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Cuban Rhythms

Havana

Day 1 HavanaArrive in Havana at any time. Check into our hotel and enjoy the city. One of the oldest cities in the western hemisphere, Havana was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. It contains a wealth of colonial architecture, and the old city and streets around the malecon (ocean-side walkway) are best discovered on foot. The main area of interest to visitors is La Habana Vieja (The Old City), where walking or a taxi tour are the best modes of transportation. Points of interest in this part of town include La Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Habana, the Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras (which now houses a restaurant), the Museo de Arte Colonial and the Plaza de Armas, with its statue of Manuel de Céspedes (one of the leaders of the Cuban independence movement). The Palacio de los Capitanes Generales is also located on the Plaza de Armas, which now houses the Museo de La Ciudad. You will find the oldest colonial fortress on the plaza’s northeast sector, the Castillo Real de la Fuerza, whose construction began in 1558. The city is home to various museums, and depending on your area of interest, there is practically a museum for everyone. One of the city’s (and the island’s) most prominent attractions though, are its music and clubs. Everywhere you go you will hear and feel the music and see people freely dancing in the streets. The island literally pulses with the beat and blend of Afro-Hispanic rhythms and movement. Please note: the heat of Cuba may affect you upon arrival, with a general sense of lethargy and/or loss of appetite. This is no cause for alarm, it is simply your body’s reaction to the heat. Be sure to drink plenty of water and do not attempt too much in any given day.Day 2-4 Santa Clara/Trinidad (1B,1D)Stop by Santa Clara en route to Trinidad and visit important historical sites, including the famous Che monument. Santa Clara was a key city in the Revolution. Santa Clara is probably best known as the home of the statue of Ernesto Che Guevara at the Plaza de la Revolución. The remains of Che and his comrades who fell in Bolivia are interred in the mausoleum at this site. About 18 men, under the command of Comandante Ernesto (Ché) Guevara, fought against more than 400 heavily armed Batista government troops and captured the armoured train. There is a large monument deditcated to the derailing of this train full of armaments that was essential to the triumph of the revolution. Both the monument and the site are referred to as 'Tren Blindado'. The Museo Histórico de la Revolución chronicles the Battle of Santa Clara, and it is here that a gargantuan statue of El Ché was erected to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the revolutionary hero’s murder in Bolivia. Continue onto the colonial city of Trinidad where you'll go on an orientation walk upon arrival to get your bearings. Learn some moves during a salsa dancing lesson and take in some live music at an evening out at the Casa de la Trova. Enjoy a home-cooked local dinner as a group hosted by one of the homestay families. Trinidad is the hub of the cultural activity, and you are never out of earshot from a group of musicians playing local salsa or son. The town also has the requisite Casa de la Trova, a mainstay of Cuban musical culture in every town, the Palenque, Las Ruinas, Teatro de Brunet, the Artex, the nightlife, the conga lessons and salsa lessons. Enjoy an included salsa lesson during your time in Trinidad. Those visitors who wish to pursue outdoor activities will find Trinidad a haven for horseback or bicycle riding (don’t expect any modern mountain bikes though!). If an unspoiled, white sand beach sounds like what you're looking for, try snorkelling or diving in nearby Playa Ancón, just 12 km (7.5 miles) from town. The nearby Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of Sugarmills) is where you will see some remains of the island's vast sugar cane plantations. The beautiful green landscape has attracted visitors from around the world who visit it for enjoying its historical and cultural attributes. Valle de los Ingenios was fairly inactive until the 1800s, when French refugees fleeing a slav revolt in Haiti landed here en masse and brought with them sugar cane cultivation. The new residents settled and farmed in the valley. Wealth flowed into the local economy from sugar cane cultivation and the area produced one third of the country’s sugar at one point. The sugar boom was terminated by the two wars of independence, but the wealth generated by the industry remains visible in the town’s once grand mansions, colourful public buildings, wrought iron grill work and cobblestone streets. Day 5-6 ViñalesSee sugar cane and tabacco plantations in this rich agricultural town. Have a cigar or do a some rum tasting. Viñales is in the Pinar del Rio province and located in a fertile valley surrounded by the unusual mogotes, or limestone pincushion hills. Arguably one of the prettiest natural areas in Cuba, we have many opportunities here to enjoy the area, whether it be horseback riding, hiking, or simply sitting back and enjoying the view. While you're here, visit a "vega" or cigar factory, to see how the famous Cuban cigars are made. Try your hand at Spanish while staying in a local homestay. On Viñales’ main plaza there’s a cultural centre as well as a municipal museum, however most visitors to the area come for the views and the nearby outdoor activities. The region has many extensive cave systems, as a result of the slow deterioration of the limestone bedrock by underground rivers, also creating the striking mogotes, reminiscent of the hills of Quilin in southern China. There are plenty of opportunities here for the outdoor enthusiast, such as horseback riding, and hiking which allow for incredible views of the valley and the sprawling tobacco fields. Take a day trip to beautiful Cayo Levisa, an island just off of Cuba's coastline. It is a perfect spot for snorkelling, scuba diving or just blissing out on the beach.Day 7 HavanaStop at lush Las Terrazas en route back to Havana. Discover Old Havana on a short walking tour of the historical centre with your CEO.Day 8 Havana (1B)Depart at any time.

DepartingFrom 01/01/2015 to 24/12/2016

8 days
FROM $749*
8 days FROM $749*

Vintage Cuba

Cuba

Day 1: HavanaKick off in Cuba’s gloriously old-school capital. Dodge ’50s Cadillacs as you stroll the Melancon, swing your hips in a low-key rum shack and smile at every local you pass. Random facts about Cuba: one in four cars on the road is a Russian Lada, there are no poisonous snakes, sex-change operations are free and legal. Practical stuff: there are two types of currency here; you'll use convertibles (CUC), while the locals use pesos (CUP). Hola, Havana!Meals IncludedBreakfastDay 2: Santa ClaraHead to the historic city of Santa Clara and hit up the Revolutionary Plaza. Stand in the shadow of Che Guevara (the monument). It would be nice to commemorate this event with a souvenir of some sort – if only you could find a t-shirt, poster, keyring, book, scarf or pet rock with Che Guevara's face on it.Meals IncludedBreakfastDay 3-4: TrinidadTouch down in Trinidad. This city is everything you imagine Cuba to be – horses trot down cobblestone streets, old men strum guitars on doorsteps and stretches of white sand are ripe for exploring. Climb the bell tower of Central Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos for epic city views or sip on a canchanchara (lemon juice, honey and Santero Cuban rum served in a glazed ceramic pot). It’s a hard knock life.Meals IncludedBreakfastdinnerDay 5-7: VinalesAside from being crazy good-looking and therefore a very pleasant place to spend a few days, Vinales is also known for cheeky porches, tobacco plants and mojitos made with honey. Practice blowing smoke rings from your balcony seat overlooking the giant bubbles of limestone that cover the landscape. Or go for a hike, that’s probably better for you.Meals IncludedBreakfastDay 8-9: HavanaGuess who’s back? Havana’s back. Toast the end of your trip with a mojito and one last salsa lesson at Casa de la Musica, and then bid farewell to the enigmatic city streets.Meals IncludedBreakfastlunch

DepartingFrom 08-Jun-2015 to 03-Jan-2017

9 days
FROM $995*
9 days FROM $995*

Vintage Cuba, 9 Days

Cuba

HIGHLIGHTS: HAVANA - SANTA CLARA - TRINIDAD - VINALES. DAY 1: HAVANA. Random facts about Cuba: one in four cars on the road is a Russian Lada, there are no poisonous snakes, sex-change operations are legal and free. Practical stuff: there are two types of currency here. You'll use convertibles (CUC) and the locals use pesos (CUP). Get acquainted with Havana. Pre-departure meeting in the evening. DAY 2: SANTA CLARA. If only you could find a t-shirt, poster, keyring, book, scarf or pet rock with Che Guevara's face on it. Head inland to the historic city of Santa Clara. Visit the Revolutionary Plaza and the Che Guevara Monument. DAY 3-4: TRINIDAD. Apparently the locals thought white buildings would be too harsh in the heat of the day, so they're painted blue, yellow and terracotta. This is the place to buy a canchanchara - lemon juice, honey and Santero Cuban rum served in a glazed ceramic pot. Set off on your own exploration of Trinidad - quintessential Cuba. Perhaps climb the bell tower of the central Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra Bandidos (a former convent) for great views over the old rooftops and surrounding hills. Why not visit some of the great local markets. Get your beach beach fix - it's a short ride in a 'coco taxi'. Please note that there is a shortage of reliable accommodation in Trinidad and many of the hotels experience constant water and electrical shortages. From time to time it is necessary for us to stay just out of town. DAY 5-7: VINALES. Vinales is known for cheeky porches, tobacco plants and mojitos made with honey. Practice blowing smoke rings from your balcony seat overlooking the giant bubbles of limestone that cover the landscape. Visit Vinales, situated in one of the most scenic parts of Cuba. Perhaps take in the town's cultural centre and museum. Why not set off on some of the hikes in the area. DAY 8-9: HAVANA. Adios amigos. Toast the end of your trip with a mojito and one last salsa lesson at Casa de la Musica. In your free time, why not stroll along the malecon (ocean-side walkway) and watch the traditional and modern sides of this enigmatic city unfold before you. At the end of a long day, enjoy a relaxing evening at any of the many bars and clubs while listening to the island's rhythms. It's time for a final night of salsa, hit the streets and celebrate a fantastic adventure. Extra accommodation in Havana is available at the finishing point homestay for this trip. There are no activities planned for day 9 and you are able to depart at any time. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

DepartingValid for select departures from 15 April 2015 -

9 days
FROM $995*
9 days FROM $995*

Central Cuba Adventure

Havana

Day 1 Arrive HavanaArrive in Havana at any time. There are no planned activities, so check into the hotel (check-in time is 3pm afternoon) and enjoy the city. In the late afternoon/evening you will meet your fellow group members to go over the details of your trip. Check the notice board (or ask reception) to see the exact time and location of this group meeting. After the meeting we will be heading out for a meal in a nearby local restaurant (optional). If you arrive late, no worries, the leader will leave you a message at the front desk. One of the oldest cities in the western hemisphere, Havana was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. It contains a wealth of colonial architecture, and the old city and streets around the malecon (ocean-side walkway) are best discovered on a walking tour. In 1519 the Spaniard Diego Velázquez moved San Cristobal de la Habana from its original site to its present one. The city remained a port of relative obscurity, within the empire, until gold and silver began to flow from New World mines back to Spain. Havana became the gathering hub for shipments of treasure from the ports of Cartagena (Colombia) and Veracruz (Mexico). Soon pirates turned their attention to the port and the city of Havana and its annual treasure trove became the number one target for the Dutch, English and French. Eventually the Spanish began construction of various forts and a protecting wall to repel the invaders. Nevertheless, the city was sacked in 1762 and held by the British under the command of Lord Albermale for nearly a year. Eventually, the Spanish exchanged the territory of Florida for the island. The end of the British occupation also signalled the beginning of more economic freedom for the islanders, as they were given the right to trade with cities other than Cadiz in Spain. The ensuing economic boom translated into steady growth in population and material progress. The main area of interest to visitors is La Habana Vieja (The Old City), where walking or bicycle taxis are the best modes of transportation. Points of interest in this part of town include La Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Habana, the Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras (which now houses a restaurant), the Museo de Arte Colonial and the Plaza de Armas, with its statue of Manuel de Céspedes (one of the leaders of the Cuban independence movement). The Palacio de los Capitanes Generales is also located on the Plaza de Armas, which now houses the Museo de La Ciudad. You will find the oldest colonial fortress on the plaza’s northeast sector, the Castillo Real de la Fuerza, whose construction began in 1558. The city is home to various museums, and depending on your area of interest, there is practically a museum for everyone. One of the city’s (and the island’s) most prominent attractions though, are its music and clubs. Everywhere you go you will hear and feel the music and see people freely dancing in the streets. The island literally pulses with the beat and blend of Afro-Hispanic rhythms and movement.Day 2 Santa Clara (1B)Head east along the Carretera Central to the city of Santa Clara, a key location in the history of the Revolution. On your way into town visit three key historical sites, including the massive Che monument (Santa Clara is also the final resting place of Che Guevara) before settling in for the night. Santa Clara was founded in 1689 by Spaniards hoping to evade the pirate raids on the coastal cities. Today it is a modern, industrial centre and holds a special place in the history of the revolution as the first large city to be liberated by the Revolutionary Forces in December 1958. About 18 men, under the command of Comandante Ernesto (Ché) Guevara, fought against more than 400 heavily armed Batista government troops and captured an armoured train. Full of armaments, the train’s derailing was essential to the triumph of the revolution, and there is a large monument dedicated to the event; both the monument and the site are referred to as 'Tren Blindado'. The Museo Histórico de la Revolución chronicles the Battle of Santa Clara, and it is here that a gargantuan statue of El Ché was erected to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the revolutionary hero’s murder in Bolivia.Days 3-4 TrinidadA trip south brings us through the beautiful Topes de Collantes region to the southern coastal city and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trinidad. We include a tour of the area to get your general bearings; the rest of the time is free to wander the cobblestone streets, shop and experience the great music scene that has made this city famous. La Villa de la Santísima Trinidad was founded in 1514 by Velásquez; the defender of indigenous rights in the Americas, Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, attended over the settlement’s first mass. The future conqueror of Mexico, Hernán Cortés recruited sailors here for his future expedition into that land. It is a charming, small town with the green mountains of the Sierra del Escambray in the background, and the turquoise waters and pure white sand beaches of the Caribbean Sea just a short distance away. The area saw a lot of action during and following the triumph of the Revolution, as gangs of counter revolutionaries hid out and struck from the nearby safety of the mountains. The Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra los Bandidos and the Casa de los Mártires de Trinidad chronicles the struggles of this period in the town’s history. Trinidad is a musical hub (and in Cuba this is saying a lot), and you are never out of earshot from a group of musicians playing local salsa or son. The town has the requisite Casa de la Trova, a mainstay of Cuban musical culture in every town, and most nights of the week you can find locals and tourists alike dancing and enjoying live music in front of the Casa de la Musica, on the corner of the main plaza. Those visitors looking for outdoor activities will find Trinidad a haven for horseback or bicycle riding (don’t expect any modern mountain bikes though!). If an unspoiled, white sand beach sounds like what you're looking for, try snorkelling or diving in nearby Playa Ancón, just 12km (7.5 miles) from town. The nearby Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of Sugarmills), also a World Heritage site, is dotted with remains of the island's vast sugar cane plantations. Valle de los Ingenios was fairly inactive until the 1800s, when French refugees fleeing a slave revolt in Haiti landed here en masse and brought with them sugar cane cultivation. The new residents settled and farmed in the valley, and wealth flowed into the local economy; at one point the area produced one third of the country’s sugar. The sugar boom ended with the two wars of independence, but the wealth generated by the industry remains visible in the town’s once grand mansions, colourful public buildings, wrought iron grill work and cobblestone streets. Indeed, the last three centuries have both changed the landscape and left over 70 architectural and archaeological sites to be explored: the boiler house, dregs house, manor house, slave quarters, warehouses, stables, distilleries, tile factories, bell towers, as well as other masonry works to dam and conduct the water of brooks and cisterns used in the collection of rain water, among others.Day 5-6 Cienfuegos (1B)Travel west along the coast to Cienfuegos, a delightful and interesting city with a history largely different to that of the rest of the country. It is a pleasant city which, because of its role as an important port, both domestically and internationally, has a slightly more cosmopolitan feel about it than most other areas in the south. The streets are straight and wide with the Paseo del Prado, which dissects the city and extends out to the peninsula's end, being the most important street. The street extends south through the Punta Gorda area and north along the bay, where there are some spectacular views, especially at sunset when the bay takes on a quiet and brooding appearance. This important port has many sights clustered around Parque Jose Marti, including the Casa de la Cultura Benjamin Duarte, where it's possible to climb a tower for stunning coastal views. Visit the Palacio del Valle, the architectural pride of Cienfuegos. The botanical gardens is perhaps the most famed botanical garden in the country, housing over 2000 tropical and sub-tropical plants. Among the impressive collection of plant species are more than 200 types of palm trees of araceae, there is also a collection of different types of palm trees indigenous to Cuba. While you're here, enjoy an included boat ride around the Bay of Cienfuegos, which is nearly 90 square km.Day 7 Havana (1B)Travel back to the north coast and to Havana for one final night on the town.Day 8 Havana (1B)Depart at any time.

DepartingFrom 01/01/2015 to 10/12/2016

8 days
FROM $999*
8 days FROM $999*

Cuba Libre

Havana

Day 1 Arrive HavanaArrive in Havana at any time. Check into our hotel and enjoy the city. As your fellow travellers are arriving at various times throughout the day, there are no planned activities other than a group dinner and info session. Look in the hotel lobby for notices on when/where the group meeting will occur. One of the oldest cities in the western hemisphere, Havana was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. It contains a wealth of colonial architecture, and the old city and streets around the malecon (ocean-side walkway) are best discovered on a walking tour. The Spaniard Diego Velázquez moved San Cristobal de la Habana in 1519 from its original site to its present one and the city remained a port of relative obscurity, within the empire, until gold and silver began to flow from New World mines back to Spain. Havana became the gathering hub for shipments of treasure from the ports of Cartagena (Colombia) and Veracruz (Mexico). Soon pirates turned their attention to the port and the city of Havana and its annual treasure trove became the number one target for the Dutch, English and French. Eventually the Spanish began construction of various forts and a protecting wall to repel the invaders. Nevertheless, the city was sacked in 1762 and held by the British under the command of Lord Albermale for nearly a year. Eventually, the Spanish exchanged the Florida territory in trade for the island. The end of the British occupation also signalled the beginning of more economic freedom for the islanders, as they were given the right to trade with cities other than Cadiz in Spain. The ensuing economic boom translated into steady growth in population and material progress. The main area of interest to visitors is La Habana Vieja (The Old City), where walking or a bicycle taxi tour are, the best modes of transportation. Points of interest in this part of town include La Catedral de San Cristóbal de La Habana, the Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras (which now houses a restaurant), the Museo de Arte Colonial and the Plaza de Armas, with its statue of Manuel de Céspedes (one of the leaders of the Cuban independence movement). The Palacio de los Capitanes Generales is also located on the Plaza de Armas, which now houses the Museo de La Ciudad. You will find the oldest colonial fortress on the plaza’s northeast sector, the Castillo Real de la Fuerza, whose construction began in 1558. The city is home to various museums, and depending on your area of interest, there is practically a museum for everyone. One of the city’s (and the island’s) most prominent attractions though, are its music and clubs. Everywhere you go you will hear and feel the music and see people freely dancing in the streets. The island literally pulses with the beat and blend of Afro-Hispanic rhythms and movement.Day 2-3 Viñales (1B)We travel into Pinar del Rio province to the small town of Viñales, beautifully located in a fertile valley surrounded by the unusual mogotes, or limestone pincushion hills. Arguably one of the prettiest natural areas in Cuba, we have many opportunities here to enjoy the area, whether it be horseback riding, hiking, or simply sitting back and enjoying the view. While you're here, visit a "vega" or cigar factory, to see how the famous Cuban cigars are made. On Viñales’ main plaza there’s a cultural centre as well as a municipal museum, however most visitors to the area come for the views and the nearby outdoor activities. The region has many extensive cave systems, as a result of the slow deterioration of the limestone bedrock by underground rivers, also creating the striking mogotes, reminiscent of the hills of Quilin in southern China. There are plenty of opportunities here for the outdoor enthusiast, such as horseback riding, and hiking which allow for incredible views of the valley and the sprawling tobacco fields. Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours Approximate Distance: 190 kmDay 4-5 Maria La Gorda (1B)Isolated and serene, María La Gorda is located in western Cuba, on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, which UNESCO declared an International Biosphere Reserve in 1999. The area is filled with legends of pirates, old cannons and other treasures that lie on the bottom of the sea around peaceful Corrientes Cove. The beach here is named for a legendary Venezuelan beauty who was marooned here by pirates. María allegedly gained quite a reputation for her fleshy charms. En route to Maria La Gorda, the group can opt to stop and tour the world-famous Robaina Tobacco Plantation. "Vegas Robaina" cigars bear the name of the property of the best Cuban tobacco grower, Don Alejandro Robaina, whose family of tobacco growers set up in the tobacco region of San Luis during the middle of the last century. This area has the finest tobacco plantations and wrapper tobacco of the Vuelta Abajo region. Don Alejandro's father, Maruto Robaina, was considered the finest tobacco grower in the country. In 1950, upon the death of Maruto Robaina, Don Alejandro took charge of the plantations, which have produced and continue to produce the wrapper used to manufacture Habanos cigars. Approximately 30% of the tobacco exported from Pinar del Rio province uses Vegas Robaina (Robaina Tobacco plantation) wrapper, making the plantation a tobacco legend. Furthermore it is the only brand of Cuban cigars that bear the name of a real person! Alejandro Robaina passed away in 2010, leaving his grandson HIroshi to run his tobacco farm. Maria La Gorda's location on the Northwestern tip of Cuba offers some of the best sunsets, beaches and marine life you will find in Cuba, an ideal place for water sports. Considered to be one of the richest in Cuba in biological terms, Maria La Gorda is famed for its clear seabed where you may see many species of coral, including the largest colony of Black Coral in Cuban water, gardens of gorgonians; sponges; and Barracudas, Dog Snappers, Snappers and many more tropical fish. From Maria La Gorda, you have an included excursion to Cabo San Antonio, a protected area famous for the sea turtles that lay their eggs on the beach there. After an explanation of the region, visit the Roncali Lighthouse before some free time to enjoy the beach. Estimated Travel Time: 5 hours Approximate Distance: 170 kmDay 6 San Diego/Soroa (1B)On our way to San Diego, just off the Carretera Central, we stop at the lush mountain resort of Soroa. Known as the “rainbow of Cuba,” the area receives a lot of rainfall resulting in the growth of tall trees and orchids. There are nearby coffee plantations, and waterfalls for the passing visitor. head to San Diego for the evening. Maria La Gorda to San Diego: Estimated Travel Time: 6 hours Approximate Distance: 230 kmDay 7 Havana (1B)Transfer back to Havana, stopping at lush Las Terrazas en route. San Diego to Havana: Estimated Travel Time: 2 hours Approximate Distance: 90 kmDay 8 Havana (1B)Depart at any time.

DepartingFrom 01/01/2015 to 24/12/2016

8 days
FROM $999*
8 days FROM $999*

Cuba Express Adventure, 8 Days

Cuba

HIGHLIGHTS: Havana - Playa Larga - Trinidad Day 2 Havana full day tours. Begin your authentic cultural experience in Havana, famous for its wonderful architecture, by going on 2 exciting tours with local friendly guides. Get to know modern Havana with your fun local guide on a Communist Experience Day Trip to see the real Cuba. Learn how to use the local peso, see the city's unknown gems and hop into local shared taxis and unusual forms of local transportation. Stop at a local shop for a coffee, snack or cold beer with your guide to immerse yourself in parts of Havana rarely seen by tourists. Then, get ready for a fun night out on the town in Havana, dancing salsa and partying After a walk along the Malecon to get in the mood, some street music and dancing, we head indoors to one of the great Salsa Bars and Music clubs with Cuban guides as your chaperones. Casa de la Musica, Jazz Cafe and the famous after hours clubs in Vedado depending on your guide and where the night takes you. (Please bring an extra 15CUC per person for cover fees, taxis and drinks on the Havana Night Out Tour). Day 3 Transfer from Havana to Playa Larga & Horse and Buggy Ride. Today, take a public bus passing to Playa Larga where you will get settled in to you homestay with free time to have lunch on your own before your fun afternoon activities Take a half-day horse and buggy ride through the scenic countryside to a nearby crocodile farm with a local guide. Here, thousands of crocodiles are hatched and raised with half released locally back into their natural habitat and half are used for meat, leather goods and artesania. (Not included: Entrance Fee 2 CUC to Crocodile Farm) Day 4 Pez Lion Snorkel Experience & Transfer to Playa Giron. Go on a half-day snorkeling tour with a local fisherman who will take you fishing for the Pez Lion. Take your catch ashore to fillet and cook them up for a delicious and fresh lunch on the beach. Then transfer to Playa Giron where you will have time to visit the Bay of Pigs War Museum on this beautiful beach. Day 5 Transfer from Playa Giron to Trinidad & Salsa Lesson. Enjoy free time in the morning to relax on the beach. Today you will take a public bus to Trinidad, which is well-known for beautiful white sand beaches, colonial architecture, waterfalls and a charming village atmosphere. Take a fun salsa lesson in Trinidad tonight with a professional local instructor. Day 6 Full day Bike or Horse and Buggy Ride in Trinidad. Embark on a full day trip by bike or Horse and Buggy with a local guide to Ancon Peninsula with beautiful beaches stopping off at the old port of Casilda and other beautiful spots on the way. Return to Trinidad in the afternoon and spare some energy for a night out on your own. The nightlife in Trinidad is probably the most accessible and intense in all of Cuba, with numerous live music venues and many dance performances everyday of the week, all amongst the enchanting setting of old colonial buildings and the cobblestone streets. (Not Included: Lunch) Day 7 Transfer from Trinidad to Havana. Make your way back to Havana today and enjoy your last evening in Cuba before taking your flight back home the next day. Day 8 Havana Airport Drop-off. You will be transferred to the Havana airport today in order to catch your flight back home. View our great airfares, travel insurance, hotels and car hire.

DepartingValid for select departures 6 February 2015 - 30 M

8 days
FROM $1,119*
8 days FROM $1,119*

Mayan Sun–Northbound

Antigua

Day 1-2 AntiguaArrive at any time. Antigua is only an hour’s drive from the capital, Guatemala City, and the airport. Transfers are easily arranged when you arrive at the airport, either by shuttle or taxi. Check into our hotel and enjoy this colonial city. Please try to arrive before 6pm for an important group meeting where you can meet the Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members. Please note that Antigua's nearest airport is Guatemala City, Guatemala. Don't get caught flying into the Caribbean island nation of Antigua; it's nowhere near the start of this tour! Antigua is the old capital of Guatemala and as the seat of the Spanish colonial government, was once the most important city in all of Central America. Enjoy the beautiful architecture of this UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. Your Chief Experience Office (CEO) will take you on an orientation walk to help you get your bearings. Modern Antigua is a peaceful, partially restored colonial city that is a pleasure to explore. Walk through quiet cobble-stoned streets, past re-built stucco homes with heavy, beautifully carved wooden entrances. The point of reference for finding one’s way around Antigua is the Central Park, which is directly in the centre of town and the place to be in the late afternoon/early evening. Explore the colonial buildings in this delightful town and don’t forget to try some famous Guatemalan coffee.Day 3 PanajachelTravel through the hills and fertile fields of the Guatemalan highlands to the shores of Lake Atitlán, one of the most beautiful spots in Guatemala. Twelve native villages, blue/grey mountains and three volcanoes line the shores of this lake resulting in a wonderful combination of unusual natural beauty and traditional culture. Panajachel is a relatively modern town with paved streets in its centre and a great deal of old world flavour and charm. The best way to see Panajachel is on foot, but pay attention to where you’re going as there aren’t any street signs. Visit the old churches and explore the back streets to see the more traditional side of Panajachel. You’ll have the opportunity to visit the villages on the lake by boat, departing in the mornings and returning in late afternoon. Get ready for spectacular views of the surrounding volcanoes, and everyday life in a highland village. The people of this area have received tourists for some timeand are friendly and ready to smile at strangers as readily as they will at a lifelong friend. The area is also ideal for outdoor pursuits like swimming, fishing, wind surfing, hiking, bird watching, kayaking, and horseback riding. Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours Approximate Distance: 100 kmDay 4 Lake Atitlán (1D)We will overnight at a Planeterra-supported homestay, with a local family. Tonight, the group will be spread out among a number of homes, where dinner will also be provided. This once in a lifetime experience will really help you to gain a better understanding of the day-to-day life of the locals in this region. The Planeterra project - The Mayan Homestay Project is located in the village of San Juan. The project currently hosts G Adventures groups twice per week and another company’s group once per month. Planeterra's initiative here is to help more families get involved in the Posadas Mayas program and current families to have more space by remodeling and constructing new rooms. The project also includes investing in solutions that reduce environmental impacts associated with tourism (i.e. waste and water management) and developing other small businesses to be linked to the Posadas Mayas. Estimated Travel Time: 1 hour Approximate Distance: 10 kmDay 5 AntiguaWe return to Antigua to explore the city, shop and check out optional activities in the area. Enjoy an included group salsa lesson and practice your moves out at night. Antigua offers three specialties that make shopping here very worthwhile. Textiles sold here are of the highest quality, beautifully designed and woven on foot looms or the rarer back strap loom. Jade, in the form of carved statues and jewelry, is sold in several factories and shops in town and silver jewelry is sold in the better shops and also in a silver factory in nearby San Felipe de Jesus. The city offers good buys in ceramics and antiques as well. Optional activities include mountain biking, a hike up the Pacaya Volcano and visiting macadamia nut and coffee plantations. Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours Approximate Distance: 80 kmDay 6-7 Río DulceWe take the road past areas of dense jungle and arrive at Río Dulce, a small town on Lake Izabal and a port stop for boaters around the globe, on their way to/from Livingston and the Caribbean coast. There are plenty of opportunities for R & R. Aside from boating on Lake Izabal, there are optional tours in the area to view protected manatees, or you may opt to horseback ride through a rubber plantation, explore San Felipe fort, take the morning monkey kayak tour, relax in the thermal springs or hike through the jungle-strewn trails in the Chocón-Machacas Natural Reserve area. Estimated Travel Time: 6 hours Approximate Distance: 290 kmDay 8 FloresOur final stop in Guatemala is Flores, a picturesque town surrounded by Lake Petén Itzá. Flores is well-known for its proximity to Tikal—the largest excavated Mayan site. It was to the Lake Petén Itzá region, that the descendants of the Maya of Chichén Itzá immigrated, moving here from Mexico several centuries after the collapse of the great Maya cities in the Yucatán. These descendants founded the city of Tayasal, on an island in Lake Petén Itzá, and lived there for about four hundred years, isolated and forgotten by the rest of the country, including the Spanish conquistadors. It was not until 1697 that this small city was finally conquered by a military expedition led by Martin de Ursúa, who stumbled upon the city by accident. The city of Tayasal was transformed into the city of Flores, officially founded by the Spanish in 1700. It remained an isolated area, relying on the subsistence farming of corn and beans, and the gathering of chicle (used in the manufacture of gum), from nearby trees. Despite the recent growth in Petén, Flores remains the same small island town, with narrow, cobble-stoned streets, small, brightly painted houses and friendly people. The island is now attached to the mainland by a causeway, but many of the local inhabitants still get around by cayuco, or dugout canoe. Flores remains one of the most scenic and charming towns in the Petén. It is particularly attractive to visitors because of Lake Petén Itzá, a large lake (12 km long and 3 km wide) offering all sorts of possibilities for fun, including swimming, boating, fishing and bird watching, as well as a small zoo and a nature preserve. The rainy season in the Petén is generally from mid-May until early January. Be prepared to get wet. Make sure you have plastic bags to wrap around the items in your daypack while hiking, and bring a good (light) waterproof jacket. Also make sure that you have strong insect repellent. The dry season runs January until mid-May. During this time you need to make sure you have adequate sunscreen. Estimated Travel Time: 7 hours Approximate Distance: 210 kmDay 9-10 San IgnacioHead north to the ancient city of Tikal before venturing into Belize. The spiritual centre of Tikal boasts the Mayan’s highest pyramids, and abundant flora and fauna in the surrounding jungle. The sheer scale of the ruins at Tikal may at first seem daunting. Even if you make it only to the main plaza, or spend an hour relaxing in deep contemplation, you certainly won’t be disappointed. The central area, with its five main temples, forms by far the most impressive section. If you start to explore beyond this you can wander endlessly into the maze of smaller structures and outlying complexes hidden in the jungle growth. If your energy levels are high enough to make it to the top of Temple lV, your senses will be stimulated. Spectacular views of the surrounding jungle canopy will greet you from the top of the highest structure within the complex. Occasionally, you may spot toucans, macaws and other bright birds from this artificial perch within the greenery. Otherwise, you may simply marvel at the engineering and organizational skills needed to construct this city within the jungle. A local bilingual guide will explain the natural and artificial wonders of this site during our foray into Tikal. From the town of San Ignacio, opportunities abound for exploring Belize’s little known inland scenic beauty. With your free time here, you may choose to explore the area by foot, canoe or horse, take a caving trip, or visit the Mountain Pine Ridge Area and swim in its inviting pools and rivers. As a peaceful, democratic and English speaking country, Belize is an anomaly. It seems in many ways not to belong in Central America at all. To an extent, it is more a Caribbean nation than a Latin one, looking out from the coast rather than inland for its trade and alliances. On the other hand, it has plenty of distinctively Central American features. It offers a unique blend of cultures that includes, in a tiny population, people of Maya, Mestizo, African, European, Asian and Arab descent. Aside from the rich and lyrical local Creole, Spanish is also spoken throughout the country. For many years Belize has been a relatively unknown destination, and only recently have tourists begun to discover its wonders, including the western hemisphere’s longest barrier reef (second only to Australia’s). Also well worth a visit, the Cave of the Stone Scepter, Actun Tunichil Muknal involves a 45-minute jungle hike to the opening of the cave, wading across a river three times before the adventure begins! Inside the cave, you’ll find a Mayan cermonial site. There you will be amazed by the natural museum of Mayan relics left just as it was by the Maya 1400 years ago. Ceramic pots, skulls, and calcified skeletons will enthrall even the most experienced speleologist. Spelunking in the Crystal Cave is another popular day trip with our travellers. Days trips can also be arranged to Xunantunich,an impressive Maya ceremonial centre located on a natural limestone ridge providing a grand view of the entire Cayo District and Guatemalan countryside. The tallest pyramid on the site, El Castillo, has been partially excavated and explored, and the east side of the structure displays a unique stucco frieze. The plaza of the ceremonial centre houses three carved stellae. You can get a group together and hire a taxi to take you to the site. Getting there includes crossing a narrow river by a hand-cranked ferry which shuttles you across! There is a small fee to enter the grounds and a guide can give you the lowdown on the site. In San Ignacio the accommodation is a rustic Eco-Lodge, you will enjoy being totally surrounded by nature. Eat local belizean food, swim in the river that passes by and wake up to the sounds of belizean wildlife at your window. There are composting toilets and ceiling-less showers, this lodge is one of the most unique stops of your adventure. Estimated Travel Time: 2 hours Approximate Distance: 130 kmDay 11-13 Caye CaulkerCaye Caulker is a relaxed and easy going island with friendly and welcoming local residents. The main street is a sandy pathway through the centre of town surrounded by restaurants, seafood stands and bars. It’s the ideal place to relax and explore the reef then watch the sunset. Snorkel and dive boats leave daily for full or half day outings to the reef, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, the Blue Hole and for manatee spotting tours. The Belize Reef is the world’s second longest (after Australia’s) and offers some truly amazing sights including coral canyons, an astonishing range of tropical fish, manta rays, sharks and barracudas. Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours Approximate Distance: 110 kmDay 14-15 Playa del CarmenMexico is the third largest country in Latin America and the most populous Spanish speaking country in world. Its geography ranges from swamp to desert, from topical lowland jungle to high alpine vegetation and from thin arid soils to others so rich that they grow three crops a year. Leaving Belize and its Caribbean, reggae-tinged vibe, we head north for our final night of the trip in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, the de facto centre of the Mayan Riviera. This once sleepy village is quickly becoming a destination among sun worshippers worldwide. Spend your time here snorkelling or diving in underground caverns, or simply sipping on cool margaritas and catching some rays on the beautiful white sand beach. Playa del Carmen is also known in the area for its vibrant nightlife. The island of Cozumel, with excellent snorkelling and diving is only a 45 minute ferry ride away and the seaside Mayan ruins of Tulúm are a short drive down the coast. Both are well worth the trip. Estimated Travel Time: 12 hours Approximate Distance: 480 kmDay 16 Playa del CarmenDepart at any time. Playa del Carmen is located just south of Cancún airport (45 minute drive) so you can easily head directly there without returning to Cancún.

DepartingFrom 01/01/2015 to 30/12/2016

16 days
FROM $1,139*
16 days FROM $1,139*

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