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Cuba

Cuba Today: Havana and Viñales

Explore the Viñales Valley to uncover the natural beauty of this region. Discover the history and culture of Havana as you meet with dancers, artists, entrepreneurs and more.
Rating (4.96)
Program No. 22879RJ
Length
7 days
Starts at
1,999
Cuba

Cuba Today: Havana and Viñales

Explore the Viñales Valley to uncover the natural beauty of this region. Discover the history and culture of Havana as you meet with dancers, artists, entrepreneurs and more.
Length
7 days
Starts at
1,999
Program No. 22879 RJ
climate
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At a Glance

Gain rare insight into the history and culture of Cuba through important interactions with local business owners, artists, a dance company and farmers. Contrast the city architecture of Havana with the beautiful landscapes of the Viñales Valley, full of karsts and tobacco farms.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Enjoy a performance from an independent Cuban dance company and meet with the dancers to discuss and support their craft.
  • Learn about a community project which, under the leadership of local artists, is transforming a neighborhood through artistic expression.
  • Learn about U.S.-Cuban relations from a local perspective during a discussion with a Cuban expert.

General Notes

Road Scholar offers opportunities to travel legally to Cuba under the new OFAC Regulations published June 5, 2019. Following the General License category “Support for the Cuban People,” Road Scholar programs include activities intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba. Each day's program promotes independence for the Cuban people and results in meaningful interactions with the Cuban people. Questions about traveling to Cuba? Road Scholar has your answers. Learn more: www.roadscholar.org/cubafaqs.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Havana & Cuba West Map
by ITMB
A full-color map to the city center of Havana, at a scale of 1:10,000. Plus, on the reverse, a regional map of Cuba at a scale of 1:600,000.
Moon Cuba
by Christopher P. Baker
A practical guide in the Moon series, packed not only with travel necessities (hotels, restaurants, sights), but also with a good overview of history and destinations throughout Cuba.
Trading with the Enemy
by Tom Miller
Miller captures the openness, sensuality and pride of Cuba and the Cubans in this eloquent account of entertaining travels in Fidel's Cuba.
The Spaces Between, Contemporary Art in Havana
by Antonio Eligio Fernandez
This study of shared, communal spaces for Havana artists examines the context of contemporary Cuban art. Including major contemporary figures, the work discusses artists’ techniques, their major themes and the environments in which they create.
New Art of Cuba
by Luis Camnitzer
A survey of Cuban art since 1981, all by young artists who have come-of-age since the revolution, and revised to reflect more recent developments. Twenty-four new color plates augment the 200 black and white illustrations.
Cuba, What Everyone Needs to Know
by Julia Sweig
Director for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Julia Sweig traces the geography, history and identity of Cuba in this admirably succinct portrait of the island nation and its role in world affairs.
Cuba
by Pierre Hausherr (Photographer), Francois Missen
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, This Moment, Exactly So
by Lorne Resnick
This deluxe coffee-table book organizes 250 black-and-white photographs around micro-stories that immerse readers in the heat and culture of the "Pearl of the Antilles." Includes a foreword by great travel writer Pico Iyer.
Cuba, A History in Art
by Gary R. Libby
This slim, yet comprehensive survey of Cuban art between 1725 and 1959 explains the development of artists’ styles and how developments in Cuba (and especially Havana) changed their work.
Cuba and Its Music, From the First Drums to the Mambo
by Ned Sublette
A thorough and entertaining history of Cuba and its music by the popular radio producer, music historian and cofounder of Cuban record label QbaDisc.
Havana, A Cultural and Literary Companion
by Claudia Lightfoot
An illuminating guide to the city, its history and geography, as the inspiration for writers, artists, musicians and intellectuals.
The Distant Marvels
by Chantel Acevedo
A life-affirming tale of love set during a hurricane in 1960s, post-revolutionary Cuba. To keep hope alive amongst the evacuees, Maria Sirena tells the incredible story of her childhood during Cuba's Third War of Independence.
The Pride of Havana
by Roberto G Echevarria
Professor Gonzalez Echevarria expertly traces the arc of baseball in Cuba, intertwining its heroes and their stories with the politics, music, dance, and literature of the Cuban people.
Havana, History and Architecture of a Romantic City
by Maria Luisa Lobo Montalvo, Hugh Thomas (Introduction)
This magnificent history of Havana, featuring 480 color illustrations, shows the city and its growth from its founding as a Spanish colony to independence.
Our Man in Havana
by Graham Greene
The classic story of a British vacuum cleaner salesman who gets accidentally drawn into Cold War espionage with disastrous results.
The Old Man and the Sea
by Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway's brief story of a fisherman who, after 84 days with no luck, finally makes a big catch. It’s an affectionate portrait of life in Cuba and winner of the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Passage to Cuba
by Cynthia Carris Alonso
An wonderful coffee-table book that takes readers through the crumbling, baroque splendor of Havana. Subtitled "An Up-Close Look at the World's Most Colorful Culture."
A Simple Habana Melody, From When the World Was Good
by Oscar Hijuelos
An unlikely love story and lyrical tribute to Latin music by the author of Mambo Kings.
Cuba Journeys
by Rowland Scherman (Editor), Charles Fields
Fields presents Cuba in his newest collection, featuring 120 color and 30 black-and-white photographs that illustrate the island's diverse landscapes. He captures the Matanzas coastlands, Vinales Valley tobacco fields and Havana metropolis, which serves as a backdrop to a series highlighting classic American cars. Includes cultural and historical commentary written in English and Spanish.
Culture Smart! Cuba
by Mandy Macdonald
A concise, well-illustrated and practical guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.
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7 days
6 nights
15 meals
6 B 5 L 4 D
DAY
1
In Transit, Arrive Havana, Check-in, Welcome Dinner
Havana
D
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: This daily schedule is a representative guide. Program elements in Cuba are controlled by the Cuban government and are subject to change on short notice, as are flight times. Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After checking in at the hotel, take some time to freshen up.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a meal with beverage choices of coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. The Orientation meeting in the morning is essential for all participants. We will review the regulations that govern our program and are set by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Program elements in Cuba are controlled by the Cuban government and are subject to change on short notice; therefore, the daily schedule is a representative guide. In Cuba, we will have a bilingual Cuban host who will be with us for the entire program.

DAY
2
Orientation, U.S. & Cuba, Iglesia la Milagrosa, Dominoes
Havana
B,L
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 15 miles total, approximately 1 hour. Walking and standing for approximately 3 hours, pedestrian streets, cobblestones, high curbs.

Breakfast: In the hotel restaurant, have what you like from the extensive buffet with a variety of hot and cold choices and beverages.

Morning: Orientation: 8:30 a.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Our accommodations in Cuba feature clean, comfortable rooms with private baths and standard amenities. Cuban hotel standards may not equal their American or European counterparts. Improvements are ongoing, and we hope that any potential glitch in service or amenities is a minor trade-off for the authentic connections and enrichment we will experience. Some meals will be in paladars: privately owned and operated family restaurants. Periods in the schedule designated as “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Next, we’ll have a presentation on the history of U.S.-Cuba relations with an expert in the field. We’ll gain an understanding of Cuban perspectives on the tumultuous relationship between the two countries. After the presentation, we will transfer by coach to a local church where we'll have the opportunity to learn about a couple of the services that they provide and meet some of the community members that are a part of their groups.

Lunch: At the location of a local community photography project. Along with our meal, we'll learn about the inception of the project and how it helps the community.

Afternoon: Dominoes, Cuba’s national game, has its own set of rules, played enthusiastically in private and public. More than competition and skill, it is a greatly enjoyed social activity. We’ll meet members of a local dominoes league, learn the Cuban rules, then play with club members. Teams will rotate and each American will play with one Cuban, an opportunity to practice a few words in Spanish.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. You might like to try one of the many paladares in Havana. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Religion in Cuba, Dance Performance, Community Arts Project
Havana
B,L,D
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 20 miles, approximately 1 hour. Walking up to 1 mile and standing, approximately 3 hours throughout the day; mainly pedestrian-only streets, cobblestones, high curbs, sunny conditions, limited shade.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will enjoy an expert presentation at the hotel on religion and religious beliefs in Cuba. Next, we’ll set out with our Cuban host on a walking field trip into two of Old Havana’s four plazas: Plaza de la Catedral that originated in 1592, with its main feature the ornate Catedral de San Cristóbal; and Plaza Vieja, laid out in 1559 when it was the “new” square, now surrounded by elegant, historic buildings. After, we’ll attend a performance by a contemporary dance company and learn about their training and daily lives at their rehearsal space.

Lunch: In a paladar.

Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll ride to a local art studio and community project where we'll learn about the inspiration for the foundation of the project and the see the works of some of the project's artists which are displayed throughout the studio. Following our visit, we'll return to the hotel by motorcoach. On the way to dinner, we'll stop at El Morro fortress which offers unique views of the city.

Dinner: In a paladar.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Transfer to Viñales, UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
Viñales
B,L,D
Hotel Horizontes Los Jazmines

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving 2.5 hours with stop en-route, 115 miles. Walking up to 1 mile and standing indoors and out up to 2 hours. Cobblestones, high curbs, sunny conditions, limited shade.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we will begin our journey to Viñales, a beautiful valley in the Pinar del Rio province of Cuba in the Sierra de Los Organos. This area is rich with lush landscapes, tobacco farms, and karsts. On the way, we will stop at Las Terrazas, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that began as a reforestation project in the 1960's. Here we will meet with local business owners and explore the reserve.

Lunch: At the restaurant at Las Terrazas.

Afternoon: Next, we'll continue our drive to Viñales. After checking into the hotel, we'll explore Viñales on foot with our Cuban Host before returning to the hotel in the early evening.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Tobacco Growing Process
Viñales
B,L
Hotel Horizontes Los Jazmines

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; Walking up to 2 miles indoors and outdoors, uneven terrain, limited shade.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: This morning, after a short walk in the valley with our Cuban Host, we will transfer to a local tobacco farm. Here, we will have a presentation on the complex and interesting process of growing and treating tobacco.

Lunch: After learning about the growing and drying process, we'll enjoy lunch at the farm's restaurant on site.

Afternoon: Following lunch, we'll board the motorcoach to visit a despalillo house where we'll learn about the next step in the process of preparing tobacco for cigars. This is where veins are stripped from the tobacco leaves. We'll then return to the hotel in the mid afternoon.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. You might like to try one of the many paladares in Viñales. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Mural, Botanical Garden, Organic Farm, Transfer to Havana
Havana
B,L,D
Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving 2.5 hours with stop en-route, 115 miles. Walking up to 1 mile and standing indoors and out up to 2 hours. Cobblestones, high curbs, sunny conditions, limited shade.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning, we'll transfer to see the UNESCO "Mural de la Prehistoria", a modern mural depicting world history and evolution. Painted onto a rock wall by the former Director of Mapping at the Cuban Academy of Sciences, Leovigildo González Morillo, we'll learn about the efforts of the local community to maintain the mural. Next, we will transfer to the Casa de Caridad Botanical Garden where we'll learn about the history of the garden and some of the 190 species of plants. Then we'll board our motorcoach to visit an organic farm. Here, we'll have a walking exploration of the farm to learn about what is grown there and organic farming methods.

Lunch: After learning about the farm, we'll enjoy a delicious family style meal prepared with their own organic ingredients and paired with a spectacular view of the valley.

Afternoon: Following lunch, we'll ride to a local project where we'll learn about how they support and contribute to the community. Next, we'll board our motorcoach to transfer to Havana, arriving in the early evening.

Dinner: Farewell dinner in a paladar.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Transfer to Airport, Program Concludes
Depart Cuba
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon. See your program’s Transportation Information regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet or bagged breakfast depending on flight time.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll transfer to the Havana airport. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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