Premium Cuba
from $3720
Duration: 9 Days
This Premium adventure through Cuba plays out to the soundtrack of a sizzling salsa beat, against a vibrant backdrop of colonial architecture, sweeping beaches and verdant countryside. Cuba’s colourful history still dominates most aspects of daily life, painting the country with an atmosphere like no other. Explore Havana in all its faded glory, uncover the easy beauty of rural Vinales, wander the cobblestoned streets of Trinidad and soak up the coastal vibe of Cienfuegos. Let Cuba’s charm wash over you on an unforgettable journey.
  • Discover the cobblestone streets of colonial Trinidad, learn some salsa steps in slow-paced Vinales, and take in the colours of Soroa, the valley known as the 'Rainbow of Cuba'.
  • Walk in the glamourous footsteps of the famous and infamous during your feature stay at the iconic Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana.
  • Explore Havana’s main sights during a tour in a classic American car – a nod to the city’s colourful vintage past.
  • Visit the home of a local family in Trinidad where you’ll enjoy a festive homecooked dinner, paired with the local drink, Canchancharam, made from 'fire water', local honey and lime juice.
  • Your local leader will help you learn the story of the Cuban Revolution, as well as a visit to the memorials dedicated to revolutionary hero Ernesto Che Guevara in Santa Clara.
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Havana - Welcome Dinner
  • Havana - American Vintage Car Tour (guide and transport included)
  • Havana - Revolution Square
  • Havana - Leader-led walking tour of Old Havana
  • Soroa - Orchid Garden with Local Flora Expert (entrance fee and guide)
  • Vinales - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Vinales - Half-day Valley tour on foot including Tobacco Farmhouse
  • Vinales - Salsa dance lesson (1 hour)
  • Vinales - Farm-to-table dinner at an eco-friendly ranch
  • Bay of Pigs - Coastal swim stop
  • Cienfuegos - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Cienfuegos - Palacio de Valle (entrance fee)
  • Trinidad - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Trinidad - Dinner at a local farmhouse
  • Santa Clara - Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum (entrance fee)
  • Day 1 Location: Havana
    Bienvenido! Welcome to Cuba. Your Premium adventure begins in Havana, the country’s captivating capital. You will be collected from the airport and transferred to your hotel where you’ll meet your leader and fellow travellers for a 6pm welcome meeting. If you arrive with time to spare, there are plenty of excellent museums to check out, including the Museo de la Revolucion and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. After your meeting, head to a lively local restaurant for a welcome dinner with your leader and small group. Sitting down to eat in Cuba means experiencing the country’s rich African and Spanish roots. Tonight your leader will introduce you to some classic dishes such as picadillo, a flavoursome beef and tomato stew, and ropa vieja, pulled beef with vegetables. You may like to toast to the beginning of a new adventure with a delicious daquiri, which is believed to have been invented in Cuba.
    Day 2 Location: Havana
    Start the day in style as you tour the city in a convoy of classic American vintage cars. Cruise down Havana’s grand old streets as your leader points out significant sights like the Malecon, Revolucion Square and Vedado. Finish your ride in Old Havana where you’ll continue your explorations on foot during a walking tour with your leader. Learn the history of the Havana cathedral and discover the city’s old-world charm when you stop by Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Central Park. Enjoy a free afternoon in this exciting neighbourhood – perhaps head to a rooftop bar for a local cocktail or take a leisurely stroll around the famously colourful streets.
    Day 3 Location: Vinales
    This morning drive west to Soroa, where you will tour a beautiful orchid garden. Meet with a local expert on the flora and fauna of the region for a private tour of the gardens and learn about the vibrant array of plant and bird species from this diverse area – it’s not hard to see why this valley is known as the rainbow of Cuba. Take some time out for lunch then continue to Vinales, where tobacco and sugarcane fields lie side by side and limestone outcrops dot the landscape. Use this travel time to take part in an informal Spanish lesson so you can converse with the friendly locals throughout the rest of your trip. Check in to your guesthouses, then take a short orientation walk with your leader to get acquainted with this peaceful town. Later, perhaps enjoy the porch rocking chair and soak up the slow pace of rural Cuba as oxen plod gracefully along the streets.
    Day 4 Location: Vinales
    Begin your day with a guided walk through the verdant farmlands of Vinales, where your leader will talk to you about the geography that makes up the area’s spectacular scenery. Vinales is known for its tobacco farms which still use traditional growing methods – learn more about the longstanding tobacco industry and watch a farmer whip up a world class cigar in seconds. Take some time to find a local place for lunch, then regroup in the late afternoon for a salsa dancing lesson. Find your feet and learn a few steps while embracing the electrifying rhythm of Cuba. After working up an appetite, head to the top of the valley for dinner at an eco-farm. Here you’ll enjoy an exceptional farm-to-table meal made entirely from organic produce grown on site – this is truly one of the freshest dining experiences in Cuba.
    Day 5 Location: Cienfuegos
    Prepare for a long travel day as you make your way to Cienfuegos. Drive back through Havana before stopping in the Bay of Pigs for lunch. After lunch, you may like to take a dip in the crystal clear water, or unroll your beach towel and sit back as your leader shares stories of the botched USA Military counter-revolutionary invasion in the Bay of Pigs. Now a tranquil spot for relaxing, it’s hard to imagine the chaotic battle that took place here in 1961. Then it is just a short drive to Cienfuegos, one of Cuba's prettiest coastal spots. Arrive in the early evening and join your leader on a short orientation walk before visiting the Palacio del Valle, Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy. Its grandiose carvings in Venetian alabaster strike an impressive pose in this beautiful seaside city.
    Day 6 Location: Trinidad
    Enjoy a free morning in Cienfuegos – perhaps stop by a local cafe for a fabulous cup of Cuban coffee. Then make the journey to Trinidad, a brightly coloured town peppered with colonial influences. On arrival, your leader will introduce you to the town’s history and stunning architecture during a walking tour. Take in Trinidad’s eye-catching combination of cobblestone streets, colourful houses and old-fashioned locals. It's a great town to explore on foot, and almost every scene offers superb photographic opportunities – from residents relaxing with huge cigars on their doorsteps to old Chevrolets cruising by. In the evening take a trip out of town to a local house for a homely and festive dinner. Be welcomed with the local drink, Canchanchara, made from 'fire water', local honey and lime juice. There will even be a musician or two serenading you and your fellow travellers as you dine.
    Day 7 Location: Trinidad
    The day is yours to explore all that Trinidad has to offer. For some beachside fun and perhaps a little snorkelling, head down to Playa Ancon (just be careful you don't stand on a sea urchin!). The town is dotted with open-air venues where you can check out a folklore show that nods to Cuba’s rich and varied music and dance tradition. With roots in Spain, Africa and France the show is a delightful display of Cuba’s history. Be sure to speak to your leader who will be able to help tailor a wonderful day.
    Day 8 Location: Havana
    Head inland to the beautiful city of Santa Clara where you’ll enjoy an included lunch followed by a visit to the Che Guevara mausoleum. Here you’ll see the imposing statue of the iconic revolutionary leader. In the museum that accompanies the mausoleum, you'll find an intriguing spread of photos and other ephemera related to Che – letters, medical devices and firearms. Return to Havana and arrive at your feature stay accommodation – the iconic and infamous Hotel Nacional de Cuba. This 1930’s Art Deco hotel has played host to an illustrious roster of guests, including Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill and Rita Hayworth. Walk in their glamourous footsteps as you explore the palm fringed property, boasting three restaurants, gorgeous gardens and a tranquil swimming pool. This evening, perhaps enjoy a final fiesta in the hotel’s buzzing bar.
    Day 9 Location: Havana
    Your Cuban adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. As there's a great deal to do in Havana, we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist.
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    15JAN2022
    Return Date:
    23JAN2022
    4420NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    22JAN2022
    Return Date:
    30JAN2022
    4420NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    29JAN2022
    Return Date:
    06FEB2022
    4420NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    19FEB2022
    Return Date:
    27FEB2022
    4420NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    26FEB2022
    Return Date:
    06MAR2022
    4420NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    05MAR2022
    Return Date:
    13MAR2022
    4420NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    19MAR2022
    Return Date:
    27MAR2022
    4260NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    26MAR2022
    Return Date:
    03APR2022
    4260NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    02APR2022
    Return Date:
    10APR2022
    4260NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    09APR2022
    Return Date:
    17APR2022
    4260NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    08 Sep 2021

    Trip title

    Premium Cuba

    Trip code

    QUPC

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2022 to 31 Dec 2023

    Introduction

    This Premium adventure through Cuba plays out to the soundtrack of a sizzling salsa beat, against a vibrant backdrop of colonial architecture, sweeping beaches and verdant countryside. Cuba’s colourful history still dominates most aspects of daily life, painting the country with an atmosphere like no other. Explore Havana in all its faded glory, uncover the easy beauty of rural Vinales, wander the cobblestoned streets of Trinidad and soak up the coastal vibe of Cienfuegos. Let Cuba’s charm wash over you on an unforgettable journey.

    Style

    Premium

    Themes

    Explorer

    Transport

    Private vehicle

    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. Stairs are prevalent in Cuban homes, and cobblestones and uneven roads are common. 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 Capri

    Street 21, between streets M & N Vedado

    Havana

    CUBA

    Finish point

    Hotel Nacional de Cuba

    Intersection of Street 21 & Street O

    Vedado

    Havana

    CUBA

    Phone: +53 (7)8363564

    Finish point description

    The Hotel Nacional de Cuba has more than sixty years of history. In 1992 it went through a general restoration, preserving all the splendour of its eclectic architecture as a result of a mixture of Art Deco features with modern influences of that time. With its privileged location in the middle of Vedado, the centre of Havana, it stands on a hill just a few meters from the sea, and offers a great view of the Havana Harbour; the seawall and the city.

    Finish point instructions

    If you have pre booked a departure transfer, please inform your leader and they will notify you of your departure transfer time. If you are making your own way to the airport the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. Please ask at reception.

    Important information

    1. 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. 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 of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.  3. Travel insurance is compulsory for all travellers entering Cuba. You may be asked to show proof of your travel insurance by immigration staff upon arrival at Havana Airport. 4. Please advise bedding configuration requests to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel. 5. 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.

    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. Premium leaders are Intrepid’s most experienced, with in-depth knowledge and extensive local networks to make it a trip of a lifetime. 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. When not already included in your trip, your leader will be able to recommend a local guide service who can share more detailed or specialised information at specific sites should you be interested in delving deeper.

    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

    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

    PASSPORT You will need a valid passport to travel internationally. As a general rule, most countries require that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets exactly and contact us immediately if there are any errors. We recommend taking copies of the main passport pages and other important documents with you as well as leave copies at home with family or friends. VISAS Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time. It is important that you check your government's foreign travel advisories along with the consular website of the country or countries you are travelling to for the most up to date information specific to your nationality and circumstances. Please be aware that not all visa information found online from other sources may be valid while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. Visas can take several weeks to process, so make sure you research the requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for obtaining any necessary documents as well as the application and processing time. Your booking consultant can advise on a visa processing service or you can apply yourself directly through a consulate. COVID-19 Entry and Exit Requirements Below you will find general visa advice about the destinations on your trip. Due to constantly evolving COVID-19 requirements and restrictions, please refer to your government's foreign travel advice for the most up to date information.You may also refer to our travel alert page for more info https://www.intrepidtravel.com/en/travel-alerts Make sure you are familiar with the current border measures and entry requirements as these are quite complex and changing frequently without notice. Please also ensure you have a travel insurance policy that covers your travels as well as medical or COVID-19 related expenses within the country. RETURN TRAVEL Please ensure you stay up to date with any current testing or quarantine requirements for returning to your home country or transiting through other destinations after the completion of your tour. We are able to help facilitate taking a COVID-19 test while on trip. Please ensure you have funds available to cover the cost of this test which will be payable directly to the testing site. Your Intrepid Tour Leader will provide more details at the group meeting as well as assist with booking appointments for all travellers who need to be tested. 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.  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

    Discover the cobblestone streets of colonial Trinidad, learn some salsa steps in slow-paced Vinales, and take in the colours of Soroa, the valley known as the 'Rainbow of Cuba'.

    Walk in the glamourous footsteps of the famous and infamous during your feature stay at the iconic Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana.

    Explore Havana’s main sights during a tour in a classic American car – a nod to the city’s colourful vintage past.

    Visit the home of a local family in Trinidad where you’ll enjoy a festive homecooked dinner, paired with the local drink, Canchancharam, made from 'fire water', local honey and lime juice.

    Your local leader will help you learn the story of the Cuban Revolution, as well as a visit to the memorials dedicated to revolutionary hero Ernesto Che Guevara in Santa Clara.

    Is this trip right for you

    Hotels in Cuba are government-run, which means renovations are few and far between. As for the guesthouses (casas) we use, they are much nicer than your average Cuban dwelling but keep in mind that each and every room is unique. That said, regardless of where you stay, power cuts and breaks in hot water are sometimes unavoidable, as in any developing country. Funds can be difficult to access in Cuba. Ideally bring multiple credit cards from several different banks just to be sure. Internet in Cuba can also be scarce, unreliable and expensive. Treat this trip as a holiday from emails and social media. Cuba is different, and that's a big part of its allure. Things don't always go according to plan, and many things don't work the same way as back home. Patience and good humour will go a long way in this beautiful destination.

    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. COVID-19 The safety and wellbeing of our travellers, leaders, crew, staff, and suppliers continues to remain our highest priority as we travel. 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 HEALTH SCREENING 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 follow the advice of local health authorities to determine whether medical assistance, isolation or further action is required. We ask all travellers to continue to monitor their health throughout their travels and report any relevant symptoms to their tour leader. TESTING & VACCINATION POLICY From 1st May 2021 we introduced new safety measures that apply on all of our trips, except for tours in Australia and New Zealand. On trips departing before 1st September 2021, you will need to show one of the below to your leader at the Group Meeting on Day 1 of your trip: - Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or - Proof of negative COVID-19 test conducted no more than 72 hours before day 1 of your trip, or - Proof of recovery documentation In addition, if you’re aged 70+ or have an existing health condition that puts you at a higher risk of serious COVID-19 disease, you are also required to provide proof of vaccination before you can join a trip. MANDATORY VACCINATION POLICY From 1st of September 2021 we have introduced enhanced safety measures that apply on all of our trips, except for tours in Australia, New Zealand, and the Cook Islands. You will need to show your leader at the Group Meeting on Day 1 of your trip: - Proof of COVID-19 vaccination This policy is in addition to any specific testing or vaccination requirements for entry or exit to a destination or required by your airline. For more information, including a detailed FAQ about this policy, please visit https://www.intrepidtravel.com/covid19 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

    To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. 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 More restrictive diet requirements (vegans, celiac, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance, etc.) can be accommodated along this trip but you should expect a lesser variety than what you can expect at home. We recommend bringing 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. 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

    TIPPING Tips are included on all Intrepid Premium trips, covering hotel staff, local guides and the people who will take care of you during your travels. This amount does not include a tip for your leader, so you may wish to set aside some funds for this. It is customary to tip your leader for outstanding service provided during your trip. You are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length and involvement of your leader on your trip. Tips are greatly appreciated as a gesture of thanks for their professionalism and leadership during your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however, as a guideline, US$3-6 per person (in a currency relevant for your destination), per day can be used. SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget an appropriate amount for things like optional meals, drinks, shopping, optional activities, and laundry. Make sure you have read the itinerary and inclusions thoroughly so you know what is included in the trip price and what you may need to pay for while travelling. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. We reserve the right to change an itinerary after departure due to local circumstances or a Force Majeure Event. In such emergency circumstances, the additional cost of any necessary itinerary alterations will be covered by you. Please note we are not responsible for any incidental expenses that may be incurred as a result of the change of itineraries including but not limited to visas, vaccinations or non-refundable flights. Make sure you have access to 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. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however, local currency may be needed once in the country to cover these costs. CUBA 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. 

    What to take

    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. We recommend you pack as lightly as possible, ensuring that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Help will be on hand in most locations, but there may be times you need to handle your own luggage, for example in airports and train stations. A lockable suitcase with wheels is ideal for this trip. It is recommended that you keep your main luggage weight around 15kg and certainly no more than 20kg. A small or medium-sized backpack (45-50 litres) is another good option. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, jacket, etc. when you’re exploring during the day. Below is a link to our ultimate packing list, a guide to get you started:

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

    Climate and seasonal

    WEATHER IN CUBA Cuba's subtropical climate is ideal for exploration, with most places catching the cool trade winds that blow in from the coast, providing pleasant year-round temperatures. June, July and August are usually the hottest months. The dry season runs from November to April, and the wet season from May to October. Even in the rainy season, downpours are short and shouldn't impede travel plans. Tropical storms and hurricanes are more prevalent in September and October, but rarely cause problems for travellers. HURRICANE SEASON Hurricane season runs from May to October, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. We monitor these situations as they arise and amend itineraries or activities 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. For additional Conditions of Carriage regarding COVID-19, see here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/conditions-carriage

    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. For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/ 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

    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 considered 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. Feature Stay: The Hotel Nacional de Cuba is considered a symbol of history, culture and Cuban identity. 85 years of history give prestige to the classic property. With its privileged location in the middle of Vedado, the centre of Havana, it stands on a hill just a few meters from the sea. It offers a great view of the Havana Harbor, the seawall, and the city. PRE/POST-TOUR ACCOMMODATION: If the hotel does not have availability for your pre-tour or post-tour accommodation request, we can also offer you accommodation at a premium guesthouse in Havana. These are both in Old Havana and Vedado: If you have a preference over the area, please advise your booking agent at time of booking and we will try to accommodate your request. You will need to make your own way between the start/finish point hotel to the guesthouse.

    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. We pair up solo travellers with another traveller of the same gender as per your passport or the information we have in our booking system, so if you identify differently from the gender marker on your passport, please let us know in advance. We also have a Single Supplement available on most trips for travellers who prefer to have their own room. 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. 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 (3 nights),Premium guesthouse (4 nights),Feature Stay (1 night)

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