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Tour Date: 7 November 2014 - 2 December 2014
Tour Duration: 26 days
Tour Cost ($AUD): $13,997
Single Supplement ($AUD): $3,215
To visit Cuba is to step back in time and we invite you to do just that on this exhilarating 26-day tour, which also takes in the highlights of Mexico from the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Palenque to the world’s largest capital, Mexico City.
There’s no time like the present to visit Cuba, a unique island almost trapped in a time-warp. Who knows what lies in store for this fascinating island in the future? Unlike many tours to this remarkable destination, we cover the entire island from Pinar del Rio and the enchanting capital, Havana, to Santiago de Cuba at the country’s eastern tip. En-route we take in Che Guevara’s adopted hometown, Santa Clara, and the fabulous World Heritage-listed town of Trinidad. The Mexican leg of our itinerary begins in the lush seaside resort of Cancun. We then head to Merida and the great ruins of Chichen Itza and on to another great Mayan site, the jungle ruins of Palenque. Heading into the mountains, we visit the beautiful colonial town, San Cristobal de las Casas, and take a thrilling jet-boat ride through the Sumidero Canyon, before arriving in the world’s largest capital, Mexico City. A fitting end to a magnificent adventure!
Tour Fitness Level: Moderate
Please note that whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the above pricing, currency fluctuations beyond our control can affect final tour costs. A booking form is to be completed by all passengers, and a non-refundable deposit of AUD $3,000 paid at the time of booking. All escorted tours are based on a minimum group size of 10 people travelling.
07/11/2014 Sydney – Los Angeles
Check in at your chosen airport for the flight to Los Angeles, via Sydney. Crossing the International Date Line, we arrive in Los Angeles on the same day.
Depart Sydney Qantas QF 11, 13.05
Arrive Los Angeles 09.45
On arrival in Los Angeles we transfer to our hotel.
Crowne Plaza Beverly Hills Hotel
08/11/2014 Los Angeles – Mexico City (B)
Today is a full day at leisure in fabulous Los Angeles. Late this evening we transfer to the airport for our flight to Mexico City.
09/11/2014 Mexico City – Havana (BD)
Depart Los Angeles Aero Mexico AM 469, 00.10
Arrive Mexico City, 05.50
Depart Mexico City Aero Mexico AM 451, 11.30
Arrive Havana 15.15
After completing Cuban customs and immigration formalities we transfer to our hotel.
10/11/2014 Havana (BLD)
This morning we begin to explore this fascinating city with a tour of old Havana (Habana Vieja). We visit Plaza de Armas and the cathedral before taking in the handicraft markets and enjoying a stroll through the narrow, cobbled streets of the old city. After lunch at the Morro Fortress we tour the new part of the city in 1950s American open-topped cars, visiting the Plaza de la Revolucion and the university.
11/11/2014 Havana – Pinar del Rio – Havana (BLD)
No visit to Cuba would be complete without an excursion to the ‘tail’ of the island, which is in the shape of a shark. This region, Pinar del Rio, is the westernmost province and contains some stunning scenery. The beautiful Vinales Valley is the finest tobacco-growing area in the world. After lunch we visit a cigar factory and meet the workers before returning to Havana for dinner.
12/11/2014 Havana (BLD)
Today we head out of central Havana to the delightful fishing village of Cojimar, a ‘pilgrimage’ for fans of Ernest Hemingway. It was here the great author lived and wrote The Old Man and the Sea, a simple but profound story that was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. After lunch we return to Havana for some leisure time before dinner.
13/11/2014 Havana – Trinidad (BLD)
After breakfast we leave Havana by bus for Trinidad. We travel through vast sugar cane plantations before stopping for lunch at the small port town of Cienfuegos. In the afternoon we travel through mountainous countryside. This is the Sierra del Escambray and in many spots the sheer-walled limestone cliffs are covered in magnificent bougainvillea. Finally we reach Trinidad, the jewel of Cuba’s colonial cities. Fantastically preserved, this charming town is a national monument. There are no modern buildings, few cars and many of the streets are cobbled.
Iberostar Grand Hotel
14/11/2014 Trinidad (BLD)
This morning we take a tour of this fabulous town, visiting the main square and the markets. The afternoon is at leisure.
15/11/2014 Trinidad – Santa Clara (BLD)
After breakfast we leave Trinidad and drive to the national park of Topes de Collantes. We transfer to a 4WD vehicle and drive into the Guanayara Reserve, an area rich in flora and fauna. A local guide takes us on a fascinating walk through the forest where we may be lucky and see the exquisite Cuban hummingbird. After lunch at La Gallega cattle farm, we continue through the mountains until we reach Santa Clara.
Hotel La Granjita
16/11/2014 Santa Clara – Camaguey (BLD)
Santa Clara was the adopted city of the great revolutionary, Che Guevara. It was the site of one of the most important battles of the revolution and an impressive mausoleum houses Guevara’s remains. After a tour of the city we head south to Camaguey.
17/11/2014 Camaguey – Santiago de Cuba (BLD)
After breakfast we continue our journey south to one of the most beautiful cities in the Caribbean, Santiago de Cuba. Due to its remote location, few travellers visit this irresistible cosmopolitan city. Known as the home of rum and revolution, Santiago is the second-largest city on the island. It has a rich racial mix, producing some of the most exciting architecture, music and art in the Caribbean.
Hotel Casa Granda
18/11/2014 Santiago de Cuba (BLD)
In the morning we explore both the old quarter and the new part of this lovely city, visiting delightful plazas, parks, the Moncada Museum and the magnificent Morro Castle on the cliffs overlooking Santiago Bay. The afternoon is at leisure in Santiago before we depart for the nearby island of Cayo Granma where we have dinner.
19/11/2014 Santiago de Cuba – Havana (BLD)
This morning we visit El Cobre, the most important shrine for Cubans and most famous church in the country, which is lodged in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra near the old copper mines that give it its name. The faithful come from across Cuba on pilgrimages to pay their respects to ask for protection. Following an early dinner, we will then transfer to the airport for our domestic flight to Havana.
Depart Santiago CU 987, 20.25
Arrive Havana 21.50
20/11/2014 Havana – Cancun (Mexico) (BD)
This morning we transfer back to the airport for the connecting flight to Cancun.
Depart Havana CU 152, 12.55
Arrive Cancun 13.25
After completing customs and immigration procedures, we transfer to our hotel.
Hotel Grand Park Royal
21/11/2014 Cancun (B)
Lapped by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, Cancun has pure white beaches, formed by fossilised micro-organisms rather than sand. Today is entirely at leisure in Cancun.
22/11/2014 Cancun – Chichen Itza – Merida (BL)
This morning we begin our journey through the Yucatan Peninsula. En-route we visit the stunning ruins of Chichen Itza. Ruled by the Mayans from the 6th to the 10th century, it is one of the largest and best maintained archaeological sites in the country. The stunning El Castillo pyramid is voted one of the seven modern Wonders of the World. After our visit to the site, we head to the charming city of Merida.
23/11/2014 Merida (B)
The delightful city of Merida is ideal for exploring on foot, with its narrow streets and shady parks, and we begin our walking tour after breakfast. Today is Sunday and the centre of Merida is closed to traffic, with families enjoying the vibrant market and party atmosphere. The colonial architecture is superb and Merida is also famous for producing some of the world’s finest Panama hats.
24/11/2014 Merida – Villahermosa – Palenque (BD)
Depart Merida AM 4467, 14.00
Arrive Villahermosa 15.30
Early this afternoon we transfer to Merida airport for the short flight to Villahermosa. On arrival we head directly to the magnificent Mayan site of Palenque. Surrounded by lush jungle, these great ruins are stunningly preserved.
Hotel Mision Palenque
25/11/2014 Palenque – San Cristobal (BL)
This morning we drive to San Cristobal via the beautiful waterfalls of Aqua Azul. The falls are situated in a beautiful jungle setting with dozens of white cascades thundering into turquoise pools. San Cristobal, a small colonial town 2,150m above sea level, is set in a beautiful pine-clad valley surrounded by Indian villages. It was largely undiscovered by travellers until the mid-1960s.
Hotel Mansion del Valle
Diego de Mazariegos
26/11/2014 San Cristobal (BL)
Today we explore the mysterious Tzotzil and Tzeltal Indian villages. Despite savage repression, the Indians have shown a fierce determination to survive and maintain their cultures and traditions. We visit a family workshop to see the locals working on magnificent embroidered garments and blankets. Back in San Cristobal we have time to visit the colourful markets.
27/11/2014 San Cristobal – Tuxtla – Mexico City (BL)
Today we leave the valley and head to Tuxtla Gutierrez for our flight to Mexico City. Our drive to the airport takes us through the spectacular Sumidero Canyon where we enjoy an exhilarating powerboat ride on the Rio Grijalva.
Depart Tuxtla Gutierrez AM 556, 15.50
Arrive Mexico City 17.30
On arrival in Mexico City we transfer to our hotel and the evening is at leisure.
Holiday Inn Zocalo
28/11/2014 Mexico City (BL)
We spend the whole day sightseeing in the world’s largest city. Among the attractions are the Museum of Anthropology, the National Palace and the great cathedral.
29/11/2014 Mexico City (BL)
Our last day in Mexico takes us 50km outside the capital to the ancient Aztec city of Teotihuacan, the site of the huge Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. Teotihuacan was once Mexico’s largest city and dates back to AD 150. It is considered to be the country’s most important archaeological site and provides a fitting finale to this fantastic tour.
30/11/2014 Mexico City – Los Angeles (B)
After a morning at leisure we transfer to the airport for our flight back to Australia, via Los Angeles.
Depart Mexico City Aero Mexico AM 642 14.00
Arrive Los Angeles 16.15
Depart Los Angeles QF 12, 22.25
01/12/2014 In flight
As we head back towards Australia we cross the International Date Line.
02/12/2014 Arrive back in Australia
Arrive Sydney 08.25
On arrival in Sydney we transfer to the domestic terminal for the flight to our chosen Australian city.
Listed below is a selection of books which you may wish to read prior to, or during, your journey.
Insight Guide to Cuba
Fodor’s Exploring Cuba
The Old Man and the Sea
Che Guevara: A Life