20612
Cuba
Inside Cuba: An In-Depth Island Journey: Holguín to Havana
Go on a comprehensive exploration of Cuba as you meet its people, learn its history and discover the enduring traditions from Santiago de Cuba to Havana.
Rating (4.99)
Program No. 20612RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
6,339
Special Offer
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
15 days
14 nights
34 meals
14 B 10 L 10 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
DAY
1
Check-In, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Miami
D
SpringHill Suites Miami Airport South

Activity 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.

Afternoon: 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 our educational program and travel in and out of Cuba. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and discuss U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations that govern our program. Flight times to Cuba will be confirmed during Orientation. The day-by-day schedule in Cuba is a representative guide only as program elements are controlled by the Cuban Government and are subject to change on short notice.

Dinner: In the hotel’s restaurant.

DAY
2
Fly to Holguín, Cuba, Introduction to Holguín and Gibara
Gibara
B,D
Hotel E Ordono

Breakfast: A buffet breakfast or boxed breakfast will be included based on the flight time.

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 via hotel shuttle. 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 Holguín. Upon arrival in Holguín, meet your Cuban Study Leader who will provide local history and knowledge throughout the program. Overview of the city of Holguín, capital of the third most populous province in Cuba.

Lunch: On own in the airport.

Afternoon: Drive north to the coastal village of Gibara. When Christopher Columbus first laid eyes on the northern coast of Cuba in 1492, he called this “the most beautiful land human eyes have ever seen.” Discover the main town square on foot, and meet local residents along our way. Late afternoon, check in to the hotel.

Dinner: In the hotel’s restaurant.

Evening: After a long day of travel, rest and prepare for a full day tomorrow.

DAY
3
North Coast, Puerto Padre, Sugar Mill, Latin Jazz
Gibara
B,L,D
Hotel E Ordono

Activity note: Walking up to a half mile at a time and standing. Varied terrain.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant, the self-serve buffet includes cereal, yogurt, fruit, juice and eggs cooked to order served at the table, coffee, tea.

Morning: We will set out with our local Cuban expert to explore the north coast. We’ll learn about the importance of the area and its mills that connected to the coast by railway for export by sea to America. We’ll also meet workers in a sugar mill (built in 1910) that is considered the largest sugarcane producing factory in the country. We’ll visit the charming little town of Puerto Padre that was the birthplace of two internationally known jazz players: Emiliano Salvador, considered the father of Latin Jazz; and Juan Pablo Torres, one of the world's greatest trombone players in the 20th century. We’ll meet jazz musicians of today to hear their music and stories. Returning to the countryside, we’ll visit an agro-ecological farm to learn about its sustainable farming practices.

Lunch: At the farm, enjoy a delicious pig roast with side dishes that feature local products.

Afternoon: We’ll return to Gibara in the late afternoon with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: In a paladar a short walk from the hotel, enjoy a typical Cuban meal. “Paladares” are distinctively Cuban private restaurants.

Evening: At leisure. Perhaps you’ll do as the locals, and go for a stroll through town.

DAY
4
Lyric Opera Rehearsal, Health Care Center, Velazquez Museum
Santiago de Cuba
B,L,D
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity note: Travel by motorcoach approximately 2 hours, with stops. Walking on busy cobblestone streets in Santiago de Cuba. Walking and standing at a museum.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant.

Morning: Head into the center of Holguín city —officially San Isidore de Holguín, Cuba — to attend a rehearsal at the school of the Lyric Opera to hear music from upcoming performances. Our next People to People connection is at a small neighborhood clinic. We'll discuss the care provided by the nurses and how the healthcare system works in Cuba.

Lunch: Lunch at a local farm.

Afternoon: This afternoon we discover the Diego Velazquez House Museum. The oldest house still standing in Cuba, this early colonial abode dating from 1522 was the official residence of the island's first governor, situated on the main square of Santiago. Late afternoon hotel check-in.

Dinner: Buffet dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Stroll the streets of the town and mingle with Cubans out on their evening walk.

DAY
5
Guantanamo City, Cuban Musical Heritage
Santiago de Cuba
B,L
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity note: The drive to Guantanamo is 55 miles, approximately 1.5 hours, each way.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: We depart with our Cuban Study Leader on a full day field trip to the city of Guantanamo, 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: Meet a local artist and learn about his work and inspiration.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: People to People Connection with La Tumba Francesca Pompadour. Meet and interact with the dancers 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 Afro-Haitian heritage -- a fusion of music from Dahomey in West Africa and traditional French court dance. La Tumba Francesca is inscribed on the UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. People to People Connection with the 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. Return to Santiago.

Dinner: Your choice to explore local paladares or the selection of restaurants in the hotel.

DAY
6
Performing Arts Education & Fishing Community
Santiago de Cuba
B,L,D
Melia Santiago de Cuba

Activity 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. Field Trip: Discover El Morro fortress with your 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. 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 practice their trade. Take some time to explore the village before returning by ferry to the mainland. Back in Santiago, visit the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, the resting place of many notable Cubans including Jose Marti and Fidel Castro.

Dinner: At a paladar.

DAY
7
Transfer to Camaguey, Discover El Cobre Sanctuary & Bayamo
Camaguey
B,L,D
Hostal San Rafael

Activity 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, the Virgin of Charity. 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 ride 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: Dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Discovering Camaguey
Camaguey
B,D
Hostal San Rafael

Activity note: Climbing into a pedicab (about 1 foot up) and riding on sometimes bumpy streets.

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 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 very unqiue public art program that has receive UNESCO awards for cultural heritage. 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: On your own to explore.

Afternoon: People to People Connection: 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: In a privately owned paladar.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Ceramicist, Cattle Ranch, Life in Rural Cuba
Camaguey
B,L
Hostal San Rafael

Activity note: At the ranch, 10 steep steps to get onto observation area seating; climbing into a horse drawn wagon, 1 to 1.5 feet climb up; walking and standing, unpaved ground, up to 1 hour.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: We start the morning with a visit to a 30 year old ceramic workshop. We’ll then journey out into the countryside for a taste of country life, Cuban style, on a working cattle ranch. Mainly agricultural, the Camaguey region produces the majority of Cuba’s beef and dairy products. People to People Connection: We’ll learn the story of the ranch from the manager and meet Cuban cowboys who will demonstrate their skills, sharing many similarities with American rodeo traditions. People to People Connection: The ranch supports a village where the workers and their families live. We’ll visit the humble homes and meet some of the village families. Try a few words of Spanish and share a few moments of true intercultural exchange.

Lunch: Lunch on the ranch.

Afternoon: Coach back to the hotel. Free time to explore the town of Camaguey and do what you like.

Dinner: Dinner on your own. Ask your group leader and guide for their recommendations.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning. Plan to have an small bag for two nights in the Trinidad “casa particular”(privately owned accommodation). Large luggage will remain securely stored on the motorcoach.

DAY
10
Travel to Trinidad by way of Sancti Spiritus
Trinidad de Cuba
B,L,D
Casa Particular (Privately Owned Accommodation)

Activity note: Travel by motorcoach over winding roads. Walking and standing on pavement in Sancti Spiritus.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Depart on the motorcoach to Trinidad, via Sancti Spiritus. The drive to Trinidad in total is approximately 4 hours. We will stop in Sancti Spiritus, in central Cuba. Sancti Spiritus, Latin for "Holy Spirit" was founded by Diego Velazquez in 1514. Enjoy a guided walk through the town and lunch at a local paladar.

Lunch: In a paladar in Sancti Spiritus.

Afternoon: Arrive in Trinidad de Cuba and settle into your individual casa particular, which in Cuba, is a privately owned accommodation. Trinidad de Cuba is a pristine example of Spanish colonial Caribbean architecture; the town was also founded in 1514 by Velazquez and has been an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.

Dinner: In your casa particular, enjoy a home cooked meal prepared by your hosts; water included, other beverages available for purchase

Evening: Relax at your casa particular or take an evening stroll through the town.

DAY
11
Meeting the People of Trinidad
Trinidad de Cuba
B,L
Casa Particular (Privately Owned Accommodation)

Activity note: Extensive, strenuous walking approximately 2 miles in Trinidad; very uneven cobblestone streets; walking and standing for approximately 1/2 hour outdoors around the main square; limited shade.

Breakfast: Enjoy a leisurely breakfast prepared by your hosts.

Morning: Reconvene with the group and embark on a city tour of beautiful Trinidad. Along the way we'll stop to have People to People experiences with local artists. We'll visit a gallery owned by a prominent painter, mixed media artist and community project activist. Walk on to meet a local artisan who uses abandoned wood from houses to create his unique sculptured portraits. We'll end the morning at Casa Chichi, home to the Santander family, members of Cuba's national association of potters.

Lunch: Lunch at a nearby paladar.

Afternoon: Free time in Trinidad to explore as you wish.

Dinner: Your choice to explore the paladares of Trinidad.

DAY
12
Cienfuegos, Transfer to Havana
Havana
B,L,D
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Walking and standing for up to an hour. Travel by motorcoach.

Breakfast: Breakfast in your casa particular.

Morning: Depart to Havana, the drive is about 4 hours (with stops) and covers 196 miles. En route to Havana, 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.

Lunch: At a paladar in Cienfuegos.

Afternoon: Continue on to Havana, about a 2.5 hour drive. Stop in the infamous Revolution Square where the late Fidel Castro delivered his marathon speeches to the nation. Late afternoon arrival at the hotel.

Dinner: In the hotel's buffet restaurant.

DAY
13
Cuban Architecture, Discovering Old Havana
Havana
B,L
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity 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. Learn about the restoration work being done and discuss the challenges and the vision for Havana’s future. People to People Connection: Watch a performance by one of Havana's most talented dance companies.Then have an open discussion.

Lunch: Lunch in a paladar in 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 to Old Havana. People to People Connection: Meet with members of a graphics workshop and discuss what they do. Guided exploration of Old Havana from Plaza San Francisco to Plaza de la Catedral. Each square has its own unique features.

Dinner: On your own to discover one of the many paladares that have opened in Havana (suggestions will be provided).

DAY
14
Cuba & US Relations, Fine Arts Museum
Havana
B,D
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Walking and standing at the Fine Arts Museum. The museum does not have an elevator and there are few places to sit.

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. 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.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Free afternoon for exploration.

Dinner: Farewell Dinner.

DAY
15
Return to US, Program Concludes
Depart for Miami
B

Activity note: The walk from the arrival gate in Miami International airport to the U.S. Immigration and Customs area is 10-15 minutes. Assistance can be requested at check-in.

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the hotel.

Morning: Check out of the hotel. Group transfer to the airport in Havana for your return flight to the US. Please Note: Flight times are subject to change and will be confirmed in your final information packet which is normally sent approximately 4-5 weeks prior to departure. Please do not schedule connecting flights within 3-4 hours of arrival in Miami due to possible delays and airport security.