Best of Mexico & Cuba

Best of Mexico & Cuba
Best of Mexico & Cuba
Best of Mexico & Cuba
Best of Mexico & Cuba
Best of Mexico & Cuba
  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • Dates
  • Intrepid Travel

Raise a glass to the vivacious beauty and fiery flavours of Mexico and Cuba

Raise a glass to the vivacious beauty and fiery flavours of Mexico and Cuba. Discover the culture and landscapes of these fascinating countries – with a splash of enticing stops along the way. Discover Maya history and culture at the incredible Chichen Itza ruins and visit indigenous communities near the charming San Cristobal de las Casas. Indulge in a feast of delicious local food, with a chance to learn some cooking skills of your own. Wander through glittering colonial architecture in Havana, soak up the clear mountain air among Soroa’s vibrant mountain orchards, and admire Trinidad’s unrivalled ambience. Cuba's imminent political and cultural change makes it something to experience now before it evolves. From ruins to old cars to fragrant cigars and with plenty of salsa and mariachi in between, this trip has it all.

Highlights
  • Get up close and personal with the country's diverse heritage, from the magnificent Aztec temples of Teotihuacan to the brightly-dressed Maya folk of the hills of San Cristobal.
  • Compare Mexico City's heady street-food scene to the subtler fare found in Oaxaca. 
  • A guided walking tour of  Old Havana sheds lights on the difference between the lives of city and rural life in Cuba
  • Take in all the colours and aromas of Soroa, the stunning valley area known as the 'rainbow of Cuba' and stroll along the rural dirt roads of Vinales as tractors, vintage cars and horse-drawn carriages pass you by
  • A visit to the Che Guevara mausoleum and museum allows you to learn about the iconic Cuban revolutionary in the right context
  • Trinidad is a real Cuban treat – step back in time on its old-world streets, then hit some fine palm-flanked beaches
Transport
  • Private vehicle , Plane
Accommodation
  • Comfortable Hotel (14 nights), Premium Guesthouse (7 nights)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology (entrance fee) (Closed Mondays)
  • Mexico City - Leader-led City Tour of Historic Center
  • Mexico City - Diego Rivera Murals in the National Palace (entrance fee)
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral (entrance fee)
  • Teotihuacan - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Oaxaca - Leader-led Orientation Walk
  • Mitla - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
  • Oaxaca - Guided full-day tour including the Tule Tree, a Mezcal distillery, and lunch in a Zapoteca family home
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led orientation walk
  • San Cristobal de Las Casas - Leader-led City Tour
  • San Juan Chamula - Maya Church (entrance fee)
  • Zinacantan - Maya Church (entrance fee)
  • Agua Azul - Waterfall Visit (entrance fee)
  • Merida - Leader-led Orientation Walk
  • Palenque - Archaeological site (Guide, Transport & Entrance fee)
  • Izamal - Convento de San Antonio de Padua (Entrance)
  • Izamal - Leader-led walking tour
  • Chichen Itza - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
  • Havana - Leader-led Walking Tour of Old Havana
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Soroa - Orchid Garden (entrance fee and guide included)
  • Vinales - Leader-led Orientation Walk
  • Vinales - Half-day Valley Walking Tour including Tobacco Farmhouse (guide included, no transport)
  • Vinales - Farm to Table Dinner at an Eco-friendly Ranch
  • Bay of Pigs - Coastal Swim Stop
  • Cienfuegos - Leader-led Orientation Walk
  • Cienfuegos - Palacio de Valle (entrance fee included, no guide)
  • Trinidad - Leader-led Orientation Walk
  • Trinidad - Salsa Dance Lesson (1 hour)
  • Santa Clara - Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum (entrance fee included, no guide)
  • Havana - Revolution Square
Destinations
  • Central America
  • Mexico
  • Celestun
  • Merida
  • Yucatan
  • Che Guevara Mausoleum
  • Oaxaca
  • San Cristobal de las Casas
  • Mexico City
  • Cienfuegos
  • Havana
  • Santa Clara
  • Cancun
  • North America
  • Cuba
Tour Types
  • Adventure
  • Explorer
  • Active
  • Cultural
  • Singles
  • Small Group
Day 1: Mexico City

Arrive at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport and be transferred to your hotel. A complimentary transfer is included with your trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised. Settle in and, if you have time, take a stroll to get a feel for this vibrant and rapidly growing capital where the ancient and modern collide. You'll meet your leader and other members of your group this evening for a welcome meeting at 6 pm; the place of the meeting can be found at the hotel reception. This meeting will be followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Location: Mexico City

Accommodation: Hotel

Day 2: Mexico City

Enjoy a guided city tour of Mexico City. You'll visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, Zocalo, National Palace and Museum of Anthropology. After that, the day is yours to spend as you please. The Leon Trotsky and Frida Kahlo (La Casa Azul) museums are two popular sights worth checking as an optional activity. Trotsky, having come off second-best to Stalin in the race to the helm during the Soviet era, was expelled and found refuge in Mexico City where he was eventually murdered, while Frida Kahlo is perhaps the most renowned Mexican artist in history. Both of which can be reached by Uber. Otherwise, just outside of the city, the colourful Xochimilco gardens and canals are especially fun on weekends.

Location: Mexico City

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 3: Teotihuacan / Oaxaca

Leaving the hotel at 8 am, today you'll visit the Teotihuacan ruins, about 50 kilometres northeast of Mexico City (1.5 hour drive). Discover the amazing ruins known as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline. This was once one of the biggest cities in the world. Stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’ and see the clues to what life was like here nearly 2000 years ago. Continue to Oaxaca (5 hours) learning some Spanish phrases from your leader on the way. This beautiful colonial city is known for its cuisine and lively art scene, but it's also a great place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, with descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec selling an array of bright woven blankets and shawls. Upon arrival, your leader will take you on a short walk around the hotel to help orientate you, and to point out useful services such as bus stops or ATMs.

Location: Teotihuacan / Oaxaca

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 4: Mitla / Oaxaca

Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Oaxaca has much to offer travellers so today you’ll take a full day tour of the city and its surrounds, including lunch at a local family’s home. Be ready at 8 am for your local guide will take you to the Mitla ruins, which were once the religious centre for the Zapotec. Sip on the famous, tequila-like local liquor, mezcal, at a mezcal factory and visit the Tule Tree, a 1500-year-old tree that's over 11 metres in girth. Returning to the hotel about 8 pm, if you still have the energy, the evening is free for you to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy Oaxaca’s nightlife.

Location: Mitla / Oaxaca

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,lunch,

Day 5: Oaxaca

Today is a free day to explore Oaxaca at your own pace, with a range of optional activities to consider. Perhaps pay a visit to the archaeological site of Monte Alban. The Zapotec civilisation began construction of this city around 200 BC, and Olmecs and Mixtecs have inhabited it at different times. Have your camera ready to go, because up here you can get an amazing view across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca. Or check out Hierve el Agua: a group of stunning natural rock formations and mineral pools perched high in the hills overlooking the surrounding countryside. Hierve el Agua is known for its ‘petrified’ waterfalls, where many years ago the water calcified over the rock faces and now, they resemble frozen waterfalls. Otherwise, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the streets and take the opportunity to feast on some regional delicacies. Season depending, a folkloric ballet performance is an also a great optional activity. The Santo Domingo Cultural Centre is also worth a visit.

Location: Oaxaca

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 6: San Cristobal de las Casas

Depart Oaxaca for the airport at approximately 5.30 am, then take the 8 am flight to Tuxtla airport (1.5 hours), before driving to the charming city of San Cristobal de las Casas (approximately 1 hour). Once in 'San Cris', as it's known, take a walk and soak up the strong old-world atmosphere of this town, which is due in no small part to the grand Spanish colonial architecture, prominent indigenous cultures and winding cobblestone streets. Your leader will help orientate you with a walk around the hotel, then you are free to venture further into the city.

Location: San Cristobal de las Casas

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 7: San Juan Chamula / San Cristobal de las Casas

This morning, your leader will take you on a walking tour of the city, passing impressive cathedrals, green plazas and countless museums. Next, head to the nearby Maya village of San Juan Chamula (30 minutes’ drive). Nestled in the highlands, this village serves as marketplaces and religious ceremonial centres for the indigenous folk who live in the surrounding hills. The local people have retained their traditional way of life and can often be seen wearing their own distinctive, colourful clothes. Journey another 15 minutes to visit the next town of Zincantan. As you explore with your leader, we'll learn more about these mostly Maya communities. Later, during free time back in San Cris, perhaps rent a bike to explore the town further.

Location: San Juan Chamula / San Cristobal de las Casas

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 8: San Cristobal de las Casas

The rest of your time in San Cristobal de las Casas is free for you to explore on your own. You may want to pay a visit to the Na Bolom Museum: a small museum and research centre which was the home of anthropologist and photographer Gertrude Duby-Blom and her archaeologist husband Frans Blom. While Frans explored Mayan sites all over Chiapas, Trudy studied, photographed and fought to protect the scattered Lacandon people. Today, as well as being a hotel and a museum, the house provides free accommodation to Lacandon people who make their way to San Cristobal for work, studies or medical reasons. Alternatively, you may want to visit the amber (jade) museum, which displays and sells beautifully carved items and insect- embedded pieces or venture to the Sumidero Canyon to get a dose of nature.

Location: San Cristobal de las Casas

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 9: Palenque

Say goodbye to San Cristobal de Las Casas as you head for Palenque and its surrounding jungle. It will be an early start to minimise the chance of hitting road closures common in the area. There will be a stop or two to stretch your legs, before arriving (4-5 hours) at the low and wide Agua Azul Waterfalls, which flow slowly over limestone rocks. There's time for lunch and a quick dip, so remember to pack your swimsuit! Otherwise, enjoy a scenic stroll around the beautiful surroundings, before continuing to Palenque (1.5-2 hours). A group dinner is included tonight.

Location: Palenque

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,dinner,

Day 10: Palenque Ruins / Merida

At 8 am this morning you'll drive 30 minutes to visit the archaeological site of Palenque. Located on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle, these are some of the most astounding Maya ruins in the region, dating back as far as AD600. Some of the ruins remain unexcavated and are hidden in the surrounding forest. Enjoy a 2-hour guided tour of the site and keep an ear out for the strange calls of howler monkeys as you explore this lost city. At about 11 am, take a 3-hour drive to the lunch stop. Enjoy the chance to stretch your legs as there is another 4-5 hours' drive before reaching Merida about 8 pm, the capital of the Yucatan region.

Location: Palenque Ruins / Merida

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 11: Merida

Today is a free day to explore the many sights of Merida. Perhaps visit some of the museums, including the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan, and stroll the city streets which are alive with art and culture. Hang out in the green and shady Plaza Grande, with the 16th-century cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the other. The outdoor market is another essential visit, with an array of hammocks and Mayan replicas for sale, plus a selection of enticing local cuisine, including the dish cochinita pibil ('little pig') or the incredibly spicy El Yucateco hot sauce. If you can't visit enough Maya sites, you may want to head for the ancient ruins of Uxmal. Here you'll visit the amazing Palace of the Governors, considered by many to be the best example of classic Maya architecture. You may choose to travel west out to the coast to take a boat ride and visit the Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve. Here, near extensive beaches lined with coconut trees, you'll see a variety of coastal birds. Depending on the season (usually November to March), you may be able to witness the magnificent sight of thousands of flamingos painting a pink streak across the landscape.

Location: Merida

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 12: Izamal

In the afternoon, transfer by private vehicle to Izamal, a small city 1 hour’s drive from Merida. Izamal is an important pre-Columbian Maya site and your leader will take you for a guided walking tour of the city including a visit to the Convento de San Antonio de Padua, a Spanish monastery built on the site of a destroyed Maya temple in 1561. Take the opportunity to spend a lazy afternoon people-watching and soaking it all in.

Location: Izamal

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 13: Chichen Itza / Playa del Carmen

Departing early, our first stop today is Chichen Itza, an hour's drive from Izamal. This is possibly the most famous Maya site in Mexico. You'll see the marvellous Temple of Kukulkan standing over the ruins and not far from the temple is the ‘ball court’, where many disputes are known to have been settled by way of a ball game that employed only the elbows, hips and wrists. Stone carvings depicting violence suggest it was not such a casual sport. Following a guided tour of the site, we'll continue to the resort town of Playa del Carmen (2 hours).

Location: Chichen Itza / Playa del Carmen

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 14: Playa del Carmen

Take today to enjoy Playa del Carmen as you see fit. Kick back with a book, stroll along the white sands or snorkel in crystal-clear waters. Blessed with azure waters, powdery beaches and an almost European feel, Playa del Carmen is a popular resort town famed for its coral reefs. For adventures further afield, take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving, or perhaps check out the Tulum ruins, an ancient Maya city protected against invaders by a high wall and situated on a cliff overlooking a white sandy beach. In the evening, settle in beachside and watch the world go by with a margarita in your hand or take advantage of the famous nightlife and let your salty hair down.

Location: Playa del Carmen

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 15: Havana

Say Adios to Mexico today and head over to Cuba. Your flight to Havana, along with a departure transfer to Cancun Airport and an arrival transfer in Havana are included with your trip. There will be a welcome meeting at approximately 6 pm this evening followed by an optional group dinner. If want to explore before your meeting, please note most activities in Cuba can only be booked through the tourist desk in the lobbies of the larger hotels or direct with the venue. Otherwise, there are plenty of good museums to check out, including the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.

Location: Havana

Accommodation: Premium guesthouse

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 16: Soroa / Vinales

Spend the morning enjoying a short tour around Old Havana with your local guide. Founded in 1519 by the Spanish and designated a World Heritage Site in 1982, this well-preserved area within Cuba’s capital remains virtually unchanged which makes it one of the Caribbean’s most impressive historical cities. Wander through Havana’s oldest square, Plaza de Armas, stroll around the architecturally eclectic buildings that line the 16th century Plaza Veija, admire the basilica of San Francisco de Asis and visit the Cathedral with its elaborate baroque facade. Afterwards drive to Soroa, a lush enclave nestled in a picturesque valley and aptly known as the ‘rainbow of Cuba’. Stop for lunch and tour a beautiful orchid garden where you’ll learn the medicinal secrets behind wild Cuban herbs, before continuing your journey to Vinales. Located in the province of Pinar del Rio – Vinales is a landscape of tobacco and agricultural fields dotted with limestone outcrops. The scenery here is some of the most picturesque in Cuba and there are many ways to take it all in, ask your leader about the optional activities available including cycling, walking through tobacco fields and hiking to the mountains to explore the vast cave system of Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas.

Location: Soroa / Vinales

Accommodation: Premium guesthouse

Meals: breaksfast,lunch,

Day 17: Vinales

This morning, enjoy a walking tour through farms, tobacco plantations and lush cultivated lands for an insight into rural life in Vinales. Learn more about the simple lifestyle here and see first-hand the farmers who grow tobacco for some of the world’s most expensive cigars. For dinner this evening, relish a real garden-to-plate experience with an included dinner at an organic eco-farm. Indulge in a variety of fresh produce – from numerous vegetables and salads – to meats, seafood and salsas – all while gazing across sweeping views of the verdant valley. Afterwards, why not head out to a quaint bar and get to know some of Vinales’ residents. This small and charming rural village is one of the easiest places to mingle with locals in Cuba, who are very sociable, and many of them love nothing better than to drink rum and dance the night away!

Location: Vinales

Accommodation: Premium guesthouse

Meals: breaksfast,dinner,

Day 18: Bay of Pigs / Cienfuegos

Begin the day by travelling to a peaceful sandy arc on Cuba’s southern coast, commonly known as the Bay of Pigs. Learn about the Bay of Pigs Invasion – the battle between the US and the Cuban revolutionaries which resulted in the first defeat of a US-backed takeover in Latin America – then stop for a dip in its tranquil waters, with an outstanding variety of coral and fish, it just might be Cuba’s best-kept secret. Then continue along the picturesque coast to Cienfuegos, a slice of Paris in the Caribbean. This is the gem of the south, a seaside town of relaxing streets and dazzling buildings that strike a beautiful pose by the water. Founded in 1819 by pioneering French immigrants, the elegant architectural influence that these settlers brought with them earned the city a UNESCO World Heritage Site listing in 2005. Enjoy a photo stop at Palacio del Valle, which is Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy. Learn more about its history as you take in the beauty of its intricate carvings of Venetian alabaster and if you’re up for it, why not head to the rooftop for a sunset drink.

Location: Bay of Pigs / Cienfuegos

Accommodation: Premium guesthouse

Meals: breaksfast,lunch,

Day 19: Trinidad

Perhaps kick-start your morning with some Cuban coffee, it's served black, strong and super sweet, then bid farewell to Cienfuegos and board the bus for a short drive to Trinidad – a beautifully preserved colonial down that sits on the scenic Caribbean coast. There's no doubt it's one of Cuba's alluring destinations, a great place to wander around, with almost every scene offering a photo opportunity. Watch as locals casually smoke their huge cigars on the doorsteps of their homes, and hear the old Chevrolets rumbling by. Begin by strolling along the cobbled streets and marvelling at some of the colourful colonial architecture on display (this town was put on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988 for good reason), then feel the Cuban rhythms during a casual salsa class – a sure-fire way to boost your confidence in preparation for Trinidad’s nightlife!

Location: Trinidad

Accommodation: Premium guesthouse

Meals: breaksfast,

Day 20: Trinidad

Trinidad’s old-fashioned feel and friendly folk make it a standout destination for many visitors to Cuba, and the Santeria religion (a voodoo-like Afro-Cuban tradition) which is practiced here makes the town even more intriguing. Enjoy a free day to check-out Trinidad at your own pace. There are some great Spanish-style churches to see, and nearby is the Valle de los Ingenios, where sugar plantations stretch out as far as the eye can see. Why not go for a dip at nearby Playa Ancon and loll about on the long stretches of white sand or hire a bike of the vintage variety and cycle along Trinidad’s colourful (and cobblestone) streets. If you’re feeling energetic, then hiking in the Sierra del Escambray (the local mountains) is a great option – just ask your leader to help you decide! This evening, a folklore dance and music show in one of the open-air venues is highly recommended – a great chance to immerse yourself in Cuba's African, French and Spanish-influenced music and dance culture.

Location: Trinidad

Accommodation: Premium guesthouse

Meals: breaksfast,dinner,

Day 21: Santa Clara / Havana

On your way back to Havana, you'll stop in at Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial where you can get a rare insight into the legacy of the revolutionary leader. Che's remains were brought to rest here after they were found in a remote corner of Bolivia in 1997, where he was assassinated by the CIA-backed Bolivian army. The memorial is home to an impressive bronze statue of Che bearing his rifle and inside the museum, you can learn about his amazing life and see photos and exhibits such as letters, firearms, medical devices and other interesting artefacts – including his famous black beret. Upon arrival in Havana, stop by Revolution square then prepare for a final night of celebrations where you can toast to an incredible adventure across beautiful Cuba!

Location: Santa Clara / Havana

Accommodation: Premium guesthouse

Meals: breaksfast,lunch,

Day 22: Havana

Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast, check-out time is 10 am. If you wish to stay on in this colourful capital, our reservations team will be more than happy to assist. Just ask at the time of booking.

Location: Havana

Meals: breaksfast,

Included

Havana - Revolution Square

Dates Price Single Availability
12-Dec-2020 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
02-Jan-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
16-Jan-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
20-Mar-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
03-Apr-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
08-May-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
15-May-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
05-Jun-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
03-Jul-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
21-Aug-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
18-Sep-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
02-Oct-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
30-Oct-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
13-Nov-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
27-Nov-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
04-Dec-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website
11-Dec-2021 for 22 Nights Best of Mexico & Cuba Visit Website

Touring with Intrepid Travel

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After three decades, founders Darrell and Manch, feel they know what travellers want. They get that it’s a big decision to fly across the world to wander the souks of Marrakech or enjoy a dreamy Angkor sunrise. They understand that you’re looking for a balance of inclusions and free time, a mix of classic highlights and local secrets you won’t find on Google. And of course, an authentic real life experience. Their leaders are born and raised in-country and they know their destination better than anyone. So you’ll do more than just see a place, you’ll live it. Small groups, big adventures and responsible travel – that’s Intrepid’s thing. With 1,000 trips in a variety of styles across 100 countries, you’re sure to find something you like.

Intrepid believe the real magic happens well away from the beaten path. It’s the little noodle bars, hidden galleries and backstreet bodegas and real life experiences you won’t find in a search engine. Real life experiences are those moments you know you’re really alive and experiencing something special. While it could be the instant you see one of the world’s great icons for the first time, it is more likely to be the moment you find yourself in the middle of a village square soccer game, being treated to a home-cooked meal by your new local friends or sharing a laugh with your fellow travellers as you try a new mode of transport … camel anyone? These unexpected moments are what travelling with Intrepid is all about, giving you a trip like no other.

Intrepid realises the world is a really big place. And there’s a plethora of different languages to learn, borders to cross and cultures to negotiate. Small group adventure travel makes these things easy and allows you to maximise your precious time off. Instead of worrying about logistics, you can focus all your energy on having the experience of a lifetime. Their tour groups are small enough to feel like you’re exploring a destination independently, but big enough to create a good social vibe. Group size will vary depending on where and how you’re travelling, but the average group size is about 10.

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tour details

This tour is operated by Intrepid Travel

22 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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Group Size:1 - 12
Suitable For: 15-99 years
Accommodation:Comfortable Hotel (14 nights), Premium Guesthouse (7 nights)
Difficulty:physical=2, cultureShock=3
Meals:21 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners
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