Our Journeys

Experience Cuba
November 5-13, 2016


Experience Cuba – Fall 2016

Experience Cuba in this unique historical moment, as it is filled with the energy of cultural, economic, and political change! Learn the recent history of the revolution, including the stories of the iconic figures Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, and the widespread changes the revolution prompted for Cuba in education, health care, and other central institutions. Learn about the struggles that the island now faces as relations with the U.S. begin to thaw. Join us also in our exploration of the rich culture of Cuba, including the rhythms of Latin jazz and the beat of hot salsa. Visit the National Museum of Fine Arts and Hemingway haunts. Witness the artistry with which the best cigars in the world are made. Stroll through the plazas of Old Havana, enjoy salsa dance lessons, visit colonial villages on Cuba’s south coast, hike through one of Cuba’s lush National Parks, and enjoy the art, cuisine, music, and dance of this once forbidden island nation. This custom “people to people” journey has been specially designed for the MAC traveler who is interested in music, art, history, and culture.



DAY 1 - Arrive in Miami

Please make sure to arrive in Miami no later than the late afternoon of November 5. We will stay at the Crowne Plaza - which offers a complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport. Note: There will be a group dinner at 7 pm and a group orientation meeting this evening at 8 pm. Sleep in Miami. (D)

DAY 2 - Depart Miami & Arrive in Historic Havana

Your Tour Representative, Alessandra Gardino, will assist you with the airport transfer and check-in for the flight to Havana. Alessandra will distribute the visas and airline tickets while in Miami. Once in Havana - and after clearing Cuban immigration and customs, you will be welcomed by your Cuban National guide holding a MAC sign outside the terminal, who will assist with the transfer to Old Havana (Habana Vieja) where we will have lunch together in the heart of Old Havana. After lunch, our guide will lead us on a stroll through the colorful cobblestone streets of Old Havana. We will check into our hotel later this afternoon and freshen up and relax (with a cool mojito) on the patio in comfy couches overlooking the sea. 7:00PM: Walk to dinner this evening to one of Havana’s best known Paladars (private home restaurants). Sleep in Havana (D)

DAY 3 - Viñales

Travel through this impressive landscape, while seeing how tobacco, cassava and taro are grown. We will tour a farm where you will have a chance to meet rural Cuban families and see how they live and work - and how they make cigars. Enjoy lunch this afternoon at a local farmhouse. Later this afternoon explore the area which is riddled with caves and subterranean rivers. We will explore Indian's Cave, one of the most beautiful caves in the Viñales Valley. Our moderate hike will get us to the small skiffs that will take us on a journey that will amaze you. Enjoy a hike through the area known as “Del Mirador al Valle” (View of the Valley). There is simply no better way to experience the magnificent “mogotes” ..... cameras ready! Return to Havana late afternoon. We’ll have dinner this evening at a local paladar. Sleep in Havana (B, L, D)

DAY 4 - Cuba's Conservatorio Guillermo Tomas and Dance Lessons

This morning your guide will accompany you on a walking tour of Old Havana (Habana Vieja). Following your walking tour visit Cuba's Conservatorio Guillermo Tomás in Guanabacoa. The school, located in a former convent, is still the center of school life, filled with students practicing, parents picking up younger kids, and general pulsing liveliness. The program is designed on the Russian model of music schools for gifted kids: students enter at the age of eight and study both academic and musical subjects for ten years. They spend their entire days studying, practicing, and socializing. Students typically enjoy close friendships with the teachers, and form lifelong professional relationships.

Enjoy lunch in a local paladar. After lunch we are off to Cuba's National Art Schools (Escuelas Nacionales de Arte, now known as the Instituto Superior de Arte), whose structures are considered by historians to be one of the most outstanding architectural achievements of the Cuban Revolution. Enjoy dance lessons afterwards. HISTORIC NOTE: In 1985 the Cuban Minister of Culture stated the obvious: Rumba without Cuba is not rumba, and Cuba without rumba is not Cuba. Today Cuban rumba is a genre involving dance, percussion, and song. There are three main forms: yambú, guaguancó, and columbia. Rumba is an amalgamation of several transplanted African dance and drumming traditions, combined with Spanish influences. We’ll have dinner together at another wonderful paladar. Sleep in Havana (B, L, D)

DAY 5 - Havana to Colonial Trinidad

After breakfast, we’ll depart for Cienfuegos province, also known as the Pearl of the South. In Cienfuegos, you will be able to see remnants of French style architecture built by immigrants from Bordeaux. The majority of the city, however, displays 19th-century early Spanish Enlightenment implementation in urban planning and was declared UNESCO heritage for that reason. Upon arrival in Cienfuegos, we’ll take a brief city tour before enjoying lunch at a beautiful paladar overlooking the bay of Cienfuegos. After lunch, enjoy a special musical performance. Later this afternoon, we’ll make the short drive to Trinidad and check into our hotel. There will be time to freshen up before dinner. Enjoy dinner at the hotel, in a group or at your leisure. Sleep in Trinidad (B, L, D).

DAY 6 - Trinidad and Topes de Collante Natural Park

After breakfast, we’ll have a walking tour of the Old Center of Trinidad. Following your walking tour we’ll board a Russian truck that will take us to the stunning and lush Topes de Collante Natural Park. In the heart of the park we will meet our unique and interesting guide, who will lead us on an unforgettable hike, teaching us about local plants and their healing properties. Boasting caves, rivers, falls, grottos, canyons, and natural pools with crystal clear water, this is a park for nature lovers! Enjoy a pig roast lunch this afternoon. Dinner tonight at a local paladar. Sleep in Trinidad (B, L, D).

DAY 7 - Drive North to Historic Havana via Santa Clara and visit to a cigar factory

En-route to Havana, we’ll stop in the town of Santa Clara to learn more about one of the 20th century’s most complex and controversial figures, Che Guevara. The Mausoleo Che Guevara (Che Guevara Mausoleum) is a memorial that houses the remains of executed Marxist revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara and twenty-nine of his fellow combatants killed in 1967 during Guevara's attempt to spur an armed uprising in Bolivia. The monument contains a bronze 22-foot statue of Guevara, who was buried with full military honors on 17 October 1997 after his exhumed remains were discovered in Bolivia and returned to Cuba. At the site, there is also a museum dedicated to Guevara's life and an eternal flame lit by Fidel Castro in Che's memory.

Santa Clara was chosen as the location in remembrance of Guevara's troops taking the city on December 31, 1958, during the Battle of Santa Clara. This final battle of the Cuban Revolution resulted in Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista fleeing into exile. After our visit we will stop for lunch at Los Caneyes en-route to Havana.

Once in Havana, we will visit a cigar factory, learning the secrets of the best cigars in the world, and then we will head back to our hotel.

Enjoy a free evening tonight to explore local jazz clubs and paladars. Sleep in Havana (B, L)

DAY 8 - A day with Hemingway and the Museum of Fine Arts

This morning we're off to visit Finca Vigía (Lookout Farm) where North America's literary giant, Ernest Hemingway, spent twenty-one of his most important and productive years penning building blocks of English literature. Claimed by both the United States and Cuba as their son, it was Hemingway himself who declared the island his true home. Before returning to Havana we stop by the quaint fishing village of Cojimar which served as the setting for “The Old Man and the Sea.”

After lunch this afternoon, we visit the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts), known for its international and Cuban art. The comprehensive Colección de Arte Cubano comprises three floors of art, spanning works from the 16th to the 20th Centuries by prominent Cuban artists concentrating mostly on pieces from the 20th Century.

Later this afternoon visit “Callejon Project” which is conducted in collaboration with the community in the Centro Habana municipality. Its aim is to rehabilitate traditional folk culture there, taking into account the spiritual, cultural and material needs of this population.

Here we’ll have the chance to visit a private Santeria house. The Santeria religion is a system of beliefs that merges the Yoruba religion (which was brought to the New World by enslaved West Africans sent to the Caribbean to work on sugar plantations) with Roman Catholic and Native American traditions. These Africans carried with them various religious customs, including a trance for communicating with their ancestors and deities, animal sacrifice and sacred drumming and dance. Meet this evening for a farewell dinner. Sleep in Havana (B, L, D).

Day 9 - Depart Cuba for Miami

We transfer to Havana’s Jose Marti Airport this morning where we check in for our flight to Miami. (B)


Trip Facts

9 Days/8 Nights
$4,375 per person double occupancy (land and charter air from Miami to Havana!)
$ 250 per person supplement – 15 to 19 travelers
$ 675 Single Supplement (waived if you are willing to share & a roommate is found)
Starting in Miami on Saturday November 5, 2016 at 7 pm
Returning to Miami Int’l airport on Sunday, November 13, 2016

What is included in the trip

  • An expert bilingual Cuban guide
  • Accompanied by Alessandra Gardino of Customized Journeys
  • Accommodations as listed in your itinerary
  • Cuban government emergency medical insurance plan up to $1,000
  • Multi course traditional meals highlighting Cuban cuisine (all meals included except for 1 breakfast in Miami, 1 lunch and 1 dinner)
  • Bottled water daily & national drinks (local beers & mojitos)
  • Live music while dining and an included evening jazz concert
  • Transport by private motor coach while in Cuba
  • Roundtrip charter flight from Miami
  • All entrances as listed in your itinerary
  • Airport transfers while in Cuba
  • Special insider “people to people” experiences
  • Gratuities for your driver and local guides
  • City and country maps
  • An informational gathering and welcome dinner in Miami the night before we fly to Cuba

What is not included

  • Air from your home city to/from Miami
  • Cuba visa fee of $75
  • Travel Insurance over and above
  • Baggage fees on departure from Miami $20 cash


    New website coming soon!

    Hi Friends & Travelers,

    Big changes to our website are on the way this year! At times, our website might be down or some pages may be “under construction”. If you have any questions on itineraries or other materials, feel free to email us at info@customizedjourneys.com. We can send you full copies of itineraries and answer any other questions you may have.

    Looking foward to seeing you on an upcoming or future trip!!

    The Customized Journeys Team