This itinerary is for a past tour program.
Check out our new Discover Havana tour itinerary.
|Itinerary at a Glance
|2||Old Havana & Callejón de Hamel|
|3||Havana, Alamar & Cojimar|
|4||Havana & Las Terrazas|
|Highlights||Havana, Callejón de Hamel, Las Terrazas, and an authentic Rumba block party.|
|Travel Style||This fast-paced, escorted educational program includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.|
After many years, Americans are again able to travel to Cuba under a new 'people-to-people' program authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department, which provides an opportunity to interact with Cubans through educational exchanges concerning art, music, culture, and more. Friendly Planet is proud to be one of the very few companies in the United States to have been awarded a People to People license by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control . Join us for a unique adventure to experience this island which sits 90 miles off our shores and shares such an amazing and extraordinary history with the United States!
Cuba’s culture is rich with contributions from its indigenous, African and European roots. But above all, the people of Cuba are the island’s greatest asset. They are friendly, welcoming, resourceful and full of life. This program will introduce you to the people and provide ample opportunities to interact with them in meaningful and rewarding ways, learning and teaching each other about life in Cuba vs the USA. But don't wait to reserve your spot. With a rare opportunity like this, with prices this low, space is sure to fly!
As seen in:
Day 1: Miami/Havana. Your unforgettable journey to Cuba begins this morning at Miami International Airport. Board your non-stop flight bound for Havana, Cuba’s capital city and designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bienvenidos a Havana! You are welcomed by your private Cuban people-to-people representative holding a Friendly Planet sign outside the arrivals terminal at the Havana Airport. Board your air-conditioned coach, and jump right in as you head directly to your first destination in Cuba.
Visit the colorful Callejón de Hamel, one of the shortest but most interesting streets in Havana, where you will discover how the African Cuban religion of Santeria, a fusion of African belief systems like spirit worship and Christianity, is portrayed in the street art and music. Meet with artists, including Salvador Gonzáles Escalona (when in residence), whose prolific murals that adorn the neighborhood reflect the culture and religious beliefs of this area.
Enjoy your first lunch at a local restaurant in the center of Old Havana, followed by a leisurely orientation walk with your guide through the vibrant cobblestone streets as you immerse yourself in the colors of Cuba which surround you.
Explore the Used Booksellers Market, a cross-cultural treasure trove for readers of every genre. Meet local independent booksellers and engage in friendly conversation with Cuban readers about popular Cuban and American literature.
Now that you’ve had a taste of what lies ahead during your visit to Cuba, it’s time to check in to your hotel. After time to rest at the hotel, engage in a discussion with a panel of English-speaking Cuban experts on the history of U.S./Cuban relations in the 20th & 21st centuries with the opportunity to ask questions in an uncensored format.
Day 2: Havana. After breakfast this morning, visit a primary school (ages 5–12) located in a beautiful historical building which has been carefully renovated by Havana’s Office of the Historian. Interact with the children in their classrooms and participate in a discussion session with some of the school’s administrators and teachers about Cuba’s education system and how it compares to that of the United States.
Lunch is served at a local restaurant, followed by a visit to the Ludwig Foundation. Meet with local members of the foundation and discuss the roles that both art and artists have within the U.S. and Cuba.
Continue on to the private studio of independent artist, Eduardo Roca “Choco”. Today you’ll learn different techniques of printmaking from an innovative and internationally acclaimed Cuban artist and his team.
This evening, meet with the owner or general manager and some of the workers of one of Havana’s finest and most interesting new restaurants, El Gijon. Hear firsthand how new businesses—especially restaurants—get started, find working capital, and make a profit in a society where private business ventures are almost unknown. Also, learn about the history of the “Association” restaurants, of which El Gijon is one of the best. Afterwards, enjoy dinner at El Gijon. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 3: Havana, Alamar & Cojimar. This morning visit the district of Alamar on the outskirts of Havana. Started as an expansive social housing project in the 1970’s, these Soviet-style pre-fabricated concrete apartment blocks are now home to hundreds of thousands of Cubans. Meet with some local residents and discuss the process of buying and selling or otherwise obtaining housing in Cuba. Also learn about the tradition of having multi-generational living arrangements.
Proceed to a local Elementary School in Alamar. Interact with the children in their classrooms as part of an English lesson and participate in a discussion session with some of the school’s administrators and teachers about Cuba’s education system and how it compares to that of the United States.
Amongst the buildings in Alamar are community gardens, called Organoponicos, where residents grow fruit, vegetables and herbs for their own consumption and local sale. Similar to co-op and community gardens in the United States, these Organoponicos facilitate community development and offer Alamar’s residents access to fresh produce. Enjoy a visit to one of these Organoponicos, which few visitors to Cuba have the opportunity to do. Lunch today is an open-air organic feast served by community volunteers and workers from Alamar.
This afternoon, visit Beth Shalom Synagogue Pharmacy, where pharmaceuticals that are donated by visitors from throughout the world are distributed, free of charge, to everyone who needs them, regardless of their faith.
Return to the hotel and take some time to relax and freshen up before joining your travel companions for dinner at a local restaurant in the heart of “Habana Vieja”. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 4: Havana & Las Terrazas. Depart for Las Terrazas in Pinar del Rio Province, a “must see” in Cuba and known worldwide for its magnificent, scenic beauty. Pinar del Rio Province is also home to much of Cuba’s tobacco farming.
Las Terrazas was founded shortly after the Cuban Revolution in 1959 as a model community, where local farmers, known as campesinos, moved closer together in order to help each other overcome the hardships of sleeping in huts with thatched roofs, of living without electricity and of living without local schools or medical services.
First, we’ll visit the Clinica Las Terrazas to learn how medical services are handled in rural Cuba. Here the nurses and doctors believe in non-traditional treatments and specialize in homeopathic remedies. Learn how locally-grown plants and other materials are used to prepare remedies and discuss both the merits and problems of homeopathic versus manufactured pharmaceuticals.
At our next stop, we’ll visit the oldest member of the community, Maria. She is the sole proprietor of the town’s only coffee shop, Café Maria, where she and her family have been welcoming visitors for years to enjoy the “best coffee in the country.” Discuss coffee culture in Cuba and throughout the world and how cafes act as places for social interaction.
Las Terrazas is now part of UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve, much of it reforested coffee plantation. Real reforestation began in the late 1960s by the local farmers who were concerned that their land had been degraded by former French coffee barons. Engage in a lively exchange with members of a local farming community and discuss with Cuban Guajiros (farmers and cowboys) the importance of reforesting. Discuss how the Cuban experience in Las Terrazas has had a positive impact on the ecological movement on society and its similarity or dissimilarity to efforts in the USA.
Visit the art studio of Lester Campa (when in residence). Today he’ll demonstrate his unique paper recycling process, the results of which are used for various artistic items, and explain the methods used to create the paper.
On the way back to Havana after lunch, we have the pleasure of visiting “Fusterlandia”, the home and surrounding neighborhood of “The Picasso of the Caribbean”, José Fuster. Starting with a small wooden home as his canvas, Mr. Fuster has turned his dream into reality and transformed not just his own home but the entire neighborhood into a unique and colorful artistic landscape. Using the money he makes from selling his artwork, José adorns the community with sculptures and mosaics galore.
After some well-deserved downtime at the hotel, join your fellow travelers at the farewell dinner, served in the rooftop restaurant of the Ambos Mundos Hotel, where Hemingway lived in the 1930s and wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls. Be sure to wear your dancing shoes as you enjoy live, traditional Cuban Buena Vista-style music and salsa dancing. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 5: Depart Havana/Arrive Miami. After breakfast in the hotel this morning, bid farewell to Cuba as you transfer to Havana’s José Martí International Airport and check-in for your charter flight back to Miami. Adios Havana! Breakfast provided.
NOTE: This itinerary provides a full-time schedule of educational activities that will result in meaningful interactions between you and individuals in Cuba. U.S. law requires that all persons who participate in this program adhere to this schedule, and imposes on Friendly Planet the obligation to ensure such adherence.
Infrastructure in Cuba, especially in hotels, may not be sufficient to satisfy demand in certain periods. While all inclusions in your tour will be maintained, it is possible that the itinerary may be rerouted to accommodate hotel availability. Please be flexible and understand that we will always do whatever we can to assure the best possible experience for all our Cuba travelers.
FRIENDLY PLANET'S LICENSE NUMBER FOR SELLING CUBA: CT-2012-295959-1
Best trip we have ever taken. Our guides (Gary White and Ari) were so friendly and professional. We saw things we could never have found ourselves. I can't say enough good things about the experience. It all went like clockwork (to the extent anything in Cuba can do so). If you ever want to see Cuba, see it now, and see it with Friendly Planet!
— Valerie Fisher, Portland, OR