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Parakeet: Cuba Beyond the beach

15 days from £2095pp

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Parakeet: Cuba Beyond the beach

15 days from £2095pp
 

Group Journey

 

Transport

1 flight (1.5 hrs), 9 road journeys (longest 6hrs with stops)

Accommodation

On our Discovery Journeys the standard of accommodation varies. We aim to keep the price competitive while ensuring the basic comforts. Hotels / guesthouses are comfortable and attractive in most places but elsewhere are purely functional. All properties are well maintained and almost all will have a private bathroom with hot water. (If you prefer greater comfort please see the Classic Journeys or Private Journeys on their respective pages on our website).

We use a mixture of medium-class hotels, as well as private homestays. We must emphasise that in Cuba the standard of accommodation (and service) varies. All hotels have private facilities. In some areas you will be staying in casas particulares, or family homes. This system allows Cuban families to open up a few rooms to tourists. As each family has 2 or maybe 3 rooms, larger groups will be split among a number of different properties, but these will be located near one another and your tour leader will arrange meeting points and be on hand for assistance. Facilities within the houses vary; all have communal outside areas such as patios and roof terraces to relax in, and all offer excellent meals at additional cost. Due to Cuba’s strict regulations, casas particulares or private homes which are open to tourists are of a relatively high standard, however they do not necessarily conform to recognised hotel standards. With tourism growing the casa particulares are increasing in scale and also in development meaning most now have fridges in the rooms and even TV's - something unheard of a few years ago. In all cases the rooms are clean and have private bathrooms with hot water. Staying in these is a great way to get an insight into the Cuban way of life and meet its friendly people.

Examples of the hotels include: 

• Havana: Hotel Los Frailes
• Baracoa: El Castillo 
• Santiago: Hotel Casa Granda
• Bayamo: Hotel Royalton 
• Sierra Maestra: Hotel Villa Santo Domingo
• Camagüey: Gran Hotel
• Trinidad and Viñales: Casa Particulares

Hotels are subject to change and are dependent on availability. Address and contact details will be sent out with your final documents.

Meals

Breakfast daily, lunch day 7.

Included excursions

• Baracoa: Yumari river
• Santiago: Moncada Barracks
• Bayamo: walking tour
• Sierra Maestra: visit to Fidel's hideout
• Sugar mills on route to Trinidad 
• Trinidad: walking tour 
• Santa Clara: Che's mausoleum 
• Havana: walking tour
• Viñales: walks in the Viñales valley

Summary of nights

2016 - 15 days, 14 nights: Havana 1; Baracoa 2; Santiago 2; Bayamo 1; Sierra Maestra 1; Camagüey 1; Trinidad 2; Havana 2; Viñales 2.

2017 - 15 days, 14 nights: Havana 1; Baracoa 2; Santiago 2; Bayamo 1; Sierra Maestra 1; Camagüey 1; Trinidad 2; Viñales 2; Havana 2.

Included in the journey price

• All land transport
• Local Tour Guide throughout
• Accommodation as specified
• Meals as specified
• Excursions as specified
• Cuban tourist card

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and insurance
• Meals other than specified
• Optional excursions
• International airport departure tax

Optional excursions

There are optional excursions which are booked locally through your tour guide once you are in Latin America. Not all excursions available will suit everybody, whilst others only operate within certain seasons, with minimum numbers or may not be included due to time constraints. A budget of around £100 should cover participation in the following options, but prices can fluctuate depending on the size of the party and so cannot be provided accurately until travel commences.

The list below is only a guideline, so please enquire with your tour leader for any further areas of interest: 

• Santiago offers numerous distractions including walking tours, visits to the Casa Velasquez museum and Museum of Rum, Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, El Morro Castle and Cayo Granma.
• Camagüey: Take to a Bicitaxi on the streets of Camaguey to visit the artists’ quarters 
• Trinidad: hike in the Escambray mountains, relax at Ancon beach or stroll through the Parque el Cubano. 
• Havana: cruise in iconic 1950s cars
• Havana: see the dolphins at the National Aquarium
• Havana: visit the Havana Club (rum) museum 
• Viñales :visit the Cueva del Indio 

Throughout your stay in Cuba there will also be plenty of opportunities to take in the local music and dance at various concerts, gigs and festivals.

Travelling alone

There is no extra cost for single travellers who are willing to share a room. You will be accommodated with another same-sex member of the group who is also travelling solo. For single travellers who wish to have their own room there are a limited number of single rooms available, which carry a surcharge.

Currency

Cuba has a dual currency system. The official currency is the Cuban peso (CUP), with which local people are paid and which they spend. The Cuban convertible peso (CUC) is the 'tourist' currency and is accepted in hotels and 'dollar shops'. You will be expected to pay  for goods and services in CUC. 

In October 2013 President Raúl Castro announced that Cuba would be abandoning the CUC; this is expected to happen sometime in the future.

Budget

Cuba is not a cheap country for the visitor. A budget of around GBP£35-40 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday price, drinks and the odd souvenir.

How to take it

Cuba imposes a 10-15% charge on dollar exchange. To avoid this, you should travel with sterling or euro cash (no more than is covered by your insurance). Both euros and sterling are accepted in most banks and some of the larger hotels. You can convert these into Cuban pesos convertibles (CUC) on arrival. Keep the official receipt from your exchange, because you will need this should you want to change any currency back to sterling or euros at the end of your trip. 

Credit cards (not those issued by US banks) are also accepted in some places, but be aware that there is a 11% surcharge on payments made by card, including on cash advances. Havana has a few ATMs and there a couple more popping up in other cities, although these cannot be relied on. Maestro cards are not accepted in Cuba. Due to recent changes in the law travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change, so it is not recommended travelling with them now.

Tipping

Tips are normally welcomed and expected. Local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately £2 (or local equivalent) per person per day for each of guides and drivers, depending on the size of the group. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Many Cubans lack what we consider to be daily necessities, such as soap, plasters and stationery. If you have room in your bags for some such things, they will be hugely appreciated by the islanders.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page. 

Airport taxes

International departure tax is approximately 25 CUC but is now included in the cost of your flight tickets.

Journey grade

There are some early mornings and long days of travel (all of which have stops). All walks are optional, and you can discuss with your tour guide which are suitable for you. Please be aware that delays and changes of plan are possible, in fact likely, and a happy-go-lucky attitude is essential if you are to get the most from your visit to the country. This journey uses a combination of tourist bus services and private transport. Be aware that although there are timetables for buses in Cuba, there are often delays and occasionally cancellations.

Climate

Cuba is generally hot throughout the year (18-32°C), with temperatures at their highest in summer, between July and September when humidity can also be very high. The rainy season runs from May to October, and the island lies within the hurricane belt July-November. The east of the island is hotter and more humid than the west.

Clothing and special equipment

Light, summer clothing will be adequate for this hot climate, and the dress code is very casual everywhere. Thin, long-sleeved garments may be useful for evenings, and a lightweight raincoat is the best protection against tropical downpours. Your footwear should include comfortable walking shoes or trainers and sandals. 

A small bag/day pack is essential to carry a few things for your overnight at Villa Santa Domingo.

We recommend that you pack a torch as lighting can be poor at night. Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in Cuba.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP. You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website. 

Visas

A completed Cuban tourist card is essential for all UK citizens travelling to Cuba. The cost of this is included in the holiday price and the card will be issued with your final documents.

APIS - important flight information:

Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the departure of flights. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

15 days from £2095pp

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About Group Tours

Our small escorted group journeys are led by award-winning tour guides and follow tried and tested routes that we have been refining for over 30 years. 

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Wanderlust

Wanderlust Reader's Travel Awards - Top Ten Tour Operator 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015

Latin American Travel Association – Award for Customer Service 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Specialist Tour Operator 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine – Best Value Tour Operator 2011

Sunday Times Travel Magazine - Editor's Award2013

British Travel Awards – Best Small Tour Operator Central & South America 2011, 2012

Condé Nast Traveller – Top Ten Specialist Tour Operator: 2010, 2011, 2012

Guardian and Observer Travel Awards– Top Ten Small Tour Operator: 2009, 2010, 2012

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