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Arrive in Havana and transfer to hotel. Briefing on arrival. *Standard Hotel*
This morning we start off with a city tour of Havana including a stop at Revolution Square and the Capitolio Building. We then drive towards Santa Clara, site of the last battle of the Cuban revolution, stopping for lunch on the way. In December 1958 Che Guevara and his troops ambushed an armoured train carrying arms to Santiago de Cuba and this was a major turning point in the revolution. We visit the train museum and the Mausoleum of Che Guevara and his comrades who died in Bolivia. The museum attached to the Mausoleum has many of his former belongings and is a fascinating insight into one of the 20th Centuries most revered icons. After visiting Che's Mausoleum we check into our hotel for the night. This evening is free to enjoy dinner in the hotel or explore one of Santa Clara's Paladars. *Standard Hotel*
Today we drive into the Escambray Mountains and enjoy a nature trail in Topes de Collantes. We walk along the River Melodioso and reach a beautiful waterfall where we can have a swim. We return to Guanayara and enjoy a Cuban country lunch before getting back on the bus. We then continue to Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 and perhaps the best-preserved colonial town on the island. Exploring Trinidad is like stepping back in time, the cobbled streets and horse drawn transportation whisks you back to colonial times. There are many interesting museums housed in old colonial buildings to visit in the daytime, but it is as the sun sets that Trinidad really comes to life. We recommend a visit to Casa de la Trova for traditional Cuban music and dancing! *Casa Particulares*
After a delicious breakfast we enjoy an orientation tour of Trinidad, visiting this time capsule city. It's like going back in time, seeing the way people lived in the past. Once the capital of Cuba’s sugar production, it’s now a sleepy backwater with cobble stoned streets and pretty pastel coloured colonial buildings. A great place to stock up on souvenirs in the handicrafts markets. You’ll visit Museo Romántico to see the way people lived 200 years ago. After time for lunch, it's beach time! Ancon beach is about 15 minutes' drive from Trinidad and it's a picture perfect, gorgeous sandy Caribbean beach. Enjoy the crystal clear waters this afternoon! In the late afternoon, we return to Trinidad where we’ll enjoy an introductory salsa class with local teachers in a Cuban home close to your casa particular. The evening is free to explore. You and your family will probably want to explore some of the delicious paladar restaurants in Trinidad tonight. *Casa Particulares*
After checking out of our casas particulares we set off for El Cubano national park, for a nature walk to see the birds, flora and fauna particular to this wonderful region. There is also the chance to take a dip in a crystal clear natural pool under a waterfall. We carry on to Cienfuegos where we stop for lunch and an orientation tour. We then continue on to Playa Larga where we check into our casas particulares for the night. *Casa Particulares*
This morning we get up early and head into the Zapata Swamp Park for some birdwatching. There are lots of birds to see in this area, including the world’s smallest (Bee Hummingbird), the Cuban National Bird (very colourful Tocororo) and a colony of pink flamingos! We then continue along the Bay of Pigs Coastline and stop in Playa Giron for an optional visit to the museum dedicated to the US Invasion of Cuba in 1961. There may be the opportunity to visit a local school in the area. From here we continue a short distance to have lunch in Caleta Buena. It’s a beautiful spot, a place where an underground river meets the sea and a great place to have a go at snorkelling. There’s a natural pool to swim in filled with tropical fish. *Casa Particulares*
After breakfast we check out of our casa particular and return to Havana arriving in time for lunch and check into our hotel. In the late afternoon we have another short tour of the city, but it is taking place in vintage american cars! The cars will take us in style down the famous “malecon” to the centre of the Old Town and under the mouth of the harbor to El Morro Castle for some great photo opportunities of Havana. We say goodbye to our vintage cars and continue by foot, taking in the Cathedral, Plaza de Armas and Plaza Vieja. Bring your football so you can have an impromptu game with local school kids while Mum and Dad try out the draft beer in Havana’s only microbrewery! We finish the day with a Paladar dinner in the centre of town, celebrating a week of discovering Cuba together with new friends. *Standard Hotel*
Our trip ends in Havana.
5 days sightseeing, swimming, nature walks and cultural experiences
All breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners Cuba is not renowned for its culinary excellence and some ingredients are just not possible to get hold of (due in no small part to the long trade embargo implemented by the US). As such, flavours tend to be relatively simple, with most mealtimes consisting of meat or fish accompanied by rice and salad/vegetables. Seafood is widely available on the coast, including cheap and abundant lobster! Vegetarians will probably find they have the most limited choice. Snack food is not freely available in Cuba so you may wish to consider taking some with you. Paladares are likely to be a highlight of any visit to Cuba - they are one of the few types of private enterprise allowed (although still heavily regulated), where families can set up a restaurant selling authentic, Cuban food. The atmosphere this creates, and opportunity to integrate with local Cubans, will no doubt enhance your stay! We also suggest you take snack food with you, as it is not freely available in Cuba.
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