From: January 14 to January 21, 2018

Destination: Cienfuegos - Havana, Cuba

  • Parks and People of Cuba - FULL

    Cuba has long been a subject of fascination for Americans, barred from visiting for political reasons and hearing conflicting information from people who fled the Castro dictatorship. What is not in dispute is that Cuba's forests, mountains, and oceans are beautiful; Cuban culture is vibrant; and the Cuban people are warm and welcoming. On this trip we go beyond Havana into the countryside, where we combine visits to national parks and nature reserves, with visits with naturalist guides, farmers, historians, national park officials, artists, and small business entrepreneurs. This trip is designed for curious travelers who prefer to explore on their feet rather than looking out a bus window, and who want to immerse themselves in living history and culture. Maximum Group Size: 14
    THIS TRIP IS FULL. To get on a waitlist, register for the trip (no deposit required)
  • Sunday, January 14: Arrive Cienfuegos, first dinner  American Airlines is the only airline flying into Cienfuegos and it's likely we will all be on the same flight from Miami. We'll be transported to our Cienfuegos hotel where we'll have our first official welcome and orientation to the trip, followed by our first taste of Cuban cuisine. We'll then see some of Cienfuegos, known as the Pearl of the South, and some of the nightlife as we engage in that most quintessential Latin American activity, strolling the Malecon (a boardwalk along a sea wall) with views of the natural harbor. Overnight Hotel Union or Jagua. (Note: If you prefer to come early, we'll have suggestions for hotels in the PreDeparture document)

    Monday, January 15Cienfuegos Exploration, Hike in Parque El Cubano and Trinidad We'll start our exploration with a walking tour of Cienfuegos, a city whose history and architecture is a melding of French, Caribbean, and uniquely Cuban influences. We'll also have the first of our People-to-People visits with the Cantores de Cienfuegos, a world-renown choir. Leaving Cienfuegos, we enjoy a delightful hike to a waterfall at Parque El Cubano before continuing along the coast to the historical town of Trinidad. Less than 60 miles away, it's a preserved Spanish colonial settlement and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We'll explore with another walking tour before checking into our Casa Particulares for the next two nights. After dinner at a local restaurant in Trinidad, we might opt to enjoy an outdoor concert and dancing at Casa de la Musica on the city's steps. Overnight Casas Particulares. Walking: 3-4 miles, +-200 ft elevation, Driving: 1 hour

    Tuesday, January 16Topes de Collantes Nature Reserve, Trinidad We'll spend this morning in Gran Parque Natural Topes de Collantes, a highly protected nature reserve park of deep green forest, crashing waterfalls, and jungle-covered limestone mountains (known as mogotes). We have several choices of hikes, after which we'll learn about one of Cuba's best known agricultural products: coffee! We'll visit a nearby coffee plantation with a small museum to learn about the traditions and role of coffee in Cuba. After lunch in the mountains, we return to Trinidad in time to continue exploring the town sites. Our day culminates with a People-to-People meeting with Julio Munoz, an acclaimed photographer and union representative for the self-employed. Can't get enough of Cuban music? We'll have time to explore the local music scene after dinner. B, L, D. Overnight Casas Particulares. Walking: 3-7 miles, 200- 600ft elevation

    Wednesday, January 17Playa Giron, the Bay of Pigs, Zapata National Park and Playa Larga We head west today, along the coast to one of Cuba's most famous locations - the Bay of Pigs, site of the infamous and unsuccessful CIA-sponsored invasion took place in 1961. We visit an excellent museum in the town of Playa Giron to learn about the story behind the headlines. Fortunately it is now known for warm Caribbean waters, great diving, and some of the healthiest coral reefs in the world. We'll experience it first hand as we snorkel in Zapata National Park with a local guide who will explain Cuba's role in protecting its marine ecosystems. Birds and other wildlife abound in the dense forests and mangrove swamps, and we'll look for endemic species such as the Cuban pygmy owl, bee hummingbird and Zapata rail. <BR><BR>After lunch we'll continue to birdwatch as hike along the Enigma Las Rocas, also stopping to look at the cenotes (sinkholes in the limestone) that dot this area. In late afternoon we arrive at the small town of Playa Larga and check into our Casas Particulares, with time to take a swim at a nearby beautiful beach and enjoy a tropical sunset. Before dinner we'll meet with Frank Medina, Director of Zapata National Park, to learn about the joint pressures of tourism and conservation facing the park. B, L, D. Overnight Casas Particulares Playa Larga or Playa Giron. Walking: 3-4 miles, +-200ft elevation. Driving: 2.5 - 3hrs

    Thursday, January 18Hemingway's House, Parque Lenin, Pinar del Rio
    Ernest Hemingway lived just outside of Havana for 20 years and this morning we get an early start for our drive to Finca Vigia, his former estate and now a museum. We'll take a short walking tour of the estate to learn about his interesting history and relationship with Cuba. A short drive then brings us to Parque Lenin, one of Havana's largest. With a name like that, it's not surprising to learn it was constructed between 1969-72 by Celia Sanchez, long-time associate of Fidel. We'll stop to stretch our legs and have a picnic lunch before continuing to our mountain resort, called Soroa. Before dinner, time permitting, we'll visit a local orchid garden. Overnight Villa Soroa. Walking: 1 mile, +-100ft elevation. Driving: 4 hrs

    Friday, January 19Vinales National Park, Soroa We'll spend our entire day in one of Cuba's finest national parks, Valle de Vinales, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for both its dramatic steep-sided limestone outcrops (mogotes), and the original architecture of its traditional farms and villages. Considered the finest karst valley in Cuba, it is riddled by bizarre shapes that are the eroded remnants of the limestone that forms it. We spend our day walking throughout these varied landscapes, learning about the dramatic geological forces that shaped the valley. This region is also internationally famous for fine tobacco, one of Cuba's signature exports. We'll meet with a cigar maker, visit a tobacco processing plant, and learn how green tobacco leaf is processed into the final product. We'll also visit one of the valley's tobacco plantations, with its rows upon rows of tobacco plants, and perhaps hear the vaguero, or field workers, whose songs reflect the valley's unique melding of indigenous, Spanish, and African cultures. After a full day we'll return to Villa Soroa for dinner and rest. Overnight Villa Soroa. Walking: 7 - 8 miles, +-200ft elev. Drive: 2 hrs

    Saturday, January 20:  Soroa to Havana, Walking Tour of the Old City Leaving the countryside, we head to Havana, the political and cultural capital of Cuba. We start with a walking tour of Old Habana, visiting sites that mark both revolutionary and colonial times. As we walk, we learn more about Havana's turbulent past and hopeful future. In the afternoon we'll have more to explore what interests us most. There's the large art and craft market of Mercado San Jose, the impressive international collection Museum of Belles Artes, lively neighborhoods, and the famous seafront Malecon. We'll gather again in the evening for a fine farewell dinner at one of Havana's best paladars, celebrating all we learned and shared this week. For some of us, it may be time to call it a day. For others, Havana's energy may be irresistible. Options include visiting Fabrica des Artes, home of Cuba's best avant-garde art; or the UNEAC (The Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba) for an evening bolero and other singing performances. Overnight Havana Hotel such as Hotel Presidente, Riviera, Plaza, Havana Libre OR SIMILAR. Walking: 3-4 miles +-50ft elev. Drive: 1 hr

    Sunday, January 21Adios Cuba! This morning we offer one airport transfer at a time that matches the departure time of the majority of the group. We suggest planning a late morning or early afternoon flight if possible. If that doesn't work for your connections, your guides can instruct you on how to take a taxi to the airport at your convenience (not included.)
  • $3495 (see this page for travel discounts) $400 NON-REFUNDABLE deposit. Single rooms are available for an additional $500 (only necessary if you prefer your own room). You can check our cancellation policies here. 

    Trip Includes

    • A local Cuban guide and an Adventures in Good Company Trip Leader
    • Transportation with Cuba by private bus
    • Seven nights double occupancy lodging in hotels and casa particulares)
    • All meals from dinner the first day through dinner the last full day
    • Certification of travel to Cuba under the U.S. Department of Treasury general license
    • All activities and needed equipment for those activities on the itinerary
    • One group airport transfer on arriving and departing days
    • Gratuities for staff and day guides
    • Clean drinking water available at all times

    Not included: Airfare to Cienfuegos or from Havana, Cuba Tourist Visa Fee (ranges from $20-$100 depending on where you buy it), alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, personal expenses, activities not on the itinerary

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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Going off the beaten path in search of the authentic Cuba
  • Being immersed in a complex culture and meeting with its diverse citizenry
  • Touring through the best of Cuba's national parks, nature reserves, and world heritage sites
  • Savoring Cuban cuisine and learning about its signature exports
  • Listening (and perhaps dancing) to Cuba's salsa-infused beats

Register for this trip today

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