Tour introduction and overview of activities

8 days and 7 nights of an educational, local governance awareness, ‘People to People’ experience in Cuba organized by Global Relations Travel Club (GRTC) for municipal leaders, adhering to all U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control Rules & Regulations. The Group Tour will be escorted by GRTC Leaders Dan Rutherford, who has been going to Cuba since 1999, and Josh Lanning an experienced Cuba traveler

Cuba’s big! Its land mass is 42,426 square miles – about 80 percent the size of Alabama. Cuba is nearly as large as Louisiana, and larger than Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Ohio or Indiana. Altogether it’s bigger than Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont combined.

Day 1 – Friday :: Arrival U.S. departure city to go to Cuba

  • Individual arrival to U.S. departure city, accommodations arranged and included

Day 2 – Saturday :: Arrival Cuba and Hello Havana

  • Depart to Havana
  • Arrival at Havana’s José Martí International Airport. Collect our bags and go through customs. We will be welcomed at the airport lobby by our Cuba Education Tours guide and our professional coach chauffeur, included
  • Private transfer to Hotel Ambos Mundos located in heart of Havana’s Old City. A historic hotel with a seasoned elegance and home to Ernest Hemingway when he stayed in the city, included
  • Private check-in with assistance from our guide and a welcome cocktail, included
  • Free time to settle in and get oriented with our historic hotel and one of the most famous in Old Havana
  • This evening we will enjoy a group welcome dinner at Los Mercaderes, a top private restaurant in Old Havana, included
  • Evening walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site to see how historic preservation has helped capture tourism. We will visit the historic plazas that make Havana unique in the western hemisphere. It contains the largest collection of remaining colonial-era architecture. This is a private tour led by our Cuba Education Tours guide, included
  • 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 built by the Jesuit order
  • 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 will continue on to 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
  • 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

Day 3 – Sunday :: Old Havana municipal briefing, Hemingway, organic gardening and private cooking lesson

  • Breakfast, included
  • Formal presentation on Planning, Restoration and Urbanization in Old Havana
  • Travel to Cojímar, small fishing village and one of Hemingway’s favorite’s places. Visit local gardener where owner shows us how herbs, vegetables and fruit are raised for El Ajiaco Paladar’s use, how compost is produced and water conserved. This is an example of a community project for an urban area. See how production organic gardening in a residential neighborhood produces private income and supplies a local business
  • TOUR HIGHLIGHT: Cooking & mojito making lesson at paladar (private restaurant) El Ajiaco followed by lunch, which we helped prepare, included
    This is a unique experience; in the kitchen, with the chef and staff preparing multiple dishes and then at the bar learning how to properly prepare a Cuban mojito - - - all before the paladar opens to the public
  • Dinner, not included. This is a perfect evening to explore Cuba’s famed paladares

Day 4 – Monday :: Valley of magnificent mogotes & the richest agriculture land in the nation and hand rolled cigars

  • Breakfast in hotel, included
  • Morning departure to the western agricultural province of Pinar del Río
  • Visit and tour of Francisco Donatién Cigar Factory and see how some of Cuba’s premium cigars are made, by hand, included
  • Drive through Viñales village, a picturesque town in the heart of Cuba's prime tobacco growing region. The town itself sits in the center of a flat valley surrounded by stunning formations known locally as mogotes. Mogotes are irregularly shaped steep-sided hills that can rise as high as 985 feet and have bases ranging from just a few hundred yards in diameter to as much as a mile in length. The mogotes were formed by eons of erosion. Many consider this the most beautiful nature spot in Cuba
  • Late lunch at private restaurant Balcón del Valle (Balcony of the Valley, and we will see why when we get there), one of the most spectacular views of the entire trip, included
  • Hotel Rancho San Vicente check in: a unique hotel in a forest setting and overlooked by mountains. This is a bird watchers paradise with several endemic species and at dusk bats emerge from the multiple caves
  • Relaxing time by one of the two pools at the hotel, included
  • Dinner buffet at hotel at your leisure and a relaxing evening, included

Day 5 – Tuesday :: Viñales activities, tobacco farming and meals in country-side paladares

  • Breakfast in hotel, included. We will have a very large lunch and evening meal, plan breakfast accordingly
  • Optional morning activities: Horseback riding (highly recommended), massage, hiking and guided bird watching, not included; or relax by one of two swimming pools, included
  • Lunch at Finca Agro-ecológica El Paraíso, included (be sure we get a special drink ‘Stress Reliever’ blended from fresh grown organic herbs). Other than the seafood and beef, all of the food we will enjoy at lunch will have been grown on the site
  • Tour Finca Agro-ecológica El Paraíso, learn about land reclamation from the family that claimed part of a rocky mountain side to grow vegetables and herbs organically, and the outstanding view of the valley, included
  • Visit a privately owned tobacco farm that produces product for the world-renowned Cuban cigar, meet the owners and learn from them about their experience in the private sector and land management. We will have a personal demonstration of hand rolling a Habano cigar, included
  • Visit Cueva del Indio [cave of the Indian], not included (optional). See how a natural wonder has been developed into a tourist attraction in Cuba
  • Return to hotel
  • ENJOYABLE EVENING AT, SMALL, LOCAL PALADAR: Dinner at private restaurant El Campesino, on the edge of a tobacco field with the mogotes as a backdrop & meet Yuri and Nino, mother and daughter owners, included. Have a personal discussion with Yuri about the evolution in Cuba of private business operations and what it is like for a young mother raising a family in a rural community; discuss with the family their land ownership for Casa Particular (bed & breakfast) and paladar (private restaurant), licensing and regulations, included

Day 6 – Wednesday :: Havana return and vintage american cars

  • Breakfast in hotel, included
  • Hotel check out
  • Visit an open air craft market as we depart Vinales, included
  • Lunch will be provided on the coach ride, complimentary, and hosted by GRTC Leaders, Dan Rutherford & Josh Lanning, as to-go sandwiches in order to save time on the return to Havana to get us to the world famous Hotel Nacional sooner, optional
  • Hotel Nacional check in; relaxing time to stroll the garden, walk the sites depicted in the Godfather Part II movie, enjoy a cigar and mojito or have a rest on the veranda where some of the world’s most interesting personalities’ have taken a break while the winds from the Straits of Florida breeze by, included
  • Our group will caravan in Vintage American cars along the Malecon, and stop at a small park for photos & continue on through the ‘ancient’ forest to dinner, included
  • Dinner at the paladar La Casa, private restaurant, one of the earliest established in Cuba and still in the original home, included
  • Evening is free to explore the sights and sounds of the city

Day 7 – Thursday :: Revolution, a community transfomed by art, Hemingway’s home and last night in Havana

  • Breakfast in hotel, included
  • Visit the Museum of the Revolution, included
  • Visit the community Project Muraleando, an art center in Havana which was inspired by the children of the community. Music, dance, sculpting, painting and other fine arts are all part of the project which transforms children’s lives. Many of them come from low income families or have behavioral problems, art is their outlet. The project helped transform a very challenging neighborhood into a refurbished area, community center and an up and coming tourist site, included
  • Lunch at Muraleando, included, after having the opportunity to meet some of the artists. We will receive a briefing how the local residents prepare the food and feed the workers on the project, included
  • Visit Finca La Vigía, home and farm of Ernest Hemingway. This unique National Museum also includes his boat Pilar (in part made famous from his book Old Man and the Sea), the graves of some of his dogs, and the fully furnished home which we will be able to see inside. We will witness staffing and management of a popular museum, included
  • Return to hotel
  • Dinner not included. With all the great food we have experienced the past week, this is our last chance to re-visit one of our favorite restaurants or check out a paladar we have heard about. Our Cuban Guide and GRTC Team will be glad to help. Plan ahead, even earlier in the week if you need reservations
  • Evening is free to explore the sights and sounds of the city. It’s our last night in the Republic of Cuba so Enjoy!

Day 8 – Friday :: Havana and Home

  • Breakfast, included
  • Check-out of hotel
  • Transfer to José Martí International Airport for flight home, included
  • Memories of a wonderful visit to the Pearl of the Antilles: Cuba, included!
Cuba travel is a challenge. Our staff and Cuban partners work super hard to make your tour unfold seamlessly despite Third World conditions on the island. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Flexible travelers understand this is part of their Cuban adventure.
Tour date Cost Comments Availability
Oct 6 to Oct 13, 2017 $ 3945
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Tour meals at your hotel and at fine restaurants
  • Teleconference with the Municipal Leaders group and Global Relations Travel Club (GRTC) leadership to go through the itinerary, answer questions and offer suggestions on opportunities not on the schedule
  • A series of briefing e mails, starting weeks before departure, to assist us in preparing for the trip
  • All taxes, amounts are quoted in US dollars
  • Hotel in the U.S. the night before your Cuban departure
  • Airport transfers: We are met at the airport in Cuba and will be taken to our hotel upon arrival. We are taken back to our airport in Cuba for departure
  • Hotels in Cuba as listed in tour itinerary, or similar
  • Welcome cocktail upon arrival
  • All breakfasts, lunches and dinners as per itinerary
  • All activities, services, speakers, meetings and meals as described in tour itinerary except those noted as “optional” or “not included”
  • Special presentations for Municipal Leader participants, value added educational experiences
  • Luxury air-conditioned private coach transportation and a full-time professional driver, dedicated to your group. Cold bottled water on board
  • An expert Cuban English-speaking guide whose background matches tour content and GRTC Team member from the U.S. escorting our tour
  • Ongoing support from Cuba Explorer staff and the GRTC Team before, during and after our stay
  • Emergency collect call access to North America while in Cuba
  • Emergency cash advance for tour participants who face complications accessing funds, from abroad, while in Cuba
  • Global Relations Travel Club (GRTC) membership: $29 Membership is a requirement, by Rule, to participate in GRTC tours. It is included in your Tour
  • Gratuities for Cuban tour guide, coach/van driver, chambermaids, restaurant staff, porters, etc. for group activities. The ‘gratuity collective’ is included in your Tour
  • Airfare is not included, you select your flights
  • Fly into your U.S. departure city the first night of the Tour and your lodging is included. The next day fly to Cuba and your transfer at the Cuban airport is included. On the last day of your Tour the transfer to the Cuban airport is included. Flight reservations are the responsibility of the participant. GRTC Team will be of assistance
  • Cuban Visa and departure tax from Cuba will be arranged by your airline, along with mandatory Cuban medical insurance coverage during your island stay, not included. GRTC Team will be of assistance
  • Optional travel interruption and cancellation insurance. See