Experience Cuban culture the most authentic way possible—through its people. On this unique and inspiring program, get acquainted with Cubans in diverse settings, from Old Havana to colonial Cienfuegos. Engage the local people directly in discussions about their lives and work, culture and traditions. Meet with Cuban historians, teachers, students, artists, naturalists, and others, and experience this fast-changing island nation through their eyes.
Depart from Miami on a charter flight. Upon arrival
in Havana, enjoy lunch and visit the Plaza de la
Revolución before transferring to our hotel. Gather
for a welcome reception and dinner tonight.
Hotel Parque Central
Learn about the restoration and changing landscape
of Havana from a local preservation expert.
Then set out to explore Old Havana, stopping
in at local businesses and meeting the workers.
After lunch, explore a community project at
Muraleando, where local and international artists
have been changing a downtrodden neighborhood
into a living work of art. Tonight, attend a
special musical performance after dinner.
Engage in a specially-arranged question-and-answer
session with Cuban professionals, discussing
education, economics, the role of government,
and other topics of interest. Later, meet
the instructors and students of La Colmenita, an
after-school program that uses song and dance
performance as a social development tool.
Leave Havana and head to Cienfuegos, a port city
with architecture that reflects its French colonial
roots. Enjoy an orientation tour of the city and
meet local residents in Parque Martí. See the
statue commemorating José Martí, a renowned
author and a leader in Cuba’s quest for independence
from Spain. Engage local cuentapropistas
(self-employed), who are part of an expanding
private sector, on Cienfuegos’ main commercial
street. Then visit Benny Moré Art School to meet
with teachers and students of music, dance, and
Travel to Trinidad, where we explore Cuba’s best-preserved colonial city with a restoration expert
and interact with local community members, including a Santería priest. Then meet Julio Muñoz,
a local photographer and “horse whisperer”
whose wife and niece appeared in an October
1999 National Geographic magazine article, and learn about his casa particular (guest house). Visit Julio’s colonial-era house and stables, the base for his program promoting equine care.
Near Cienfuegos, visit Cuba’s oldest botanical
garden with a botany expert. Stop in a former
sugar mill town and interact with the town’s present
day inhabitants. Later, enjoy a choral performance
and discussion with a world renowned a
cappella group, the Choir of Cienfuegos. After
dinner, there will be an opportunity to meet with
local residents in Cienfuegos.
Today, head to the historic Bay of Pigs. Set foot
on the famous Playa Girón, one of the two landing
sites for the 1961 U.S.–backed invasion. Visit
Australia, a former sugar mill town and Fidel
Castro’s headquarters during the Bay of Pigs
invasion. Here, meet with former mill workers
and ride an old steam train through the sugarcane
Hotel Parque Central
This morning, travel to the charming fishing village
of Jaimanitas to visit the workshop and home
of ceramic artist José Fuster, called the “Picasso
of Cuba.” Then attend a question-and-answer
session with American author and Havana resident,
Marc Frank. Meet with Marc and a Cuban
journalist to discuss their perspectives on Cuba’s
past, present, and future. Celebrate our Cuban
experience together at a farewell dinner tonight.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight back to Miami.
Born in the U.S. but raised in Spain and Cuba, Rob Hernandez was in Havana during the pivotal early years of the Cuban Revolution. After leaving in 1960, he first returned in 1987 with the hope of gaining access on behalf of the National Geographic to what at that time was largely a closed nation. He has traveled widely throughout the island and will enjoy sharing with you his broad knowledge of the history, culture, and environments of this enigmatic nation that's still struggling to reconcile its past with its future. A 28-year veteran of the Society, Rob first served as a senior editor for the magazine, later becoming Senior Vice President and head of the Society's International Publishing division that produces books, magazines, and other media in more than 35 languages. An ecologist by education, he spent his early career doing field research and documenting through films and photography many of the world's more remote places, work that has appeared in leading global publications. After spending two years circumnavigating the Indian and Pacific Oceans in a small sailboat, he went on to lead many expeditions to Africa, the Arctic and Antarctic, Southeast Asia, and South America, among other regions.
Robert will join the following departure:
Mar 16 - 24, 2014
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $700. Airfare is not included in the expedition cost. Round-trip charter airfare between Miami and Havana begins at $525 per person (subject to change).
Please Note: This trip is permitted by a special People-to-People license from the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. This itinerary was designed to provide an immersive experience with numerous opportunities for meaningful interaction with Cubans. Travel restrictions in Cuba, such as limits on how much one may spend and what may be purchased, will be provided in your pre-departure materials.
While we do our best to adhere to the itinerary listed here, traveling in Cuba requires flexibility, and changes to hotels and activities may occur.