Old Havana2

Join Caravan-Serai Tours in Cuba!

This September, we began taking small groups to Cuba for week-long explorations of this Caribbean nation, for so long at odds with the US. With the most recent lifting of restrictions on travel, we can now legally take groups there for people-to-people educational experiences! Additional dates added for November, and 2016 coming soon.

Please read all the way to the bottom of the page for important tour information. 

CUBA TOUR: EXPLORING THE ISLAND, DISCOVERING ITS PEOPLE, THEIR HISTORY AND CULTURE

Check out the map of the tour here.

November 13 – 20, 2015~ 8 days / 7 nights

DAY 1 – SATURDAY
NOV 13: ARRIVAL / HELLO CUBA (DINNER)

Arrival at Havana’s José Martí International Airport. Collect your bags and go through customs. You’re welcomed at the airport lobby by your Cuban guide and professional bus chauffeur. Private check-in at Hotel NH Capri with assistance from your guide. Free time to settle in and rest up at the hotel. Dinner will be at ARTECHEFF: Enjoy delicious Cuban dinner prepared by top Cuban chefs in training.

EVENING ENTERTAINMENT SUGGESTION: Casa de la Música de Centro Habana, one of the best settings to listen to great traditional music. Dance with Cubans and foreign visitors.

Havana Bay 1

Havana Bay

DAY 2 – SUNDAY
NOV 14: EXPLORING OLD HAVANA, OUR COMMON HERITAGE (BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER)

After breakfast at the hotel, visit the Museum of the Revolution. The Museum of the Revolution is a museum located in the old section of Havana, and is housed in what was the Presidential Palace of all Cuban presidents from Mario García Menocal to Fulgencio Batista. It became the Museum of the Revolution during the years following the Cuban revolution. The museum visit will be followed by a walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll visit three to four (time permitting) historic plazas that make Havana unique in the western hemisphere. It contains the largest collection of remaining colonial-era architecture. We will see Cathedral Square, the most beautiful and private 18th century colonial plaza on the island. Named after the masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture, the Catedral de San Cristóbal de la Habana was built by the Jesuit order. The Square of Arms, an ancient military parade ground for Spanish soldiers, surrounded by impressive buildings such as:

  • Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, former seat of colonial government. Today the building houses the Museum of the City.
  • Palacio del Segundo Cabo (Palace of the Second Lieutenant) dates from 1770. Today it houses the Instituto Cubano del Libro [Cuban Book Institute] and the Galería Raúl Martínez (famed poster artist).

We continue onto San Francisco Square, one of the oldest plazas in the historical quarter. The square is named after magnificent Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco de Asís dating from the 16th century. The basilica is a striking example of Cuba baroque architecture. And then on to Plaza Vieja, the only civic square of colonial times. Absent are churches and government buildings, and is in contrast surrounded by opulent aristocratic 17th century residences. We’ll visit an important center for the visual arts followed by lunch at La Bodeguita del Medio Restaurant. Afterwards we will visit Callejón de Hamel (Hamel Alley) to see the artwork of famed Afro-Cuban Artist Salvador González for a chance to see rumba performances. Return to your hotel to rest and freshen up, then transfer in old convertible cars for your ride to Río Mar restaurant for dinner.

EVENING ENTERTAINMENT SUGGESTION: Buena Vista Social Club at Havana Jazz Café Club, transfer and cover not included.

DAY 3 – MONDAY
NOV 15: CIGAR / URBAN ORGANIC AGRICULTURE / HEMINGWAY (BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER)

After breakfast at the hotel we will visit the Partagás Cigar Factory, followed by a visit to the UBPC Vivero Organopónico Alamar, 15 km (9.3 miles) east of Havana. It’s one of the most successful urban organic farms in Cuba raising ornamental plants, medicinal herbs, and millions of seedlings for neighboring residential and collective farms. Established in the early 1990s, the Alamar cooperative has over 20 members and provides a range of healthy, organic vegetables to the community. Produce is raised employing the practice of permaculture: no chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Instead, natural biological methods are used to nourish the soil, frustrate pests and conserve water. The result is an increased rate of yield and reduced costs. TOUR HIGHLIGHT: Special lunch prepared by private restaurant El Ajiaco. After lunch, we visit Cojimar, a small fishing village and one of the Hemingway’s favorite places in Cuba. We’ll also visit Finca Vigía [Lookout Farm] where North America’s literary giant Ernest Hemingway spent twenty-one of his most important and productive years penning building blocks of English literature. Claimed by both the United States and Cuba as their son, it was Hemingway himself who declared the island his true home. The house has been preserved just as it was when Hemingway lived there. You’ll see his personal objects, thousands of books and photographs, as well as some “trophies” bagged on his frequent safaris. Ernest Hemingway: War reporter, activist, man of letters, journalist and literary titan. Free time to rest up at the hotel before going to a special group dinner at the family-owned Café Laurent. The paladar is one example of the new wave of entrepreneurship, included.

EVENING HIGHLIGHT: We witness a most dramatic ceremony – El Cañonazo – the Firing of the 9PM Cannon at the Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña. This enchanting colonial reenactment dates back to 1519 when the city of Havana was enclosed by a tall thick rock wall to ward off attacks from pirates and the English. The cannon firing signaled the closing of the city gates for the night. If you were outside at the time, you were in “vedado” or the forbidden zone. Today Vedado is an important cultural hub and beautiful section of modern Havana.

DAY 4 – TUESDAY
NOV 16: ARTS/ MUSIC (BREAKFAST AND LUNCH)

After breakfast in the hotel we will visit the Museum of Fine Arts, the Cuban collection, which exhibits Cuban art collections from the colonial times up to contemporary generations. Its first director and well-known architect, Emilio Heredia, founded it in 1913. After frequent moves it was finally placed on the block once occupied by the old Colon Market. In 1954, a new Palacio of Bellas Artes was opened. The original 1954 Palacio was recently reconstructed by the architect Jose Linares and a second building was taken over for the Museum. We’ll feast on a delicious lunch hosted by José Fuster, one of Cuba’s most important ceramists and painters at his whimsical studio in Jaimanitas, just outside of Havana. After lunch we visit COLIBRI Record Company & Abdala Music Studio.  Here, we’ll discuss the central role of music in Cuban national life, Cuban musical genres, the work of emerging musicians, and more.  And we will visit the recording studios of the internationally acclaimed Omara Portuondo, a former member of Buena Vista Social Club. Free time to rest up at your hotel. Dinner is on your own this evening.

EVENING HIGHLIGHT: Enjoy a performance at the Tropicana Club, a world-known cabaret and club in Havana, Cuba. It was launched in 1939 at Villa Mina, a six-acre suburban estate with lush tropical gardens in Havana’s Marianao neighborhood, included.

DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY
NOV 17: HAVANA / MATANZAS / VARADERO (BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER)

After breakfast we have an early departure to Varadero, with stop at Matanzas city on the way. We will visit Ediciones Vigía (printing house), where you will have chance to see handmade books. Afterwards we will have a Matanzas City tour. Lunch will be at Hotel Velasco, then we continue on to Varadero and Hotel Meliá Las Américas to check in. Dinner will be at the hotel. The rest of the evening is free to enjoy entertainment and recreation at the resort.

DAY 6 – THURSDAY
NOV 18: VARADERO/ HAVANA (BREAKFAST AND LUNCH)

Enjoy breakfast and some free time in the morning, with lunch also at the hotel. We will check out and return to Havana. Along the way we will visit the Museum of Slavery at San Severino Fortress, then back to the Hotel NH Capri and check in. Dinner is on your own tonight and your evening is free to explore the sights and sounds of the city.

DAY 7 – FRIDAY
NOV 19: THE ART OF RUM/ AFRO CUBA (BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER)

Breakfast at the hotel, then we depart for an excursion to learn about the Art of Rum:

  • Get to know about the origin and development of the rum production in the island
  • Visit to the Rum Museum
  • Tasting of the Havana Club Rum
  • Cocktail-making lessons: the barman will teach the costumers how to prepare their own Cuban cocktail
  • Tour of the most famous bars of the old town: the Floridita and the Bodeguita del Medio including the tasting of a cocktail at the Ambos Mundos or the Beltrán de Santa Cruz hotels
  • Special lunch at private restaurant Prado 115, included

Visit the Afro-Cuban Church of Regla Municipality the return to hotel and the rest of the afternoon is free. We will enjoy a special farewell dinner at Restaurant Conde del Castillo.

DAY 8 – SATURDAY
NOV 20: HAVANA/ HOME (BREAKFAST)

We will have breakfast in the hotel then check out and transfer to José Martí International Airport for our Miami flight.

End of services.

PRICES for November:

  • For 10 People: $3140 per person, double occupancy
  • For 8 People: $3255 per person, double occupancy
  • For 6 People: $3385 per person, double occupancy
  • Single supplement: $500

INCLUDED:

  • All taxes. Prices listed are the total amounts you pay. All amounts are quoted in US dollars
  • Airport transfers: We meet you at José Martí Int’l Airport in Havana and take you to your hotel upon arrival. We return you to José Martí Airport for departure
  • Hotels as listed in tour itinerary or similar
  • All breakfasts. Welcome dinner. Other lunches and dinners as listed in tour itinerary
  • All activities, services, speakers, meetings and meals as described in tour itinerary except those noted as “optional” or “not included in cost”
  • Luxury air-conditioned coach transportation and a full-time professional driver
  • An expert Cuban English-speaking guide and translator whose background matches tour content throughout the program
  • Mandatory official Cuban medical insurance coverage during your island stay
  • Ongoing support from our Cuban operator staff

NOT INCLUDED:

  • Cost of airfare to and from Cuba – see details below
  • Gratuities for Cuban tour guide, bus driver, chambermaids, restaurant staff, porters, etc. Please see gratuities guidelines
  • Optional travel interruption and cancellation insurance. Tour cost includes an excellent Cuban medical policy

Flight from Miami to Havana:

  • We have a group air fare from Miami to Havana: $525 and includes the visa and medical insurance
  • You will need to book your air to Miami, preferably to arrive the day or evening before, or possibly take a red-eye flight to arrive early in the morning
  • Please call us for complete information before booking your flight to Miami – even if you will be doing this yourself. We can help you with the flights, just ask