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Tocororo: Rum and revolution

12 days from £1672pp

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Tocororo: Rum and revolution:
Trip Dossier

Few would deny that Cuba is a unique holiday destination in a Caribbean Sea rich with gorgeous tropical islands. The turmoil and upheavals of its political and social history are overwhelmed by the sunny friendliness of the people and their love of music and dance. Go now, before the inevitable change happens, and witness the mixed results of a very Latin socialist experiment. 

The trip begins in Havana, Cuba's inimitable capital, with its faded grandeur enlivened by the sound of salsa and rumba. From here travel on to Santa Clara, home to Che Guevara's mausoleum, and on to the cobbled streets of colonial Trinidad. You then head west to Viñales, a fertile valley punctuated with lumpy limestone mountains in the island's tobacco-growing region. 

The nature of the infrastructure means there may be last minute changes of plan. A flexible attitude is essential if you want to make the most of this holiday.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

UK clients depart Thursday on a direct flight arriving Havana, Cuba, the same day.

Day 1

Overnight in the capital.

Day 2

Guided tour of historic Havana and trip in a 1950s vintage car.

Day 3

By road to Trinidad, via Santa Clara: visit Che Guevara’s mausoleum and the Valley of the Sugar Mills.

Days 4-5

Explore Trinidad and the surrounding area.

Day 6

By road to Cienfuegos. Walking tour of the city.

Day 7

Trip to Girón Museum on the Bay of Pigs. Drive to Las Terrazas.

Day 8

Optional hikes; continue by road to Viñales.

Days 9-10

Walks in the Viñales region.

Day 11

Return to Havana; at leisure

Day 12

Depart on international flight or extension.

UK clients arrive home the following day, Tuesday.

Detailed itinerary

UK clients depart Thursday on a direct flight arriving Havana, Cuba, the same day.

Day 1

Overnight in the capital.

If you are arriving on an international flight, you will be met at the airport by your local tour leader or a representative who will escort you to the group hotel.

Day 2

Guided tour of historic Havana and trip in a 1950s vintage car.
A guided tour of Old Havana will introduce you to this fascinating city. The streets of La Habana Vieja were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, and the subsequent restoration of this part of town has transformed it into arguably Latin America's finest colonial quarter, in marked contrast to the rambling, potholed streets and crumbling façades around it.

After a local cocktail jump in a vintage American car to be driven past some of the highlights of Havana including Revolution Square, the National Hotel, Capitol building and the former Presidential Palace. Between these grand buildings, pass pastel-hued mansions, observe the bustling street life and hear the music seeping out of every doorway. You'll have trouble keeping your hands off your camera as iconic images flash before you around each and every corner.


Day 3

By road to Trinidad, via Santa Clara: visit Che Guevara’s mausoleum and the Valley of the Sugar Mills.
Drive south out of Havana to Santa Clara (2 hours). The capture of the railway here by Che Guevara half a century ago, assisted by just 18 guerrillas, was instrumental in the triumph of the Revolution. Today, this vibrant university town is home to an excellent museum dedicated to the events of the late 1950s and to Che Guevara himself. There is time to visit the museum, Che's mausoleum and a monument and plaza dedicated to the man and the Revolution.

In the afternoon you continue to Trinidad (3 hours), stopping en route at an old sugar mill at Valle de los Ingenios. The bell tower here (from which the slaves on the plantation were once monitored) has panoramic views.

Che Guevara

Days 4-5

Explore Trinidad and the surrounding area.
Trinidad is a picturesque town which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. Its popularity has not affected its colonial charm and unhurried atmosphere. Low-rise, brightly painted houses with vast shutters open out onto cobbled streets, palm trees dot the main plaza and life in the evenings goes on into the early hours with dancing and music outside the Casa de la Música.

There is a walking tour of the town, and a number of optional excursions are available. Drive up into the shady environs of the Escambray Mountains where you may spot the national bird, the tocororo, along one of the walking trails, en route to a waterfall for a refreshing dip. Alternatively, relax beneath the shade of a palm tree at Playa Ancón (11km from the town), a wide stretch of white sand on the Caribbean, where local people picnic and children play in the warm waters.


Day 6

By road to Cienfuegos. Walking tour of the city.

Today you head west to the elegant city of Cienfuegos, a port founded by French settlers from Louisiana in 1819. This history gives it an air and architectural style that is distinct from that of the rest of the island, and you will have a walking tour of the city led by your tour leader to experience the easy-going ambience of the city, which has well earned its sobriquet ‘Pearl of the South’.En route there is also a stop to visit the Jardín Botánico. Located 15kms outside town, the botanical gardens are home to over 2,000 different species of plants. It is one of the most complete collections of tropical plants in the country, and feels more like a natural forest than a man-made garden.

Day 7

Trip to Girón Museum on the Bay of Pigs. Drive to Las Terrazas.
In the morning head out for a tour of the Zapata Peninsula. This region is full of unspoilt nature and luxuriant tropical vegetation, fringed by beautiful beaches. You will also visit the Girón Museum, a collection dedicated to the failed CIA-inspired  invasion of Cuba in 1961 which became known as the Bay of Pigs. In the afternoon a drive (5 hours) via Havana, takes you along the country's only motorway, the Carretera Central, which is usually empty of cars, and lined with hopeful hitch-hikers.

In the late afternoon you arrive at Las Terrazas, a peaceful biosphere reserve containing acres of natural forest, in the Sierra del Rosario mountains. The reserve was established in the 1970s as a community restoration project and is now one of the most important eco-tourism sites in the country.

Day 8

Optional hikes; continue by road to Viñales.
There is time to explore this beautiful hilly region on foot in the morning. Hike along one of the many trails and spot abundant birdlife in the semi-tropical and evergreen forest. Or wander a few kilometres to a series of water pools, shaded by low foliage, and join local people leaping off rocks and swimming.

You then continue by road to Viñales, a small, bucolic town tucked away in the Sierra de los Órganos. The tree-shaded high street is lined with wooden colonnades and one-storey, red-roofed houses. Horse and carts clatter along the main road and local children play baseball with sticks and stones outside the dilapidated whitewashed church in the main square. There is a splendid old chemist's shop and a few other bare-shelved stores, as well as a couple of salsa bars which attract a lively crowd in the evening.

Days 9-10

Walks in the Viñales region.
You have 2 days at leisure to explore the area. The valley has a distinctive landscape, with domed limestone mountains, known as mogotes, jutting into the sky from a fertile plain. Using oxen and carts, local farmers cultivate the red soil of the valley floor for fruit, vegetables and tobacco, and the countryside is peppered with thatched curing barns for drying the tobacco leaves.

You have a guided walk through this beautiful valley. The trail passes alongside fields tilled by straw-hatted farmers and their oxen. You have the opportunity to visit a campesino family in their home and talk to them about life on the land, as well as visiting a tobacco farm to learn about the growing processes of one of Cuba's most important crops.

Optional excursions include exploring a number of the caves within the limestone mountains and you can even swim in one, or enjoy the scenery on horseback at a relaxed pace (no experience necessary).


Day 11

Return to Havana; at leisure

Return to Havana (2 hours) for a final mojito cocktail and a chance to sample some of the capital's lively nightlife.


Day 12

Depart on international flight or extension.

UK clients arrive home the following day, Tuesday.

Essential information


7 road journeys (longest 5 hours) by private vehicle.


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 we use include 
• Havana: Hotel Sevilla
• Trinidad: casas particulares
• Cienfuegos: Hotel Union
• Las Terrazas: Hotel La Moka 
• Viñales: casas particulares

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


Breakfast daily.

Included excursions

• Havana: guided tour of Old Havana
• Havana: drive in a vintage car
• Santa Clara: Che Guevara's mausoleum 
• Trinidad: visit to Valle de los Ingenios
• Trinidad: walking tour 
• Cienfuegos: Jardín Botánico 
• Cienfuegos: walking tour
• Playa Girón: Zapata Peninsula tour and Giron Museum 
• Viñales: guided walk in the valley

Summary of nights

12 days, 11 nights: Havana 2; Trinidad 3; Cienfuegos 1; Las Terrazas 1; Viñales 3; Havana 1.

Included in the journey price

• Services of local tour leader trained by Journey Latin America
• All land transport
• 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

Optional excursions

There are optional excursions which are booked locally through your tour leader 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: 

• Trinidad: Hike in the Escambray mountains
• Trinidad: Playa Ancon beach
• Las Terrazas: Visit a local rural community
• 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 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.


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.


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 a new change in laws Travellers Cheques have become increasingly difficult to change, so it is not recommended travelling with them now.


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.

If you would like to show your appreciation to your Journey Latin America tour leader, who you may feel has exceeded your expectations, a discretionary gratuity would be gratefully received. As a guideline we recommend an amount of between £4 and £6 per person, per day. You are obviously free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality. Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.


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

This trip is taken at a relatively slow pace, with plenty of time to relax in each location. You can consult your tour leader if in any doubt about the suitability of any of the walks 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 the country.


Cuba is generally hot throughout the year (18-32°C), with the highest temperatures in summer, July-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.

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. 

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.

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:


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. 


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.

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