Road Scholar : Home
Inside Cuba: An In-Depth Island Journey

Program Number: 20612RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/1/2015 - 5/17/2015; 3/4/2016 - 3/20/2016; 3/4/2016 - 3/19/2016; 3/11/2016 - 3/27/2016; 3/11/2016 - 3/26/2016; 4/1/2016 - 4/17/2016; 4/1/2016 - 4/16/2016; 4/8/2016 - 4/23/2016; 4/8/2016 - 4/24/2016; 4/15/2016 - 5/1/2016; 4/15/2016 - 4/30/2016; 4/22/2016 - 5/8/2016; 4/22/2016 - 5/7/2016; 4/29/2016 - 5/14/2016; 4/29/2016 - 5/15/2016; 5/6/2016 - 5/21/2016; 5/6/2016 - 5/22/2016; 5/13/2016 - 5/28/2016; 10/14/2016 - 10/30/2016; 10/21/2016 - 11/6/2016; 10/28/2016 - 11/13/2016; 11/4/2016 - 11/20/2016; 12/2/2016 - 12/18/2016; 12/9/2016 - 12/25/2016; 12/30/2016 - 1/15/2017; 1/6/2017 - 1/22/2017; 1/13/2017 - 1/29/2017; 1/20/2017 - 2/5/2017; 1/27/2017 - 2/12/2017; 2/3/2017 - 2/19/2017; 2/10/2017 - 2/26/2017; 2/17/2017 - 3/5/2017; 2/24/2017 - 3/12/2017; 3/3/2017 - 3/19/2017; 3/10/2017 - 3/26/2017; 3/17/2017 - 4/2/2017; 3/24/2017 - 4/9/2017; 4/7/2017 - 4/23/2017; 4/14/2017 - 4/30/2017; 4/21/2017 - 5/7/2017; 4/28/2017 - 5/14/2017; 5/5/2017 - 5/20/2017; 5/12/2017 - 5/27/2017;
Duration: 16 nights
Location: Cuba
Price starting at: $4,596.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: ; Independent City Discoveries
Meals: 40; 16 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free; Low Salt; Low Fat    

On our most in-depth learning adventure in Cuba, journey across the island from Santiago de Cuba to Havana, exploring the historic Spanish colonial cities and interacting with Cubans from all walks of life. Meet musicians, artists, students, farmers, teachers, workers and the new rising entrepreneurs. This is a rare chance to experience the country’s natural beauty and the warm people of Cuba.


• Learn about the Spanish colonial era, the Cuban Revolution and the Cuba of today.
• Interact with Cuban people eager to teach you about culture, religion, music, dance, cuisine and more.
• Explore grand plazas, churches, forts, sites of the Cuban Revolution, museums and Ernest Hemingway’s home.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles a day. Getting in/out of a bicycle rickshaw (pedicab) and a horse carriage. Travel in a tropical climate.

Round-trip charter flight from Miami to Cuba is included. For programs where there are two identical departure dates shown, one itinerary operates in reverse. The 16-night departures travel from Santiago to Havana and include an additional overnight in Miami at the end due to the late arrival of the charter flight. The-15 night departures travel from Havana to Santiago and do not include an additional night in Miami at the end.

Date Specific Information

5-1-2015, 3-4-2016, 4-1-2016

Due to the late arrival of the return charter flight from Havana to Miami, the hotel in Miami is included on the return for this program date.

3-4-2016, 4-1-2016

Please note that this itinerary operates in reverse (Havana to Santiago de Cuba). Due to the charter flight’s late return time an overnight in Miami is not necessary on the return for this departure.

Itinerary Summary

Independent arrivals Miami, Fla., 1 night; fly to Santiago de Cuba, 4 nights; coach to Camaguey, 3 nights; coach to Trinidad 1 night; coach to Santa Clara, 2 nights; coach to Havana, 4 nights; return flight to Miami for departure. (Itinerary operates in reverse from Havana to Santiago de Cuba on some dates)

Arrival Miami, Fla
1 night
Flight to Santiago de Cuba (Cuba)
4 nights

Begin your discovery of Cuban culture and history of the revolution at Santiago de Cuba’s Plaza de la Revolution and the memorial to Jose Marti, Cuba’s national poet. Meet with salsa dance instructors for a dance class. Interact with musicians to learn about the original Cuban musical style that has spread from Guantanamo to all other parts of the Island. Learn about Afro-Cuban history and eastern Cuban religions. Visit an island fishing community.

3 nights
Coach to Trinidad
1 night

Heading inland to the UNESCO-listed city of Camagüey, meet world-renowned sculptor and painter Martha Jimenez. Attend a rehearsal of one of the best dance companies in Cuba. Venture to a ranch to learn about Cuban cowboy culture, and in a rural village meet a family and hear about their day-to-day lives. Explore Trinidad de Cuba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and pristine example of a Spanish colonial Caribbean town. Experience the warmth and hospitality of Cubans while spending a night in a casa particular, a private B&B.

Santa Clara
2 nights
Coach to Havana
4 nights

In Cienfuegos, learn about its outstanding architecture and meet with members of a local choral group. At the local senior center in Santa Clara, engage with vivacious seniors. Explore Old Havana and its ever-changing architecture. Visit Ernest Hemingway’s house, La Cabana fortress and meet residents of a sustainable eco-community. Explore Cuba’s history through art at the Fine Arts Museum and dine in privately owned Paladars.


It's a time of rapid change on the island of Cuba. After decades of restrictions, dynamic Cubans seize new opportunities created by pro-free-enterprise reforms. Havana’s “yank tanks” (classic American cars) are increasingly joined by late model imports. Literacy and health care statistics outpace many developed countries. At the same time, some Cubans still lack access to goods as basic as toothpaste. It’s a fascinating moment to discover Cuba and meet with its people as they look to the future.

Miami: Full service hotel. Santiago de Cuba: Modern, four-star hotel. Camagüey: Clean and comfortable hotel. Trinidad: Clean and comfortable privately-owned B&B. Santa Clara: Clean and comfortable hotel. Havana: Historic hotel on the Malecón.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Carole Cloonan

Carole Cloonan once traveled the world working as a chef, sometimes on private yachts, a job that naturally flowed out of her move to the Caribbean to live in the Virgin Islands. As a chef abroad, she developed a curiosity for understanding other cultures. Now Carole is eager to combine her love of travel — especially in the islands of the Caribbean — with her passion to help Road Scholars be educated in the culture, culinary traditions, artists and their art, and literary legacy of Cuba.
Yohandra Perez

Yohandra Perez is one of Road Scholar’s many exemplary Cuban specialists. She boasts an impressive knowledge of Cuba and Cuban history, and is fluent in both English and Spanish. She also specializes in Cuba-U.S. relations and is more than happy to share her extensive knowledge with you.
Meals and Lodgings
    DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center
  Miami, USA 1 night
   Melia Santiago de Cuba
  Santiago de Cuba, Cuba 4 nights
   Gran Hotel
  Camaguey, Cuba 3 nights
   Casa Particular (Privately Owned Bed & Breakfast)
  Trinidad de Cuba, Cuba 1 night
   Hotel America
  Santa Clara, Cuba 2 nights
   Hotel Nacional de Cuba
  Havana, Cuba 4 nights
    DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center
  Depart for Miami, USA 1 night
  DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Situated one mile from Miami International Airport (MIA), this modern Miami, Florida hotel adjoins the Miami Airport Convention Center and the Miami International Merchandise Mart, which is also open to the public.

The hotel is a 10 minute drive from the airport and offers a free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel. To call the shuttle upon arrival at the airport: On the 2nd Level / Departure Level, go to the nearest outside door and identify the Door number. Call the hotel on (305) 261-3800 and tell them your location. The shuttle will come and pick you up upon request.

  Contact info: 711 NW 72nd Avenue
Miami, FL 33126 USA
phone: 305-261-3800
  Room amenities: 334 oversized guest rooms with complimentary high-speed wireless Internet access, individual temperature and air-conditioning control, alarm clock radio with MP3 connection, coffee maker with coffee, iron and ironing board, 2 line speaker phone and an in room safe.
  Facility amenities: Warm chocolate chip cookie at check-in; restaurant, bar, Automated Teller (ATM), baggage storage, beauty salon, clothing store, gift shop, laundry/valet service, room service, fitness room, heated outdoor pool, the hot tub and whirlpool spa, 24-hour complimentary airport transportation to and from Miami International Airport and the Waterford Blue Lagoon Office Park.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: To be determined Contact Road Scholar Participant Services at (800) 454-5768 for details.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Additional nights after: To be determined Contact Road Scholar Participant Services at (800) 454-5768 for details.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

 Melia Santiago de Cuba
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Melia Santiago is part modern city hotel, part resort-style hotel, situated in a residential area in the heart of Santiago. The hotel is one of the tallest buildings in the city, providing views of the entire area including the Sierra Maestre mountain range. Please note that Cuban hotel standards may not equal their American or European counterparts. Improvements are ongoing, and we hope that the potential glitch in service or amenities is a minor trade-off for the authentic connections and enrichment you’ll experience.
  Contact info: Avd. de las Américas y Calle M
Santiago de Cuba,  90400 Cuba
phone: +(53) 226 87070
  Room amenities: 300 rooms with air conditioning, tea and coffee making facilities, LCD TV with 24 multi-language channels, in-room safe (additional charge), direct dial telephone, mini-bar (additional charge), private bathroom with bathtub and hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: Restaurants, café, bars, Panoramic rooftop bar, foreign currency exchange, Internet center with PC, WiFi in lobby (additional charge), gift shop, 24-hour doctor on-call, 3 swimming-pools set in spacious gardens and terraces, evening entertainment program with live music, fitness center, massage and sauna. Hotel voltage 110v (60Hz) and 220v (60Hz).
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Gran Hotel
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: PLEASE NOTE: Rural hotels in Cuba are very basic by American standards, while this hotel is the best available, clean and safe, it may not meet our higher expectations.
  Contact info: Maceo 64 e/ General Gomez e Ignacio Agramonte
Camaguey,   Cuba
phone: +3229209332292094
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, baby's cot (on request), balcony (subject to availability), bathroom, double beds, hot & cold water, safe box, radio, satellite TV, telephone and twin beds.
  Facility amenities: Bar, café, restaurant, grill, international cuisine, snacks and drinks 24 hours a day, internet, money exchange, reception staff speak Spanish, English, French, German, Italian, medical service, safety - uniformed security personnel 24hrs, shop(s) with basic supplies, souvenirs & gifts, taxis desk, telephone - national & international calls
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Casa Particular (Privately Owned Bed & Breakfast)
Type: Bed and Breakfast
  Contact info: Historic District
Trinidad,   Cuba
  Room amenities: All rooms are air conditioned and have a private bathroom with toilet, sink and shower. Soap is the only toiletry provided.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Hotel America
Type: Three-Star Hotel
  Description: Hotel America is located very close to Leoncio Vidal Central Park and Santa Clara´s Civic Square, the main socio-cultural and economic center of the territory, a place where you can enjoy museums, night clubs, shops, cafes and restaurants. PLEASE NOTE: Rural hotels in Cuba are very basic by American standards, while this hotel is the best available, clean and safe, it may not meet our higher expectations.
  Contact info: Ave. Eucaliptos y Circunvalación. Santa Clara, Villa Clara
Santa Clara,   Cuba
phone: +204513
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, radio, telephone, and satellite TV.
  Facility amenities: Swimming pool, safe (extra charge), internet cafe (24 hrs but very slow), a la carte restaurant with indoor and outdoor terrace, snack-bar, sunbathing area, ideal for entertainment and stage shows, international and national phone service, custodial service for luggage, hair dryers, minibar.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Located in the center of Havana, The Nacional Hotel is situated on a vantage point overlooking the Malecon – Havana’s seafront promenade. The Hotel Nacional de Cuba has hosted numerous illustrious guests: actors, artists and many other famous people. The hotel is a National Monument and is inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.
  Contact info: Calle 21 y O, Vedado, Plaza
Havana,  10400 Cuba
phone: + 53 7 836 3564 al 67
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, in-room safe (additional fee), radio, TV, direct-dial telephone, private bathroom with hairdryer. Please note that there are no designated non-smoking rooms.
  Facility amenities: 3 Restaurants, bar, 24 hour room service, outdoor swimming pool, gift shop, beauty salon, Cabaret Parisien show, business center with computers and Internet access (open from 9:00a.m. - 7:00 p.m.) Please note that Internet service in Cuba is expensive and very slow. The hotel has unreliable WiFi service.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
The program begins with orientation in Miami followed by dinner on day one of the program. Please arrive at the hotel by 4 PM. You will be staying at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center that night.
  End of Program:
Due to a late return to Miami, this program has an included overnight. The program ends following breakfast May 17th. You will be staying at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Elderhostel, doing business as Road Scholar, is licensed under the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) under the U.S. Department of Treasury for participants to travel to Cuba on a Road Scholar program. Participants will receive a copy of this license prior to travel to Cuba in Miami, during orientation. In addition to the Personal Information Forms, each participant is required to submit an Affidavit of Participation, Travel Affidavit, Cuba Travel Service Reservation Form, and a clear copy of the passport picture information page prior to departure (check-list provided). These forms are sent in the first mailing and they must be completed, signed, and submitted to Road Scholar at least eight weeks before the program start date. Please refer to the end of the information packet for these forms and please note that Road Scholar must receive the original documents. IMPORTANT NOTE: Any participant born in Cuba, regardless of current nationality, must advise Road Scholar immediately as additional forms and costs may be required.
  Parking availability:
Parking at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center is $7/day (subject to change). It is also possible to park at the airport and take the hotel shuttle.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Miami
  Transportation to site: The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center offers a complimentary airport shuttle to all guests. To call the shuttle upon arrival: On the 2nd Level / Departure Level, go to the nearest outside door and identify the Door number. Call the hotel on (305) 261-3800 and tell them your location. The shuttle will come and pick you up upon request and bring you to the Double Tree at 711 NW 72nd Ave, Miami, FL 33126.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Depart Miami
  Transportation from site: A group transfer from the hotel in Santiago to the airport for our return charter flight is scheduled for all participants. PLEASE NOTE: Charter flight times are subject to change at any time, Road Scholar has no control over these changes. PLEASE NOTE: Charter flight times are subject to change at any time, Road Scholar has no control over these changes.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Flight to Miami / Orientation / Overnight in Miami
(Friday, May 1)

Note: Please note: Most staircases in Cuba do not have railings, so if you use a walking aid, please bring it on the program.

 Arrive To: PLEASE NOTE: This day-by-day schedule should only be used as a guide since program elements are subject to change as availability is controlled by the Cuban government. Individual arrivals at Miami International Airport with an independent transfer using the hotel’s courtesy shuttle service. Upon arrival at the hotel, check in and relax until orientation.
 Afternoon: Please arrive no later than 4 p.m. The Road Scholar Group Leader will be in the hotel lobby at 4:45 p.m. to accompany the group to the orientation room. Welcome and orientation begins at 5:00 p.m. This very important meeting prepares you for travel in Cuba. Review travel documents, discuss OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) regulations that govern our program, responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, tomorrow’s schedule.
 Dinner: In the hotel’s Rioja Restaurant.
Accommodations: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Flight to Santiago de Cuba and Discover EL Morro
(Saturday, May 2)

Note: Please note: Most staircases in Cuba do not have railings, so if you use a walking aid, please bring it on the program. All accommodations in Cuba feature clean, comfortable rooms with private baths and standard amenities. Please note that Cuban hotel standards may not equal their American or European counterparts. Improvements are ongoing, and we hope that the potential glitch in service or amenities is a minor trade-off for the authentic connections and enrichment you’ll experience.

 Breakfast: Breakfast boxes are provided for early morning departure from the hotel.
 Morning: Early morning departure from the hotel to the terminal (final flight times will be confirmed during orientation). The Road Scholar Group Leader will meet the group in the hotel lobby to transfer to the airport. Please be in the hotel lobby with your luggage and be ready to depart the hotel 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Transfer to the airport and check in to the charter flight to Havana. PLEASE NOTE: Flight times are subject to change. Upon arrival in Santiago de Cuba, meet your Cuban Study Leader who will provide local history and knowledge throughout the program.
 Lunch: Near the El Morro fortress.
 Afternoon: Discover El Morro fortress with your Cuban Study Leader. The fortress, overlooking one of the oldest ports in Cuba, protected the harbor of Santiago de Cuba. For the hardy, the winding steps to the top of the fortress provide expansive views over the eastern coastline. Late afternoon check in at the hotel.
 Dinner: In the hotel’s buffet restaurant.
Accommodations: Melia Santiago de Cuba
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Discovering Santiago de Cuba and the Culture of the East
(Sunday, May 3)

Note: Walking and standing for up to one hour / one mile at a time, on paved paths and on cobblestone streets with high curbs.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.
 Morning: Explore Santiago de Cuba. We start with a stop at the Plaza de la Revolution and the Moncada barracks for photo stops and learn a bit about Santiago during the revolution. Later in the morning we make our way to the cemetery to see some of the most beautiful burial crypts built in Cuba and to learn about Jose Marti, the Cuban National Hero. We end our discovery witnessing the changing of the guard at the tomb of Jose Marti. We end the morning at the Diego Velázquez House and Museum, said to be the oldest standing house in Cuba, the Spanish colonial structure is an excellent example of how Spaniards built and lived in Cuba.
 Lunch: Light lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: People to People Connection: Walk to the nearby Cultural House to meet professional dance instructors for an hour of Salsa lessons, a truly cultural connection. Return to the hotel for an expert presentation on the Culture and Religions of Oriente (Eastern Cuba).
 Dinner: Free Enterprise: Dine at a Paladar (privately owned restaurant) and learn how enterprising individuals are operating their own businesses.
Accommodations: Melia Santiago de Cuba
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Guantanamo's Musical Cultural Heritage: Chengui and the Tumba Francesa
(Monday, May 4)

Note: Travel by motorcoach over winding roads.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: Full day Field trip to the city of Guantanamo (55 miles, approximately 1.5 hours), founded by Catalan (Spanish) and French colonists who eventually intermingled with native people and slaves. The area’s deep-rooted musical and dance traditions were also influenced by Franco-Haitian immigrants. (Please note: The US base of Guantanamo is in a different location and is neither accessible nor visible.)

People to People Connection: La Tumba Francesca Pompadour. Meet and interact with dancers and performers who carry on this Franco-Haitian tradition. The dance, song, and drumming style known as “Tumba Francesa” (French drum) was brought to Cuba by Haitian slaves who were resettled in the island’s eastern regions during the 1790s. It embodies one of the oldest and strongest links to the Afro-Haitian heritage -- a fusion of music from Dahomey in West Africa and traditional French dances. La Tumba Francesca is inscribed on the UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

People to People Connection: Casa del Changüí. Meet and interact with musicians who play this style of popular Cuban music and see how each instrument is played. Changüí originated in the early 19th Century, combining elements of Spanish canción with African rhythms and percussion instruments.

 Lunch: In a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Return to Santiago. En route, a People to People Connection: Meet and interact with a local family. Their home, as is typical with many Cuban families, houses three generations. Over coffee and conversation, learn what life is like for typical Cubans in this area.
 Dinner: Explore the selection of private enterprise Paladars in Santiago. A list of suggestions will be provided.
Accommodations: Melia Santiago de Cuba
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Performing Arts Education and a Fishing Community
(Tuesday, May 5)

Note: The ferry crossing to Granma Island is approximately 7 minutes each way.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: Begin with a stop at San Juan Hill, to view the monuments commemorating this decisive battle of the Spanish-American War. People to People Connection: At a school for the performing arts, meet students and faculty for discussion and to learn about education and vocational training in Cuba. Take a ferry for the short crossing over to Granma Island to visit the main village.
 Lunch: People to People Connection: Share lunch with local fishermen and learn about their way of life.
 Afternoon: Continue the discussion with the fisherman and examine the tools available for them to ply their trade. Take some time to explore the village before returning by ferry to the mainland.
 Dinner: At leisure in the hotel buffet restaurant.
Accommodations: Melia Santiago de Cuba
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Transfer to Camaguey: Discover El Cobre Sanctuary and Bayamo
(Wednesday, May 6)

Note: Today is a full day of travel from Santiago de Cuba to Camaguey, about 200 miles / 8 hours with stops and visits en route. Road conditions vary and can be bumpy at times. The hotel in Camaguey is situated in a pedestrian street, about 2 blocks from the coach drop off point. Coach access in Camaguey is limited.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: Depart Santiago de Cuba to Camaguey via Bayamo. Journey into the heart of Cuba and witness some of the most beautiful scenery. The drive through the countryside is a unique and interesting experience as you observe the forms of transportation available to Cubans, including an abundance of horse drawn carriages.

Stop at El Cobre Sanctuary, dedicated to the Patron Saint of Cuba. Here, pilgrims from all over Cuba come to pray and ask for favors of the country’s most cherished saint. Continue on to Bayamo, the second city founded by the Spanish in Cuba, in 1513.

Experience the horse and buggy first hand during a short carriage ride through the city, an enlightening change of perspective from riding in a motorcoach.

 Lunch: In a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Continue the drive to Camaguey, arriving in the late afternoon.
 Dinner: Buffet dinner in the hotel restaurant.
 Evening: Enjoy the evening breezes and views from the rooftop terrace of the hotel.
Accommodations: Gran Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Discovering Camaguey, its Squares and its Artists
(Thursday, May 7)

Note: Extensive use of bicycle rickshaws this morning. You must be able to share the seat with another participant and get on and off the rickshaw with no assistance (step up is 1 - 1.5 Feet)

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: Camaguey is reputed to have some of the most talented dancers in Cuba, and is home to three of the country’s best dance companies. People to People Connection: Visit a dance company and observe dancers during their daily rehearsal, and learn from the company manager the challenges of operating a performance company. Speak one on one with the staff, perhaps instructors or the seamstresses who have to be creative in their use of the few available resources to make costumes.

Field Trip: One of the first seven villages founded by the Spaniards in Cuba, Camagüey played a prominent role as the urban center of an inland territory dedicated to cattle breeding and the sugar industry. The third-largest city in Cuba, the historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that just celebrated its 500 year anniversary. Explore the main squares, the church and the city park by pedicab, each uniquely decorated by a local artist. Traveling by pedicab is an intimate introduction to the pulse of the city's streets and residents.

People to People Connection: Meet the creator of a unique public art program who has received UNESCO recognition as an intangible cultural treasure of Cuba. Martha Jimenez is a world-renowned sculptor and painter; she created the Plaza Carmen Sculpture project and will share with us her motivation and her community around Carmen Square.

 Lunch: In a Paladar on Carmen Square.
 Afternoon: Free Time in Carmen Square: Examine the sculptures of every day life by Martha Jimenez. Stroll at your leisure to peek into the other independently owned art galleries on the square and speak with the artists on your own. Return to the hotel on foot.

People to People Connection: This evening we visit a unique artist studio and meet the owner and some of the resident artists, each one using a different medium. This presents the unique opportunity to discuss the role of the Artist in Cuban society and to better understand the level of freedom they are given in their pursuit of creativity. It is also an opportunity to engage with the owner who is a member of the Cuban Jewish community.

 Dinner: Walk to dinner in a restaurant nearby.
Accommodations: Gran Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: A Cattle Ranch and Life in Rural Cuba
(Friday, May 8)

Note: While on the ranch some steep steps (10 steps) are unavoidable to get onto the observation area seating, and climbing into a horse drawn wagon is required for the village visit (1 - 1.5 foot climb up.)

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: Drive into the countryside surrounding Camaguey to visit a working cattle ranch. People to People Connection: Learn the story of the ranch from the manager and meet real Cuban cowboys who demonstrate their skills and share their daily work and life experiences with you.
 Lunch: Enjoy an authentic pig roast.
 Afternoon: People to People Connection: The ranch supports a village where the workers and their families live. Meet the teachers and students of the two-room schoolhouse and discuss how education works in this remote village. Then visit a humble home and meet the family to hear about their lives and how they sustain themselves. Return to Camaguey in the late afternoon.
 Dinner: In a privately owned Paladar on San Juan Square.
 Evening: Pack an overnight bag for tomorrow night in Trinidad.
Accommodations: Gran Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Travel to Trinidad, Gem of Colonial Towns
(Saturday, May 9)

Note: Plan to have an overnight bag for the one night in the Trinidad B&B. Large luggage will remain securely stored on the motorcoach. Extensive walking over very uneven cobble stone streets is unavoidable and can be strenuous in Trinidad.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: Depart Camaguey to Trinidad, about 160 miles / 4 hours with two rest stops en route.
 Lunch: On arrival in Trinidad, at La Ceiba Paladar - The restaurant is built around a giant Baobab tree, sacred in Africa, and these traditions, along with the tree, are carried over in Afro-Cuban culture. The tree is over 400 years old.
 Afternoon: Field Trip On Foot: Explore the historic center of Trinidad de Cuba, one of the original Spanish Settlements and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is a pristine example of Spanish colonial Caribbean architecture and has just celebrated its 500 year anniversary. People to People Connection: Meet your host families for the evening, residents who operate bed and breakfasts in their homes and some of the first people in Cuba to practice the new spirit of free enterprise.
 Dinner: Enjoy a home-cooked meal prepared by your hosts at your Casa Particular.
 Evening: Relax at your bed and breakfast accommodation or take an evening stroll through the town.
Accommodations: Casa Particular (Privately Owned Bed & Breakfast)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Travel to Cienfuegos and Santa Clara
(Sunday, May 10)

Note: Travel by motorcoach over winding roads. Walking and standing on pavement in Cienfuegos.

 Breakfast: Enjoy a leisurely breakfast prepared by your hosts.
 Morning: Reconvene with the group to depart on the motorcoach to Santa Clara, via Cienfuegos. The drive to Cienfuegos is 50 miles / 1.5 hours.
 Lunch: In a Paladar in Cienfuegos.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP ON FOOT: Explore the main square of Cienfuegos, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but a city founded by the French, who came to Cuba after the Haitian revolution. The city offers outstanding architecture and is home to a large artistic community and one of the most beautiful theaters in Cuba.

People to People Connection: meet with members of a professional choir and learn about their work, their performance travels and their daily lives. Continue on to Santa Clara, about a one-hour drive.

 Dinner: In the hotel restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel America
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Meeting the People of Santa Clara
(Monday, May 11)

Note: The Museum of Decorative Arts, the main square of Santa Clara and the Senior Center are accessed on foot from the hotel, about a 15 minute walk to each.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: Walk to the Museum of Decorative Arts for a People to People Connection with Santa Clara’s Troubadours. Enjoy a performance then a discussion with them about classical guitar and Cuban music. Walk to a nearby arts center for a People to People Connection with a group of vivacious seniors, who demonstrate some of their favorite activities, including Danzon, the most traditional of Cuban dances. Discussions include learning about their social club and retirement in Cuba.
 Lunch: People to People Connection: Continue the conversations over lunch at the café with the seniors.
 Afternoon: Field Trip: Gain insight into a central figure in the Cuban revolution as you explore the Che Guevara Memorial and Museum.
 Dinner: Your choice to explore the Paladars of Santa Clara. A list of suggestions will be provided.
Accommodations: Hotel America
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 12: Transfer to Havana / Meet a Modern Dance Company
(Tuesday, May 12)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: Depart to Havana, the drive is about 3.5 hours (with stops) and covers 188 miles.
 Lunch: At a restaurant in Havana.
 Afternoon: Field Trip: Drive through the famed Colon Cemetery to see the spectacular crypts built prior to the revolution. Late afternoon arrival at the Hotel Nacional. Enjoy a welcome cocktail and an orientation walk through this historical and beautifully preserved national monument. This sprawling property includes a Hall of Fame, featuring photographs and folklore about its many famous past guests: Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Meyer Lansky and more.
 Dinner: In the hotel restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Discovering Old Havana and the Museum of Fine Arts
(Wednesday, May 13)

Note: Walking and standing outdoors in the sun for up to 2 - 2.5 miles over uneven, cobblestone streets in Old Havana for up to 2 hours.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: Begin with an Expert Presentation on the evolution of Havana’s modern architecture: Havana City of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Learn about the restoration work being done and discuss the challenges and the vision for Havana’s future.

Field Trip: Explore the Fine Arts Museum of Havana. Cuban art is renowned world-wide. Delve into the stories that each work of art relates and the statement on politics, culture and society that each artist conveys.

End the morning in Old Havana with a People to People Connection: Meet with members of a graphics workshop and discuss what they do.

 Lunch: Lunch on your own in Old Havana.
 Afternoon: Field Trip on foot to discover 2 of the main squares of Old Havana: Plaza de la Catedral and Plaza Vieja. Each square has its own unique features.

People to People Connection: At the San Jose Artisan Market, interact with artisans selling their original works. Here, see paintings, photography, crochet, wood crafts and many other forms of art. This is a wonderful opportunity to ask the artisans about their inspirations and their daily lives.

 Dinner: On your own to discover one of the many Paladars that have opened in Havana (suggestions will be provided).
Accommodations: Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 14: Cuba - US Relations and Las Terrazas Biosphere Reserve
(Thursday, May 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: An Expert Presentation: US - Cuba Relations: A Cuban Perspective will provide new insights as to many of the historical conundrums between the two countries.

Depart to the Artemisa region for a full morning of People to People Connections as you interact with students and faculty at a small rural school in Las Terrazas. Learn about this UNESCO Biosphere reserve that was a pioneer in ecovillages when it was founded in 1968. Meet residents, Artists, Artisans and many others who make their lives here in this unique community.

 Lunch: Enjoy a unique vegetarian meal at the Las Terrazas restaurant, El Romeo, which focuses on sustainable farming practices and produces most of its own ingredients.
 Afternoon: People to People Connection: Meet Maria and learn how she, like many Las Terrazas residents, conceived an idea and developed her own business in the community. At the town square, meet with local residents at the ration store, the doctor and artisans. Return to Havana.

People to People Connection: At San Lazaro Hospice, meet with the nuns to learn about the hospice care provided. (Please Note: Road Scholar makes a financial contribution to the hospice on your behalf but if you wish to bring donations, the most up-to-date needs are listed on the Road Scholar Discussion boards. This hospice is able to continue to exist in large part, due to the support of Road Scholar participants.)

 Dinner: On your own to discover one of the many Paladars that have made Havana a foodie destination. (Suggestions will be provided).
Accommodations: Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 15: Expert Presentation, Community Center and La Cabana Fortress
(Friday, May 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: Begin with an Expert Presentation on the Role of Religion in Cuban Identity.

Visit the famous Revolution Square in Havana and learn about the monumental events that have taken place there.

Next, visit a cigar factory to see how this famous product is made.

 Lunch: Lunch at a local paladar.
 Afternoon: People to People: Watch a performance by one of Havana's most talented dance companies - what is unique is that this company is not government run; it is a non-profit independent company. Then have an open discussion.

Cross the harbor to take in the view from La Cabana Fortress, overlooking the city skyline and the mouth of the harbor. Also known simply as "El Morro" this fortress protected the mouth of the Havana harbor in its day.

 Dinner: Free Enterprise: Farewell dinner in a Paladar.
Accommodations: Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Hemingway in Cuba and Return to the U.S.
(Saturday, May 16)

Note: Remember to save 25CUC for the Airport Departure Tax.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.
 Morning: Check out of the hotel. Field Trip: Walk through Old Havana and focus on the oldest part of the city at the Plaza de Armas (Arms Square).
 Lunch: On your own in Old Havana.
 Afternoon: Drive to the outskirts of Havana to Finca La Vigia, the Hemingway Farm. This beautiful property hosts the house where the Nobel Prize-winning author lived with his third wife Mary for over 30 years. Look into the open windows and doors to see the home in perfect condition with Hemingway’s personal belongings as he left them. Walk the grounds to see his private writing studio, swimming pool, and beloved fishing boat, Pilar. The boat is featured in his novel "Islands in the Stream."

Transfer from to the airport in Havana for your return charter flight to the US.

 Dinner: On your own in the airport café.
 Evening: Upon arrival at Miami International Airport, clear U.S. Customs and Immigration then transfer to the hotel using the hotel shuttle. Check in to the Miami Airport hotel. Program ends.
Accommodations: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 17: Independent Departures from Miami
(Sunday, May 17)
 Breakfast: Buffet Breakfast in Impressions Restaurant at leisure.
 Morning: Independent departures. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Author: Pierre Hausherr (Photographer), Francois Missen

Description: With full-page photographs, introductory essays on history, architecture, music, food and more, this oversized, illustrated paperback by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Francois Missen and photographer Pierre Hausherr captures the spirit of Cuba, its people, nature and culture.

Cuba Map

Author: Borch Maps

Description: A detailed, double-sided laminated map at a scale of 1:1,000,000.

Cuba, A Traveler's Literary Companion

Author: Ann Louise Bardach

Description: Bardach (Without Fidel) samples terrific contemporary writers for this anthology, organized geographically.

Cuba, Art and History from 1868 to Today

Author: Natha Bondil (Editor)

Description: With ravishing color reproductions of murals, posters, paintings and photographs, this magnificent book documents the history of art in Cuba from independence.

Cuba, What Everyone Needs to Know

Author: Julia Sweig

Description: Director for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Sweig traces the geography, history and identity of Cuba in this admirably succinct history of the island nation and its role in world affairs.

Culture Smart! Cuba

Author: Mandy Macdonald

Description: A concise, well-illustrated and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.

Dreaming in Cuban

Author: Cristina Garcia

Description: A short, poetic novel of three generations of Cuban women, their reaction to the revolution and the complex relation between those who remained in Cuba and those who settled in the United States. Excellent reading.

Havana, A Cultural and Literary Companion

Author: Claudia Lightfoot

Description: An illuminating guide to the city, its history and geography, as the inspiration for writers, artists, musicians and intellectuals.

Moon Handbook Cuba

Author: Christopher P. Baker

Description: Baker's comprehensive, indispensable guide leaves no stone unturned, covering the natural, cultural and political life of the island with style.

Our Man in Havana

Author: Graham Greene

Description: The classic story of a British vacuum cleaner salesman who gets accidentally drawn into cold war espionage with disastrous results.

Teachings of the Santeria Gods, The Spirit of the Odu

Author: Ocha'Ni Lele

Description: Ocha'Ni recounts 100 sacred stories of Santeria, collected from the oral tradition of the African diaspora, ranging from creation myths, to love stories and share the wisdom and spirituality of Yoruba people.

The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics

Author: Aviva Chomsky (Editor), Barry Carr (Editor), Pamela Maria Smorkaloff (Editor)

Description: Organized chronologically, this multi-faceted portrait of a nation, with most of the selections by Cuban writers, includes not only history, journalism and literature but also songs, paintings, poems and cartoons and speeches.

The Old Man and the Sea

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Description: Hemingway's brief story of a fisherman who after 84 days with no luck finally makes a big catch is also an affectionate portrait of life in Cuba. It won the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

The Sugar King of Havana

Author: John Paul Rathbone

Description: John Paul Rathbone recounts ""elegant, decadent and whirligig years" of pre-revolutionary Havana and the dramatic life of Julio Lobo, the richest man in Cuba (until Castro’s revolution did away with such men). Surviving assassin's bullets and making and losing two fortunes, Cuba's last tycoon went from glittering man about town in pre-Revolutionary Havana -- and one of the world's richest men -- to solitary exile in Spain. With a mother that traveled in those same circles in Havana, Rathbone brings depth and the prespective of an insider to this fantastic story.

This is Cuba

Author: Ben Corbett

Description: Corbett interviews everyday people living on the fringe's of Castro's official Cuba for this account, both a stinging indictment of government policy and a testimony to the Cuban spirit.

Trading with the Enemy

Author: Tom Miller

Description: Miller captures the openness, sensuality and pride of Cuba and the Cubans in this eloquent account of entertaining travels in Fidel's Cuba.

Without Fidel

Author: Ann Louise Bardach

Description: A PEN award-winning journalist who has covered Cuba for 15 years, Bardach (Cuba Confidential) brings knowledge, tenacity and verve to this report on the future of the country.

You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:

© Road Scholar 2016 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768