October 24, 2016

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Created by popular request, this itinerary is for those who have time and the desire to really experience Cuba, in all of its passion and diversity. From Santiago de Cuba through Cuba’s oldest colonial villages and breathtaking shores, we will experience the most culturally rich of all of Cuba, winding our way to Havana, “Paris of the Antilles,” with the option to continue on to the breathtaking agricultural Viñales Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We are offering this trip for a low price this first year that we are offering it.

We will personalize each trip itinerary based on how you answer your Participant Information Form. Additionally, know that while we do our best to adhere to our planned itineraries, traveling in Cuba requires flexibility, and changes to our scheduled activities may occur.

Day 1 - Monday March 20: Santiago de Cuba.  We have taken care of you reservations, and we will greet you at the airport upon your arrival. After checking you into your casas, we will begin with a walking tour from Plaza de Martí to the main street “Enramadas” (the longest pedestrian boulevard in Latin America), where we will have lunch at one of Santiago de Cuba’s most famous restaurants. This evening we will have a welcome cocktail, meet and greet, and orientation on rooftop terrace of Hotel Casa Granda.

Day 2 - Tuesday March 21: History and religion.  We will tour the Santa Iphigenia Cemetery, and learn about Cuba’s history with revolution after visiting the memorial to Cuba’s most famous poet, Jose Martí. After lunch we visit the famous Catedral de la Virgin del Cobre, Cuba’s patron saint, where we will have a lecture from a professor of Cuban religion on the history of Santeria, the syncretism of Catholicism and the Yoruba religion of West Africa.

Day 3 - Wednesday March 22: Middle-of-the-road Holguin.  After a brief stop at Biran Farm, birthplace of the Castro family, we will check into our casas. After lunch we will do a small art walk, and then you will have the option to have a bicycle taxi tour of the city or challenge yourself by taking the 458 stairs to Loma de la Cruz, the best view of the city. Dinner will be at the restaurant known as having the best steak in the country.

Day 4 - Thursday March 23: Agriculture and beach.  Start the day with refreshments and a tour of a typical small Cuban organic farm with a marvelous view of the valley. We will lunch at a hilltop restaurant overlooking the ocean. Afterwards, take a break at Guardalavaca Beach. When Christopher Columbus got his first glimpse of the Holguín coastline in 1492, he declared it was “the most beautiful land human eyes have ever seen.”

Day 5 - Friday, March 24: Bayamo historical city.  Bayamo predates both Havana and Santiago de Cuba, and is known as ground zero for Cuba’s fight for independance from Spain. We will spend the day learning about this city through museums, a city tour, and the famous National Anthem Square.

Day 6 - Saturday, March 25: Camagüey, city of plazas and cathedrals.  After arriving in Camagüey we will have lunch in one of Camagüey’s many plazas and then follow an architectural tour of this charming, catholic-predominant city.

Day 7 - Sunday, March 26: Art walk, meet the artists.  Camagüey is a visually inspiring city, so it is no wonder that so many artists call it home. We will visit a few studios, where artists have graciously invited us in for a presentation of their work, as well as a Q&A. The afternoon is yours to meander the colonial streets.

Day 8 - Monday, March 27: Remedios and the pregnant Virgin. Remedios is where we will find the rare pregnant virgin statue at Iglesia Mayor of San Juan Bautista de los Remedios. We’ll spend the afternoon at the beach.

Day 9 - Tuesday, March 28: Revolution and Che Guevara.  We’ll arrive in Santa Clara, where Che Guevara won a decisive victory leading to the success of the revolution. We will lunch in the Revolution Cafe, where dozens of historic photos and memorabilia that you won’t see anywhere else adorn the walls. You will have free time to walk around the square of this relaxed town before dinner. We’ll dine at romantic Florida Center and we will meet a few important Cuban friends with fascinating backgrounds.

Day 10 - Wednesday, March 29: Onward to colonial Trinidad.  After a brief visit to the famous Che Guevara memorial, we will head on to charming, colonial Trinidad. We will visit the San Isidro Sugar Plantation historical site, and have a brief walking tour of Trinidad before dinner with live music. Optional: Casa de la Musica for even more live music.

Day 11 - Thursday, March 30: Bay of Pigs, Playa Larga.  We will visit the famous Alfarero Ceramics studio, several generations deep in the ceramics tradition that they imported from Spain. After, we head out to Playa Larga. We will check into casas on the beach, and then spend a day of relaxation at Caleta Buena, a cenote in the Bay of Pigs. Tonight we will be serenaded as we dine at a restaurant on the beach.

Day 12 - Friday, March 31: Cienaga de Zapata UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  The morning begins with an optional birding excursion in Cienaga de Zapata. Afterward, we depart for Havana! It’s a long trip, so after a bit of relaxation time once we get you checked in, we will then dine at one of Havana’s finest restaurants with some Cuban friends.

Day 13 - Saturday, April 1: Plaza de la Revolución, Cuban Fine Arts.  After a brief tour of the Plaza de la Revolución and José Martí Memorial, we will receive a live performance by the Solfa Children's Choir community project, who we support through musical instrument and monetary donations. After lunch, we will have a private tour of the Bellas Artes Cuba Collection. Before dinner we will visit the Cuba Libro Project, and receive a presentation by Conner Gorry, American journalist and founder of the project. Dinner will be at at world-renowned El Cocinero, and we will receive a private tour of the “Cuban Art Factory” next door.

Day 14 - Sunday, April 2: Walking Tour of Old Havana. After a brief stroll along the Prado Art Walk, we will begin our walking tour of breathtaking Havana Vieja with artist Jesus Magan. Tonight is our group dinner party, beginning on the rooftop lounge of Versus 1900, and then moving into its classically decorated colonial interior for fine Spanish cuisine.

*Option 1: Day 15 - Monday April 3: Early Departure.  Breakfast, free morning/airport transport.

*Option 2: Day 15 - Monday April 3: Verdant Viñales Valley.  After breakfast, we depart for Viñales. Lunch at world-renowned El Paraiso farm-to-table restaurant, with breathtaking views of the valley. Visit a tobacco farm, and learn how to roll a cigar from a third-generation tobacco farmer. Dinner on your own tonight, so that you can take in the charm this quaint little town. If you are up for it, you might check out the show at the exotic late-night cave disco on the edge of town.

Day 16 - Tuesday April 4: Tungasuk Family Farm, and jazz by the lively Roberto Fonseca.  We return to Havana, stopping by to visit the friendly folks at Tungasuk family farm for a generous farm-to-table lunch. We’ll eat at one of Havana’s finest tonight, and catch a live jazz show by the famous Roberto Fonseca.

Day 17 - Wednesday April 5: Catered Farewell Beach Party.  An opportunity to unwind and to say farewell. We have hired a massage therapist to pamper each of you on your last day here. We will have a catered lunch and dinner, and quite likely, live traditional Cuban music.

Day 18 - Thursday April 6: Departure.  Breakfast, free morning/airport transport.

What’s included?

Accommodations, all group meals, museum/club entry fees, expert guides, ground transportation, bottled drinking water, and other group costs are covered. Additionally, gratuities for restaurant service, drivers, and general group activities is included (travelers may tip guides and musicians as you deem appropriate based on your satisfaction). We will connect you with our experienced travel agent to arrange air transportation to/from Cuba, or you may research your own flight to Cuba. We will pay for your Cuban visa either way. Upon registration, we will send you a pre-trip information packet to help inform you and prepare you for an amazing cross-cultural experience. We take care of as much as possible so that you can relax. Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $680, and an additional $150 for the Viñales add-on.

We limit each trip to a maximum of 10 travelers (for comparison, most other Cuba tour companies cap groups at 20 people). We prefer to keep group numbers small in order to ensure an authentic cultural experience. You will thank us later.

Soltura is a Spanish word that loosely translated means with confidence, fluently, with ease. We pride ourselves on leading culturally-immersive tours with a focus on the arts and culture of Cuba, going above and beyond to ensure that our travelers have comfortable, yet truly enriching cultural experiences. Along the way, we will introduce you to some interesting people who will help inform your experiences in Cuba. You may create some lasting friendships on this journey, and you will certainly create a lifetime of memories.

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