DAY 1: ARRIVAL TO HAVANA’S INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Welcome to Cuba! A tour representative will receive the group at the airport, look for our Deaf Globetrotters logo. Next, you will be transferred to your accommodation.
Visit the Cuban Art Factory (or FAC as locals call it), a space that joins good drinks with some of the best Cuban contemporary art (Photography, Sculpture, Interior Design, Fashion, Painting, Music, Film, Theatre, etc.). The Cuban Art Factory only opens on weekends and sometimes closes for special events that happen in Havana.
Take a walking tour around the heart of Cuba, Old Havana. Discover the magic that hides in every corner of this audacious city. More than 500 years of history make this the perfect place to unleash your curiosity. Hundreds of buildings from the 19th, 18th, 17th, and even 16th centuries spread around the narrow streets of this romantic city. Walk around this open-air museum and delight yourself with the infinity of amazing views that go around in every direction, making impossible not to look and try to capture the moment with your camera. Wander around all the main squares, all of them with their own special places you shouldn’t miss. Also, have a look at the majestic cathedral that stands as an icon of the city, its history and architecture. Discover iconic places like the National Capitol, the Paseo del Prado, the Floridita, La Bodeguita del Medio, the Parque Central, etc.
Learn about the Rum production in Cuba with a visit to Havana Club’s Rum Museum. The evolution and history of the whole process will be explained to you in a guided visit, which includes a tasting of a seven-year-old añejo (aged rum) at the end of the tour, along with the opportunity to buy some of the precious liquid.
Next, we’ll show you one of our favorite spots in the whole city, a rooftop terrace in Old Havana. Here, you’ll learn how to make a mojito and a canchanchara, two classic Cuban cocktails. There are non-alcoholic options as well. You’ll be able prepare your own and you can drink as many as you like.
DAY 2: HAVANA
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Dive into San Jose, this former harbor-side warehouse was built in 1885 and is considered the oldest depository in Old Havana. Nowadays the largest handicraft market on the island, Havana’s artisans have here an ideal place in which to exhibit and sell their items, mostly functional yet beautiful accessories in the form of handbags, wallets, shoes, sandals and belts; costume jewelry; toys; masks; and ornamental items made of papier-mâché; paintings, sculptures and ceramic items; clothes; humidors and Afro-Cuban percussion instruments, among others. Don’t forget to look out for guayaberas, the traditional Cuban men’s loose linen shirt. The Center also has a National Patrimony Office that issues the necessary certifications for exporting certain items, such as artwork.
Jump in a convertible car and explore the more modern parts of the city. Drive through different neighborhoods and discover the highlights of Vedado and Center Havana. Have a look at the Revolution Square, where Fidel Castro used to give endless speeches in front of thousands of his supporters. Drive by the Colon Cemetery, one of the biggest and most important in the world. Enjoy the breeze at El Malecon, Havana’s evocative 7km-long sea drive, a favored meeting place for assorted lovers, philosophers, poets, traveling minstrels, fishers and wistful Florida-gazers. Some of the landmarks we’ll see include the American Embassy, the Hotel Nacional, Havana’s Forest and many more.
Adventure into western Havana and discover Fusterlandia, a huge tilework masterpiece built by local artist Jose Fuster over the last 20 years. If Gaudí reincarnates and decides to go for a tropical spin, this is it. Fuster’s work has covered several suburban blocks with whimsical but highly stylized public art. The centrepiece is the artist’s own house, which you can explore as you check on the different galleries where some of his art is sold, including ceramic tiles and paintings.
Wander along the Callejon de Hamel, Havana’s high temple of Afro-Cuban culture. A whole street full of mural paintings and shrines. The project started back in the 90’s, when artist Salvador Gonzalez decided to repair the deteriorated facades of houses in the alley and covered them with murals related to the Afro-Cuban syncretism. Sunday is the best day to visit it, since it’s when the alley shows its true spirit. That day, the neighbors, dressed up as ancient gods of Yoruba Pantheon, Orishas, welcome visitors and drums go aloud.
DAY 3: HAVANA
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DAY 4: HAVANA
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Visit to The Center of Achievement and Development of the Deaf (Centro de superacion y desarollo del sordo) located in San Miguel del Padron. This place was created with the main objective to support the advancement of bilingualism, in the form of LSC as the native language and Spanish as a second language for deaf people. This center is the main hub in which research about LSC will take place.
Enjoy a salsa lesson. If you love salsa, then you sure know there is no place like Cuba to master this contagious rhythm. In a country where people are born with music in their blood, dancing salsa is just part of every day’s life. So, taking a salsa lesson with one of our virtuous salsa instructors is a must if you are in Havana. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or you already know how to dance, the lesson will be personalized to your skill level. Relax in Ancon beach for the rest of the day.
Stop at El Morro, this wave-lashed fort with its emblematic lighthouse was erected between 1589 and 1630 to protect the entrance to Havana harbor from pirates and foreign invaders (French corsair Jacques de Sores had sacked the city in 1555). Perched high on a rocky bluff above the Atlantic, the fort has an irregular polygonal shape, 3m-thick walls and a deep protective moat, and is a classic example of Renaissance military architecture.
We’ll make a stop at El Cristo de La Habana, a large marble sculpture representing Jesus of Nazareth on a hilltop overlooking the bay.
One of the oldest traditions in Cuba is the ceremony of El Cañonazo, a cannon shot that has been happening every day for the last 350 years. Originally meant to be a signal to close the doors of the city wall to defend from pirates and bandits, nowadays a symbolic and impressive performance carried on at 9:00 PM. Go across Havana’s bay and have dinner at a local restaurant, a unique opportunity to try some of Cuba’s finest local dishes. Next, head to San Carlos de la Cabaña and wander along the streets and buildings of the fortress until the ceremony starts.
DAY 5: VIÑALES EXCURSION
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Discover Viñales Valley, one of Cuba’s most magnificent natural settings. Known for its fertile soil, which along with its natural micro-climate, make the land suitable to grow some of the finest tobacco in Cuba, hence, the world. Our first stop will be at Los Jazmines, a lookout points from where you can enjoy the beauty of Viñales’s landscape.
In our day around this lovely town, we’ll visit the Prehistoric Mural, stunning wall painting on the side of a mountain, and the Indian Cave with a boat trip through a subterranean section of the San Juan river. We’ll enjoy lunch at one of the local restaurants, where traditional dishes are made with ingredients that go straight from the farm to the table. After lunch, we’ll visit one of the local tobacco plantations where farmers will explain the process of (artisanal) cigar production. This visit is a great opportunity to witness how people live in the countryside, and the good impact tourism makes in their lives.
DAY 6: BAY OF PIGS – CIENFUEGOS – TRINIDAD
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Head to Bay of Pigs, the same place where more than 50 years ago an invasion carried out by Cuban exiles and organized by the US government took place. Bay of Pigs is in Zapata Swamp, the biggest natural reserve in Cuba and a place that boasts with wildlife. Some of the nicest features in the area are hidden underwater, making Bay of Pigs a terrific spot for snorkelling and diving.
We’ll head to the Cueva de los Peces, a 70m-deep cenote (sinkhole) on the inland side of the coast road halfway between Playa Larga and Playa Girón. It’s a pretty spot, as popular with swimmers as snorkelers, for spotting tropical fish. The brave can glide into the darker parts of the underwater cave with diving gear. Hammocks swing languidly around the crystal-clear pool, while the beach opposite sparkles with aquatic promise. Learn about the history of Bay of Pigs invasion at Playa Giron’s museum. This well-kept museum with its gleaming display cases evokes a tangible sense of the history of the famous Cold War episode that unfolded within rifle-firing distance of this spot in 1961. The museum offers two rooms of artefacts from the Bay of Pigs skirmish plus numerous photos of the combat.
Continue south-east to Cienfuegos, one of Cuba’s youngest cities, founded in 1819 by French emigrants from Bordeaux and Louisiana, its elegant classical architecture earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site listing in 2005. Due to its beauty, economic importance and strategical placement, this city has always been known as the pearl in Cuba’s south coast. Have a walking tour around the city and have a look at the local landmarks, including Tomas Terry Theatre, one of Cuba’s oldest and best preserved. Visit Cienfuegos’s Cathedral, Palacio de Valle, Muelle Real, Jose Marti square and many other iconic spots of the city.
Discover Trinidad, a perfectly preserved Spanish colonial settlement where the clocks stopped in 1850 and other than by the watches of tourists have yet to restart.
DAY 7: TRINIDAD
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Have a walking tour around the city with the opportunity to visit local museums and art galleries. Wander around the Plaza Mayor, one of Cuba’s most charming squares and the center of the town. Stop at the Canchanchara House, a place dedicated to this local drink, very popular around Cuba.
Head to the Valle de los Ingenios (literally, Sugar Mills Valley) right outside Trinidad. This area is where the wealth of the city was produced. Most of the mills were destroyed during the War of Independence and the Spanish-Cuban-American War, when the focus of sugar-growing in Cuba shifted west to Matanzas. This valley offers one of the most beautiful natural settings in Cuba. Stop at Manaca-Iznaga’s plantation and climb the imposing tower that used to serve as a place the overlook the slaves and prevent them from running away.
DAY 8: SANCTI SPIRITUS – CAMAGÜEY
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In your way to Camagüey, stop at Sancti Spiritus, the fifth oldest city in Cuba. Founded in 1514 by the Spanish crown, was moved to its present site on the Río Yayabo in 1522. Yet audacious corsairs continued to loot the town until well into the 1660s. An elegant and well-preserved city, in many aspects very similar to its neighbor Trinidad. Thanks to that similarity, the city has remained practically free of the effects that main-stream tourism brings with it.
Welcome to the maze! Camagüey (originally named Puerto Principe) was the 4th village founded by the Spanish crown on the southern coast of the region where it’s settled now. It was relocated in 1528, after some native rebellions and pirate attacks, being the last the reason why the city was designed like a maze, in order to confuse the attackers. Today, Camagüey is the third biggest city in the island. With some of the best art galleries in the country and the largest amount of churches, this place gives the visitor the idea of being somewhere else in Europe, rather than Cuba.
DAY 1: BAYAMO – SANTIAGO
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On the way to Santiago de Cuba, we’ll stop at Bayamo, founded by the Spanish crown in 1513, being the second oldest city in Cuba. Bayamo is well known around the country for being the start point of the independence war against the Spanin. The national anthem of Cuba, “El himno de Bayamo” was written and first singed in here.
We’ll have a walking tour around the center of the city, which was burned by the Cuban independentists in 1869 as a rebellious statement before surrendering it to the Spanish troops.
After lunch, we’ll visit the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Cobre, high on a hill 20km northwest of Santiago de Cuba on the old road to Bayamo, is Cuba’s most sacred pilgrimage site. It’s the shrine of the nation’s patron saint: La Virgen de la Caridad (Our Lady of Charity), aka Cachita. In Santería, the Virgin is syncretized with the beautiful orisha Ochún, Yoruba goddess of love and dancing, and a religious icon to almost all Cuban women. Ochún is represented by the color yellow, mirrors, honey, peacock feathers and the number five. In the minds of many worshipers, devotion to the two religious figures is intertwined. Even for nonbelievers, a visit to the Virgin is a fascinating look into local culture. The road to the basilica is lined with sellers of elaborate flower wreaths, intended as offerings to La Virgen, and hawkers of miniature ‘Cachitas’.
Continue to Santiago de Cuba. Santiago was Cuba’s capital back in the early 16th century, before being massively damaged by an earthquake and the constant pirate attacks. This is the place where the internationally recognized Bacardi family built their rum empire between 1870’s and 1950’s.
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Enjoy a walking tour around the city, with stops at spots of interest. Visit Cuartel Moncada, a set of military barracks attacked by Fidel Castro and his supporters back on 26th July 1953, in what’s considered the clear start of the communist revolution. Visit Emilio Bacardi’s History museum, although it’s not dedicated to rum, it boasts a big collection of items related to national and world History. The collection and the museum were both built and donated by Emilio Bacardi itself, who was for some time, the governor of the city and founder of the internationally renowned rum brand.
Visit San Pedro de la Roca’s Castle. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1997, the San Pedro fort sits impregnably atop a 60m-high promontory at the entrance to Santiago harbor, 10km southwest of the city. The stupendous views from the upper terrace take in the wild western ribbon of Santiago’s coastline backed by the velvety Sierra Maestra.
Explore Santa Ifigenia’s graveyard. Nestled peacefully on the city’s western extremity, the Cementerio Santa Ifigenia is second only to Havana’s Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón in its importance and grandiosity. Created in 1868 to accommodate the victims of the War of Independence and a simultaneous yellow-fever outbreak, the Santa Ifigenia includes many great historical figures among its 8000-plus tombs, notably the mausoleum of José Martí and final resting place of Fidel Castro.
DAY 10: SANTIAGO DE CUBA
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On your way to Baracoa, stop at La Gobernadora, a viewpoint located a couple miles away from the infamous Guantanamo Bay. There is a small watchtower from where you can see the US military base, but you will need a potent lens in order to distinguish any building.
Baracoa is the oldest city in Cuba, founded by the Spanish crown on 1511. The city was, for a long time, isolated from the rest of the country because of the absence of any roads since it’s surrounded by mountains. One of the main reasons why Baracoa has become a very popular place is the local cuisine. Most of the dishes are fully prepared with local products, such as cocoa, coconut, and large variety of seafood.
DAY 11: GUANTANAMO BAY – BARACOA
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Visit a cocoa plantation and learn about the process of growing it. You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy some of the handmade products. Later, learn about chocolate production in the area in a visit to a local factory.
Discover Yumuri river and take a boat ride, making a stop to have a swim. Near the bridge over the river is the Túnel de los Alemanes (German Tunnel), an amazing natural arch of trees and foliage. Have lunch at one of the local beaches and relax for the rest of the afternoon.
DAY 12: BARACOA
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Flight back to Havana. Rest of the day at leisure.
DAY 13: RETURN TO HAVANA
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Follow the steps of “El Papa” and several places made iconic by his presence in Havana. Head to Finca Vigia, his house in Cuba, nowadays a museum. Next, we will venture into Cojimar, a small fishing town east of Havana’s bay. This place used to be one of Hemingway’s favorite spots; also, the home of the man who is said to have inspired “The Old Man and the Sea”. We’ll have lunch in a local restaurant to try some delicious local dishes.
After lunch, we’ll continue to Old Havana, where we’ll be visiting one of Havana’s oldest and most famous cigar businesses, the Real Fábrica de Tabacos Partagás was founded in 1845 by Spaniard Jaime Partagás. It was built in response to the increase in demand this industry experienced during the second half of the 19th century. Specializing in full-bodied cigars, today some 400 workers toil for up to 12 hours a day in here rolling such famous cigars as Montecristos and Cohibas. In your visit, you’ll learn about the long and refined process of cigar manufacturing.
Farewell Dinner tonight.
An institution since its 1939 opening, the world-famous Tropicana was among the few bastions of Havana's Las Vegas–style nightlife to survive the revolution. Immortalized in Graham Greene's 1958 Our Man in Havana, the open-air cabaret show here has changed little since its 1950s heyday, with scantily clad ladiesdescending from palm trees to dance Latin salsa amid bright lights.
DAY 14: HAVANA
Transfer to Havana’s International airport. It’s time to say goodbye to Cuba, at least for now, but this adventure together has come to an end.
DAY 15: HAVANA
– Welcome Dinner
– Farewell Dinner