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If you want to explore a little further than Havana, this 8 day private tour is perfect as you’ll experience more of this fascinating country and its interior, ending either back in Havana or in the idyllic Cayo Santa María to enjoy a few days relaxing at the Meliá Buenavista.
Days 1-3 Please see A Taste of Havana for your first 3 days.
Day 4 An early morning start takes you along the Tobacco Route to the province of Pinar del Río in the western part of Cuba. You’ll enjoy a drive through the Mogote Valley with its famous limestone rocks and the picturesque village of Viñales. Visit a Casa del Veguero (a small tobacco farm) surrounded by beautiful scenery. In the afternoon you’ll visit the Prehistoric Wall, a huge rock painting created by the Cuban painter, González Morillo, in the 1960s. Finally, explore the Indian Cave by boat before heading back to Havana where you’ll overnight. In the evening, have dinner at the famous Paladar La Guarida which featured in the oscar-nominated Cuban film, Fresa y Chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate).
Day 5 This morning, enjoy a scenic 3 hour drive to central Cuba and the Zapata Peninsula, one of the largest areas of swampland in the Caribbean and home to hundreds of native species of flora and fauna. Take a boat trip through the mangroves to visit the Taino Village, on an island in the middle of the Laguna del Tesoro, a large natural reservoir. In the afternoon, arrive at Cienfuegos, a city inspired by French architecture - you‘ll see many examples of this around the main square, such as the Tomás Terry Theatre which attracted famous performers like Caruso, Sarah Bernhardt and Anna Pavlova in the 19th Century. In the evening, enjoy a walking tour of the Punta Gorda Peninsula and dinner in the beautiful surroundings of the local Yacht Club before heading to La Unión Hotel for your overnight stay.
Day 6 This morning, visit the Cienfuegos Botanical Gardens, one of the most important in Latin America with over 2,000 species of plants. Later, continue along the coast road to the UNESCO world heritage site of Trinidad with its unique colonial architecture. You’ll have time to stroll around the cobbled lanes and the main square, which is surrounded by the mansions of former sugar barons. In the evening, return to The Grand Hotel Iberostar for dinner and overnight. You may also want to experience the nightlife at the Casa de la Trova where you can dance salsa with the locals.
Day 7 This morning, discover the Sugar Mill Valley in the Sierra del Escambray, one of the most beautiful landscapes in Cuba. Learn about the life of masters and slaves in the 19th Century and climb the famous Slave Tower, which was built to control the workforce. In the afternoon, continue on through the colonial town of Sancti Spiritus with its romantic Yayaboo bridge, before arriving in Remedios where you’ll enjoy the colonial charm of the main square and learn about the Parrandas de Remedios, a local festival which has become a part of Cuban culture. Overnight at Hotel Mascotte, overlooking the square.
Day 8 Today, you’ll leave Remedios and head back to Havana, stopping at the historical city of Santa Clara, where Che Guevara celebrated his greatest victory. Visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum and the Tren Blindado (an armoured train captured by the revolutionaries). Arrive back in Havana in time for your return flight to the UK. (Those wishing to add a stay at Hotel Meliá Buenavista to the end of their tour will visit Santa Clara on Day 7 and travel directly to their beach hotel on Day 8. Transfer back to Havana is via a short internal flight).