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|Itinerary at a Glance|
|1||Miami Overnight/ Pre-tour
|4||Havana & Las Terrazas|
|5||Havana & Cojimar|
|6||Havana & Trinidad|
|9||Depart Havana/Arrive Miami|
|Style||Escorted or Guided
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Highlights||Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara, Cojimar, an authentic Rumba block party, Ernest Hemingway's Finca Vigia, and a dinner in a "paladar".|
|What to Expect||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 few tour 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. This is a rare opportunity to explore the Cuban healthcare system and space is very limited.
See more at the Professional Education Society website.
Sorry, there are no currently available tour dates.
Day 1 - Sunday, May 24: Miami Overnight/ Pre-tour introductory briefing. Your unforgettable journey to Cuba begins today with an overnight stay in Miami, Florida. If you are arriving at Miami International Airport, complimentary hotel shuttle service to the Crowne Plaza is available every 20 minutes from any 2nd level departure terminal, simply hail the driver as they pass. This evening at 7:30pm, participate in an introductory briefing to get acquainted with your fellow travelers and review your documents and program itinerary. You will be informed of the departure time of the group shuttle leaving the hotel tomorrow morning. Accommodations: Crowne Plaza Miami Airport or similar.
Day 2 - Monday, May 25: Miami/Havana. Today, transfer to the Miami International Airport to 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 Callejon de Hamel, one of the shortest but most interesting streets in Havana. Here 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 Gonzalez Escalona (when in residence), whose prolific murals that adorn the neighborhood reflect the culture and religious beliefs of this area.
Enjoy your first lunch (included) 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, attend a brief orientation meeting to review your travel itinerary and the documentation procedures for re-entry into the USA.
Afterwards, enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel. Accommodations: Hotel Telegrafo. Lunch & dinner provided.
Refreshments including tea, coffee & water will be served during the meeting.
Depart for lunch at a local restaurant.
This afternoon, visit the Vocal Leo, a group of 14 talented singers who perform under the direction of Corina Campos, general and musical director of this unique, award-winning group known internationally for its distinctive interpretation of choral music. The group is named for the Cuban guitar virtuoso, composer and orchestra conductor, Leo Brower. After watching a performance or rehearsal, discuss the professional music scene in Cuba and the USA.
This evening, we meet in our pre-reserved meeting room at our hotel and engage in a discussion with an English-speaking Cuban expert on the history of U.S./Cuban relations in the 20th & 21st centuries with the opportunity to ask questions in an uncensored format.
Enjoy dinner this evening at a privately owned restaurant located in Old Havana. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 4 - Wednesday, May 27: 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, stop briefly at the Clinica Las Terrazas† to learn how medical services are handled in rural Cuba. Locals visit this small, multi-purpose center for medical advice, often non-traditional and homeopathic, and referrals to larger medical centers in the city, dental care by the area’s sole dentist, and even a haircut by the town hairdresser, with whom the space is also shared.
Continue to the kindergarten of the community. After a tour of the facility conducted by the director and teacher, discuss early childhood education in Cuba and the USA with school staff. Then, enjoy a brief presentation by the children.
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.
Visit the art studio of Lester Campa (When in residence).
Now you’re in for an authentic, country-style lunch prepared and served outdoors at a local farmhouse near Las Terrazas.
On the way back to Havana after lunch, we have the distinct pleasure of visiting “Fusterlandia”, the home and surrounding neighborhood of “The Picasso of the Caribbean”, Jose 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, Jose adorns the community with sculptures and mosaics galore.
Return to Havana and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. Evening optional activities will be available which may be arranged locally. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Depart the hotel this morning for visit to ELAM (Latin American School of Medicine)† where you will interact with physicians, faculty and students.
Interactive Educational Professional Exchange which includes the following topics:
Refreshments including tea, coffee & water will be served.
Enjoy lunch today at a local restaurant.
This afternoon, continue to Finca Vigia, Hemmingway’s Cuba retreat and visit Cojimar, the fishing village that was the setting for his book, The Old Man and the Sea. Then, drive to 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.
Dinner on your own this evening at a local Paladar. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Enjoy a special visit to the Santa Clara Music and Performing Arts School, with dance, theater and music performances by the students. Participate in a discussion with faculty and students about the role of music and education in the USA, and the impact of music on Cuban life and its importance in education in Cuba. Please note that this visit is only possible during the school year (September through early June). Should this school not be available, or in session, during your trip, an equally enjoyable and interesting visit to another community project will be substituted. Lunch will be served buffet style in the Los Caneyes Hotel in Santa Clara.
After lunch we continue on to the picturesque town of Sancti Spíritus, one of the original seven cities founded in Cuba by the Spanish five centuries ago, and home to Cuba's oldest church, the Parroquial Mayor.
Continue the drive to the charming old Spanish colonial town of Trinidad. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Trinidad is one of the best preserved towns in all of Latin America. Check in to your hotel before dinner on your own this evening. Accommodations: Iberostar Grand Hotel Trinidad. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 7 - Saturday, May 30: Trinidad. After breakfast this morning, depart for Sierra del Escambray Mountains for your ride in a Soviet Army truck while climbing the peaks of Topes de Collantes. Today you will visit Kurhotel. You will also explore a medicinal garden and coffee field with a Cuban specialist in Topes de Collantes
Enjoy lunch on the mountain at Resturante Mi Retiro.
This afternoon you will participate in an Educational Cultural exchange with local people in Trinidad.
After time to rest at the hotel, dinner this evening is in a private home and restaurant (known as a Paladar) for a home cooked meal. Meet with the multigenerational family members, and get an intimate look into local Cuban daily life while enjoying one of the best meals you’ll have in Cuba!
After dinner, join Cubans at either Casa de la Musica or Casa de la Trova for a community block party, a celebration where locals from all walks of life and generations come to eat, drink, build friendships, and discuss neighborhood matters. Enjoy the celebration, regarded as one of the best experiences of the trip, and engage in discussions with the locals about community life in Cuba and the US. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 8 - Sunday, May 31: Trinidad, Cienfuegos & Havana. After breakfast, we drive along the Caribbean coast and through small towns and villages en route to Cienfuegos, known as the “Pearl of the South” and the capital of Cienfuegos Province on the southern Caribbean side of the island.
Your next visit is to an enjoyable and interesting community project in Cienfuegos.
Enjoy a lunch at a local restaurant and then explore the main square and the Punto Gordo peninsula.
After lunch, return to Havana.
This evening, enjoy a special farewell dinner at Casa Vieja including food, music, cocktails & little dancing for everyone! Accommodations: Hotel Telegrafo. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 9 - Monday, June 1: Depart Havana/Arrive Miami. Today, bid farewell to Cuba as you transfer to Havana’s Jose Marti 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 full time schedule, and imposes on Friendly Planet the obligation to ensure such adherence.
Infrastructure in Cuba, including even the best hotels, may not always be up to U.S. standards. The hotels really do try to maintain quality accommodations, and in the properties we select for our tours, they generally do a good job. However, Cuba’s resources and climate do sometimes impact a hotel’s ability to keep up with maintenance and indoor air quality. For example, in Cuba’s tropical climate, you might notice musty odors in some buildings, including hotels. We do our best to select the highest quality hotels, restaurants and paladars that Cuba has to offer, but we appreciate your flexibility and understanding when you encounter a minor imperfection. Cuba has a long way to go before it’s hotels, highways, public restrooms and other features reach US levels, but all in all, you will not suffer any major difficulties in tolerating the small issues that may occur. If you have any medical or dietary concerns, however, please inform us when you make your reservation, so we can take whatever special precautions are required to assure your comfort and well-being.
FRIENDLY PLANET'S LICENSE NUMBER FOR SELLING CUBA: CT-2012-295959-1