BIRDING, NATURE, CULTURE & HISTORY
Upon arrival in Havana, transfer directly to your accommodation.
Later we will take a panoramic drive through modern Havana: Central Park, Gran Teatro de La Habana, National Capitol, the Revolution Square and the Malecon sea-front drive.
Then continue to the workshop and home of renowned artist Jose Fuster in Playa Jaimanitas. Fuster has turned his home and neighborhood into a masterpiece of tiles, turrets and, one might say, “Gaudí-esque beauty”.
After breakfast, proceed for a city tour of Old Havana.
Old Havana was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. The tour will take place on foot and we will visit all the four squares of Old Havana, to witness the process of a restoration project. We will make special stops at the galleries and workshops of some local artists.
Visit to the Cuban branch of Fine Arts Museum.
Return to accommodation and dinner.
Optional: An evening of live Cuban jazz at La Zorra y El Cuervo Club.
In the morning we will head west of Havana and drive to Viñales valley located about three hours away.
The Valley of Viñales is a picturesque, peaceful, lush area, known for its tobacco fields and for its “Mogotes” the boulder-like hills that cover the valley floor.
We will share with local farmers and see how tobacco is grown and rolled. We will tour the farm and have an informal question and answer session. A great chance to see how rural Cuban families live and work.
Lunch at an organic farm and restaurant called Finca Agroecológica.
Free time around the town.
Return to accommodation and dinner.
After breakfast we will go to Las Terrazas.
Las Terrazas community is in the Sierra del Rosario mountain range, a 25 000 hectares of evergreen forest. It is a self-sustained community in an area where 5000 hectares reforestation project was initiated in 1967. Back then, terraces were built in the slopes of the mountains to avoid erosion and so, thousands of trees such as mahogany, cedar, pine, teak, carob were planted.
On the early next morning we can go to do birding with a local guide. In this mountain range we can find the Cuban Trogon, Gundlach’s Hawk, Red-legged Honeycreeper and many other birds.
This area was the first one in the country to be declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
Sierra del Rosario is famed for the diversity of its natural beauty, lush woods, rivers, low waterfalls, orchids and ferns.
We will also have the chance to learn about and visit the historical ruins of a coffee plantation called Buena Vista, which dates back to the XIX century where hundreds of slaves were brought to work for French landlords after the revolution in Haiti.
Before lunch enjoy a zip line.
Lunch at El Campesino restaurant for typical Cuban food.
In the afternoon we will enjoy the mineral waters of San Juan River.
Return to accommodation and dinner at the vegetarian restaurant El Romero.
Today we will go to Ciénaga de Zapata National Park, where the Bay of Pigs is located. The ride from Las Terrazas to Zapata Peninsula will take about four hours.
The Zapata peninsula has Cuba’s and the Caribbean’s largest protected area, some 2,000 square miles of mangrove swamp, low scrub and thick forest.
Of the 20 or so bird species found only on the island, 17 can be seen there, including the bee hummingbird, the ¨zunzuncito¨, who is the cherry on the cake of Cuban birds. Unlike northerly birds like North America’s ruby-throated hummingbird, the bee hummingbird rarely feels the need to migrate and can’t get far.
East of the Zapata peninsula lies the Bahía de Cochinos, the Bay of Pigs. Two of the bay’s beaches, Playa Girón and Playa Larga were the landing points for the ill-conceived 1961 invasion. There is a museum on this battle.
We will go to Playa Larga and Playa Giron beaches, where there will be time for snorkeling or scuba diving.
In the morning after breakfast we will go to visit ¨Las Salinas¨, this area is almost uninhabited, but visitors go to see several thousands of nesting flamingos.
We will have lunch and later on we continue towards Trinidad stopping next at the Museo Playa Girón to learn about the history of this battle.
In about one and a half hours after Playa Girón museum visit we will be in Cienfuegos to visit the city center. Over there we will see the main square, the Cathedral church, Terry Theatre and the Palacio del Valle building.
In the evening we reach the charming UNESCO World Heritage and Cuba’s foremost colonial town of Trinidad, to check in at your hotel for three nights.
In the early XIX century sugar cane industry had a big boom, bringing wealth to the region. The historical center of the town has not changed much over the last 150 years and many of its colonial buildings has been nicely restored.
In the morning we will stroll around Plaza Mayor, visit Museo Palacio Cantero, and spend time at a local artisan street market, where splendid wood carvings, fabric art, crochet pieces, and straw works are for sale.
In the evenings we will enjoy traditional music at the Casa de la Trova, and also get in the groove at Disco Ayala, inside a cave.
We will go to an excursion to a waterfall in the nearby mountain range Sierra del Escambray and a steam train ride through the Valle de los Ingenios, (Valley of the sugar mills). The valley was the most important sugar producing region during colonial times.
We will also meet with Santander family that has been passing the pottery tradition for generations.
We will leave Trinidad right after breakfast to go back to Havana.
Arrive in Havana and check in at your accommodation.
Last day is free to explore the city on your own, before we go all together for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
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