From Santiago to Viñales

Lovely beaches:  clichés ? Maybe , but it is a great reality ! Cuba is the biggest island in the Caribbean and it takes time to visit it. This trip is conceived to offer an approach as complete as possible, from Santiago to Viñales, with interesting treks all the way.  You visit colonial colorful villages, hike in green mountains full of history and meet cozy people !


Itinerary

  • Day 1 Welcome to Santiago de Cuba

    Welcome to Santiago de Cuba Arrival to the airport of Santiago de Cuba. Transfer to the city. Accommodation in a private house.

    Meals by you.
    Night in hotel

  • Day 2 Santiago de Cuba

    Santiago de Cuba City tour.
    Walking tour on the historical center of the city. This is the more Caribbean of the cuban cities. Colorful facades everywhere surrounded by music.
    In the afternoon we will visit the Museum of Piracy. This is a colonial Military fortress from the 16een century, scorting the Bay.

    Meal by you.
    Night in hotel

  • Day 3 El Cobre - El Salton Waterfall - Bayamo

    El Cobre - El Salton Waterfall - Bayamo Departure for El Salton.
    Along the way, visit the Basilica of the Virgin of Charity of Copper, the Patroness of Cuba. The site located 20 km from Santiago is impressive.
    We continue then to the heights and the site of Saltón for a hike in exuberant vegetation and a refreshing swim under a beautiful waterfall of 30 meters.
    (Note: in the dry season it may be that the waterfall is dry).
    Departure for Bayamo, historical cradle of Cuba, and installation at the hotel (depending on the weather and the season, quick visit possible from the center of Bayamo)

    Transportation by minibus
    Night in hotel
    3 hours of walking

  • Day 4 Santo Domingo - Sierra Maestra National Park - Comandancia de La Plata

    Santo Domingo - Sierra Maestra National Park - Comandancia de La Plata Departure for Santo Domingo, at the entrance of the Turquino National Park, in the Sierra Maestra.
    We continue to the locality "Alto del Naranjo" where we begin our walk through the beautiful landscapes of the highest mountain range of Cuba.
    Our steps will lead us to the Comandancia de la Plata: the former clandestine headquarters, isolated in the mountains, where Fidel Castro and Che took refuge to prepare the revolution at the beginning of the "guerrilla".
    We will visit the old facilities, the field hospital, Fidel's house ... Return to Santo Domingo and check-in at the hotel.
    Note: the hotel night can exceptionally be replaced by a night at the inhabitant.

    Transport by minibus.
    Homestay
    3 hours of walking

  • Day 5 Santo Domingo - Camaguey

    Santo Domingo - Camaguey Departure to the city of Camagüey. Camagüey is one of the most beautiful cities on the island. We visit the old neighborhoods and the colonial places. Evening out to enjoy Cuban music and concerts that are improvised everywhere.

    Transport by minibus.
    Homestay

  • Day 6 Camaguey - Sancti Spiritus - Banaos - Sierra del Escambray

    Camaguey - Sancti Spiritus - Banaos - Sierra del Escambray Departure to the town of Sancti Spiritus where we will make a quick visit of its colonial district with pastel facades and paved streets.
    Lunch then departure to the region of Banaos.
    Departure from our hike to the shelter "La Sabina" (about 2 hours of climb) where we will spend the night. Dinner prepared by the family.
    (Note: we leave our big bag at the farm Jarico to only go up with a small backpack containing our stuff for the night and the next morning)

    Transport by minibus.
    Night in a shelter
    2 to 3 hours of walking; + 300m

  • Day 7 Cascade of La Bella - Trinidad

    We descend from the Sierra, at the end of our hike, possibility of swimming in the waterfall of Bella. In the afternoon, we will continue our journey towards the city of Trinidad, colonial jewels of Cuba. Homestay and evening stroll in this beautiful little town. From sunset, (and even before), Cuban music will intoxicate you with its wild rhythms. Dinner and overnight at the inhabitant.

    Transport by minibus.
    Homestay
    2 to 3 hours of walking; -300m

  • Day 8 Trinidad

    Day dedicated to the discovery of this beautiful and unique city, a living museum where time seems to have stopped.
    You will be able to get lost in the typical and colored lanes, to meet the inhabitants known for their hospitality.
    Visit with your guide in the morning and, after lunch, free afternoon in Trinidad, or, if you prefer, we can take you to the beach of Ancon.

    Homestay
    dinner by you.

  • Day 9 Trinidad - Cienfuegos - Bay of Pigs - Playa Larga

    We take the road to the west to the famous bay of pigs. On the way we will make a first stop at Cienfuegos then Caleta Buena, by the sea. Possibility of a small swim! Small walk with Eduardo and installation in Playa Larga homestay (near the beach).

    Transport by minibus.
    Homestay
    1 to 2 hours of walking

  • Day 10 Playa Larga - Soroa - Viñales

    Departure towards the West of Cuba and the beautiful valley of Viñales.
    Along the way we will make a stop in Soroa for lunch.
    Then, hike up the mountain to a viewpoint offering a beautiful view.
    We then descend after the same path and can go to the cascade of the rainbow of Cuba below (little water in the dry season).
    We then take the road to Viñales that we will join in the late afternoon.
    Dinner and overnight at the inhabitant.

    Transport by minibus.
    Homestay
    2 hours of walking

  • Day 11 Valley of Vinales - Ascension of a Mogote

    Today, our steps take us to one of those limestone blocks that dominate the landscape.
    From the slopes of our "mogote" we enjoy a magnificent view of the valley.
    We continue our hike to have lunch in a small typical house in the middle of the valley.
    The mogotes around us look like a herd of sleeping elephants, and the tranquility of the valley gives us an intoxicating sense of peace.
    Back to our host family. (note: we ride on a mogote but not up to the top because there is no path allowing it)

    Homestay
    4 hours of walking

  • Day 12 Cayo Jutias

    Departure to Cayo Jutia, peninsula located north of the province of Pinar del Rio.
    Beautiful paradise beach, whose white sand plunges into crystal clear water.
    Free time at the beach. Possibility of diving (snorkeling) on ​​the coral reef (to see on site).
    Return to Viñales at the end of the afternoon. Dinner free.

    Transportation by minibus
    Homestay
    dinner by you

  • Day 13 Viñales - Havana

    We start the day with a walk between fields of tobacco and small farms with always the mogotes in the background.
    Lunch in the valley. We continue our hike in the valley of Viñales.
    Visit the Alexis Tobacco Farm. He shows us how to roll a cigar and shows us around his tobacco barn.
    We then take the road towards Havana.
    Arrival in Havana at the end of the day and installation at the inhabitant in downtown.

    Transportation by minibus
    Homestay
    2 to 3 hours of walking
    dinner by you.

  • Day 14 Havana Tour

    Day devoted to the visit of Havana, classified world heritage of humanity by UNESCO.
    Havana is certainly one of the most beautiful colonial cities of all the American continent.
    We start with a city tour in beautiful American convertible: the Revolution Square, the district of Miramar and the Malecon (the cornice).
    Then we will discover on foot the historic and popular district of Old Havana, its cathedral, its squares and its narrow streets.
    Dinner free.

    Meals by you

  • Day 15 End of stay

    Dispersion after breakfast. You then enjoy this day at your leisure and continue your stay at your leisure.

The program was established according to the latest known elements when it was written; imponderables are always possible and situations beyond our control can change the way things are done. Depending on the weather and operational conditions, our team reserves the right to modify this itinerary in order to better ensure your stay and your safety.

Dates & prices

Departures for English-speaking groups:

No departure for now

Trip code: UCUR-EN

Included

- Transport by private vehicle according to itinerary
- Accommodation with full board except meals indicated in "The price does not include"
- The entries in the sites planned in the program
- The accompaniment by an English Cuban guide for the whole stay.

Not included

- International flight
- Tourist card (necessary for entry into the country)
- The supplement in individual room: Consult us
- The meals of the days 1 and 14, the dinners of the days 2, 8, 12 and 13 (about 15 € by meal).
- Repatriation insurance
- Gratuities, all expenses & personal equipment, drinks and all that is not in "THE PRICE INCLUDES"

Notes

For many years, we put our know-how and our experience of Cuba to the service of travelers coming from different horizons. You will be able to find in your groups participants coming from our various partners.

Terms and conditions

Booking conditions

Booking a trip with Altaï Cuba implies acceptance of the terms and conditions of sale. Each customer is required to complete a registration form and, subject to availability at the time of registration, travellers are expected to pay a deposit of 30% of the total price to complete their booking. Payments can be made online or by bank transfer. You will receive an e-mail with your booking confirmation.

Invoice procedure

Once your booking is confirmed you will receive an invoice by e-mail. The full balance of the trip must be received at least 30 days before your departure date. Altaï Cuba reserve the right to cancel your booking, free of charge, if this deadline is not respected.

Cancellation policy

If for any reason you have to cancel your trip, Altaï Cuba require written confirmation of your decision. The money you have paid will then be refunded according to the following deductions:

  • Cancellation received more than 30 days prior to the departure date: a sum of €50 per person will be retained
  • Cancellation received 30 to 21 days before the departure date: your deposit, 30% of the total trip price will be retained
  • Cancellation received 20 to 14 days before the departure date: 50% of the total trip price will be retained
  • Cancellation received 13 to 7 days before the departure date: 75% of the total trip price will be retained
  • Cancellation received less than 7 days before the departure date: 100% of the total trip price will be retained

Special cases:
Please note that, regardless of the date of cancellation or modification if you have agreed to pay for services such as hotel reservations, flights or additional activities, these services are usually non-refundable so additional fees may apply.
  • Fixed airfares: if your airline ticket was issued in advance, often done to avoid significant surcharges, you will be charged 100% of any non-refundable fees if you wish to change or cancel your flight plan.
  • Fixed in-country costs: early charges for firm bookings will be charged if you cancel or modify your trip.
  • Insurance costs: if you have taken out comprehensive or cancellation insurance, the cost of insurance is due and cannot be refunded.

Please note that fees apply according to the date we receive your cancellation or modification request in writing.

If we have to cancel a departure due to an insufficient number of participants, you will be informed no later than 21 days before departure and a full refund will be issued, you will not be entitled to further compensation. We reserve the rights to cancel departures due to exceptional circumstances which may impact the safety of participants. Such circumstances include those amounting to 'force majeure' in which case participants will receive a full refund but they will not be entitled to any compensation.

Changes to travel contract

If you wish to make a change to your booking please contact Altaï Cuba in writing; you will be expected to pay any fee which might arise from this change. In the event of unforeseen external events, Altaï Cuba may change some aspects of the travel contract. If any changes are necessary you will be informed as quickly as possible.

Pricing

The prices on our website are updated regularly and all of the prices we advertise are accurate when published. Altaï Cuba reserve the rights to make changes to any of these prices. Before you make a booking we will give you the up-to-date price of your chosen holiday including any supplements, upgrades or additional activities you may have requested. If the number of travellers is fewer than the indicated number of participants on the website, a small group surcharge may be applied. For all of our trips we include details of services, prices and what is/is not included but please be aware that changes to the prices may be necessary in accordance with exchange rates or price changes of various components of the journey.

Contract transfer

If you are unable to travel for any reason, you can transfer your booking to another person in which case our modification conditions apply. Both the transferor and transferee will be jointly and severally liable for payment of the total holiday price and other associated expenses. Some airline carriers treat name changes as cancellations and you may be required to pay for the cost of a new ticket.

Insurance

We recommend that you take out personal insurance for your travel with Altai Cuba, as soon as your booking is confirmed. We kindly request you to send us the information related to your insurance contract (name of the company, name of the contract, insurance policy number, telephone number) and to bring it along with you during the journey.

Practical info

Staff

This trip is supervised by a Cuban English speaking tour guide, part of the Altai Cuba team. During the stay, he is assisted by a Spanish speaking driver. Spanish speaking local guides also accompany you to some sites.

Food

All breakfasts are included. For lunches / picnics, when they are not prepared by your hosts or included in your stay, you can choose to have a picnic or eat in a restaurant. You will find nearby major tourist sites or in towns and villages. Some dinners will be priced at your hosts. For others (not included in your stay), you will find restaurants for every budget at every step.
Due to the American embargo that has been raging for many years and state-owned structures (hotels and restaurants), Cuban cuisine has remained simple and variety is not always in place. Meals: Menus served in state restaurants are most often made of chicken, fish or pork accompanied by congri (rice and kidney beans) and plantains. Homestay, the dishes are significantly more varied and plentiful, highlighting more local products: fruit of the breadfruit, cassava, plantain, mango, guava, pineapple, papaya, coconut, pork, chicken , fish and sometimes lobster. Private restaurants are also beginning to emerge and offer a much more rich and refined cuisine than in the restaurants or hotels of State. Beverages: we find in Cuba excellent seasonal fruit juices, local beers (Bucanero and Cristal) and of course rum used for the preparation of some essential cocktails: mojitos, daïquiris, cuba libre, pina colada ... Water: during your stay drinks, including mineral water, are your responsibility. You can fill your water bottles in villages, springs, hotels. It is best to treat it with purifying lozenges (micropur or hydrochlonazone). Avoid as much as possible the purchase of plastic bottles which must then be recycled. If you have to buy bottled water, we advise you to buy bottles of 10 liters (or 5 liters) to fill your bottles as you go. If you want to buy these bottles, you do it at the beginning of your stay in Havana or Santiago as well as in the main cities of the country.

Accommodation

In the majority of the cases, you are lodged with the inhabitants, in the famous "casas particulares": the Cuban families welcome you to their home. You sleep in a double / twin room with private bathroom as far as possible (in some places, the bathroom can be shared between 2 rooms).
For some stages, we have chosen local 3-star category hotels, standard comfort.
Note that hotels in Cuba belong to the state. We therefore have no control over the quality of the services delivered.
The rooms are always clean and spacious with private bathroom but it may be that in some establishments, the rooms are not up to international standards. In the different Sierra, some steps require sleeping in a shelter.
These are usually quite basic. You sleep in a dormitory of 4 to 6 people. The blankets are provided but we advise you to also take a bag sheet see a sleeping bag for cool nights following the season.

Transportation

Transportation is provided by private air-conditioned vehicle.
In some cases, we may also occasionally use 4x4s on certain routes.
Our travels do not involve portering if not your business of the day.
On some hikes, you may need to leave your travel bag and carry your sleeping bag in addition to your basic business and spare for one night (overnight in a shelter or homestay).
In this case, we will take care of your business and forward it to the next step.

Budget & exchange

Two currencies circulate: the Cuban peso (CUP) and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) which is the only currency usable by foreigners. Currently, 1 CUC is more or less equivalent to 1 €. To know the exchange rate in real time, we advise you to go on the site www.xe.com. Only Visas and Master Card credit cards are accepted by hotels. You will find cash machines accepting only Visas cards in Havana and Santiago. To exchange your cash, go to the many "casa de cambio" present at the airport and in the exchange offices of state hotels in the main cities of the country.
Attention, officially, the American Dollars is not accepted

Tips

This is a common practice and not mandatory, depending on your satisfaction.
It must be adapted according to the standard of living of the country and the duration of your trip.
As a general rule for correct service, you can use the following amounts:
- 3 CUC per day and per participant for a Francophone guide
- 2 CUC per day and per participant for a driver
- 1 CUC per day per participant for a Spanish speaking local guide

Supplied equipment

The following list is as complete as possible.
- A hat for the sun.
- A bandana, to protect your neck
- A pair of sun glasses.
- 1 or 2 tee shirts 8 (preferably made of cotton)
- 1 sweeter
- 1 coat
- A rain coat.
- 1 or 2 long shorts
- 2 pairs of confortable trousers for the treking
- 1 bathing suit
- 1 pair of shoes for the treking.
- 1 pair of light shoes for the easy walks and the evening.
- 1 pair of shoes adapted to the water for the snorkeling swimming, etc (specially for those who d ont like flippers)
- Pair of socks for the treking.

Luggage

Prefer any other bag a flexible travel bag with side closure, type sack, or at least a large backpack.
Limit the weight to 15 kg per person. You will also need a backpack (35l minimum) to store your belongings of the day. It is possible to wash the laundry in the middle of the circuit, plan your business accordingly.
As a precaution, think of carrying in your luggage "cabin" enough to survive the first days, and this in case your luggage in the hold would not arrive at the same time as you. This is rare but it is better to be prepared for any eventuality. We recommend you to wear underwear, some T-shirts, walking shoes and sandals.
Do not forget to put any sharp object, or liquid in your luggage "in the hold" because they are prohibited in the cabin.

Passport

The following informations could be changed any time by the local authorities. It is advised that you double check them up before the trip.

Your passport should be valid 6 months after the end of the trip. When confirming the trip, you are asked to provide you passport informations ( Surname-Name-Birthdate-Passport Numbre- Expiring Date) We need them to book the domestic flights and some entries and activities.   

WARNING : 
- You must send the information related to the passport that you will bring on the trip. If you need to renew your passport, wait until you have the new one to send us the informations.
- Kids, no matter their age, must have a passport.   

Visa

The so called Tourism card is required to enter the country. To obtain it you have to go to the cuban Consulate in your country. Some airlines sale the visa to Cuba at their offices or airport.

Mandatory vaccines

Even if no vaccine is required, you will ensure that vaccines commonly used in western countries (tetanus, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, typhoid) are still valid. Hepatitis A and B vaccines also recommended.

Health information & recommendations

Pharmacy

Our guides have a basic pharmacy including: Local antiseptic, bandages, compresses. We advise you to have a small pharmacy kit to take with you for the "little sores" everyday, and a second kit more complete to leave in the main luggage. In case of special treatment, thank you to let your guide know on arrival.

Recommendations

No compulsory vaccination, however, make sure you are up to date with "classic" vaccinations: tetanus, diphtheria, polio and typhoid. Malaria (or malaria): the country is classified in zone 1. The risks of contagion by mosquito bites are low. It is advisable to protect yourself by applying repellent creams. We do not encourage the use of preventive treatments when they are not needed. Indeed, besides the undesirable effects that they afflict with our organism, these can cause a resistance of the parasites. However, we recommend that you follow the advice of your doctor.

Hygiene

Observe basic hygiene measures such as washing your hands regularly, especially before meals. Be careful, the water is not drinkable.
Viruses transmitted by mosquitoes It is advisable to protect yourself by applying repellent creams. We do not encourage the use of preventive treatments when they are not needed. Indeed, besides the undesirable effects that they inflict on our organism, these can cause a resistance of the parasites. However, we recommend that you follow the advice of your doctor.

Weather

The subtropical climate of Cuba is influenced by the mild trade winds of the northeast. The thermometer varies little during the year and only two seasons are frankly marked:
- The wet summer, lasts from May to October.
- The drier winter is from November to April. Average temperatures range from 22 ° C (February) to 30 ° C (July to August).
The east of the island is slightly warmer than the west. September and October hold rain records and correspond to the peak of the hurricane season.

Electricity

Most electrical outlets are flat plugs and deliver 110 V (as in the USA). Some places are equipped with 110V but also 220 V. Ask always before plugging anything. It is essential to provide an adapter for electrical outlets.

Sustainable tourism

In a concern of respect for the environment, Altai engages for a minimum impact on the environment. Altai has always worked for a more responsible tourism and is part of a journey organization that respects equitable and sustainable principles. Harmonization of practices ensures a fair distribution of economic benefits and improved working conditions of local teams and their awareness of the protection of the environment Adopt, you too, simple actions during your travels and act in favor responsible tourism.
- Avoid leaving garbage behind: drop them in garbage cans or bring them back with you
- Use drinking water sparingly (prefer showers to baths and report leaks) and avoid wasting it (prefer biodegradable soaps for washing etc.)
- Avoid degrading cultural sites: do not touch the statues, do not move stones and objects etc.
- Prefer exchanges to donations (gifts too important given the standard of living of the country can destabilize the local economic balance)
- Take a walk, especially in some fragile ecosystems, observe the wildlife from a distance, do not leave the trails, limit trampling and do not bring back "memories": give up picking rare flowers, collecting fossils, etc.
- In some hotels, you will have individual air conditioning. It is strongly recommended to avoid excessive energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to cut it systematically when you are not present in the room.
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Ricardo

My local agent
Ricardo

  • 20 years in Cuban tourism.
  • Languages: English, Portuguese and Spanish
  • Altaï Cuba sales expert
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Region
Centre East La Havana West
Activity
Local living Trek & Hiking
Duration
15 days
Group
2 to 15 people
Code
UCUR-EN
Price
From €1,640
Level
2/5
Comfort
3/5
Language(s)
English

Strengths

  • The unavoidable colonial cities of Santiago, Camagüey, Trinidad and Havana
  • Outstanding natural sites: El Salton, Sierra Maestra, Sierra del Escambray, Mogotes de Viñales
  • A ride in beautiful American convertible in Havana
  • The many nights at the inhabitant
  • A crossing of Cuba punctuated by easy hikes

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