One of the three primary sources of the Cuban culture is African. From the nation’s birth, throughout the formation of its identity, the African beat lies strong in the heart of the island. In recent years entrepreneurial efforts have been encouraged like never before; it is no surprise that the Afro Cuban community is also immersed in this new wave of changes. However as in many parts of the world these efforts need to be encouraged and this itinerary which explores a classic journey in Western Cuba incorporates as many Afro Cuban business as possible. Learn about how these business owners are working together to encourage a new generation all the while supporting their new enterprises.
Day 1: Welcome to Havana
Upon leaving the plane, you will be met by an airport rep that will guide you through customs into the VIP lounge. Our airport representative will meet you after going through Customs and will lead you to your vintage car driver. Once in the city, you will check in at Alameda Suites, a big colonial house revamped; and turned into a Luxury B&B Boutique accommodation with views of the old town and the harbor. Your private concierge/contact person on land will welcome you at the Hotel and go through your itinerary with you; and make suggestions of places to see and things to do. Later, you will enjoy dinner at San Cristobal , one of the best, Afro Cuban owned and visited by the Obamas.
Day 2: Meet Afro Cuban Entrepreneurs
Firstly walk in the footsteps of Havanas colonial past but with our extraordinary guide Zurbano who will tell you Cuba,s history from the Afro Cuban point of view. With our expert guide offering insights into the history and present of the city and the country. Then meet Chef Alberto Gonzalez for Salchipizza Cooking Class. He won the Bronze Medal for International High Cuisine (2007) and the Golden Spoon and Silver Fork awards (2009). He was the first Cuban chef to obtain the distinguished Michelin Star; and remained in the Michelin Guide for 3 years. Dive deeper into history with our Revolution Tour. Discover Cuban revolutionary history through some of the most historic sites in the Capital. Later, enjoy a Afro Cuba dance lesson with our expert teacher.
For the evening, a Vegan Meal. On this one of a kind culinary experience, you will enter the kitchen with Nancy Cepero, an Afro Cuban painter and vegan with an incredible talent for transforming traditional Cuban dishes into delicious vegan creations. Nancy will speak about the challenges in Cuba, and her hopes for a future of more available options for both vegans and vegetarians in the city of Havana.
Day 3: Culture and Arts
The day will start with Beyond Roots, experience the warmth of the Afro-Cuban community of Guanabacoa. Learn from their knowledge passed on from generations, and see its influence in Cuban daily life through the flavors of the unique Afro Cuban Cuisine. Then visit Acosta Danza. Founded in 2016 by Afro-Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta, this company combines contemporary dance and classical ballet. Born in 1973, he grew up in an impoverished family in one of Havana’s poorest districts. His energy and drive to succeed led him to train at the National Ballet School of Cuba; and performing guesting with several leading companies.
Then experience a Food tour and lunch at Jibaro. Your chef, Diana, will take you to a farmers market and a store to learn about the different ways (and prices) Cubans have access to food. Then you will enjoy lunch at Jibaro, where you will learn how to make a real Cuban mojito and feast on typical Cuban food with a twist. Hup on the Mafia tour – Havana: the Gangsters’ Paradise of the ’50s in a vintage open top car. Visit the haunts of the Mafia bosses, takes in panoramic views of the city, and the best architecture of this period. By the end of the afternoon, you will have a meaningful exchange with socio-cultural NGO CEDA (Cubans in Defense of Animals). For the evening, fine dining at La Guarida, the Cuban most celebrated paladar since 1996, when the government allowed to open private restaurants.
Day 4: Trinidad
Your driver will collect you at Havana and transfer you to Trinidad via Cienfuegos. The transfer time to Cienfuegos is about 2/40hrs then 1/30 hrs to Trinidad. Upon arrival to Cienfuegos, our local specialist will give you a tour of the city of Cienfuegos, visiting the Jose Marti Park with insights on the history and architectural style of the town; Tomas Terry Theatre, local markets around the Boulevard, and the Palacio del Valle. For lunch, we suggest a short boat trip to an island in the bay where the best lobster and seafood and a cooling swim awaits you. Then continue to Trinidad. Check in at Casa Carlos Gil Lemes, a charming colonial house with majestic window grates, skillfully decorated ceilings, and a lot of affection from the generous local family.
Day 5: Exploring Trinidad
Our local guide will greet you in the morning to take you for the Trinidad City Tour, introducing you to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The history of the town, architecture highlights, all spiced up with insights into its fascinating history in the colonial era and the years after the Revolution. . Continue to explore the area through the Sugar Plantation Ruins and Slave History tour concerning the 19th-century sugar industry. See the slave quarters of the plantation homes of the sugar barons. And learn about the enormous impact sugar had on this area. In the spirit of the city, we recommend a seafood restaurant and bar in a traditional colonial house from the 1800s for dinner: La Redacción.
Day 6: To the Beach
For an active day, start with the Bicycle tour to La Boca and Ancon beaches. You will leave Trinidad to go to La Boca beach by bicycle accompanied by a guide to talk about the area. The life of these fishermen villages and the place where Diego Velazquez entered to found Trinidad more than 500 years ago. Later you will continue the ride to get to Ancon beach. There are bars at the beach where you can have a drink or a snack. On the way back, ride around Casilda village with its fishing port and stop for lunch at La Marinera, a favorite with the locals and great seafood! Take some time to rest in the afternoon. To continue relaxing, have dinner a little off the beaten track at Bistro Trinidad; the lovely house serves fresh local food on a beautiful terrace a little away from the tourist scene.
Day 7: Back to Havana
Upon arrival back in Havana, join us in an Exchange at Cuba Libro, a cafe, book vendor, socially responsible community resource, and an excellent place for Cubans and non-Cubans to interact; Cuba Libro wears many different hats. Although it’s a bit of a walk from the main sights, it’s a good place to find out more about Havana below the radar. Grab a juice or coffee and join the discussion.
Discover more of Cuban music in the afternoon as part of our experience Cuban Music at Brenda’s Terrace; Brenda Navarrete, one of Cuba’s most talented female musicians, opens her house for those interested in learning about our oldest rhythms. Or enjoy of Afro Cuban visual arts at a glance. We will meet at the National Museum of Fine Arts (Cuban Collection Building). To start our experience, we will do it in the Cuban way: sharing a cup of coffee while we get the opportunity to know each other and talk about the dynamic of the day. We will navigate through the Cuban visual arts development, focusing on specific pieces to understand the presence of the African Diaspora in the national creation.
Then, we will ride together to Callejon de Hamel, the oldest community project in the country dedicated to promoting Afro Cuban culture. Once there, we will invite you to share the traditional cocktail of the place to start getting ready to explore the Alley, discovering in its walls and galleries the magic of the people’s art. Visit to the Orisha´s Museum and La Casa de África. By the end, you will have understood the synergy between the academic and the popular creation. And if you are lucky enough you could even meet Salvador, the leading artist of the project.
And then, explore the city with CitykletaHavana Underground:
Citykleta is Havana’s first private bike touring business, started by Yasser Gonzalez, a software developer that decided to follow his passion: bikes. After the fall of the Soviet Union wrought havoc on the Cuban economy, many Cubans were forced to bike to get around, on hundreds of thousands of bicycles shipped in as aid from China. Yasser aims to create a new age of biking in Cuba – with positivity and sustainability in mind.
Seeking alternative lifestyles, we’ll ride through the city’s backstreets with the Havana Underground bike tour. We will see Havana’s postcard sights and what hides behind them. Different cultures, from Spanish to Yoruba and Chinese, have shaped Cuban people as it is today, with its unique religions, dance, music, traditions, and dreams.
Pay attention as we uncover together Afro-inspired street art, propaganda, Cuban 5¢-coffee, and tattoo culture. In addition will answer why Havana has a Chinatown but no Chinese. Talk about how recent immigrants have been drawn to the island’s new energy. Tell you tips about the Havana’s nightlife. Show you where to find Havana’s greatest places for food and drinks. And learn about the Paquete – the local solution to watching your favorite shows and films without internet. And to tie it all up, we will go to a bar for beers where only locals go. We will witness the real Havana by bike. Places to visit: Callejón de Hamel/ Chinatown/Parque Cristo/A hisper café/ Tattooparlour/ El Malecón/ Vedado/ Tipical Cuban cafetería/ Bar Silvia
For the last night in Havana, have dinner at Otra Manera. Otra Manera means Another way, and this newish paladar is undoubtedly doing things another and a better way.
Day 8: Viñales
Your guide will pick you up to take you West of Havana to Viñales, the land where the best Tobacco is grown on the island. Trekking tour of Los Aquaticos (the Water People) in Vinales (Includes lunch). This trek is named after the local traditions of a small number of residents that live in the Viñales Valley and believe in the healing properties of water. The walk itself is around 4kms long. Along the way, you will see the dramatic landscape of this stunning natural area declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999.
After, check in at Art and Nature, a home located in the middle of the Viñales National Park, with its own Mogote, a carstic formation found in very few places in the world. After refreshing and relaxing, we suggest dinner at El Cuajani. In conclusion, this restaurant does not have a menu because they use what is fresh and available – that alone is a refreshing concept, plus the creative touch on typical dishes.
Day 9: Departure
Your driver will collect you at Viñales and transfer you to Havana airport. The transfer time is approximately 2.5 hours, and the distance is 210 KM.
Here you are some advice about things to know before a trip to Cuba.
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