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Inside Cuba: An In-Depth Island Journey

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Road Scholar
Program #20612RJ
16 Days | 15 Nights
Road Scholar has thousands of educational adventures to choose from. A good way to narrow down our list is to browse our collection of "Most Popular" programs.
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Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Discussion Board

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Miriam Kelm Jun 20, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Went in mid-March. Weather was not a problem. A couple of hot days, but we took it easy and I used my little umbrella for shade. Don't worry about dress. Cuban women seem to wear as little as possible on hot days. Crop pants, not short shorts,men in shorts. Not like going to a Muslim country. If you have not read Cuba Real by Yoani Sanchez, do it. Will give a context not to be gotten other ways. Also, check out her blog at She was just in Chicago for a lecture for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. A wonderful person who has received many international honors for her brave work.

Gladys Gilliland May 14, 2014 at 01:43 PM

This will be the third time I have written this, hopefully this time it goes. Dec to May is the best time to visit Cuba with January being my preference. It is a great learning experience, but not for sissies. I'm 85 and there was one other of the same age on the trip. We did as well as the other newly retired folk, but probably it took us a little longer to rest up when we got home. Would not have missed it. Best trip. Road Scholar has made a supreme effort to return my iPhone left on a remote Ranch. It has been a person to person transfer until it made it to Miami. Now UPS has picked up the trip and I should have it in a couple of days. RS have been wonderful during the entire trip.

Barbara Rabon May 14, 2014 at 08:52 AM

What is the best time of year to travel to Cuba when it isn't so hot and humid?
John Cubit May 14, 2014 at 10:54 AM

You can get the weather statistics for Cuba online. Cuba is not too far south of south Florida, which is cool in winter, but hot and humid in summer. However, along with the heat and humidity you get longer day-lengths (better for sight-seeing and photography). As far as I was concerned, the weather for our trip in April was fine.

Virginia Marcotte May 07, 2014 at 02:59 PM

To anyone going to Cuba in the future -- I know it may be too hot there to go now, a suggestion for your donation might be condoms. Seriously, I just read in the mag, The Week that they had a condom shortage because they destroyed their inventory because they were mis-labeled as having expired. The shortage spread to an area with a high HIV incidence.

Gladys Gilliland Apr 22, 2014 at 05:49 PM

No, no one wore shorts and Jeans would be so, so hot. Some wore short skirts or loose dresses with tank top like necklines and no sleeves. It was 95 F degrees in the Eastern part with humidity always present. It will be hotter and more humid in May.
I used my iPhone for a camera and it seemed to do well. I won't really know until it returns from Cuba via a RS guide. It fell out of my pocket on The King Ranch, was found and Vincente is holding it for me. GREAT TRIP. Arduous and but wouldn't miss it for the world.
Virginia Marcotte Apr 23, 2014 at 06:31 AM

People did wear shorts on our trip -- me included. I was there in Janauary and I agree jeans would have been too hot but our Cuban guide wore them. As Gladys said, some women wore long, loose skirts and others wore short skirts -- golf skirt length. I had pretty good luck with my IPod, not a phone, Problem was my ineptness, not the IPod. Enjoy it! There is a lot to see and learn!

Kathleen Wright Apr 22, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Did folks wear shorts or jeans on your tour and if so did they seem appropriately dressed?

Ruth Lawson-Stopps Mar 31, 2014 at 12:05 PM

We returned on March 21st from our trip. I have no opinions on cameras. My IPhone did fine for me.
We had the same bus and driver for the whole trip. I left a polar fleece on the bus, sometimes the air conditioning was a bit cool. You can also leave your donations on the bus. No rest room on the bus but plenty of banos (bathroom) stops. Bring tissue and be prepared with some $ to pay attendant if present. Many public bathrooms do not have toilet seats. I would say that was the worst part of the trip, which is to say that the rest was really great.
The prepared program and stops were varied and great. the opportunity to see such a wide expanse of the country was fantastic. Interaction with the Cuban people wonderful. Be ready for the adventure and try to ignore the things that do not work. You will not have a lot of free time but you will have a reasonable amount. In the towns visit the Casa de La Trova's at night, wonderful music. I was not prepared for how much I would love the art and enjoy the performing arts. If you go to the Sky Ranch enjoy the local guide and the rooster that hops up on his arm. Really, be ready for the adventure adn enjoy it all.

Barbara Rabon Mar 28, 2014 at 12:06 AM

Any thoughts on what camera equipment to take? DSLR D7000 and a 18-200mm lens or a compact Canon point and shoot S110? Are the buses used in transfers during the program equipped with A/C and restrooms?
Linda Lindert Mar 28, 2014 at 09:11 AM

I took my Canon SLr and an 18-135 lens. I didn't need much zoom. I also had a G15 point and shoot but I like the S100 series better as one to hand to others for taking pictures. the G15 has a very sensitive button and is harder to focus. Everyone but me had point and shoots. Very airconditioned, modern buses. Yes. And yes, there is a bathroom in the back. You may want a sweater on the bus.
John Cubit Mar 28, 2014 at 10:30 PM

Take your SLR. I never used my compact, which I also brought. Sample photos are here:
Barbara Rabon Mar 28, 2014 at 11:04 PM

thank you! Nice photos. Would you recommend more than the 18-200mm? I have a 14-24 wide angle zoom and a 50mm.
Barbara Rabon Mar 28, 2014 at 11:04 PM

thank you! Nice photos. Would you recommend more than the 18-200mm? I have a 14-24 wide angle zoom and a 50mm.
John Cubit Mar 29, 2014 at 12:44 AM

As for focal length, I think you would get the most use from the 14-24, followed by the 18-200. However, speed is also very important. Because of indoor, low light situations, the faster, the better. I bounced flash off walls and ceilings and would recommend usinh a flash that can do that. For inside venues, like music events (which are mostly in relatively small spaces) be sure to scope out the best light angle before you take a seat or position against a wall. Many places are the old Spanish style with large, tall windows. Before the performances start, try to get a position where the light coming through those windows is the most advantageous.
Linda Lindert Mar 29, 2014 at 09:47 AM

Yes, the lighting is very tricky with those backlit windows, and sometimes you don't have a choice. With the old cars and some tight situations, I wish I had taken my wide angle lens. I didn't use any flash as I don't like the look and I think it distracts from the programs. I used high ISO and in some cases worked with the blur.
John Cubit Mar 29, 2014 at 10:48 AM

As Linda said, sometimes you don't have a choice. Also note that I said bounced flash, not straight-on flash. Intelligent, considerate use of bounced flash in dim spaces provides fill to the ambient light without glaring off peoples' faces, creating harsh shadows, and being distracting to the performance. You have to wisely choose the few special situations where flash is an asset. I think it is important to engage with the people I wanted to photograph, rather than being stand-offish. I found it easy--and very rewarding--to set up rapport with the musicians and others we were visiting. They very much welcomed friendly, appreciative photography. A genuine smile goes a long way and is always reciprocated.
Linda Lindert Mar 30, 2014 at 10:35 AM

I agree with connecting with people. I speak Spanish so for me that wasn't difficult. I'd ask about their families, how long they practice every day, the pain of toe shoes, whatever. Just a few words made the connections. John, your pictures are a true inspiration. I am still editing and I think it will take a year.

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Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

at no additional cost on this date ...
15 nights of accommodations
40 meals: 15 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 12 dinners
5 Expert-led lectures
17 Field trips
24 Hands-on experiences
1 Performances
2 Flights during the program
Visas: 1(out of 1 required)


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