Discover the Rhythm and Heartbeat of Cuba

Destination: Santa Clara - Havana, Cuba

| Activities: Hiking, Snorkeling, Wildlife, Culture

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


  • 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

Departures and Prices

December 01 to December 09, 2024
$6195.00 - Available
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March 09 to March 17, 2025
$6195.00 - Available
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  • A local Cuban guide and an AGC guide
  • Transportation in 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 activities on the itinerary
  • One group airport transfer on arriving and departing days
  • gratuities for driver, lodges, meals and day guides
  • Clean drinking water available at all times

Not included: Airfare to Santa Clara or from Havana, Cuba Tourist Visa Fee (ranges from $75-$100 depending on where you buy it), alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, personal expenses, activities not on the itinerary

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is a combination of touring and hiking. The hiking is in Cuba’s National Parks; some of the trails are rocky with both downhill and uphill sections which can be very challenging if there has been recent rain. We have rated the trip a 2 and is suitable for any woman who regularly walks at a brisk pace 3 to 4 days a week for 35 - 45 minutes. There are typically 3 to 5 hours of daily activity. Patience, flexibility, and an ability to accept conditions as they are, is critical on this trip. Rating: 1[2] 3 4 5

We combine moderate activity every day (hiking, walking, snorkeling, and sightseeing) with opportunities to interact and learn from a wide variety of Cuban people. Our itinerary has been designed to minimize driving time but some driving is unavoidable; the longest drive time (one day) is four hours.

On this trip we stay in both hotels and Casa Particulares. Similar to a B&B, Casas Particulares are comfortable bedrooms in private houses. Sometimes they have the feel of a small boutique hotel, and sometimes they feel like you’re visiting family and enjoying the spare bedroom. All are operated by warm and welcoming hosts, offering the unique experience of staying with a Cuban family. This can be a highlight of your trip, with the understanding that the accommodation may lack standard amenities or the air conditioning may not be working or the hot water quickly used up. Also, please note these accommodations are basically ‘small businesses’ and details such as decor, breakfast served in the morning, etc. will be different from one casa to another. A truly unique experience! Just so you know - there will always be at lease 2 members of the group in the casa, you will not be in a casa particular by yourself.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Our first official welcome and orientation meeting will begin at 12PM. After lunch, we will take a panoramic tour of the city visiting the Miramar area all the way to Fusterlandia, an art center on the outskirts of the city in Jaimanitas created by the Cuban artist José Fuster in the early 90’s. Fuster took the streets of the formerly average town and shaped it into a widespread art exhibition that Gaudi would have felt at home in. A stroll through Fusterlandia will show the incredible world where roofs, doorways, benches, and city blocks become expressions of the artist and iconic Cuban images. Next, we will explore Old Havana, visiting sites that mark both revolutionary and colonial times. As we walk, we’ll learn more about Havana’s complicated past and hopeful future. We’ll walk through town concentrating on 4 particular squares, each with its own unique history. Finally, we rest and return to your accommodations to relax and get ready for our welcome dinner. (B, L, D) Overnight: Hotel Grand Aston La Habana or similar Walking: 1.6 miles, 505 ft elevation.
Departing from Havana, we head west to the countryside. After a scenic one hour drive, our first stop will be in Soroa where we will visit an impressive botanical garden that boasts fabulous orchids and a spectacular view over the valley from the top of the garden. The history of the Orchid Garden dates back to the late 19th century and its creation is due to Tomás Felipe Camacho, a Spanish lawyer who wanted to honor the memory of his recently deceased wife by dedicating to her this garden filled with her favorite flowers, orchids. Enjoy a 1.6 mile out-and-back to a lookout point. After lunch, we will continue heading west to Viñales which is about 2 hours away. (B, L, D) Overnight: La Ermita or similar Driving: 4 hrs Walking: 2.6 miles, +-100 ft elevation
Today, our entire day is spent in one of Cuba's finest national parks, Valle de Viñales, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for both its dramatic steep-sided limestone outcrops , and the original architecture of its traditional farms and villages. Erosion and sinkholes have carved this limestone landscape into what is known as a karst valley full of mogotes (or patches of brush and thickly grown shrubbery). We'll get to walk through the valley and learn more about the dramatic geological forces that shaped it. 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. This afternoon we'll get to see the tobacco fields that create the world famous cigars. We will have both lunch and dinner in quaint farm to table restaurants.(B, L, D) Overnight La Ermita or similar Walking: 2-4 miles, +-200ft elevation Drive: 3 hours
Today we say goodbye to the Viñales Valley and head to the Bay of Pigs, site of the CIA-sponsored 1961 invasion. We stop on the way for lunch at Finca Tungasuk, an organic farm in the pursuit of a more sustainable way of living, where we'll get to savor another delicious farm to table menu. We continue driving another couple of hours to the village of Palpite where we visit the Korimacao art school for an engaging and interactive visit. Nearby we check into our accommodation near a beach on the Bay of Pigs. Dinner will be conveniently served at our lodging. (B, L, D) Overnight Casas Particulares Playa Larga or similar Driving: 5.5-6 hrs.
Playa Girón is known for warm Caribbean waters and coral reefs, so we will spend the morning snorkeling and reveling in the colorful fish and aquatic life surrounding the accessible reefs. Afterwards, we will meet a local guide for a beautiful and mellow hike in Zapata National Park along the Enigma Las Rocas. Our hike will take us through the dense forest, walking on ever present limestone, watching for endemic species such as the Cuban pygmy owl, bee hummingbird and Zapata rail, peering into the mangrove swamps and into cenotes (or well-established sinkholes). Once we've had our fill of hiking, it's time to fill our bellies with lunch! The afternoon includes a visit to an excellent museum to learn more about Cuba's rich history. Then it is off to Trinidad, a colorfully preserved Spanish colonial settlement and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We check into our Casas Particulares. After dinner in town, enjoy the outdoor music scene in the town plaza. (B, L, D) Overnight Casas Particulares or similar Walking: 3-4 miles, +/-200 ft. elevation Driving: 3 hours
We'll spend the morning exploring the Gran Parque Natural Topes de Collantes, a well protected nature reserve park of deep green forests, powerful waterfalls, and jungle-covered limestone mountains (more mogotes!). We begin with a guided visit to a small open air museum with displays depicting coffee productions past and present and the traditions and role of coffee in Cuba. To finish out this experience, there is a café with plenty of coffee choices we can enjoy. After learning about the history and coffee culture of the island, we’ll stretch our legs with a hike. There are several options for hikes, some more difficult than others. Many of these trails feature refreshing pools that we can take a dip in. After lunch in the mountains, we return to Trinidad in time to continue exploring the town’s sights. Our day culminates with a visit to a women's textiles co-op or a visit to the home and studio of a renowned local artist Yudit Vidal. These visits are designed, as are many of the activities on this trip, to provide support for the Cuban people. Can't get enough of Cuban music? Time allowing, we can explore the local music scene after dinner. (B, L, D) Overnight Casas Particulares or similar Walking: 3-7 miles, +/-200 to 600 ft. elevation.
This morning we’ll continue along the coast to the historic town of Cienfuegos, a city whose history and architecture is a melding of French, Caribbean, and Cuban influences. We will stop along the way at the Cienfuegos Botanical Garden, one of the oldest on the island, which boasts over 2,000 tropical species from around the world. Then we continue to town to walk around the main square and learn about colonial architecture. We walk along the pedestrian-only boulevard and have a very special performance and visit with the Cantores de Cienfuegos, a world-renowned choir. After the concert, we'll settle into our accommodations for a relaxing evening. (B, L, D) Overnight: Cienfuegos Melia San Carlos or similar Walking: 3-4 miles, +/-200 ft. elevation Driving: 1-2 hours
We depart Cienfuegos and drive to the outskirts of Havana to visit Finca Vigía, Ernest Hemingway’s home for nearly 20 years. Today it’s a glimpse into another era of Cuban history as well as an opportunity to learn more about Hemingway’s life and works. A short drive to the seaside town of Cojimar brings us to one of our favorite lunch spots, Ajiaco. By mid-afternoon we’re back in Havana, the political and cultural capital of Cuba. Depending on time available and group interest, we will stop to visit a large market called Alamacenes San José that specializes in Cuba souvenirs - an excellent place to get any last minute items you just have to have! Souvenirs on board, we'll drop our luggage off at our hotel rooms then head out for a special treat - touring the city in a classic American car! Then on to our fabulous farewell dinner at one of Havana's best paladares or family run restaurants, 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 and enjoying some of the night life in Havana may be a great choice! Your Cuban guide will have plenty of recommendations! (B,L, D) Overnight Hotel Grand Aston - La Habana or similar
During breakfast, as you reflect on your travels to Cuba, we hope that you are able to feel fulfilled by the discovery and the heartbeat of the country. Today you can leave at any point after breakfast and the guides will help coordinate your taxi to the airport. (B)


(47 reviews)
3.8 Food
3.9 Lodging
4.6 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Cynthia M.
5 years ago

We saw and experienced a lot! I came home with a deep curiosity about Cuba's entire history.

Kat V.
5 years ago

The hikes ending with the swimming holes and waterfalls/caves. Amazing!

Rebecca P.
5 years ago

Cantores De Cienfuegos choir Hike Endero Huellas De La Historia Coffee tour in Topes de Collantes Hemingway's house Orchid garden was FAB Bay of Pigs was interesting Drooling over every 1950s classic car My Best day was Sunday, November 18th. I took a taxi to the old part of Havana. - in my discoveries I found a spice shop, state butcher shop selling chicken to a long line of shoppers, bakery shop, toured the modern art museum, toured the revolutionary museum, art galleries, clothing stores perfumery, two pharmaceutical compound shops that were dated back to 17th-century, a museum dedicated to the Cuban fireman and had lunch sitting on the sidewalk people watching.

Lorna S.
5 years ago

1.One highlight was that 14 women could happily co-exist for 7 days!! a model for world peace I'd say. 2. The overall beauty of Cuba, its people and the lack of an american corporate presence i.e no bill boards, no macdonalds etc. 3. Seeing how the Cuban people live well with so little. A lesson for all of us.

Kathy S.
5 years ago

Hearing the Cuban Choir the first day was a highlight for me.

Diana V.
5 years ago

The highlight was the Cuban People. I would have liked to spend more time in a casa particular. As long as I have a bed and bath I’m happy. There’s no sense staying in a high end hotel if you don’t have time to enjoy the amenities. Our bus driver was amazing, but there was too much driving. I think there could be a more efficient route so we don’t crisscross and backtrack.

Barbara M.
5 years ago

It offered a good taste of Cuba, from national parks to cities. I felt certain sections were rushed and would have preferred cramming less into one day.

Joanne F.
5 years ago

While the itinerary was densely packed, highlights were in meeting people across all places we visited, flora and fauna, music and the unexpected surprise of truly falling in love with Cuba. I understand the requirements of meeting the "People to People" qualification status and while a very busy and packed itinerary, we would not have had the breadth of exposure and locales we say had the itinerary been more of one of staying in places for longer than a day or two. More time in Havana would be great, but also loved the botanic garden tour, Hemingway house, countryside, national parks, etc!

Dorothy W.
5 years ago

Our Cuban guide was wonderful, very knowledgeable. I learned so much about Cuban culture and way of life.

Ellen Z.
6 years ago

The different activities that we did outside of hiking were awesome. I liked listening to the local guides, going to the tobacco farm.

Lynda M.
6 years ago

Casa stays and interaction with the people of Cuba, getting a feel for daily life in the country. Exploring sights that aren't on the regular tourist track. Great group of people to travel with, all were bright, funny, open-minded, adventurers. Some of my favorite moments are those casual gatherings over drinks, dice, and stories.

Linda K.
6 years ago

Hanka W.
6 years ago

I enjoyed all the aspects of the trip.

Regina L.
6 years ago

So many.... visiting the tobacco farm, snorkeling in the Bay Of Pigs, visiting the hummingbird "house", the choir, the hikes in both parks, listening to Frank speak to conservation.

Char M.
6 years ago

Every day was better than the first. I came with few expectations, other than the itinerary. It does seem that the itinerary was altered mid-trip without letting the participants know it was happening (some stops did not occur without discussion), so there was some confusion and maybe some people were a bit disgruntled. But there were additions to the itinerary which were wonderful surprises, so it balanced out. We sure squeezed in a lot of activities and saw much more of Cuba than I thought we would be able to do. I do wish there had been more time to experience local music and to shop for locally made goods (art, clothing, etc).

Carole P.
6 years ago

Visiting several parts of Cuba was a highlight. Yecel was great. Loved our first and last nights at first/last hotels. Casas were good to great. Liked the variety of things we learned saw. Loved our small group, everyone was great. And, several days were too packed - not enough time to enjoy one part before we were on our way to another place. Most hikes closer to 3 than 2. Overall rating should be 2-3, not 2. The rooms at Vinales National Park were total disappointment. And it was for two nights 😕 Overall a very memorable trip. My first. Loved it.

Paula H.
6 years ago

One thing I would say is that it was too packed a trip, especially the first three days. There was hardly time to absorb where you were. Limited time to explore on your own - ie, shops in the towns or just experiencing little Vinales. I know it's hard to think what to leave out. But, for example, the group had 90 minutes for snorkling. I'm not a snorkler so I hung out at the seaside. But 90 minutes to change, learn about snorkling, do it, and then change again and be on the bus ready to go. There was no way I was going to even try, with that rushed a schedule.

Susan H.
6 years ago

I really enjoyed traveling with a small group of open-minded, adventurous women. The trip gave me a nice overview of the country of Cuba and it's charming people. I do wish I'd had a little more time in Havana. I can't say enough good things about Adventures in Good Company! This was my first trip with AGC and I wish I'd traveled with you sooner!

Deborah K.
6 years ago

What an amazing people to people experience! It was like no other trip I've ever taken. The small group size was an asset for really getting all we could from out tour guides and people to people experiences. I think meeting Ysel and listening to all she had to tell us about the history and culture was an awakening. And of course hiking to waterfalls, swimming in the caves, hearing and seeing the various birds and all that the local guides showed us was great. Our surprise stop to see the hummingbirds was wonderful. I loved the tobacco farm and the incredible concert in Cienfuegos! Etc., etc., etc.!

Melanie P.
6 years ago

Snorkeling and swimming at the waterfall

Diane L.
6 years ago

Highlights included: the guides were all excellent - knowledgeable, friendly and unflappable. This included Lisa from AGC, who was an inspiration, and the local Cuba guides who were all very professional, great sense of humor and very smart. I also enjoyed the company of the fellow participants. Everyone was a great sport and fun to be with. Finally, the sights and experiences in Cuba were all wonderful.

Allegra B.
6 years ago

I didn't really have a lot of expectations other than that I was going to be able to hike and travel in Cuba. I was nervous that if I had too many expectations going into the trip that I would be disappointed.

Lisa C.
6 years ago

riding in the 50's cars, choir, snorkeling, Buena Vista Social Club

Rita W.
6 years ago

Our Cuban travel guide Ycel - she was exceptional! And all the other "local guides" we had, too! All super-professional and knowledgeable. The variety of things and places we did/saw. The organization of the trip: tight and on-time but it never felt "too tight". Some days felt VERY full - Tuesday and Wednesday - but/and: I wouldn't have wanted to miss any of the activities either. The COUNTRY and the people - and HAVANA!

Patricia P.
6 years ago

Just having the ability to see Cuba was a highlight.

Isabel A.
6 years ago

While I previously filled out this form, I would also like to add that I would have really liked to spend more time in Havana. Adding a 2-day post trip in Havana would be great. I really wish I'd stayed longer and am already looking at going back sometime.

Isabel A.
6 years ago

there were so many highlights but Havana was definetly it! Also, the music everywhere, much of which I sure was specially arranged.

Chris C.
6 years ago

concert, music, snorkeling, hummingbird house, riding in old cars, hike in back woods

Donna R.
6 years ago

I was surprised at how established the tourist industry is in Cuba. I enjoyed visiting the local establishments.

Kay C.
6 years ago

The guides, Anne and Ycel were terrific! And Islan was a competent and kind bus driver. Thanks for having seat belts...I used mine all the time. I had some health issues with my neck and thumbs a few weeks before leaving which caused me some concern about traveling. I think I needed some down time in the afternoon for a siesta on this trip. I enjoyed using my Spanish with several people but I would have preferred more time with my host family in Trinidad and the tobacco farm family. Also, another day in Habana for museums, art, dance, music, schools, or whatever could be included in the trip category of people to people!

Rhonda R.
6 years ago

Really great local guides. Hiking in the national parks

Carolyn W.
6 years ago

first hike, village walk and tobacco farm. Warmth of people, beauty of country. The probability of rain deterred me from third hike. A mistake - Snorkling was outstanding.,Grotto/cave/river amazing. Havana on Saturday night was quite festive.

Ann J.
6 years ago

So many highlights: hearing the choir in Trinidad, visiting the Bay of Pigs Museum, hiking in the national parks, seeing the mix of old and new vehicles sharing the road with horses.

Mary H.
6 years ago

I learned much about Cuban geography, Cuban people, and Cuban socialism. Highlights were the rides in the old American car convertibles on Friday night in Havana, the musical group that entertained us in our casa in Playa Larga on Wednesday night, the 2 days in Trinidad where we were immersed in the country people's lives, the national parks, the trip to the tobacco farm.

Sandra P.
6 years ago

Hiking in nat'l parks and tobacco farm / Havana car ride / 2nd casa particular

Elaine S.
6 years ago

Just being in Cuba was great. We all kept pinching ourselves all week at the thought since we never thought this was a location we would be able to visit. Loved the vintage cars on the last night, the visit to the tobacco farm, Playa Larga and hiking around the limestone formations. I find myself wanting to list practically everything!

Leslie F.
6 years ago


Susan S.
6 years ago

I loved the interactions with Cuban people! The tour guides were beyond exceptional! This includes the 2 Cuban guides, and Jan.

Mary S.
6 years ago

Met a number of Cubans and stayed with several famillies. Also reunited with a group of former travel companions that were a great source of joy.

Marcia W.
6 years ago

Swimming behind the cave, fellow travelers, awesome guides, Cienfuegos choir, casa stay in Trinidad, classic cars, cigar factory visit. I know there were mixed reactions to the photographer and while I was disappointed we didn't see some photos, I enjoyed the visit.

Christine S.
6 years ago

Highlights included the wide variety of interactions and people-to-people experiences, plus a few serendipitous conversations with locals, and of course our running interactions and conversations with Ycel and Maria Rosa. I so appreciated their openness and frankness, and the fact that no question or topic was taboo.

Kathleen O.
6 years ago

highlights- Cienfuegos choral presentation, hiking through the various rainforests, snorkling, walking on the beach, Hemingway's home, great orchid garden, exploring Havana, riding in a 1937 ford roadster, meeting and interacting with a great group of people.

Anne S.
6 years ago

I try not to have expectations. Having said that, the Cuban guides, Maria Rosa and Ycel far exceeded any expectations I could have had. they were personable, knowledgeable, helpful, open, and friendly and they gelled so well with the group. I have a few suggestions based on my personal experience: 1. I would skip the whole sonoroa part of the trip (Hemingway's house, the gardens and most of all the villa sonoroa hotel.) Instead, I think I would have enjoyed a full day in Vinales with time to walk around the town and do other activities and then 2 days in Havana. (there was a hotel in Havana that we visited where Hemingway had stayed and that could have served as the hemingway 'fix' for those needing it.) More time in Havana would have given us a chance to see more of what life is actually like (grocery and other stores etc.) 2.I loved the music and dancing. I think an evening with scheduled salsa lessons would have been a fun addition to the trip. 3. I would skip the meeting wit

Katherine D.
6 years ago

The choir, the snorkeling, talking to the locals, seeing the beautiful countryside, the buildings, the history, the children, and the classic cars.

Barbara B.
6 years ago

Not enough room to list them all. I enjoyed not going on several hikes, thank you for that option. Remaining behind gave me some one on one interaction with locals. Sitting at the coffee shop wondering who or what would come up the hill. Watching the old cars go by sitting on the side of the road. I loved staying at the casas. Loved the openness of our guides. So on and so on!

Sue Y.
6 years ago

That the Cubans were so open about discussing politics, customs etc

Frances G.
6 years ago

Meeting Cuban people, driving in retro cars, seeing Trinidad and Havana, snorkeling (although I think boating to the live reef would have been much better) , the local guides were great and of course Jan was great!

  1. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts will be buffets at the hotels where you're staying. Dinner is in restaurants with typically a choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian entree. Lunches may either be picnics or in restaurants.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    Vegetarian options for this trip are available but may be more limited than you are used to. If you are concerned about having enough protein during your trip, plan to bring some plant-based protein sources such as nut butter, instant dried hummus, or high-protein energy bars. If you cannot eat gluten or if you have other dietary restrictions i.e. vegan, you will need to bring some supplemental food with you.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.
  4. What is the weather like in November?

    November is a great month to visit Cuba! It is cooler and drier than much of the rest of the year, although rain and warm temperatures are always possible. Expect highs in the low to mid 80s and lows in the mid 60s. Havana is cooler than Cienfuegos.