History & Cultural Exchange in Cuba - 10 Days

Havana, Trinidad, Cienfuegos & Santa Clara w/ Service Project

Program Highlights & Inclusions

  • Professional ETA Tour Manager throughout your trip
  • Transportation throughout your trip
  • Guided city tour of Old Havana
    • Visit Cathedral Square
    • Visit the Square of Arms
    • Visit San Francisco Square
    • Visit Plaza Vieja
    • Visit a local handicraft market
    • Visit the Almacenes de San Jose
  • Attend the Nine O’clock Firing of the Cannon at the Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña
  • Community Service project in Santa Clara
  • Participate in activities within your host community
  • Visit the Organic City Farm called organopónico
  • Guided visit to the Armored Train
  • Visit The Che of the Children statue
  • Hike to Capiro hill
  • Admission to El Mejunje
  • Admission to the Museum and Memorial for Ernesto Che Guevara
  • Visit the Naturarte Project
  • Visit Jiracoa
  • Guided city tour of Cienfuegos
    • Visit Jose Martií Plaza
    • Visit the Moorish Palace
    • Visit the botanical garden
    • Visit a former sugar mill town
  • Guided tour of the old Trinidad


Daily Itinerary

Day 1 – Flight to Miami

This afternoon, you will fly as a group to Miami and take a shuttle to your hotel near the airport.

Day 2 – Arrive Havana, Cuba

You will wake up bright and early for your charter flight from Miami to Havana. Upon arrival in Cuba, you’ll be met at the airport by your Program Manager.

Enjoy lunch at a local paladar, a family-run house restaurant, taking some time to sit and discuss the experience the owners had starting a business in Cuba. Paladares, some of the first legal micro-enterprises in Cuba, originated in 1993 after the fall of the USSR and the resulting economic crisis. They allow Cuban families the opportunity to earn extra money by turning their home into a small restaurant that affords tourists the opportunity to experience authentic, homemade Cuban cuisine and culture.

This afternoon, you will visit La Habana Vieja, or Old Havana, where you will have the opportunity to meet with a local historian who will share insights and details about the history and legacy of this area's important sites including:

- Cathedral Square and the Cathedral of Havana, a masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture built by the Jesuit order.

- Plaza de Armas, the former military parade ground for Spanish soldiers, surrounded by impressive colonial buildings such as Palacio de los Capitanes Generales (the former official residence of the governors of Havana, now home to the Museum of the City of Havana), and Palacio del   Segundo Cabo (former house of the second authority in the island, now home to important publishing houses).

- Plaza San Francisco, named after the Convent of San Francisco, built in 1628 with the objective of supplying water to the ships trading with the city.

- Plaza Vieja, built in 1559, home to executions, processions, bullfights, and fiestas during colonial time.

After dinner at a local paladar, you will attend one of the most traditional and popular ceremonies in Havana, the Nine O’clock Fire of the Cannon at the Fortress of San Carlos de La Cabaña. This fortress was built in 1673 to protect the port, and in the late 1950s it served as the personal headquarters for Che Guevara after the Revolutionary government came to power. In colonial times the firing of the cannon signaled the opening and closing of the port.

Day 3 – Santa Clara

After breakfast at your hotel you will take a bus to your host community in the city of Santa Clara. Here you will experience days of community service and cultural interactions with locals. Along the way, you will stop at a local farm where you will mingle with animals native to Cuba, and speak with the local animal care takers.

Upon arrival to your host community, you will meet with local leaders. You will stay in a lodge created especially for visiting groups by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples. Founded in 1960, it is an NGO established soon after the early successes of the Cuban Revolution when Cuba found itself isolated on the world stage and threatened by a military superpower less than 100 miles off its shores. The purpose of this institute was to reach out and form ties of friendship between Cuba and citizens of other countries who were either sympathetic to, or open-minded about, Cuba’s post-revolutionary ambitions.

In the afternoon, you will go with your Program Leader to explore and familiarize with the town. Here you will have the opportunity to interact with locals and learn about their everyday lives.

After dinner at the camp, you will meet again to talk about the service work over the next days.

Day 4 – City Organic Farm, Armored Train, Che of the Children, Capiro Hill, and El Mejunje

After breakfast, you will meet with your Program Leader and community leaders to start your service project.  You will visit the Organic City Farm called organopónico by the Cubans. This is a space in the city dedicated to organic agriculture to supply the city inhabitants with fresh produce. Every person in the community who participates in the organopónico gets a share of the profits from selling the crops. This is an enterprise encouraged by the government to promote agriculture in populated areas and to bring healthier and fresher food to the people. You will help with the gardening as part of your service project.

After lunch at the camp, you will have a guided visit to the Armored Train, the site of the most important battle of the Cuban revolution commanded by Ernesto Che Guevara. Here you will hear the story of the battle from one of the curators of the site, and share in a question and answer session. The people of Santa Clara are very proud of their participation during the revolution and you will witness how they love to talk about the heroic moments of their beloved Che Guevara.

Later, you will visit the statue The Che of the Children, in front of the Regional Communist Party Headquarters. Here you will hear about the symbolism in the statue and an introduction to the importance and meaning of the Communist Party in Santa Clara.

Next, you will take a short hike to Capiro Hill where you will have a panoramic view of the city of Santa Clara and take in the scenery of one of the most important battles during the Revolution War. You will hear about the events at the hill and interact with locals at the viewpoint.

You will finish the afternoon with a visit to El Mejunje, the most open-minded club in all Cuba. Since 1985, from rockers to LGBTs, from poets to stand-up comedians, everybody has found the a safe place to express themselves. You will have the opportunity to talk to one of the founders and learn about the meaning of such a place behind the communist curtain.

Day 5 – Che Guevara Memorial and Museum, and Naturarte. Evening conversation with local university professor.

After breakfast ,you will discover more iconic sites of Santa Clara. You will visit the Museum and Memorial for Ernesto Che Guevara where you will have the opportunity to interact with locals and foreigners who travel far distances to pay respects to the most iconic revolutionary of the 20th Century.

After lunch at the camp, you will visit the Naturarte Project. Here you will meet local artists free to express, show, and sell their art. There are also private exhibits of birds, other animals, and plants from Cuba and other latitudes. You will have the opportunity to talk to some of the artists while they work, and later help out with clearing the trails between the animal exhibits.

In the late afternoon, you will have a private conversation with a university professor about the restoration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba that has taken place recently. At the moment, the information available suggests that the U.S. Congress is not thinking about lifting the embargo; Instead, President Obama is loosening policies about U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba with few specific financial rules. It’s important to understand the difference and to know how much more work is needed to restore the bilateral relationship between the two nations. A session of question and answer will follow the presentation.

Day 6 – Jiracoa

After breakfast at the camp, you will depart to a mountain farming community called Jiracoa. Upon arrival to the community, you will be welcomed by song, dance, and other cultural manifestations exhibiting local culture. Today will be a full day of cultural exchange activities with different members of the community. One of the highlights of the day will be a baseball game with a local team. Please bring your own equipment to participate in this international match (You can leave the equipment with the local sport organization after the game). You will also visit a local clinic where one of its directors will explain the free universal health care system, and how a developing country under an economical and financial embargo has achieved some of the highest health indexes in the world. 

This afternoon, will take your bus to a local hotel where you will take a short boat ride to a private restaurant overlooking the lake. To end the day, you will have some time at the hotel swimming pool before returning to the camp in Santa Clara.

Day 7 – Cienfuegos

After breakfast at the ICAP camp, you will departe to Cienfuegos, also called The Pearl of the South. One of Cuba’s quaintest cities, the architecture here, including the restored plaza "Parque José Martí" and the Moorish palace of the "Del Valle" family, is impressive. Cienfuegos is also listed as an USESCO World Heritage Site. You will go on a guided tour of the city with you Program Leader.

After lunch, you will explore Cuba’s oldest botanical garden alongside a botanist. You will also stop at a former sugar mill town and meet with the town’s present-day inhabitants to learn about the historically most important crop in Cuba, sugar.

Day 8 – Trinidad

After breakfast, you will take your bus to the city of Trinidad located between the white sand Ancon Beach and the Escambray Mountain Range. This is considered Cuba’s best preserved colonial town.  You will have a guided tour of the old part of town, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will be amazed by the pastel colored houses, the terracotta tiled roofs, and the cobblestone streets. You will have free time to interact with local artisans and musicians.

Day 9 – Trinidad and back to Havana

After breakfast at the hotel you will have the morning to rest and interact with the local people.

You will have lunch on the road on your way back to your hotel in Havana. In the afternoon you will have enough time to freshen up at your hotel before going to enjoy a farewell dinner at a restaurant in Havana.

Day 10 – Depart for Home

This morning you will visit the Almacenes de San Jose, a place created in Old Havana to give artists a safe place to show and sell their art and souvenirs. After lunch at a local paladar, your trip will come to an end as you head to the airport for your return flight home. 





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