Discovering Cuba: A People-To-People Experience (Two Departures: May 7-12, and May 21-26, 2016)

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Discovering Cuba: A People-To-People Experience (Two Departures: May 7-12, and May 21-26, 2016)

259.00

TOUR PRICE:  $2861.00 per person based on double occupancy and a group of at least 35 participants.  For groups of less than 35 but more than 25 the rate will be $2961.00.  No single supplement is available.  All participants must share a room.  Click on this page to see all tour inclusions.  This rate INCLUDES all air fare.

AVAILABILITY:  SOLD OUT. We are no longer taking reservations for this tour as we are already filled to capacity. 

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Travel with ArawjoTours, LLC and get to know the people of Cuba, engage in their lives and share in a cultural exchange. Meaningful interactions with the Cuban people include encounters with local citizens, community organizations, and schools, as a means for sharing and connecting with the residents of the island, and learning about their culture.  This prelimnary itinerary provides you with examples of experiences available as you interarct with locals from all walks of life during your educational people-to-people exchange.  

WHAT IS INCLUDED?:  

--Round trip air to/from Miami out of Newark Liberty International Airport (taxes and surcharges included in price)

--Charter flights to and from Havanna (from Miami)

--All meals and sightseeing as described below 

--A full time Cuban tour manager/guide

--All tips to guides, drivers, wait staff, porters, ground staff, donations, etc.

--Visa fee

--Five nights hotel accommodation at the Hotel Melia Cohib (or similar)

--A full time ArawjoTours Tour Representative

--A pre-departure orientation sponsored by ArawjoTours, LLC

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED?:

--Any baggage fees that might be applicable

Day 1:        Miami – Havana                                (D)

Flight to Miami from Newark.

Depart the United States from Miami International Airport on your charter flight to Cuba, where your travels lead you to Havana. Transfer to Hotel Melia Cohiba, and enjoy a welcome drink at the hotel during check-in. You will have a short free time until your welcome dinner what will be served at PALADAR La Moraleja. (Paladars are typically family run businesses and provide interaction with Cuban people, as an alternative to state-run restaurants.)

 Day 2:        Havana                                        (B, L, D)

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel today, and each morning of your tour.  The day begins with a panoramic overview of the capital city of Havana, and its 500-year old center.  There is a photo stop at Plaza de la Revolución and its memorial to the 19th-century Cuban patriot.  Your guide will share the treasures of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, dedicated exclusively to Cuban art spanning three centuries; a section is devoted to narrative scenes of Cuban life including the prevalent strong symbolic imagery from the 1970’s, displaying the richness of the island’s Spanish, French, Chinese, African, and Aboriginal cultural roots. Visit Cuban Fine Arts Museum that exhibits Cuban art collections from the colonial times up to contemporary generations. Later on you will have your lunch in Old Havana at Santo Angel Restaurant. In the afternoon meet with the architect of the Historian’s Office to discuss Havana’ restorations projects during a walk including Plaza de Armas, exterior Palacio de los Capitanes, exterior Castillo de la Real Fuerza, St. Francis Square, Plaza Vieja. A visit to a community project for the elderly also will be included in your tour and you will have the chance to engage an interactive discussion with the locals. Return to hotel to enjoy a little free time until dinner. This evening your dinner will be served at La California PALADAR Restaurant.  

 Day 3:        Havana – Pinar del Rio                                                                        (B, L, D)

Travel to the westernmost province, Pinar del Rio. The province relies on tobacco farming but those plantations are only part of the area’s magic. With its unusual mogotes (rounded limestone mountains) strung along flat plains, Pinar del Río’s spectacular scenery rivals any in the world. These plains, where Cuban cowboys roam and dreamy villages doze, are ringed by mountain ranges crowned by vast stretches of tropical forests. Take a visit to Francisco Donatien Cigar factory and learn about cigar making process and then enjoy lunch at El Palenque de los Cimarrones, featuring the Cimarron food of the slaves.  You will also participate in a demonstration of Afro-Cuban dance and music. In the afternoon visit the impressive 1961 Mural de la Prehistoria, work of the former Director of Mapping at the Cuban Academy of Sciences, Leovigildo González Morillo. A master of neo-caveman artistry, Morillo undertook the massive project of portraying world history up until the age of humans on a rock wall in the Viñales Valley. Take a walk of Viñales Town. The town hub is the small central plaza with a simple church and an open air music venue where the locals show off their salsa moves in the evenings. Meet with local farmers at Benito’s Tobacco Farm and House to learn first-hand the complexities of their harvesting of the most famous tobacco leaves in the world and then stop at Los Jasmines View point. No doubt for many the highlight of the day is stopping at the highest view point in Viñales and admiring in the breathing views of the whole valley. You cannot fail but to be amazed by the dramatic landscape, the lush indigenous flora and you will no doubt understand why the whole reserve has been declared a national heritage site. Start your journey back to Havana. On the way visit to Jose Fuster’s House in Jaimanitas neighborhood. Meet and interact with art students, teachers, and independent community artists during the visit and discuss the transformative effects of art on Cuban life. Fuster has made a major contribution over 10 years of work of rebuilding and decorating the fishing town of Jaimanitas in the outskirts of Havana, where he lives. Jaimanitas is now a unique work of public art where Fuster has decorated over 80 houses with ornate murals and domes to suit the personality of his neighbors. Tour ends at your hotel. Enjoy dinner at the Mediterraneo restaurant of the hotel.

DAY 4:  Havana – Cienaga de Zapata                                                                        (B, L, D)

Depart your hotel for Cienaga de Zapata. The Zapata Peninsula, which juts out into the Caribbean to the south of the Matanzas Province, is an idyllic playground for ecotourists. Sparsely populated and zealously protected, most of the region lies within the Ciénaga de Zapata Biosphere Reserve (also known as the Gran Parque Natural Montemar), habitat of rare birds, crocodiles and a wide variety of ecosystems. Take a nature walk through the Natural Park with a Park Specialist and learn about preservation and local flora and fauna. Lunch is enjoyed at Casa Enrique in Caleton, a paladar in this typical fishing village. Following your lunch, visit Bay of Pigs Museum. Museo Playa Girón is a small museum near the exiles’ landing site and battle sites and it houses a collection of photographs and other historic pieces relating to the invasion, whilst outside there lie the remains of an American aircraft as well as other military vehicles. Later on enjoy a memorable steam train ride across Cuba’s beautiful countryside, past sugar cane fields, banana plantations and lush green hills. Visit an old sugar plantation and farm, interact with artisans, farmers, and train conductors. Cuba was once the world’s largest producer and exporter of sugar during the 1800s. This tour will teach you about the history of one of the country’s most important industries. Following your day trip return to Havana. This evening dinner will be served at Riico Paladar.

DAY 5:  HAVANA - Cojimar                                                                                (B/L/D)

In the morning visit Finca Vigia (meaning "lookout house"), Ernest Hemingway’s former residence where he wrote two of his most celebrated novels: For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. Drive to Cojimar, a picturesque fishing village where Hemingway docked his boat El Pilar. Not only did he use the town as a base for fishing, Cojimar was the background for one of his most famous works, The Old Man and the Sea. Walk along the Malecon of Cojimar, interact with local residents and artists. Lunch will be served at Las Terrazas. In the afternoon take a visit to Muraleando Community Project - promoting the arts within the community, and involving residents of all ages with many classes and projects. The main project itself began in 2001 when two local artists started teaching art classes to youth in the community. Today, artists from around the world come to Muraleando to paint murals with the local artists and over seventy-five children take art classes. Following your tour, head back to your hotel. This evening there is a farewell dinner at the Hotel Nacional’s La Barraca restaurant.  
 
DAY 6:  HAVANA                                                                                         (B)

After break you have free time before our afternoon flight, transfer to the airport for your return charter flight to United States. Upon arrival at the Miami International Airport, you can check-in for your commercial flight to your home