Canyon Calling: We are at an historic time in our U.S. and Cuban relationship. Recent developments offer U.S. travelers the opportunity to see Cuba before it changes forever. There are major U.S. cruise lines, hotel lines, restaurant chains, and other companies that will soon gain entry with the result in changing the culture of this land of richness and spirited people.
Join Canyon Calling on this special adventure, and interact with local Cuban women to discuss their lives, economy, challenges, aspirations, and more.
Trip Organizer: http://canyoncalling.com
Dates: May 3rd – May 10th, 2017
Activities: walking, sightseeing
This people-to-people cultural exchange trip affords a small window of opportunity to us now, and time is of the essence.
We’ll learn the history of this island nation back to the 15th century, the spirit of revolution the Cuban people carry in their hearts, and how this spirit is reflected in their beautiful art, music, architecture and food. This is not your standard vacation, but a people-to-people program.
The U.S. regulations only allow travel in Cuba for U.S. citizens that facilitate interaction with locals, with the goal for an understanding of Cuba’s culture. We will travel with a U.S. and Cuban government-authorized operator, with a busy schedule of educational and cultural activities.
We’ll start from Havana, Cuba’s enigmatic capital city, whose nearly 500 year Old Havana is home to the largest collections of Spanish-Colonial architecture in the Americas.
Then we’re off to our all-inclusive resort located directly on a pristine white sand Caribbean beach. From there we will experience many new sights, sounds, and tastes of Varadero, Matanzas, The Vinales Valley, Pinar Del Rio and back to Havana.
Day 1: Miami
Arrive in Miami by 4pm and transfer to our Miami airport hotel and meet up point. We’ll check into the hotel and have dinner together.
This evening an informational briefing will be held at the hotel about tomorrow’s charter flight to Havana, review of paperwork, and the start of our people to people experience in Cuba. Overnight Miami. (D)
Day 2: Miami to Havana, Cuba and Varadero
This morning we’ll transfer to the Miami Airport and check in for our short flight to Havana, Cuba. Upon arrival at the Jose Marti International Airport and clearing customs, we’ll meet our local Cuban guide outside the baggage terminal.
Our drive from the airport orients us with Cuba’s enigmatic capital city, whose nearly 500-year Old Havana is home to the largest collections of Spanish-Colonial architecture in the Americas. Make a photo stop and learn more about the Plaza de la Revolucion, the center of Cuban political life and Havana’s largest plaza where huge rallies are held.
Our Cuban guide speaks about national heroes Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. Then they’ll give you time to reflect on the fact that you’re standing where millions of Cubans have stood while listening to speeches of Fidel Castro.
We’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Havana before departing Havana on a scenic drive that takes us past rural landscapes and small towns to the turquoise Caribbean Sea.
Check into our all-inclusive resort located directly on a pristine white sand beach offering beautiful views of the Caribbean and Varadero Peninsula. Overnight Varadero (L,D)
Day 3: Varadero and Matanzas
This morning following breakfast we head to the town of Matanzas, founded in 1693 and known as the “Athens of Cuba”.
Enjoy a brief tour of the town square and see the Sauto Theater (a national monument of Cuba), the San Carlos Cathedral and more. Next, the pristine Pharmaceutical Museum founded in 1892 and closed in 1964 where time stands still. We’ll visit a book making shop (Ediciones Vigia) to see books being hand made and learn about this craft. Also meet with a local Cuban artist and sculptor in his studio and art gallery.
Visit the Matanzas School of Art and Music, a high school for talented children from different provinces throughout Cuba. Take the opportunity to talk with and interact with the teachers and students to learn about their work and aspirations.
On our way back to Varadero we’ll stop to visit an arts & crafts market with an opportunity to purchase art and items and to meet and interact with local artists and craft workers. Dinner will be at the resort. Overnight Varadero (B,L,D)
Day 4: Varadero and Havana
After breakfast this morning we travel to Havana. Enjoy a walking tour with a local historian of the fascinating Colon Cemetery founded in 1876 and named for Christopher Columbus.
The cemetery is noted for its many elaborate sculpted memorials and contains more than 500 major mausoleums, chapels and family vaults. It is considered by many to be the most ornate necropolis in the world.
Next we’ll enjoy a performance by the amazing Habana Compas Dance Group. Then interact with the students and teachers to learn more about the Cuban dance culture. We’ll visit the famous Nacional Hotel, once Havana’s flagship hotel that hosted celebrities and world leaders during its heyday, such as Winston Churchill and Frank Sinatra to name a few.
Afterwards, enjoy a tour of this historic property housing pictures and nostalgia from a bygone era. Meet a former famous professional Cuban baseball player and join in a discussion regarding the history and love of this game in Cuba and the U.S. Check into our hotel for a four night stay.
Lastly, enjoy dinner this evening at a local paladar (privately owned restaurant) with an opportunity to talk with the owners about the challenges of running a private business in Cuba. Overnight Havana (B,L,D)
Day 5: Havana
This morning we’ll enjoy a guided walking tour of pedestrian only Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the beautiful Cathedral de la Havana, built in baroque style in 1748 and learn about its preservation and continuous restoration.
Next, visit the Marqueta Vieja Havana Museum that houses the scale model of the City of Havana and to meet with an expert on the city’s architecture and restoration efforts. Aftwards, we’ll enjoy a fascinating tour of the Havana Club Rum Museum to learn about the history and process of making Cuban Rum.
Following the tour we will have a private discussion about rum and an opportunity to sample the differences. Following lunch in Old Havana we visit the famous Museum of the Revolution that displays documents and artifacts, and learn more about the Bay of Pigs, the 1961 historic clash between the CIA trained Cuban exiles & rebel forces.
Next we head to the charming fishing village of Jaimanitas to visit the incredible Home and Work Shop of world famous artist, painter and ceramicist Jose Fuster, often called the “Picasso of Cuba”. He has adorned a neighborhood with colorful ornate murals and domes.
Here we spend time with the Fuster family and staff to discuss the influence of the artist’s work, lives and community. Dinner is on your own this evening allowing you to experience the cuisine and jazz clubs of Havana. Perhaps even take in the world famous 1950’s era Tropicana Cabaret Show on your own. Overnight Havana (B,L)
Day 6: Havana and Vinales Valley
Today we travel out of Havana and into the rural Cuban countryside to the Vinales Valley located in the western most mountainous range in Cuba and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This region, the western province of Pinar del Rio is known for its stunning scenery, a landscape of prehistoric looking flat-top mountains or “mogotes”, tobacco plantations, caves and rivers.
Stop at the Francisco Donatien Cigar Factory for a guided visit to learn about the manufacturing of fine Cuban cigars and interact with the factory workers about the history and process. The factory specializes in Cohiba & Monte Cristo cigars.
Next, visit a traditional Tobacco Farm and Farmhouse to meet with the farmer to learn about tobacco cultivation, the drying process and experience a cigar rolling demonstration inside the drying hut. Enjoy a visit inside his farmhouse, meeting and interacting with his family while enjoying some Cuban coffee. This is a great opportunity to witness up close, how Cuban families live in a rural setting.
Next enjoy lunch at the beautiful Finca Paraiso Paladar (organic farm) offering incredible views of the Vinales Valley and an opportunity to meet the Cuban family that owns this paladar.
Later we stop at the Los Jasmines viewpoint on the way back to Havana for incredible panoramic views of the Vinales Valley. Have an opportunity to enjoy the spectacular scenery and take photos of this beautiful and unique region.
Return to Havana with the evening free to relax or explore on your own. Overnight Havana (B, L)
Day 7: Havana
After breakfast we’ll enter the world of Ernest Hemingway with a visit to Hemingway’s Farm, Finca La Vigia (meaning ‘lookout house’).
This beautiful property hosts the house where the Nobel Prize winner lived with his wife Martha for 21 years. View the perfectly preserved home where many of the Hemingway personal belongings remain intact. View his yacht on display, the Pilar in which he used to patrol for Nazis in the Caribbean waters and featured in his novel “Islands in the Stream”.
A photo stop is made at the Morro Castle, built in 1589, to protect the mouth of the Havana Harbor. Perched on the headland on the opposite side of the harbor from Old Havana it can be viewed from miles around as it dominates the port entrance.
Next we visit the San Jose Craft Market and Art Center to meet and interact with the local artists to discuss and learn of the importance of their art in Cuban culture. Learn from the artists who share their experiences of pursuing the arts with limited access to materials and funding. Before dinner, meet with the local Old Style Car Club owners.
This is a chance to interact and talk with the owners and learn why Havana’s streets are filled with vintage American automobiles and understand what it takes to keep them on the road. Enjoy a drive through the streets of Havana in a vintage car to your Farewell Dinner at a local paladar.
After dinner you will meet and discuss with the owners how this private restaurant enterprise works in Cuba. Overnight Havana (B,L,D)
Day 8: Havana to Miami
Following breakfast, transfer to the airport for our return flight to Miami. Please don’t book your departure flight from Miami before 4pm. We need to clear customs back in the U.S. and connect to onward flights. (B)
- 8 days / 7 nights fully guided tour by English speaking local guide and a Canyon Calling Trip Leader
- Round-trip airfare Miami/Havana/Miami ($500+ value)
- Air departure taxes and fees ($25 value)
- 7 nights First Class accommodations in double occupancy
- All transportation as noted in the itinerary via deluxe, air conditioned motorcoach
- Meals as noted in the itinerary
- All activities as outlined in the itinerary or similar replacement activities
- All entrance fees, permits and passes to activities
- Cuban Travel Visa (required by Cuba, $85 value)
- Cuban Health Insurance (effective during the trip, required by Cuba, $295 value)
- Baggage handling (for one checked bag meeting baggage guidelines)
- Guide gratuities for all activities, hotel porters, wait staff at included meals, all people to people interactions, and our Cuban Guide and Driver trip gratuities
- Old Havana Walking Tour (UNESCO)
- Matanzas School of Art & Music
- Museum of the Revolution
- Home & Studio of Artist Jose Fuster
- Meet and discussion with Cuban women
- Visit Hemingway’s Farm
- Pinar Del Rio & Vinales Valley (UNESCO)
- Cigar Factory Visit & Tour
- Round-trip transportation from/to your home city to Miami, Florida (airport code MIA)
- Alcoholic beverages (unless noted) and items of a personal nature
- Charter flight baggage fees – can only be paid in cash at the airport in Miami. At time of printing, Miami-Havana bag fee is $25 (up to 44 lbs., including carry on).
- Optional Cuba Cancellation Waiver is available for $385 per person, and is nonrefundable once waiver fee is paid.
- Limited single supplement is available for $1,795 per person.
Janet brings the experience of over thirty years in the travel industry. Most importantly, she brings her innate sense of curiosity, true love of sustainable adventure tourism, hospitality, and desire to connect with the local culture and nature. Janet is right at home designing and guiding adventure tours. As Chief Adventurer and Owner of Canyon Calling Adventures for Women, Janet loves leading tours and spending time with our wonderful guests. Her maturity, knowledge, and keen desire to ensure her guest’s safety and comfort will keep you in excellent care and laughing all the way.
As I fall back in my day-to-day, it will give me satisfaction just knowing that somewhere on this spinning planet there is a marvelous guide leading a group of women to a beautiful place – and it will make their hearts soar! The sights that I have seen on these trips are surpassed only by the wonderful spirits surrounding them.
–Mary B, NY. (Hawaiian Islands, Arizona Spectacular, Fiji – New Zealand with Canyon Calling)
I’m thankful that your spirit has created and provided such a wonderful safe environment to celebrate the joy of adventure. New Zealand turned out to be a trip beyond anything I’d imagined. It was a celebration of the wonderful spirit of women – compassion, empathy, tolerance and inclusiveness.
–Linda N, Edmonton (Magic Morocco, Arizona Spectacular, Hawaiian Islands, New Zealand with Canyon Calling)
Read more testimonials here at Canyon Calling.