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An action-packed holiday for adventurous families. Swim in jungle pools, hike along forest trails and stay at traditional haciendas in the mountains. Cruise around Havana in a 1950s American car, snorkelling in the warm waters in the Caribbean and experience the thrill of zip-wiring through the tree tops. Cuba is the ideal destination for a fun-filled family holiday.
Explore Tour Leader
2 nights simple camping
1 nights comfortable casas particulares
11 nights comfortable hotel
14 - 20
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Havana. Built around a deep natural harbour, Havana is one of the most impressive cities in the Americas. It's also one of the most exciting: the modern city is a fascinating mix of old and new, with crumbling tenement blocks and 1950s American Cadillacs rubbing shoulders with grand colonial buildings and monuments to the revolution.
Our local Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 8am on the morning of day two. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Havana at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Havana's Jose Marti International Airport (airport code HAV) which is 23km, around 45 minutes from the airport. A representative from our local partners in Cuba will meet you at Havana Airport and assist you with the transfer formalities.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose head out to explore the city which is centrally located just a short walk from the elegant El Capitolio building and the scenic Malecon sea esplanade with fine views of the city. There are several restaurants and bars within walking distance and lively music with the hypnotic rhythms of salsa, trova and son being played along the Paseo del Prado adjacent to our hotel.
Sevilla Hotel (or similar)
What better way to get a feel for this vibrant and fascinating city than to cruise the streets in classic 1950s American cars, a colourful legacy of pre-revolutionary days? Our route takes in the beautiful, neoclassical architecture of Havana's Vieja (Old) district and the art deco buildings along the waterfront (Malecon) as well as driving through the Vedado and Miramar suburbs, where kids play baseball below rusting street lights. In the afternoon we get active with a salsa dance lesson: a chance to learn the basics of Cuba's most characteristic dance style.
Leaving Havana we head west to the beautiful Vinales valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the most famous tobacco fields in the world. The valley sits in the Sierra de los Organos mountains, where millions of years ago underground rivers cut tunnels through the soft limestone hills leaving behind strange hills or 'mogotes' that rise like cliffs from the rich, red soil of the valley floor. We take a short guided walk through this remarkable landscape, passing immaculate tobacco fields and beautifully tended fruit and vegetable gardens, pausing to visit local farmers and see for ourselves the intricate process of harvesting, drying and finally rolling the classic Cuban cigars (tabacco growing season is between Oct-April). The valley floor is dotted with simple, colourful farmhouses, each with its characteristic thatched-roof tobacco drying barn. Most of the farming is still very traditional and you can expect to see the fertile soil still being ploughed by oxen.
La Ermita (or similar)
Today we journey by ferry to the beautiful white sand beaches of the island of Cayo Levisa on the north coast of Cuba. Here, mangroves and pristine white sand welcome us for a day's relaxation on the beach. The more active among us may choose to take an optional snorkelling trip to explore the colourful marine flora and fauna on the reef. As there is little civilization on the island, you may like to bring your own snorkel and mask although they are often available for hire locally
Today we head east into the Sierra del Rosario at Soroa. We visit the beautifully tended orchid garden here, located on a steep hillside with views over the surrounding mountains. More than 700 orchid species are grown here (including one that smells of chocolate!) along with many other quite fascinating plants. This afternoon you may wish to take a walk to a beautiful nearby waterfall surrounded by dense, green forest which is rich in birdlife and home to many butterflies or you may wish to just relax by the pool
Soroa Hotel (or similar)
We start our day with a drive to Las Terrazas a small village in the heart of the Sierra del Rosario, a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The region used to be severely deforested so in 1968 an ambitious regeneration project was started. The hillsides were terraced (to reduce rain erosion) and millions of trees were planted. Now the area is covered in thick tropical vegetation, with the distinctive tall, white trunks of the majestic royal palm standing out against its rolling green hillsides. We set out this morning with a local naturalist guide to walk through the rich flora and fauna of Las Terrazas, finishing two or three hours later at a small waterfall with rock-pools, perfect for a refreshing swim (water-shoes are useful as there can be lots of scrambling over rocks). The rest of the day is left free to enjoy this beautiful area. A popular option is to do the exhilarating zip-wire course: three long wires take you flying over the tree-tops, the lake and even over the red-tiled rooftops of Las Terrazas village (it is easy to sit out the zip-wire course if not all family members want to participate). We will the return to Soroa for the night.
Heading east across Cuba, we drive through giant citrus and sugar plantations and out into the flat marshlands of the Zapata Peninsula. We stop at the Cueva de los Peces (Cave of the Fish), a 70 metre deep flooded natural pool with subterranean tunnels connect it with the nearby sea. We stop for lunch here and a swim and snorkel before continuing to the infamous Playa Giron - the Bay of Pigs. This seemingly quiet, rural area propelled Cuba onto the world stage when the CIA backed an abortive coup attempt by Cuban exiles that resulted in humiliation for the Kennedy administration, the death and capture of some 1400 soldiers and the immediate elevation of Fidel Castro to hero status. We visit the museum here to learn how a 20th century superpower was humbled by a supposedly ragtag army of disorganised rebels, an event that practically threw Cuba into the waiting arms of the Soviet Union. We then drive to Cienfuegos, another beautifully preserved colonial city with UNESCO World Heritage status.
Union Hotel (or similar)
This morning we will start the day with a short city tour around the colonial heart of Cienfuegos. This city is often refered to as the 'Pearl of the South', originally founded by the French it boasts the impressive Terry Theatre where they host operas and ballet. This afternoon has been left free either to relax by the hotel pool or you may wish to take an optional boat excursion out to one of the local bays.
This morning we drive to Trinidad - A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cobbled streets and Spanish architecture of Trinidad make it one of Cuba's most impressive and best preserved colonial towns. It was founded in 1514 but only came to prominence when French settlers fleeing the slave revolt in Haiti began arriving in the early years of the 19th century. These plantation owners built sugar mills in the nearby Valle de los Ingenios and the region quickly became responsible for a third of all Cuba's sugar production, generating huge wealth for the town. We will walk through the colourful streets, squares and markets of the old town and visit the cathedral.
This evening we stay in a Casas particulares, the term given to a homestay in Cuba. Staying in a casa offers a unique opportunity to experience Cuban hospitality in local accommodation adapted for tourism. Casas are generally run by the owner and members of the family that live there. Staying close to the town centre allows us easy access to the lively music and salsa on show in the evening. Check out the bands playing on the steps leading up to the Casa de la Musica. The steps are often overflowing with people so it's worth arriving early.
Casa Particulares - Trinidad (or similar)
Comfortable Casas Particulares
This morning we skirt the edge of the wooded Escambray Mountains with the turquoise waters of the Caribbean on our left, taking a steep, switch-back road into the densely wooded Topes de Collantes nature reserve. Transfer onto an open-sided 4WD truck which takes us deeper into the reserve, then set off on foot through the forests with our naturalist guide. Our trail takes us along a ridge with panoramic views on all sides, then into a valley cut deep by the Guayanara River. Our guide will point out the rich and varied flora and fauna along the way, including the rare Cuban trogon, Cuba's national bird, whose red, white and blue plumage mirrors the national flag.
After a walk of around 3 to 4 hours we arrive at our 'hacienda', set in a beautiful valley. Lying alongside a river with bathing pools, Hacienda de Gallega is a converted farmstead with a dining area, a bar, simple toilet and shower facilities and some flat terraces where our tents will be set up. Surrounded by beautifully tended flowerbeds and the forests of Topes de Collantes, this is a wonderfully relaxing and peaceful place to stay. Please note it is possible to travel by truck to the hacienda if you prefer not to walk today.
After lunch there's the chance to walk along the river to the Salto de Rocio waterfall, a 3 hour round trip, through an area rich with trogons, hummingbirds and woodpeckers.
Close to the waterfall there are rock pools where we can swim and - for the intrepid - swing out Tarzan-style on a liana overhanging the deepest pool. In the evening we eat a wholesome dinner at the hacienda then settle down to sleep overnight in our tents. 2-man tents are provided along with foam mattresses and blankets, but we recommend you bring your own sleeping bag (or at least a sleeping sheet) in addition. If you prefer, sleep out on the verandahs at the hacienda, under the eaves, rather than in a tent.
Hacienda Gallega (or similar)
In the morning we drive by truck to the start of our 3 to 4 hour walk. We follow a trail through forests and valleys, past streams and glades with flowers, butterflies and darting hummingbirds. Further on we reach La Batata, a cave through which an underground river gurgles, gently carving out rock pools. The water rarely exceeds 20°C so the swimming is exhilarating here! We walk on until we reach the beautiful, isolated Hacienda Codina, set in a green valley with manicured gardens all around. The traditional hacienda has a pleasant bar and verandah, with rocking chairs to sit back and enjoy the view. We enjoy a leisurely lunch in the dining area, surrounded by colourful flowers and birds, then rest through the heat of the day. Later in the afternoon we explore a short nature trail close to the hacienda, with rare orchids and unusual medicinal plants. At one point the trail actually passes through a cave (Cueva del Altar), emerging on the other side of the hill to beautiful views over the distant Caribbean. Later we have dinner, enjoying another traditional home-cooked meal, before settling down for the night in our tents (or, like last night, you can choose to sleep on the verandahs of the hacienda). Once again you can skip the walk today and travel to the hacienda by truck if you prefer.
Hacienda Codina (or similar)
After breakfast, bid farewell to the Hacienda staff, driving by open-sided 4WD truck to the park boundary, where we are reunited by our bus to take us the short distance to Playa Ancon, a 6km stretch of white sand beach located beyond Trinidad.
These two days have been left free to make the most of the idyllic beaches near Trinidad, and the surrounding area. Relax on the beach and enjoy the facilities of the hotel which has an entertainment programme, traditional music band, aerobics classes, beach sports or just relax on the beach. Catamaran, wind-surfing, kayaking, and scuba diving are all possible.
Memories Trinidad (or similar)
There are various options available during our time here, giving you the chance to be as active or relaxed as you like. You may wish to head into the Escambray mountains for a 4 hour trek (approx 8km) up through an unspolit land of forest and water-eroded valleys. The trek is to an isolated hacienda where we would have lunch, before returning to Trinidad.
In the morning we drive west back to Havana. We will stop on route at the historically important city of Santa Clara. Here we visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum, the final resting place of one of the world's most iconic and recognisable revolutionary figures. we will then continue onto Havana where the rest of the day is free either to enjoy exploring more, perhaps wandering through some of the artisan markets looking for souvenirs to take home, or relax around the lovely pool at our hotel.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Havana.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Havana at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Havana's Jose Marti International Airport (airport code HAV) which is 23km, around 45 minutes from the airport.
The dry season is from November to April. Average temperatures are 71-79F. Though the sky is often cloudless during the dry season, cold wet snaps do come in from North America especially in Dec and Jan, when the temperatures can drop to as low as 41F at night. From May to October there are normally fine mornings and clear evenings, afternoon rains tend to be short & heavy. Temperatures are hot and humid.
2 Pin Flat and 2 Pin Round
Havana - Museo de la Revolucion 200.00 CUP & Arte Colonial (10-15 CUP) Las Terrazas - Canopy 350.00 CUP Viñales - Cueva del Indio 120.00 CUP Soroa - Waterfall visit 50.00 CUP, Orchid garden 125.00 CUP Trinidad - Cayo Las Iguanas Boat Excursion 55.00 USD plus transport 10- 15 EURO per taxi each way;
Include light cotton clothing plus something warmer for the evenings in the hills when it can get cool. A light fleece and waterproof are also recommended, except during Dec-Jan when you will need a heavier fleece and waterproof.
Comfortable walking boots or shoes are recommended, although the walking trails can be tackled in trainers.
One main piece of luggage and a shoulder bag or daysac. Remember you will be expected to carry your own luggage, so don't overload yourself.
A torch (with spare batteries and bulb), filter water bottle, travel pillow, towel, sunblock, pocket knife, insect repellent, sunglasses, sun hat and swimgear. You may wish to bring a walking pole. A mosquito net is strongly recommended. A 2-season (temperature 0°C to 5°C) sleeping bag is recommended for the two night stay in the haciendas (mattresses are provided) if you feel the cold, alternatively a sleeping bag sheet. Due to the limited availability of bedding (and other goods) in Cuba, the bedding provided in Topes may not be up to the standards you are used to. Accordingly, we strongly recommend you take your own sleeping bag for these night's stay. You may also wish to bring your own mask and snorkel (see day 4). Camera equipment is not available to buy in Cuba. Tissues, hand santizers and repellant sprays as these are all difficult to come by in Cuba.
Bus, 4WD, Car
Accommodation and service levels in Cuba have improved in recent years but there is an ongoing trade embargo and lack of investment in infrastructure. Accommodation can be basic, particularly in some rural areas, occasionally with unreliable water and electricity supply. Service levels in government hotels, shops and restaurants are generally poor as this is not a service-oriented western culture. Of course, this is all part of seeing the 'real Cuba' and while we think you'll be pleasantly surprised by most of the hotels we use, you should be prepared for simply furnished rooms, some out-dated furniture and varying levels of service. Most of the hotels do have air conditioning and en-suite facilities. Casas particulares (Trinidad) - This is a Spanish term meaning private accommodation or homestay in Cuba. Staying in a casa offers the visitor a unique opportunity to experience Cuban hospitality in local accommodation adapted for tourism. The number of rooms, quality, facilities and access to other areas of the house such as the living room varies massively but as a general rule the majority of Casas are clean, basic, centrally located and can host only a handful of guests. Casas are generally run by the owner and members of the family that live there and the standard of English spoken will vary from zero to fluent, which is a good opportunity for you to practice your Spanish. Virtually all of the rooms have private facilities but on rare occasions it may be necessary to share. Your Explore Leader will coordinate accommodation arrangements on the trip.
Some of the hotels have pools. There are also opportunities to swim in the sea and at the jungle pools at Las Terrazes.
Food supplies to Cuba are sometimes in short supply as a result of their economic situation as well as the restrictions due to the US embargo. For this reason it is not uncommon for some restaurants and hotels to run short of ingredients. In addition, Cubans tend not to use much spice in their cooking and there can be a lack of variety resulting in the same meals being repeatedly offered. That said, local produce is usually very fresh and often organic.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Cuba: Visas or Tourist cards are required by all nationalities travelling to Cuba. Explore can only supply the Cuban Tourist Cards to citizens of the EU, Canada, Australia and New Zealand who are resident in the UK. This currently costs £15. Please contact Explore or your Travel Agent to arrange this service and we will send your tourist card with your final documentation. Alternatively they can be obtained directly through Cuban embassies and consulates. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. You are required to complete a health declaration for in order to enter Cuba - This form can be found here - https://www.dviajeros.mitrans.gob.cu/inicio Due to US Treasury Department Regulations we are unable to accept bookings from US passport holders. These Regulations set out different categories under which it is possible for US citizens to travel to Cuba; our trips do not fall under any of the permissible categories. As a tour operator we have an obligation to follow legal procedures, and as such we are unable to sell our trips to US passport holders. Travelling for tourism reasons directly from the USA to Cuba isn't allowed under US law. The law applies to US nationals and all foreign nationals who are either resident in the USA, or travelling through the USA en route to Cuba. Those travelling on direct flights between the UK and Cuba, or via other countries excluding the USA, are unaffected by this US legislation. You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant Embassy prior to departure. Canada: An electronic travel authorisation (ETA) is required by British citizens transiting via Canada. For more information see the official Canadian government website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, TB, infectious hepatitis and polio. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please note many countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean require a yellow fever vaccination certificates if traveling from infected areas. A detailed list of these countries can be found on the NaTHNaC website - http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. Also on the NaTHNaC site there is a list of Countries (and specific areas within a country) which are at risk of infection and a vaccination is therefore recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before traveling.