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FRIENDS & FAMILY HAVANA EXPERIENCE

An in-depth, fully private people-to-people exchange with unforgettable authentic experiences perfect for a small group of friends or family

ITINERARY AT A GLANCE

LEGAL TRAVEL TO CUBA

Almaz Journeys operates its people-to-people journeys to Cuba to fully comply with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s general licenses for travel to Cuba. Our hand-crafted journeys meet all the legal requirements, while still being tailored to your interests. You'll have a full, fun and fascinating daily schedule of activities to give you meaningful interactions to support the Cuban people.

Throughout your stay, you will meet many Cubans from different professions, ages, and experiences in order to witness in-depth this period of profound change in Cuba and promote greater understanding between the U.S. and Cuba.

DAY 1

Arrival From the US

Welcome to Cuba!

Upon arrival this afternoon (flight not included), your local Almaz Journeys representative will meet you outside for your private arrival transfer.

Any trip to Cuba must begin with the majestic faded glory of Havana. Located on the northern coast of Cuba just 105 miles from the U.S., Havana was founded in the 16th century by the Spanish and quickly became a jewel in its New World holdings as a strategic trading stop between Spain and its colonies. Although the colonial days are long gone, Old Havana is still home to one of the largest number of Spanish colonial buildings and therefore a UNESCO World Heritage site.

With investments in ongoing restoration since the 1990s, the faded facades of colonial buildings, the fountain-filled plazas, and the oceanfront promenade known as the malecón are all slowly returning to former glory. Havana (and Cuba overall) is one of the most exciting destinations in the world today, offering the chance to witness yet another period of change through the eyes of everyday Cubans.

After check-in, you’ll meet your guide and driver to begin your exploration with an afternoon overview drive around Havana including an essential stop at El Morro, the fortress at the mouth of the harbor, for panoramic views of the entire city. Your introduction this afternoon will take you along the seafront boulevard (malecón), to Revolution Square, and past important landmarks including the impressive Bacardi building and numerous former Mafia haunts including Meyer Lansky’s Havana Riviera.

Evening suggestion
We suggest you begin your stay with one of our favorite long-running private restaurants (paladares) housed in a historic mansion slowly reclaiming its former glory. If you still have energy after dinner, there are lots of options for live music and dancing we can suggest based on your interests. (Cost of dinner and evening activities not included.)

DAY 2

HAVANA

HABANOS, HISTORY, AND HEMINGWAY

After breakfast this morning, meet your guide to start your day by seeing one of Cuba’s most famous exports up close, with a visit to one of Havana’s oldest cigar factories! Even those who don't enjoy cigars will admire the skill with which the experts hand-roll those famous Montecristo and Cohiba cigars!

You’ll then walk in the footsteps of Havana’s colonial past as you explore the four key squares of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with your expert local guide offering insightful history throughout. (Please wear comfortable shoes for this walking tour!)

After lunch (not included), you’ll explore Hemingway’s Havana in a classic 1950s American convertible! Gertrude Stein once commented that Hemingway had a good nose for finding good places to live and eat, and his villa outside Havana proves her point quite well.

Hemingway’s house is perched on a hill, with a terrific view of Havana in the distance and surrounded by lush tropical vegetation, so it's no wonder that quite a few celebrities made their way here in the 1940s and 1950s. The house you find today is perfectly intact, just as the famed author left it in 1960 with his personal effects, his favorite fishing boat, and lots more. You’ll have a look around the grounds with your specialist guide, who can offer you fascinating insight into Hemingway’s life in Cuba.

After the visit while heading back to Havana, you’ll want to stop at the picturesque Cojimar fishing village, the inspiration for Hemingway’s novel “The Old Man and the Sea” – so much so that he later dedicated his Nobel Prize to the village’s fisherman.

Evening suggestion
We suggest dinner at one of our favorite tapas-style restaurants in Havana, followed by some mojitos and great people watching out on the malecón. (Cost of dinner and evening activities not included.)

DAY 3

HAVANA

TODAY’S CUBA:
FOOD, MUSIC & ART

For foodies, this morning we suggest you visit some of Havana’s best local markets this morning with a specialist guide to learn about urban farming and innovative solutions to food supply issues in Cuba, as well as a deeper insight into food history. Your guide may give you a shopping challenge to understand firsthand the challenges faced by everyday Cubans!

For art lovers, you may wish to explore the island's dynamic art scene with visit Havana’s Higher Arts Academy (ISA) – a thriving source of emerging talent. Many students who have not yet graduated are producing extraordinary work. Your guide will give you an insight into the strong cultural role the arts play in Cuba society and you'll have an opportunity to chat with students, followed by visits to the studios of a few emerging artists. Or, we can also arrange for you to visit some studios of established artists. Every exploration is tailored for you, whether you have a very specific interest or simply wish to get a taste of Havana’s thriving artistic community.

For those interested in ballet, you won't want to miss a rehearsal of the national ballet company. Here you'll see the young emerging stars hard at work perfecting their craft and learn about the intense competition for a spot in the company. (Although photos are not officially permitted, you will be able to take a few discreet ones as reminders of your visit!)

Or, take the opportunity to learn about - and dance to –some of Cuba's celebrated music with a visit to a community-based rumba dance project. After a short introduction and lesson by the project leader in a private home, you'll continue on to a special venue to see firsthand where the community dance project is developed and, of course, talk and dance with the locals to Afro-Cuban rhythms.

For those interested in sports, a visit with your guide to a baseball game (in season) is a must to experience the sport that is far and away the most popular on the island. The season runs November-March, with playoffs often extending into May.

Evening

To close out your weekend, we suggest an al fresco dinner on the roof of a former factory, located adjacent to one of the most exciting contemporary art spaces in Havana. After dinner, head next door to hear live music and see works by some of the island’s avant garde artists. (Cost of dinner and evening activities not included.)

DAY 4

Return to the US

UNTIL NEXT TIME!

Your final morning is yours to plan with your guide and driver, to take full advantage of the remaining hours before your return flight (not included) to the U.S.

 

NOT READY TO GO HOME YET?

Looking to spend a few more days on this magical island? How about exploring the colonial charm and surrounding natural beauty of Trinidad, as well as the lush Viñales valley, the heart of tobacco production in Cuba? Contact Almaz Journeys for more options.

 

Tailoring Your Journey

This is just a brief sample visit to Havana, which can be completely tailored to suit your needs and specific interests. Below are just a few of the countless possibilities that can be incorporated in customizing your journey to Cuba:

Go behind the scenes of the Cuban film industry with a art director or costume designer

Work up a sweat with private salsa dancing lessons

Dig deep into revolutionary Havana with a specialist guide

Dine in the home of an accomplished filmmaker, photographer or interior designer to dig deeper into today's Cuba

Explore former mafia haunts, some completely unchanged since the Revolution

Extend your stay on the island to explore lush Viñales and colonial Trinidad, or head east to Santiago, heart of Afro-Cuban culture

Private Journey Pricing

Per person, based on double occupancy in all accommodation.

4 Guests Traveling Together
From $2,500 in Deluxe Casa OR $3,400 at Melia Cohiba (Level)

6 Guests Traveling Together
From $2,300 in Deluxe Casa OR $3,250 at Melia Cohiba (Level)

8 Guests Traveling Together
From $2,100 in a Deluxe Casa OR $3,100 at Melia Cohiba (Level)

INCLUDED IN YOUR JOURNEY

  • Accommodations in Havana for 3 nights in privately-owned, deluxe casa particular or Melia Cohiba (Level room). Upgraded rooms at Melia Cohiba, boutique luxury hotels, or premium private villa at an additional cost..
  • Breakfast daily
  • Private arrival and departure transfers with English- speaking driver-guide and VIP arrival assistance
  • Specialist local English-speaking guides for select exchanges and experiences
  • Best available air-conditioned vehicles with English-speaking driver-guide for all daytime sightseeing and transfers (generally up to 10 hours/day), with bottled water.
  • Entrances for all sights and experiences specifically included in your itinerary
  • A local Cuban mobile phone
  • Local concierge service to handle all dinner and evening reservations.

 

NOT INCLUDED IN YOUR JOURNEY

  • Air travel
  • Lunches or dinners. We will assist you in selecting and reserving the best dining options, based on your needs and taking into account the rapidly change dining landscape in Cuba.
  • Gratuities
  • Medical or travel insurance. (Mandatory health insurance is typically included with the purchase of any flight between the U.S. and Cuba)
  • Any other items or services not specifically included in the itinerary

Excited to learn more?

Get in touch with us with us today to start planning!

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