Best of Mexico & Cuba
from $7785
Duration: 22 Days
Raise a glass to the vivacious beauty and fiery flavours of Mexico and Cuba. Discover the culture and landscapes of these fascinating countries – with a splash of enticing stops along the way. Discover Maya history and culture at the incredible Chichen Itza ruins and visit indigenous communities near the charming San Cristobal de las Casas. Indulge in a feast of delicious local food, with a chance to learn some cooking skills of your own. Wander through glittering colonial architecture in Havana, soak up the clear mountain air among Soroa’s vibrant mountain orchards, and admire Trinidad’s unrivalled ambience. Cuba's imminent political and cultural change makes it something to experience now before it evolves. From ruins to old cars to fragrant cigars and with plenty of salsa and mariachi in between, this trip has it all.
  • Get up close and personal with the country's diverse heritage, from the magnificent Aztec temples of Teotihuacan to the brightly-dressed Maya folk of the hills of San Cristobal.
  • Compare Mexico City's heady street-food scene to the subtler fare found in Oaxaca. 
  • A guided walking tour of  Old Havana sheds lights on the difference between the lives of city and rural life in Cuba
  • Take in all the colours and aromas of Soroa, the stunning valley area known as the 'rainbow of Cuba' and stroll along the rural dirt roads of Vinales as tractors, vintage cars and horse-drawn carriages pass you by
  • A visit to the Che Guevara mausoleum and museum allows you to learn about the iconic Cuban revolutionary in the right context
  • Trinidad is a real Cuban treat – step back in time on its old-world streets, then hit some fine palm-flanked beaches
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology (entrance fee) (Closed Mondays)
  • Mexico City - Leader-led City Tour of Historic Center
  • Mexico City - Diego Rivera Murals in the National Palace (entrance fee)
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral (entrance fee)
  • Teotihuacan - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Oaxaca - Leader-led Orientation Walk
  • Mitla - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
  • Oaxaca - Guided full-day tour including the Tule Tree, a Mezcal distillery, and lunch in a Zapoteca family home
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led orientation walk
  • San Cristobal de Las Casas - Leader-led City Tour
  • San Juan Chamula - Maya Church (entrance fee)
  • Zinacantan - Maya Church (entrance fee)
  • Agua Azul - Waterfall Visit (entrance fee)
  • Merida - Leader-led Orientation Walk
  • Palenque - Archaeological site (Guide, Transport & Entrance fee)
  • Izamal - Convento de San Antonio de Padua (Entrance)
  • Izamal - Leader-led walking tour
  • Chichen Itza - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
  • Day 1 Location: Mexico City
    Arrive at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport and be transferred to your hotel. A complimentary transfer is included with your trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised. Settle in and, if you have time, take a stroll to get a feel for this vibrant and rapidly growing capital where the ancient and modern collide. You'll meet your leader and other members of your group this evening for a welcome meeting at 6 pm; the place of the meeting can be found at the hotel reception. This meeting will be followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.
    Day 2 Location: Mexico City
    Enjoy a guided city tour of Mexico City. You'll visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, Zocalo, National Palace and Museum of Anthropology. After that, the day is yours to spend as you please. The Leon Trotsky and Frida Kahlo (La Casa Azul) museums are two popular sights worth checking as an optional activity. Trotsky, having come off second-best to Stalin in the race to the helm during the Soviet era, was expelled and found refuge in Mexico City where he was eventually murdered, while Frida Kahlo is perhaps the most renowned Mexican artist in history. Both of which can be reached by Uber. Otherwise, just outside of the city, the colourful Xochimilco gardens and canals are especially fun on weekends.
    Day 3 Location: Teotihuacan / Oaxaca
    Leaving the hotel at 8 am, today you'll visit the Teotihuacan ruins, about 50 kilometres northeast of Mexico City (1.5 hour drive). Discover the amazing ruins known as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline. This was once one of the biggest cities in the world. Stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’ and see the clues to what life was like here nearly 2000 years ago. Continue to Oaxaca (5 hours) learning some Spanish phrases from your leader on the way. This beautiful colonial city is known for its cuisine and lively art scene, but it's also a great place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, with descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec selling an array of bright woven blankets and shawls. Upon arrival, your leader will take you on a short walk around the hotel to help orientate you, and to point out useful services such as bus stops or ATMs.
    Day 4 Location: Mitla / Oaxaca
    Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Oaxaca has much to offer travellers so today you’ll take a full day tour of the city and its surrounds, including lunch at a local family’s home. Be ready at 8 am for your local guide will take you to the Mitla ruins, which were once the religious centre for the Zapotec. Sip on the famous, tequila-like local liquor, mezcal, at a mezcal factory and visit the Tule Tree, a 1500-year-old tree that's over 11 metres in girth. Returning to the hotel about 8 pm, if you still have the energy, the evening is free for you to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy Oaxaca’s nightlife.
    Day 5 Location: Oaxaca
    Today is a free day to explore Oaxaca at your own pace, with a range of optional activities to consider. Perhaps pay a visit to the archaeological site of Monte Alban. The Zapotec civilisation began construction of this city around 200 BC, and Olmecs and Mixtecs have inhabited it at different times. Have your camera ready to go, because up here you can get an amazing view across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca. Or check out Hierve el Agua: a group of stunning natural rock formations and mineral pools perched high in the hills overlooking the surrounding countryside. Hierve el Agua is known for its ‘petrified’ waterfalls, where many years ago the water calcified over the rock faces and now, they resemble frozen waterfalls. Otherwise, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the streets and take the opportunity to feast on some regional delicacies. Season depending, a folkloric ballet performance is an also a great optional activity. The Santo Domingo Cultural Centre is also worth a visit.
    Day 6 Location: San Cristobal de las Casas
    Depart Oaxaca for the airport at approximately 5.30 am, then take the 8 am flight to Tuxtla airport (1.5 hours), before driving to the charming city of San Cristobal de las Casas (approximately 1 hour). Once in 'San Cris', as it's known, take a walk and soak up the strong old-world atmosphere of this town, which is due in no small part to the grand Spanish colonial architecture, prominent indigenous cultures and winding cobblestone streets. Your leader will help orientate you with a walk around the hotel, then you are free to venture further into the city.
    Day 7 Location: San Juan Chamula / San Cristobal de las Casas
    This morning, your leader will take you on a walking tour of the city, passing impressive cathedrals, green plazas and countless museums. Next, head to the nearby Maya village of San Juan Chamula (30 minutes’ drive). Nestled in the highlands, this village serves as marketplaces and religious ceremonial centres for the indigenous folk who live in the surrounding hills. The local people have retained their traditional way of life and can often be seen wearing their own distinctive, colourful clothes. Journey another 15 minutes to visit the next town of Zincantan. As you explore with your leader, we'll learn more about these mostly Maya communities. Later, during free time back in San Cris, perhaps rent a bike to explore the town further.
    Day 8 Location: San Cristobal de las Casas
    The rest of your time in San Cristobal de las Casas is free for you to explore on your own. You may want to pay a visit to the Na Bolom Museum: a small museum and research centre which was the home of anthropologist and photographer Gertrude Duby-Blom and her archaeologist husband Frans Blom. While Frans explored Mayan sites all over Chiapas, Trudy studied, photographed and fought to protect the scattered Lacandon people. Today, as well as being a hotel and a museum, the house provides free accommodation to Lacandon people who make their way to San Cristobal for work, studies or medical reasons. Alternatively, you may want to visit the amber (jade) museum, which displays and sells beautifully carved items and insect- embedded pieces or venture to the Sumidero Canyon to get a dose of nature.
    Day 9 Location: Palenque
    Say goodbye to San Cristobal de Las Casas as you head for Palenque and its surrounding jungle. It will be an early start to minimise the chance of hitting road closures common in the area. There will be a stop or two to stretch your legs, before arriving (4-5 hours) at the low and wide Agua Azul Waterfalls, which flow slowly over limestone rocks. There's time for lunch and a quick dip, so remember to pack your swimsuit! Otherwise, enjoy a scenic stroll around the beautiful surroundings, before continuing to Palenque (1.5-2 hours). A group dinner is included tonight.
    Day 10 Location: Palenque Ruins / Merida
    At 8 am this morning you'll drive 30 minutes to visit the archaeological site of Palenque. Located on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle, these are some of the most astounding Maya ruins in the region, dating back as far as AD600. Some of the ruins remain unexcavated and are hidden in the surrounding forest. Enjoy a 2-hour guided tour of the site and keep an ear out for the strange calls of howler monkeys as you explore this lost city. At about 11 am, take a 3-hour drive to the lunch stop. Enjoy the chance to stretch your legs as there is another 4-5 hours' drive before reaching Merida about 8 pm, the capital of the Yucatan region.
    Day 11 Location: Merida
    Today is a free day to explore the many sights of Merida. Perhaps visit some of the museums, including the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan, and stroll the city streets which are alive with art and culture. Hang out in the green and shady Plaza Grande, with the 16th-century cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the other. The outdoor market is another essential visit, with an array of hammocks and Mayan replicas for sale, plus a selection of enticing local cuisine, including the dish cochinita pibil ('little pig') or the incredibly spicy El Yucateco hot sauce. If you can't visit enough Maya sites, you may want to head for the ancient ruins of Uxmal. Here you'll visit the amazing Palace of the Governors, considered by many to be the best example of classic Maya architecture. You may choose to travel west out to the coast to take a boat ride and visit the Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve. Here, near extensive beaches lined with coconut trees, you'll see a variety of coastal birds. Depending on the season (usually November to March), you may be able to witness the magnificent sight of thousands of flamingos painting a pink streak across the landscape.
    Day 12 Location: Izamal
    In the afternoon, transfer by private vehicle to Izamal, a small city 1 hour’s drive from Merida. Izamal is an important pre-Columbian Maya site and your leader will take you for a guided walking tour of the city including a visit to the Convento de San Antonio de Padua, a Spanish monastery built on the site of a destroyed Maya temple in 1561. Take the opportunity to spend a lazy afternoon people-watching and soaking it all in.
    Day 13 Location: Chichen Itza / Playa del Carmen
    Departing early, our first stop today is Chichen Itza, an hour's drive from Izamal. This is possibly the most famous Maya site in Mexico. You'll see the marvellous Temple of Kukulkan standing over the ruins and not far from the temple is the ‘ball court’, where many disputes are known to have been settled by way of a ball game that employed only the elbows, hips and wrists. Stone carvings depicting violence suggest it was not such a casual sport. Following a guided tour of the site, we'll continue to the resort town of Playa del Carmen (2 hours).
    Day 14 Location: Playa del Carmen
    Take today to enjoy Playa del Carmen as you see fit. Kick back with a book, stroll along the white sands or snorkel in crystal-clear waters. Blessed with azure waters, powdery beaches and an almost European feel, Playa del Carmen is a popular resort town famed for its coral reefs. For adventures further afield, take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving, or perhaps check out the Tulum ruins, an ancient Maya city protected against invaders by a high wall and situated on a cliff overlooking a white sandy beach. In the evening, settle in beachside and watch the world go by with a margarita in your hand or take advantage of the famous nightlife and let your salty hair down.
    Day 15 Location: Havana
    Say Adios to Mexico today and head over to Cuba. Your flight to Havana, along with a departure transfer to Cancun Airport and an arrival transfer in Havana are included with your trip. There will be a welcome meeting at approximately 6 pm this evening followed by an optional group dinner. If want to explore before your meeting, please note most activities in Cuba can only be booked through the tourist desk in the lobbies of the larger hotels or direct with the venue. Otherwise, there are plenty of good museums to check out, including the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
    Day 16 Location: Soroa / Vinales
    Spend the morning enjoying a short tour around Old Havana with your local guide. Founded in 1519 by the Spanish and designated a World Heritage Site in 1982, this well-preserved area within Cuba’s capital remains virtually unchanged which makes it one of the Caribbean’s most impressive historical cities. Wander through Havana’s oldest square, Plaza de Armas, stroll around the architecturally eclectic buildings that line the 16th century Plaza Veija, admire the basilica of San Francisco de Asis and visit the Cathedral with its elaborate baroque facade. Afterwards drive to Soroa, a lush enclave nestled in a picturesque valley and aptly known as the ‘rainbow of Cuba’. Stop for lunch and tour a beautiful orchid garden where you’ll learn the medicinal secrets behind wild Cuban herbs, before continuing your journey to Vinales. Located in the province of Pinar del Rio – Vinales is a landscape of tobacco and agricultural fields dotted with limestone outcrops. The scenery here is some of the most picturesque in Cuba and there are many ways to take it all in, ask your leader about the optional activities available including cycling, walking through tobacco fields and hiking to the mountains to explore the vast cave system of Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas.
    Day 17 Location: Vinales
    This morning, enjoy a walking tour through farms, tobacco plantations and lush cultivated lands for an insight into rural life in Vinales. Learn more about the simple lifestyle here and see first-hand the farmers who grow tobacco for some of the world’s most expensive cigars. For dinner this evening, relish a real garden-to-plate experience with an included dinner at an organic eco-farm. Indulge in a variety of fresh produce – from numerous vegetables and salads – to meats, seafood and salsas – all while gazing across sweeping views of the verdant valley. Afterwards, why not head out to a quaint bar and get to know some of Vinales’ residents. This small and charming rural village is one of the easiest places to mingle with locals in Cuba, who are very sociable, and many of them love nothing better than to drink rum and dance the night away!
    Day 18 Location: Bay of Pigs / Cienfuegos
    Begin the day by travelling to a peaceful sandy arc on Cuba’s southern coast, commonly known as the Bay of Pigs. Learn about the Bay of Pigs Invasion – the battle between the US and the Cuban revolutionaries which resulted in the first defeat of a US-backed takeover in Latin America – then stop for a dip in its tranquil waters, with an outstanding variety of coral and fish, it just might be Cuba’s best-kept secret. Then continue along the picturesque coast to Cienfuegos, a slice of Paris in the Caribbean. This is the gem of the south, a seaside town of relaxing streets and dazzling buildings that strike a beautiful pose by the water. Founded in 1819 by pioneering French immigrants, the elegant architectural influence that these settlers brought with them earned the city a UNESCO World Heritage Site listing in 2005. Enjoy a photo stop at Palacio del Valle, which is Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy. Learn more about its history as you take in the beauty of its intricate carvings of Venetian alabaster and if you’re up for it, why not head to the rooftop for a sunset drink.
    Day 19 Location: Trinidad
    Perhaps kick-start your morning with some Cuban coffee, it's served black, strong and super sweet, then bid farewell to Cienfuegos and board the bus for a short drive to Trinidad – a beautifully preserved colonial down that sits on the scenic Caribbean coast. There's no doubt it's one of Cuba's alluring destinations, a great place to wander around, with almost every scene offering a photo opportunity. Watch as locals casually smoke their huge cigars on the doorsteps of their homes, and hear the old Chevrolets rumbling by. Begin by strolling along the cobbled streets and marvelling at some of the colourful colonial architecture on display (this town was put on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988 for good reason), then feel the Cuban rhythms during a casual salsa class – a sure-fire way to boost your confidence in preparation for Trinidad’s nightlife!
    Day 20 Location: Trinidad
    Trinidad’s old-fashioned feel and friendly folk make it a standout destination for many visitors to Cuba, and the Santeria religion (a voodoo-like Afro-Cuban tradition) which is practiced here makes the town even more intriguing. Enjoy a free day to check-out Trinidad at your own pace. There are some great Spanish-style churches to see, and nearby is the Valle de los Ingenios, where sugar plantations stretch out as far as the eye can see. Why not go for a dip at nearby Playa Ancon and loll about on the long stretches of white sand or hire a bike of the vintage variety and cycle along Trinidad’s colourful (and cobblestone) streets. If you’re feeling energetic, then hiking in the Sierra del Escambray (the local mountains) is a great option – just ask your leader to help you decide! This evening, a folklore dance and music show in one of the open-air venues is highly recommended – a great chance to immerse yourself in Cuba's African, French and Spanish-influenced music and dance culture.
    Day 21 Location: Santa Clara / Havana
    On your way back to Havana, you'll stop in at Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevara mausoleum and memorial where you can get a rare insight into the legacy of the revolutionary leader. Che's remains were brought to rest here after they were found in a remote corner of Bolivia in 1997, where he was assassinated by the CIA-backed Bolivian army. The memorial is home to an impressive bronze statue of Che bearing his rifle and inside the museum, you can learn about his amazing life and see photos and exhibits such as letters, firearms, medical devices and other interesting artefacts – including his famous black beret. Upon arrival in Havana, stop by Revolution square then prepare for a final night of celebrations where you can toast to an incredible adventure across beautiful Cuba!
    Day 22 Location: Havana
    Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast, check-out time is 10 am. If you wish to stay on in this colourful capital, our reservations team will be more than happy to assist. Just ask at the time of booking.
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    03OCT2020
    Return Date:
    24OCT2020
    8640NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    17OCT2020
    Return Date:
    07NOV2020
    7965NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    31OCT2020
    Return Date:
    21NOV2020
    8340NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    14NOV2020
    Return Date:
    05DEC2020
    8115NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    12DEC2020
    Return Date:
    02JAN2021
    8275NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    02JAN2021
    Return Date:
    23JAN2021
    8255NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    16JAN2021
    Return Date:
    06FEB2021
    8095NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    20MAR2021
    Return Date:
    10APR2021
    8095NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    03APR2021
    Return Date:
    24APR2021
    7785NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    08MAY2021
    Return Date:
    29MAY2021
    7785NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    01 Aug 2020

    Trip title

    Best of Mexico & Cuba

    Trip code

    QVKGC

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020

    Introduction

    Raise a glass to the vivacious beauty and fiery flavours of Mexico and Cuba. Discover the culture and landscapes of these fascinating countries – with a splash of enticing stops along the way. Discover Maya history and culture at the incredible Chichen Itza ruins and visit indigenous communities near the charming San Cristobal de las Casas. Indulge in a feast of delicious local food, with a chance to learn some cooking skills of your own. Wander through glittering colonial architecture in Havana, soak up the clear mountain air among Soroa’s vibrant mountain orchards, and admire Trinidad’s unrivalled ambience. Cuba's imminent political and cultural change makes it something to experience now before it evolves. From ruins to old cars to fragrant cigars and with plenty of salsa and mariachi in between, this trip has it all.

    Style

    Comfort

    Themes

    Explorer

    Transport

    Private vehicle,Plane

    Physical Rating

    2

    Physical preparation

    None of the activities featured in this trip require special training or skills, just a reasonable level of fitness and a willingness to participate. Cobblestones and uneven roads are common and you may be required to walk in hot and humid conditions. If you are in any doubt, please share these concerns or issues with your sales consultant so that your leader is aware prior and can pre-empt your needs.

    Joining point

    Hotel Century Zona Rosa

    #152 Calle Liverpool, Juarez

    Zona Rosa

    Mexico

    06600

    MEXICO

    Phone: 52 (55)57269911

    Joining point description

    Century Zona Rosa Hotel is located in the Heart of the Zona Rosa of Mexico City, just 2 blocks from the Angel of Independence. Three blocks from the US Embassy, ​​just 4 km from the Historic Center, 4 km from Chapultepec and only 6 km from the WTC. Hotel Century Zona Rosa features guestrooms with private balconies, marble baths and roman tubs. Go for a swim in the swimming pool, then have dinner in the on-site restaurant.

    Joining point instructions

    An arrival transfer from Mexico City International Airport [MEX] is included in this trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised. If you have pre-booked this service, please look for the sign with the Intrepid logo and your name on it; the driver will be located nearby to the Information Desk specific to your arrival terminal. Terminal 1 Domestic Arrivals – Information Desk A1 (in front of door 2) Terminal 1 International Arrivals – Information Desk E1 (in front of door 7) Terminal 2 Domestic Arrivals – Information Desk Q (in front of door 4) Terminal 2 International Arrivals – Information Desk N (in front of door 3) If you have any problems and cannot locate your driver on arrival, please call our Intrepid Emergency number listed under the ‘Problems and emergency contact information’ section of your Essential Trip Information document. If you don’t have a device or mobile coverage, Mexico City Airport has a free Wi-Fi connection, so you can call that same number via an online application such as Skype. There are also several information desks and tourist information desks around if you require further assistance. Otherwise, you can travel from the Mexico City Airport to the hotel by taxi. We recommend you use the authorised taxi services organised from inside the terminal. They will charge you approximately MX$250-350 (USD$14-20) for a trip to downtown. The drive to where the hotel is located is approximately 30 minutes depending on traffic.

    Continuing point

    A Premium Guesthouse

    Please read Joining and Finishing Point Instructions in the Essential Trip Information Document for details about your assigned guesthouse

    Havana

    CUBA

    Continuing point description

    Cuban Guesthouses (known locally as Casas) are more similar in style to B&Bs than they are homestays. Families do not necessarily live in the residence and most houses we contract are primarily a business. While some guesthouse managers and owners speak English, interaction mostly consists of gestures, smiles and ‘Spanglish’. Just like the residences in your own neighbourhood, each casa is unique; expect there to be differences between the rooms you and your travelling companions stay in (generally we arrange things so that there are 1-4 group members in each house). Each room has a private bathroom with towels, and occasionally basic toiletries are provided. Premium guesthouses at least will not have electric shower heads although as with many developing countries, power cuts do occur on occasion, meaning that hot water can’t always be guaranteed regardless of the standard.

    Continuing point instructions

    We have an expansive contracted list of guesthouses across the Havana neighbourhoods of Vedado, Central Havana and Old Havana. Please advise bedding configuration requests to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel to aid guesthouse and rooming allocations, which are finalised 10 days prior to departure based on the configuration of each travelling party. You may request your confirmed guesthouse name and address inside 7 days of departure from your booking agent. For this reason, a complimentary airport arrival transfer is included, and the transfer driver will know the address of your assigned guesthouse; valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 5 days prior to travel. ARRIVAL TRANSFER: After collecting your luggage, exit through the main arrivals’ door. If you arrive in Terminal 3, look for someone inside the terminal holding a small sign with the Intrepid Travel logo. If you arrive in Terminal 2, you will need to exit the building to find with your driver holding a small sign with the Intrepid Travel logo. If you can't locate the driver, go to Terminal 3, find the exit door number 8, and locate the free-standing pull-up banner with the Intrepid Travel logo and wait there until the driver takes the same initiative. The transfer will be provided in a yellow taxi-branded car; however, all drivers are specifically contracted to us so please trust they will know the address of your assigned guesthouse. For assistance call +53 5333 8121 or +53 5438 9140; see the Problems and Emergency Contact Information section in your Essential Trip Information document for more details to successfully connect. LOCAL ASSISTANCE: We have a desk located in the listed address below; providing a 24-hour service with English speaking employees if any assistance is required. La Gargola Guesthouse 1st floor #82 Cuba street, Old Havana (between Cuarteles & Chacon Streets) PH: +53 (7) 8605493 The Spanish translation is Casa La Gargola 1° Piso #82 Calle Cuba, entre Cuarteles y Chacon, Havana Vieja.

    Finish point

    A Premium Guesthouse

    Please read Joining and Finishing Point Instructions in the Essential Trip Information Document for details about your assigned guesthouse

    Havana

    CUBA

    Finish point instructions

    Intrepid offers a pre-arranged departure transfer service to Havana Airport at an additional fee. If you require this service, please advise your flight arrival details at least 5 days prior to your trip departure. If you have a transfer to the Airport your transfer driver will collect, you from your guesthouse 3.5 hours before your flight time. If your transfer has not arrived within 15 minutes of the scheduled pickup time please ask the guesthouse staff to call +53 5438 9140 or our Cuba Emergency number, listed under the ‘Problems and emergency contact information’ section of this document. Alternatively, you can travel from your guesthouse to the International Airport by taxi. The leader will be able to assist you with booking a taxi. The taxi will cost approximately 30CUC and takes approximately 25 minutes depending on traffic.

    Important information

    1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time. 2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights on your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information. 3. For the included internal flight ticket, please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking or at least 45 days prior to travel. Airline luggage restrictions will apply. 4. A complimentary airport arrival transfer is included; valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel. 5. Your flight from Cancun to Havana, along with mid-trip airport transfers are included to help ease your independent connection between the trips. - A transfer is included from the Playa del Carmen hotel to Cancun airport. - A transfer is included from Havana airport to your guesthouse. 6. To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures. Your leader and the composition of your group may change with the start of each adventure. 7. Please advise bedding configuration requests to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to arrival into Cuba to aid guesthouse and rooming allocations, which are finalised 10 days prior to departure based on the configuration of each travelling party. You may request your confirmed guesthouse name and address inside 7 days of the Cuba departure date from your booking agent. Rest assured, the transfer driver will know the address of your assigned guesthouse. 8. A visa or tourist card, organised prior to arrival, is required for all nationalities visiting Cuba. 9. The Cuban government has declared that travel insurance is compulsory for all travellers. Proof of insurance may be requested at Havana Airport by immigration officials. 10. There are unprecedented changes happening in Cuba right now. It is an exciting time, but it also means some patience and understanding is required for the heightened demand of infrastructure, accommodation and services. To help set your expectations correctly, please read the ‘Is this trip right for you?’ and ‘Joining point description’ sections in the Essential Trip Information Document.

    Group leader

    All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

    Safety

    Most national governments provide regularly updated foreign travel advice on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all destinations and activities on your trip. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/travel-alerts We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however, during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Intrepid's operational safety policies can be viewed on our website at the link below. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how safety is being managed on our trips.

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-guidelines

    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

    MONEY WITHDRAWAL: In order to avoid fraud and theft, it is advisable that you withdraw money from ATMs located inside banks or guarded shops during business hours only.

    LOCAL LODGINGS: On this trip you will be staying in some restored houses and local lodges - these are one of the charms of this journey, but their staircases, balconies and passages etc may not always comply with western safety standards. Please do not expect elevators in these properties as they are preserved to their original state.

    FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

    SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

    WATER SAFETY: Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.

    Communications

    WhatsApp is a popular way to communicate in Latin America. We recommended downloading WhatsApp prior to departure to communicate with by text with your leader and group members during the tour. Once downloaded, please validate your phone number before leaving home as you will not be able to do this once you arrive unless you have international roaming enabled. Connections for making phone calls through WhatsApp are not reliable, so please do not use this app to make calls to our emergency phone line. INTERNET IN CUBA: There are Wi-Fi hotspots located at larger hotels and at major public squares in most cities. You will need to purchase an ETECSA internet card from the ETECSA shop or larger hotel. Usually these come in 1-hour blocks at a price of CUC1-2 per hour. We recommend downloading a messaging app prior to arrival to communicate with your friends and family back home, such as Whatsapp or IMO. After partial use, ensure you log out correctly or turn your Wi-Fi off so that your time is not used up. If the login page does not open when you select the Wi-Fi, type this into your browser: www.portal-wifi-temas.nauta.cu

    Visas

    If you receive an immigration card upon entry, please ensure you keep this safe as it may be requested at point of exit. For further information regarding country entry and exit fees, please refer to the 'Money Matters' section of this document.  Mexico - Passport holders from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and The United States of America are not required to obtain a visa prior to arrival. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Mexico for the most up to date information. You will be required to fill out a Multiple Immigration Form (FMM) upon arrival. This FMM form must be stamped by Mexican immigration and kept until you leave. The maximum stay is 180 days, but they may sometimes put a lower number unless you specify otherwise. Cuba - Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Cuba for the most up to date information. To enter the country, visitors are required to have evidence of sufficient funds for the duration of their stay, proof of travel medical insurance, as well as onward travel ticket. Passport holders from Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are required to obtain a Tourist Card (Tarjeta de Turista) which is valid for 30 days from date of entry. In some cases, you may be required to buy the card at your departure airport (Eg. YTO, MEX, CUN, SJO, LIM, PTY), either at the check in counter or at the flight gate itself some minutes before departure. Others need to buy the tourist card from their travel agency, but policies vary (eg Canadian airlines give out tourist cards during the flight), so you'll need to check ahead with the airline office. In some cases, you can arrange a visa prior to departing your home country but this is usually more expensive and time consuming. All Tourist Cards are the same, except if you are flying direct to Cuba from the USA (including flights that transit via the USA), please read below. Anyone travelling from the United States, regardless of citizenship and nationality, must comply with the regulations set by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Individuals travelling to Cuba are not required to obtain licenses from OFAC if their travel is covered by a general license. Under the general license, there are 12 permitted reasons for travel and as such the license category “Support for the Cuban People” (516.574) allows individuals to holiday in Cuba, however, please be advised that the discretion lies with airport officials. The Cuban Tourist Card cannot be arranged prior to arrival in the USA and must be purchased from the airport before boarding your flight to Cuba (Pink in colour; costing USD$50). This should be obtained by presenting your boarding pass at the check-in counter, or for some airports, at the gate. Please note that at check-in you might be asked to present your trip vouchers and Essential Trip Information (ETIs) Document when procuring the Cuban Tourist Card, so be sure to bring printed copies of these with you. Your chosen airline should have more information about the departing airport’s process on flying directly from the United States to Cuba. If you are an American citizen, American permanent resident, or hold any type of American Visa, and are considering travelling to Cuba, please refer to the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website - https://travel.state.gov – and the U.S. Department of the Treasury - https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/pages/cuba.aspx - for the latest advice. If you are British or reside in Great Britain with a passport from the European union, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, you can apply for Tourist Card here - https://www.cubavisas.com - (This type of tourist card would not be valid for travel to Cuba from the USA, Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands) – Please read above for more information about travelling to Cuba directly from America. You may use this local address to apply for your Tourist Card - Casa La Gargola, 1st floor #82 Cuba street, Old Havana. Alternatively, you can apply direct (postal only) to the Consulate http://misiones.minrex.gob.cu/en/united-kingdom. USA Visa Waiver - Applicable if arriving via the United States of America. Many countries now operate under a visa waiver program, meaning a visa isn't required, however you still need to obtain an authorisation which confirms that you have been approved to travel. This authorisation must be obtained in advance of travel. See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visa-waiver-program.html All travellers from Visa Waiver Program countries must obtain an electronic travel authorization prior to their flight from the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov All ESTA registration applications or renewals require a US$14 fee to paid by card. Apply for ESTA no later than 72 hours (we recommend 1 week prior to travel) before departing for the USA. Real-time approvals will no longer be available and arriving at the airport without a previously approved ESTA will likely result in being denied boarding. If there are any discrepancies between the name on your ESTA, your passport, your tickets or even your frequent flyer membership, you may be detained at Immigration and subject to a secondary inspection which could take a few hours. If you have recently changed your name, please check that your details have been updated everywhere. If you are from a country eligible for the visa waiver program but are a dual citizen of Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan, or if you have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan since 01 March 2011, you will not longer be eligible for the visa waiver program and will instead need to apply for a non-immigrant visa. Please see the Department of State website for more information: http://travel.state.gov//content/travel/en.html Canada Visa Waiver - Most nationalities except South Africans do not need a visa for Canada, but will need to apply online for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). See http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp for details and to apply. There is a fee of CA$7 for this service. Travellers will need an eTA before they can board a flight to Canada.

    Why we love it

    Get up close and personal with the country's diverse heritage, from the magnificent Aztec temples of Teotihuacan to the brightly-dressed Maya folk of the hills of San Cristobal.

    Compare Mexico City's heady street-food scene to the subtler fare found in Oaxaca. 

    A guided walking tour of  Old Havana sheds lights on the difference between the lives of city and rural life in Cuba

    Take in all the colours and aromas of Soroa, the stunning valley area known as the 'rainbow of Cuba' and stroll along the rural dirt roads of Vinales as tractors, vintage cars and horse-drawn carriages pass you by

    A visit to the Che Guevara mausoleum and museum allows you to learn about the iconic Cuban revolutionary in the right context

    Trinidad is a real Cuban treat – step back in time on its old-world streets, then hit some fine palm-flanked beaches

    Is this trip right for you

    Some included activities, such as guided tours of archaeological sites can involve a lot of walking. Please ensure you bring sturdy walking shoes and comfortable clothes. To make the most of the trip, it's best if you have at least a moderate level of fitness. This trip includes time spent travelling in a private vehicle with your group. Extra space can be tight, and conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. There are a few long days of travel, as you'll be covering a lot of ground. You will, however, make stops at interesting locations to break up the longer drives. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates. The tropical climate of Central America means conditions can be hot and humid. Always carry plenty of water with you and stay hydrated, especially on walking tours. There will of course be plenty of chances to swim! It's a good idea to learn as many Spanish words as you can. Locals are very friendly, but can be shy, so you'll need to make an effort to break the ice. It's a great way to show respect and involve yourself in their culture.  The guesthouses (casas) we use are much nicer than your average Cuban dwelling and each room is unique. Regardless of where you stay, power cuts and breaks in hot water supply are sometimes unavoidable, as in any developing country – but we believe that this is all a part of the local experience. Part of Cuba’s appeal is its old-fashioned style – this includes the banking systems. Funds in Cuba can be difficult to access. Ideally bring multiple credit cards from several different banks just to be sure. Luxuries such as air conditioning, plush pillows, and fly screens, are often scarce. Part of the experience here is learning to appreciate everyday Cuban resourcefulness. Internet access can be hard to come by, and when it's available it's often unreliable and expensive. Treat this as a great opportunity to take a break from modern devices and have a true holiday.

    Health

    GENERAL HEALTH All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy our style of travel. Please note that if in the opinion of our group leader or local guide any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained while travelling. Below you can find some further information about health issues relevant to the destinations visited on this trip. COVID-19 As we start planning our return to running trips, the safety and wellbeing of our travellers, leaders, crew, staff, and suppliers will remain our priority and our return to operations will be done in a safe and responsible way. You can read more about how we will keep you safe on our trips, including our COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safe-travels We will not require a negative COVID-19 test before joining a trip unless it is a requirement of entry for the country. If you are unwell prior to travelling, please stay at home and contact us to make alternative arrangements. At the group meeting, you will be asked to complete a self-screening health form and report any COVID-19 symptoms as well as any close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If you are displaying any symptoms or have any health concerns at this time, we will assist you to seek medical advice and you will not be permitted to join the trip. We ask all travellers to continue to monitor their health throughout their travels and report any relevant symptoms to their tour leader. ZIKA VIRUS: There have been reports of transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in this region and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip. MALARIA: There is no commercially available vaccination against malaria, which is transmitted by mosquito bites and is a risk in many less-developed tropical areas in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia. Protection against mosquito bites is essential and where the risk is considered high, anti-malarial medications are recommended. Anti-malarial medications should be discussed with experts as there are different medications available and not all medications suit all people or all destinations. Where malaria is considered prevalent in mountainous regions we prefer that trekkers to altitude try to avoid the use of mefloquine (Lariam) if possible. DENGUE FEVER: Dengue Fever is common in Latin America and can occur throughout the year. Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, and parts of Mexico are currently suffering from a serious outbreak. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent, and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.

    Food and dietary requirements

    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in this region. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the tour package. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat dinner together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though. Your group leader will also be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. DIETARY REQUIREMENTS Generally speaking, in bigger cities/towns vegetarians can expect a reasonable range of vegetarian venues and/or vegetarian options within tourist restaurant menus. However, vegetarianism is not the norm in this part of the world so options can be limited when eating at homestays, small local restaurants, street stools, markets, etc. More restrictive diet requirements (vegans, celiac, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance, etc.) can also be accommodated along this trip but you should expect a lesser variety than what you can expect at home. We recommend that to bring your own supply of snacks with you. Vegetarians should be aware that while you can get vegetarian meals in Cuba, you generally won't find much variety and you may get tired of being offered the same every day (i.e. - rice, beans, omelette and salad). Vegetarians are often surprised that their meals are no cheaper than those containing meat, and this is because vegetables on the free market in Cuba are of similar prices to those of meat. Please let us know your diet requirements before your trip starts. SIMPLE BREAKFAST Some of the included breakfasts along this trip can be quite simple: toasts, spreads, juice and coffee or tea. FOOD IN CUBA: Food in Cuba has a reputation for being bland and lacking variety, however it has improved dramatically over the last two years. There are very limited snacks available in Cuba; convenience stores exist but are certainly not as prevalent nor sell the quantity or variety of snacks or junk food you may be used to at home. You may wish to bring your favourite chocolates, candy or healthy snacks like muesli bars. Beans and rice are the staples, with cucumber, tomato and cabbage being the conventional ingredients for a Cuban salad. Chicken and pork are the most common meats served in Cuba, however fish and a variety of seafood is also frequently on offer. Please be aware that it is a cultural trait to serve meals larger than you are expected to finish, but be assured nothing will go to waste. It can be hard to find a suitable place to eat while travelling in Cuba, as roadside restaurants tend to cater for large tour groups and either offer a fixed meal or a very limited selection of snacks. In the cities and towns small privately-owned restaurants, paladares, offer a little more choice but can often only seat a maximum of twelve people (the number for which they are officially licensed).

    Money matters

    When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need. Also make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in the trip price and what isn’t. This should make budgeting a little easier. You’ll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that’s this document). The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting. CONTINGENCY FUNDS: We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to the equivalent of an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved. MEALS NOT INCLUDED: For this trip, we recommend between USD/CUC 25 to 50 per day. How do we work this out? Breakfast - If breakfast is not included, you can expect to pay between USD5 to USD10 at a local café or approximately CUC5 in the Cuban guesthouses. Lunch - If you are happy with a quick snack on the go, you may get away with as little as USD5 to USD10 at a local eatery or for a sandwich and a drink at a café. On the other hand, a lunch meal at a more tourist restaurant can cost between USD/CUC 10 to 15. Dinner - At dinner time, your leader will normally recommend restaurants where you can try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between USD/CUC 12 to 25 for a main. These are indicative prices only. If you are in a tight budget, and are happy to eat just local food and not afraid of an upset tummy every now and then, you can eat cheaper than this. Although in Cuba, there isn’t much in the way of cheap street food other than pizzas which cost CUC2. If you want to try just the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries. CREDIT CARDS & ATMs (outside of Cuba): ATMs are widely available in major towns and cities across Latin America. Credit cards are generally available in tourist shops and restaurants. Visa and Mastercard are generally preferred over American Express, Diners, etc. Smaller venues take cash only. Check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to and what their fees and charges are. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions. Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day. If bringing over cash, please note USD100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other USD bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks. CURRENCY INFORMATION: Mexico currency information - The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN). You can pay with major credit and debit cards at many hotels, restaurants and stores but otherwise plan on making cash purchases with pesos. You can use major credit cards and some debit cards to withdraw pesos from ATMs and over the counter at banks. Few businesses accept US dollars however this is the easiest currency to exchange. Cuba currency information - The official currencies of Cuba are the Cuban Peso Convertible (CUC) and the National Peso (CUP also known as Moneda Nacional M.N.). Non-Cubans deal almost exclusively in convertibles (CUC). The National Peso (CUP) has very limited use, especially for travellers. What's confusing for travellers is that the Cubans call both currencies 'pesos', so you must ask or know the value of something to know which currency they are referring to (CUC1 = US$1 and CUC1 = CUP24). Cuban law states that it is illegal to remove any bills from Cuba so ensure that you use up both currencies before departing the country. ACCESSING FUNDS IN CUBA: Travellers often experience problems accessing funds in Cuba. To avoid being caught without money in Cuba, ensure you have a variety of ways of accessing your money including cash (GBP CAD or EUR) and bank cards from various banks. Cards issued by US banks or banks affiliated with US banks are not accepted in Cuba at all; among others, this includes Travelex, Westpac and Citibank. Contact your bank prior to travel about using your bank card in Cuba. We recommend you use the ATM at the airport upon arrival; located outside the terminal, tucked in the corner of the currency exchange house. You will find ATMs dotted sparsely throughout most cities, but they can be quite temperamental, so you may have to try a couple before finding the one that works for your card. EXCHANGING CASH IN CUBA: CADECAs are the official government currency exchange houses. These can be found in every city, at the airport, and are commonly found in the larger hotels in Havana. Please note that most are closed on Sundays. For any services offered, such as money exchange or cash advances, you will need your passport to proceed. Note it is in your best interest to specifically ask for smaller bills. The only currencies that you are guaranteed to be able to exchange are CAD, EUR and GBP. The US dollar is not accepted as legal tender in Cuba, and attracts a large commission fee at exchange. The exchange rates used by the CADECA are the same in every CADECA around Cuba and represent about a 3% commission for the bank (included in the exchange rate). For cash advances and when using the ATMs, there is a 3% fee charged. This means that for value for money it's approximately the same if you are making a cash advance or exchanging cash.  ENTRY AND EXIT FEES: The below country specific information was correct at time of writing, however please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information. Mexico - If you enter Mexico by air, the MX$500 immigration fee is included in your airfare. If you enter Mexico overland, the immigration office will arrange for you to pay this fee at a nearby bank. You will receive an FMM card upon entry which you need to retain and present upon exiting the country. If you exit Mexico overland, there is a Mexican Tourist Fee (DNI - Derecho de No Inmigrante) of MX$558 (US$30). Cuba – There are no entry or exit fees. A departure tax of US$25 is included in the cost of your flight ticket. TIPPING: If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader. In Cuba, due to the low Government-set wages in Cuba tipping is relied upon heavily so expect to tip for just about everything. The recommended tipping amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers. We do however recommend that you tip in the local currency - Hold on to your smaller notes and coins to make tipping easier. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: - Restaurants: Local markets, government and private (paladares) restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest 10%. There's no need to tip at dinners taken at Guesthouses. - Guesthouse: You may consider tipping the employees (not the owners) of a Guesthouse; USD$1-2 is suggested, although a clothing item, a towel or the like will be kindly received. - Toilet attendant: USD 0.25 per use. - Musicians: USD$1-2 per session. - Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest USD$2 per person per day for local guides. - Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of UD$1-2 per day is generally appropriate. - Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline USD$2-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. In total, we recommend you budget approx USD$10-15 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

    What to take

    Most travellers prefer to take a small to medium wheeled suitcase, which is a great size for the packing capacity in our private vehicles. Whatever you take, be mindful that you will need to be able to carry your own luggage, handle it at airports, take in/out of accommodation and perhaps even walk short distances. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible. You'll also need a day pack/bag for activities and day trips. Other than the items and clothing you always need on a trip, below we have listed packing suggestions specific for this trip: ESSENTIAL: - Warm as well as light clothing. Central America is often assumed to have hot weather, but it can get cold in the countryside, mountains and at night in the winter so we suggest you check the expected temperatures en route and bring clothing that you can layer - Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through cities as well as bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings - Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses - Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5 litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments RECOMMENDED: - Soft and/or hard copies of all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, travel insurance etc. and keep the hard copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a copy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary - Reusable straw  - Electrical adapter plug (view www.kropla.com) - Personal medical kit. Your guide will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes and Band-Aids - Insect repellent - Watch/Alarm clock or phone that can be used for both - Swimwear - Travel beach towel - Tissues &/or toilet paper &/or wet wipes - Insect repellent - Toiletries. We recommend you to take your own supply of shampoo, soap and toilet paper to use in the guesthouses and public toilets. We also encourage women to take their own supply of sanitary items as these items are not widely available for purchase in Cuba - Despite their low income levels, Cubans love to dress up smartly and fashionably whenever they can. For going out in the evenings, casual dress is acceptable everywhere although one collared shirt for males is recommended, otherwise there's no need to bring clothes or footwear especially for this OPTIONAL: - Ear plugs to guard against a potential snoring room-mate - Phrase book VALUABLES: Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your safe if available. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. LAUNDRY: A laundry service is offered at some hotels used on this trip, or in some guesthouses if you’re travelling in Cuba. You might need to wait for a two-night stop to make sure you get it back in time. While laundry at hotels is usually charged by the item, laundromats which are also an option, usually charge by the kilo, which is generally inexpensive (approximately USD$5 per kilo). GIFTS: Given the difficulty of securing basic goods in Cuba, surplus items that you have at home such as soap, shampoo, perfumes, sewing kits, toothbrushes and pens or pencils are warmly accepted. We do encourage you to discuss gift giving with your leader so that items can be distributed to organisations in need. If you decide to hand out gifts without the leader’s guidance, we suggest you distribute as a sign of appreciation after a genuine interaction, whether that be a conversation or offered help, rather than a means to create engagement. Please always refrain from handing items directly to children. It is not necessary to bring gifts for the guesthouse owners in Cuba; these are not a homestay experience and as they are a business they are most-likely run by some of the more well-off families who will be happy enough with just your good-natured presence.

    Climate and seasonal

    Please note that Hurricane season is June to October, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors these situations as they may arise, so that itineraries or activities can be amended as necessary.

    A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited, and you also agree to travel in accordance with our Responsible Travel Guidelines. The decision of the group leader is final on all matters likely to affect the safety or well-being of any traveller or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader, or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund. We may also elect not to carry you on any future trips booked. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

    Feedback

    Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

    Emergency contact

    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time. BOOKING ENQUIRIES / ISSUES For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/contact-us CRISIS AND EMERGENCIES – Central America In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office: Intrepid's Local Operator (located in Costa Rica): +506 6022 4721 CRISES AND EMERGENCIES - Cuba Please be aware that communication lines in Cuba are unreliable and establishing a clear line requires patience. Please follow these instructions to ensure our operators can assist you in times of need. Since voicemail isn't an option and most incoming call phone numbers are automatically blocked, our operator will not be able to return any missed calls. The only solution to this problem is persistence. Keep calling the line until an operator answers the call. Alternatively, the emergency line is a mobile number that can be reached via text. If you cannot establish a connection to our operators over the phone, please send a text with your full name, any reference codes (if known), the issue at hand and a return contact number. You will most likely receive a response via text.  In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office: Intrepid's Local Operator (located in Havana): +53 5333 8121 or +53 5510 5525 In Cuba, if necessary, you may use *99 prior to dialling to make a reverse charge call. If you cannot reach the operator using the above numbers, alternatively you may try our Cuba representative located in Australia +61 430 504 636 Intrepid’s Local Operator: +506 6022-4721

    Responsible travel

    Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable, and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers, and staff are trained on these principles and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

    Accommodation notes

    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation. Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available. We have classified guesthouse rooms into two standards for the comfort levels of our trips: Standard and Premium. Most differences can be a little hard to tell at first, particularly when taking aesthetic into account which varies greatly not only between rooms but also between cities and provinces. Be assured though that the comforts to which foreign travellers are accustomed have been taken into account in classifying premium guesthouses a higher standard of accommodation. For this itinerary, the standard guesthouse rooms will have an ensuite and air-conditioning however will not necessarily have a split system, an in-room or in-house safe or imported bedding. Premium: - Larger rooms - Imported mattresses and pillows rather than locally made - The linen is cotton rather than synthetic - Split system air-conditioning - In-room or in-house safe available for use Stairs are prevalent in Cuban homes. If this presents a problem to you, then please advise us at time of booking so we can request rooms on or closer to ground level. PRE-TOUR ACCOMMODATION: We aim to confirm the first night of your tour in Old Havana however occasionally due to availability we will confirm it in either Central Havana or Vedado. If you book pre-tour accommodation through us we will also aim to book these nights in Old Havana. Please note: Late requests and requests of 3 nights or more have a lower chance of being confirmed in Old Havana. POST-TOUR ACCOMMODATION The final night of your tour may be booked in either Vedado, Central Havana or Old Havana. If you book post-tour accommodation through us, we aim to confirm it at the same property of your final tour-night (regardless of the area we have secured) to avoid the inconvenience of you having to move. If you specifically prefer your post accommodation to be booked in old Havana (knowing you may have to move areas on your own accord), you must inform your booking agent and we will request this. Please note: Late requests and requests of 3 nights or more have a lower chance of being confirmed in Old Havana.

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all our trips for those travelling internationally. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. Travellers who reside within the European Union or Switzerland receive basic international health insurance, so travel insurance is not mandatory under European Union Law. However, as this does not cover situations such as emergency rescues, private health care, or repatriation to their home country, comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended. European Union or Swiss travellers who decline travel insurance when travelling outside of their home region must sign a Travel Insurance Waiver Form at the Group Meeting. For assistance with travel insurance or other services, please visit the link below: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/booking-resources/our-services TRAVEL INSURANCE: The Cuban government has declared that travel insurance (which covers at least medical expenses) is compulsory for all travellers to Cuba. Proof of travel insurance may be requested at Havana airport by immigration officials. Travellers failing to produce a valid document will be required to purchase a new policy at the airport, before being granted access to Cuba. Cuban authorities also announced that they will not recognise any insurance policy issued or underwritten by any insurance company which has an affiliation with a US company. You should take this into account when purchasing your insurance before departure from your home country.

    Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons, we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SOLO TRAVELLERS This is the beauty of our style of travel: many of our travellers join because they are travelling solo and want to meet and share experiences with like-minded people. As a solo traveller, you will be paired up with another traveller of the same gender as per your passport information. Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour. Pre-trip and post-trip accommodation booked through us will on a single room basis. If you’re not comfortable sharing a room with someone of the same gender, you also have the choice to pay for a single supplement (available on the majority of our trips). If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on an open gender, multi-share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any such changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested in the Group Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

    Accommodation

    Comfortable Hotel (14 nights),Premium Guesthouse (7 nights)

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