportation (air-conditioned), lunch, entrance fees.
  • Transfers to and from arrival point in Santiago

PREFER TO SPEND ONLY CHRISTMAS OR NEW YEAR’S IN SANTIAGO? WE ARE HAPPY TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A SHORT PROGRAMME OR TO BLEND IT WITH OTHER TOURS AROUND CUBA!


Price

Available on request.

** Early booking discount *** Book by October 15th and save $50.00 per person!

Getting here – there are direct flights to Santiago from Toronto. Flights from Canada and Europe to Habana and in some cases to Holguin. We are happy to assist you with your connections to Cuba, or your internal travel to Santiago.



For folks coming for more time, extra nights of accommodation are available in Santiago, at a resort hotel, at a homestay at the beach, or other locations in Cuba.

We look forward to seeing you for your Christmas in Cuba

Contact Us for more information.

Walking Tours of Cuba

Cuba Beyond the Beaches’ program of Mountain, Country and City Walks is designed for those who like an active holiday, but also enjoy knowledgeable guides, good food and friendly accommodations.

These programs are designed for smaller groups. If you are interested in an individual experience please contact us.

This year’s programming is:

Sierras & Revolutionary Trails – 4 NIGHTS AND 5 DAYS of hiking in the Sierras. Total 8 nights. Climb Cuba’s highest peak, experience some of the remotest areas in this unspoiled island. This trek is mule supported where possible and is accompanied by a naturalist and trek co-ordinator.

Sierra Short Hike – 2 NIGHTS AND 3 DAYS of hiking in the Sierra. Total 6 Nights. Climb Cuba’s highest peak, experience some of the remotest areas in this unspoiled island. This trek is mule supported and is accompanied by a naturalist and trek co-ordinator.

City and Mountain – 1 WEEK exploration of Santiago de Cuba, and the Sierras. City walks are accompanied by a historian, or architect. These walks are generally accessible and can be vehicle supported. Eco-walks are on gentle mountain slopes and are accompanied by naturalists.

City and Coast – 1 WEEK exploration of Santiago de Cuba and the Coastal area’s micro-climates. City walks and tours are accompanied by a historian, architect, and other professionals. City walks are generally accessible and can be vehicle supported. Eco-walks are on gentle mountain slopes, or by boat, and are accompanied by naturalists.

Welcome to Cuba Beyond the Beaches

NOTE: We are under construction but our tours are available with lots of safety precautions for travel and staying.

Also: Cuba no longer requires proof of vaccination nor a recent PCR test. Rapid test at the airport at the moment.

Tailor made tours, special adventures, eco-tours, architecture, arts, agriculture. Music, salsa, language, photography, papier mache, guitar making workshop holidays. Individuals, couples, friends and families, small groups, travel independently or fully escorted.

Please use the menu above to view some of our favourite Cuban destinations. Special events and recurring annual tours are listed on the left, arranged mostly by the month in which they occur.

See and experience a fascinating country. Celebrate 500 years of history.

Now Booking!
Garden Tour – March 12 to 26, 2018


Day 1 – March 12, 2018

Arrival Holguin transfer to Santiago

Pickup at airport, picnic lunch, desert and bathroom break

Day 2 – March 13, 2018

Santiago 8.30 start

Eco-Tour 2 Fern and orchid Garden
Visit to an internationally acclaimed fern and orchid garden with the most complete collection of tropical ferns in the Americas. The collection numbers some 4000 ferns and over 400 exotic and indigenous orchids. This is the life work of the retired Director of the Institute which he created over the passed 40 years.

History of Cuba Part 2 Colonial Cuba to Independence
From Indians and slaves, buccaneers and Spanish grandees, pirates and indentured servants, has come a vibrant people. Explore their history and their struggles. From the oldest house in the Americas (quite a few others burned down) to the solid fortress at the harbour, and the living remembrance of the Peace Tree, Cuban history is told in stone and wood, and the faces of its people

Day 3 – March 14, 2018

Santiago 8.00 a.m. Start

It usually rains on the cloud forest in the early/late afternoon – so better to begin early.

Eco-Tour 1 – Gardens of clouds and forest
Join us in the enchanted world of ferns and clouds. We journey out of the city to a cloud forest with ancient fern trees and simple pines which existed in the time of the dinosaurs. Visit to a high altitude garden with beds of bird of paradise flowers and many exotic tropical plants. Visit a private garden hidden among the slopes and trees. Walk in the magical world of bromeliads and orchids, brightly colour butterflies and brilliant birds. Lunch at the beach (take a swim suit, go for a walk, sit in the sun)

Day 4 – March 15, 2018

Santiago

History of Cuba Part 3 Republican Cuba
After the devastation of nearly 70 years of on-going turbulence, the sham of independence during the Republic years. King Sugar dominated the boom and bust economy. New towns, new railroads, new suburbs, economic growth was amazing. But underneath all was not well.

Includes private visits to various buildings and
homes built during the early and mid years of the Republics. Visit to the sugar town to catch a glimpse of a fascinating past. And to a mining site with unusual secrets

Day 5 – March 16, 2018

Santiago

Coastal Visits – Coastal stabilization, Fresh water lakes Salt/Fresh lake – dolphins, crocodiles, pelicans and flamingos

With luck – if you have the right timing you will see the migratory flight of the butterflies – cabbage whites – like snowflakes on the trees.

Eco-Tour 3 – Gardens of desert, cacti and musical instruments
Join us for a tour in the arid hills of the south coast between the Sierras and the azul Caribbean sea. This coastal strip is full of micro climates permitting elephant grass here, and cacti there. We make lots of stops along the way to peer into gardens, tramp through the undergrowth (no sandals please) and look and point. The Cactus Garden represents a major collection of exotic and indigenous species and we spend time learning to propagate these heat and drought tolerant plants. Lunch in an Artisan Village

Sometimes our timing and the weather is right to see the flight of the bats from the coast to the mountains in search of food; and the birds which hunt them.

Day 6 – March 17, 2018

Santiago

Farm and Garden Day
This is a new tour based on many requests to see local agriculture.

1. Cuba has two objectives for its agriculture.
a) to contribute to food independence
b) to use sustainable techniques which protect the environment and biodiversity.

2. Cuba and UNESCO have a new 7 year project to connect farms practicing sustainable methods of agriculture through the mountain regions. These farms provide local examples of excellence, teach other farmers, and encourage experimentation with new methods to resolve old problems.

We visit three farms which are part of this project (this is weather dependent – mountain roads can be impassable in the wet).

Lunch

Our second visit is to a small National Reference farm – this is very much a mixed farm in a small valley between mountain ranges.

Our final visit is to two National Reference gardens. One is a medicinal herb garden, the other an organoponico garden. And yes we will be buying some of your dinner there.

Day 7 – March 18, 2018

Santiago – 8am start

History of Cuba Part 4 Roots of Revolution the Batista Years
A century of turbulence and civil war has led to over five decades of relative calm. The struggle to become an independent nation in the face of US opposition is a poignant and triumphant story. Come with us to explore the Revolutionary War as played out around Santiago. Have history come alive and tangible.

Depart for Camaguey

Day 8 – March 19, 2018

Camaguey

The city of the plains is remarkable for its built heritage and its lively cultural life. The squares are always busy with events. This is home to the 2nd ballet company of Cuba. We offer several different history and arts tours here. The city was the home of one of the most romantic heroes of the War of Independence. It is noted for its ceramics and its community of artists and artisans.

History, Architecture or Arts tour. TBA

Day 9 – March 20, 2018

Camaguey to Santa Clara

Early morning departure for Santa Clara arrive lunch time Santa Clara – Battle for Santa Clara (half day programme) – Enjoy this city of Che! Lunch included. Packed breakfast

Day 10 – March 21, 2018

Santa Clara to Cienfuegos

Early start for the Jardin Botanico. This spectacular garden was built by a sugar baron who had a passion for bamboo, but also collected many species trees. Swiss Family Robinson could live in this garden. Lunch in a nearby orchid garden which was built over many years by its owner.

Day 11 – March 22, 2018

Cienfuegos

Walking tour with senior architect of the City. This is a spectacular city and will be more so. The architect who heads the Office of the Conservador has just won all kinds of prizes, and the architects of his office consistently win awards for their work. Sometimes guests are invited to the house he and his wife (another architect) have restored. This spectacular city was built on the wealth of sugar, and continues today to be an important industrial, cultural and learning centre. Lunch during the tour Afternoon departure to Habana.

Day 12 – March 23, 2018

Habana

Walking tour Habana Vieja The four principal squares which make up this old city have changed so much in 20 years. Lovingly restored by the young people and not so young people who work for the Office of the Conservador this is a song of light and shadow, stones and decoration. Your expert guide is one of Cuba’s internationally known architect historians.

Day 13 – March 24, 2018

Habana

Early morning in the Jardin Botanico. This garden was the life work of the previous Director who preserved it through the Special Period, through hurricanes and droughts, and again robbers of precious wood! The Japanese garden is newly rebuilt – a further gift of Japan. Your expert guide has worked in the garden for more than 25 years.
Lunch by the water at the home of a ceramicist.

After lunch we meander back to the city visiting some of the gems of Republican architecture of the first half of the 20th century. Cuba was at the forefront of innovative architecture; exploring the possibilities of new materials especially ferro-concrete, large glass, ceramics. Filled with light some of the buildings look insubstantial! Your expert guide is one of Cuba’s leading architect historians.

Day 14 – March 25, 2018

Habana – Free day

Day 15 – March 26, 2018

Depart 7 am for Airport

This timing may change depending on what transportation alternatives are available.


Pricing

Prices in US dollars PER PERSON
2 pax 2600US
4 pax 2150 US
6 pax​1750 US .

The tour includes

  1. Accommodation and meals (breakfast and dinner) in homestay (bed and breakfast).
  2. Transportation – included with all tours, intercity transportation by intercity bus.
  3. Tours – include expert guides, translators where needed, transportation, entrance fees, lunch for all full day tours. Lunch is included in Santa Clara. Some gratuities included.
  4. We do not include personal expenses, evening entertainment, alcoholic beverages.

This tour is booked by 2 people who would like more to join them.

Please complete the registration form here.

We are pleased to assist with any travel arrangements to Cuba.