On this walking tour of Western Cuba we experience local hospitality whilst staying in family-run guest houses, and hike through some of Cuba's best natural tropical reserves. We also discover the glamorous past of Old Havana, and the lively musical nightlife of colonial Trinidad. As we travel we learn about modern day Cuba and its complex past, culminating in a visit to the mausoleum of the national hero Che Guevara. At the end of the trip we spend time relaxing on the beach at Playa Jibacoa with a stay in a resort hotel.
Now is undoubtedly a fantastic time to visit Cuba to see and experience the island. Visiting Cuba is like stepping back in time as little has changed over the past 50 years. To fully enjoy the Cuban experience you should travel with a willingness to expect the unexpected and, above all, an adventurous spirit. In our opinion go now and experience this unique destination before it changes.
Casas particulares - Stay in family guesthouses
Havana - Discover the fading glamour of 'Old Havana'
Topes de Collantes - Hike through this region of mountainous tropical forest
Vinales - Walk amongst the tobacco fields and limestone landscapes
Trinidad - Explore this fascinating historic town. Learn how to make local cocktails and enjoy music and dancing at the Casa de la Musica
Playa Jibacoa - Relax at the beautiful Caribbean beach resort
Why Book this Tour
Gain a unique insight into Cuban life staying with local families in casas particulares, family-run guesthouses.
- Topes de Collantes
- North America
- Central America
- Small Group
Day 1: Tour starts Havana
Tour starts in Havana. Throughout this tour we stay in casas particulares, family-run guesthouses. On arrival to the main guesthouse in 'Centro Habana' (as detailed in your Joining Instructions) you will be met by your host and shown to your room in one of their three local guesthouses. Havana is a fascinating city. In 'Old Havana' Spanish grand colonial buildings rub shoulders with those of glorious art deco style, as the ubiquitous old American cars and taxis cruise past. After years of neglect some of these magnificent buildings are being restored, and it is not hard to imagine back to Havana's glamorous heyday when it was a popular haunt of the rich and famous. One of the first to be restored was the impressive art deco style Bacardi Building. Today Havana has something for everyone including museums, shopping and street cafes. At night the city's legendary music and cocktails bars come into their own.
Day 2: Walk and optional swim in Las Terrazas.
After breakfast in the main guesthouse, we make a short city tour of Havana as we drive out of the city. En route sights we will see include Plaza de la Revolucion and the grand mansions of Miramar district. We then drive to Las Terrazas a small community and nature reserve to the west of the city, and part of the UNESCO Biosphere of Sierra del Rosario. Here we take a walk in the reserve, the result of an extensive regeneration project. We take a picnic lunch and have the opportunity to swim in the nearby natural pools of River San Juan, surrounded by lush, tropical forest. Later we drive to the small town of Vinales where we have a short walk around the centre and meet our homestay hosts for the next two nights. Vinales is situated in one of the most picturesque areas of Cuba - the Valle de Vinales is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is known for its distinctive landscape of limestone mogotes (steep sided dome formations) rising out from the floor of the valley, and for using traditional techniques to grow some of the best tobacco in the world in its red, iron rich soil. This tobacco is used in the famous Cuban cigars.
Todays 6km walk is expected to take around 2hrs with 50m ascent and 100m descent. The terrain is mainly forest trails.
Day 3: Vinales: Mogotes, tobacco and cigars
This morning we take a walk in the Valle de Vinales, through the mogotes and tobacco fields, where the green of the vegetation contrasts with the red of the soil and the grey of the limestone. En route we visit a small-holding growing local crops. We learn how the tobacco is grown and harvested, and how the celebrated cigars are made. The afternoon is free to relax in Vinales, visit the local small botanical garden or take an optional local walk with our Tour Leader.
Todays 5km walk is expected to take around 3hrs with 150m descent. The terrain is mainly on unmade paths and access roads. The optional walk will be between one and three hours, and on similar terrain.
Day 4: Drive past the Bay of Pigs. Explore Cienfuegos. Enjoy the music of Trinidad
Starting out early we drive east for approximately six hours towards the Bay of Pigs. We drive through large citrus and sugar plantations and down onto the Zapata Peninsula to the coastline where the infamous 1961 'Bay of Pigs' attack (Cuban exiles supported by the US) failed to overthrow the Communist regime. After an optional lunch and swim in the area we continue on for another two hours to Cienfuegos, where we take a walking tour of this sheltered colonial seaport. Another hours drive by the foothills of the wooded Escambray Mountains and along the Caribbean coast brings us to the beautiful colonial town of Trinidad where we meet our homestay hosts for the next three nights. Trinidad was founded in 1514 by the Spanish and was strategically important for their conquest of Latin America. However during the 18th Century the sugar industry became well established in the nearby Valle de Los Ingenios and Trinidad prospered, leaving a legacy of beautiful 18th and 19th century buildings now in varying states of repair. During this time the town was regularly attacked by pirates and it is said that the street layout is deliberately complicated so as to confuse attackers. Today the winding streets of Trinidad still have their own charm and encourage both exploration of the town and relaxation in the street cafes, while the nearby sand beaches can easily be reached by taxi. Just off the main square is a great place to enjoy a cocktail and dance the night away under the stars on the steps of the local Casa de la Musica.
Day 5: Hike through the jungle in Topes de Collantes
This morning we drive inland to Topes de Collantes Natural Park in the beautiful, wooded Escambray Mountains, famous for its many endemic species of flora and fauna. After a short bus ride up a steep, switch-back road into the forest we arrive at the park entrance. Here we meet our local guide, who along with our tour leader will accompany us in the park, and climb into an old Russian military style truck for the journey to the start of our walk. Our hike may vary depending on the weather and the group but will take us well off the beaten track and reward our efforts with great views. We walk through tropical forest, and along rivers to arrive to Hacienda Codina, a small isolated lodge in the forest with beautiful gardens visited by hummingbirds, where we can relax and take refreshments. We then return to Trinidad for a short city tour, including a cocktail making lesson, and an optional evening of music and dancing.
Todays 10km walk is expected to take around 4hrs with 200m ascent and 400m descent. The terrain unmade forest trails.
Day 6: Walk in El Cubano Reserve. Free afternoon
Today we take a walk in the nearby local El Cubano Reserve, following the river as it leads up into the tropical forest. We'll look out for local flora and fauna en route before reaching a waterfall and one of the best natural swimming pools in Cuba. We have plenty of time for a swim and to relax at this beautiful place before retracing our steps to where our bus is waiting for us. The afternoon is free to explore Trinidad at your own pace, visit the beach or take a salsa lesson.
Todays 4km walk is expected to take around 1.5hrs with 120m descent. The terrain is mainly unmade forest trails.
Day 7: Visit Che Guevara's Memorial. Explore Havana on foot
Driving north we travel for a couple of hours to Santa Clara, home to the monument and mausoleum of Cuba's national hero Che Guevara. We visit the mausoleum and small museum before continuing our journey for approximately another four hours. We arrive to Havana in time for an afternoon walk around 'Old Havana' visiting Capitol, Parque Central, and the main squares before returning to our Centro Habana guesthouses for our last night.
Day 8: Tour ends Havana
This morning we say good bye to those that are not extending their stay, before travelling to Playa Jibacoa for our stay on the beach. Around an hours drive brings us to our beach hotel, the 4* Memories Jibacoa, where we will be spending the next two nights relaxing after the week of walking. Whether you would like to lie in the sun, soaking up some warmth, or take a dip in the beautiful ocean; your time at Jibacoa can be as active or as relaxing as you feel. If you do want to continue with some more walking the town is backed by a limestone ledge, with excellent cliff top views and some easy paths for you to enjoy.
Day 9: Free day on the beach
Today we have the full day at leisure on the beach. Our hotel here is an all-inclusive, which means that you are at your leisure to enjoy everything that the beach and hotel have to offer. The area is blessed with a coral reef located just a couple of metres from shore, and the hotel provides snorkelling gear and kayaks for you to explore the turquoise waters and reef. Nestled between the leafy mountains and golden sands, the hotel is beautifully situated with a tempting pool and lush green hills with easy-to-follow trails for keen hikers, offering spectacular views over the ocean.
Day 10: Morning on the beach, transfer to Havana airport
This morning sees our last few hours relaxing in Jibacoa before we transfer back to Havana airport where the trip will finish.
Touring with Explore
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With Explore, you'll get to see your destination from a whole new perspective that takes you away from the typical well-trodden tourist track. You'll have the chance to meet, dine and stay with local people, rest in authentic accommodation with other like-minded explorers and travel to must-see destinations with a unique Explore twist.
From family trips to holidays for solo travellers; cycling tours to wildlife safaris; trekking on mountains or exploring miles of scenic coastline; self-guided holidays or small group trips; there is something for every kind of traveller with Explore. They will provide their expert knowledge, exciting itineraries and outstanding service as part of their sustainable travel experiences which take you under the skin of the country you're visiting for the adventure of a lifetime.