Buena Vista Cuba

Caribbean Island discovery holiday in the home of Che Guevara




From $1,700 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • Walks in Sierra Escambray, Parque Guanayara & Topes de Collantes
  • The classic cars and historic buildings of Havana and Trinidad
  • The beautiful beaches at Playa Ancon & Cayo Iguana
  • Swimming, snorkelling, sightseeing, cigar rolling and more!

This delightful Caribbean touring and discovery holiday highlights Cuba's colourful history, whilst also providing a taste of the vibrant culture and wildlife that makes the island so special today. Our holiday begins in historic Havana, where the streets buzz with Cuban culture and lively Latin American music. A sightseeing tour takes us to all the most famous attractions and we even have a memorable ride in a classic American car. Heading west, we spend time in the ‘Garden of Cuba', Pinar del Rio, the only province in the country to boast two UNESCO biospheres. Here we take a walk through the Valle de Vinales, taking in the spectacular limestone mogotes (dome-like mountains) that pepper the landscape, as well as getting to see Cuban farmers using traditional methods to grow some of the finest tobacco on the planet. Then we head southeast to the Sierra del Escambray where we stay at Lake Hanabanilla. Being in another national park, we have the opportunity to take a walk through the hills surrounding the lake, which provide some breathtaking vistas, followed by a boat trip on the lake itself. We then delve further into the mountains, stopping for a night at Topes de Collantes and taking a walk through the Parque el Cubano, a prime opportunity to experience the diverse and beautiful wildlife of the island. As we descend the mountains to the south we are rewarded with our first view of the Caribbean Sea and another UNESCO World Heritage site, this time in the shape of the Spanish colonial architecture of Trinidad. No Caribbean holiday would be complete without a couple of days to relax on white sandy beaches and we find ours at Playa Ancon, where we also take a catamaran trip to Cayo Iguana. Then it's north to Santa Clara, the spiritual home of Che Guevara, before returning to Havana, where we round off this very special Caribbean holiday experience.

Is this holiday for you?

This is a discovery holiday, which does not contain any element of trekking or sustained hiking. However many of the sights we visit are best seen on foot and there are several optional easy walks. Any walking during the holiday will be easy-paced and suitable for anyone of average fitness. There are also options for swimming and snorkelling on this holiday

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Havana. A single transfer from Havana Airport is provided.
  • Historic Havana city tour. Classic American car ride.
  • Transfer to Pinar del Rio. Tour of the Indian Caves by boat. Travel to Vinales.
  • Morning walk in Vinales through the tobacco plantations. Afternoon free.
  • Drive to the Sierra del Escambray and Lake Hanabanilla.
  • Walk along the lake, boat ride and transfer to Topes de Collantes.
  • Russian lorry ride into the forest, short walk. Transfer to Playa Ancon on the coast.
  • Boat to paradise island of Cayo Iguana islands for snorkelling and swimming.
  • Sightseeing tour of Trinidad. Transfer to Santa Clara and then back to Havana.
  • Departure day. A single transfer to Havana Airport is provided.
Thu 19 Nov - Sat 28 Nov Code BVC /06/15/ Adult$1,700 Status Limited Availability Book now
Thu 14 Jan - Sat 23 Jan Code BVC /01/16/ Adult$1,860 Status Guaranteed Book now
Thu 31 Mar - Sat 09 Apr Code BVC /02/16/ Adult$1,620 Status 1 more to guarantee Book now
Thu 04 Aug - Sat 13 Aug Code BVC /03/16/ Adult$1,780 Status Available Book now
Thu 10 Nov - Sat 19 Nov Code BVC /04/16/ Adult$1,860 Status Guaranteed Book now
Wed 21 Dec - Sat 31 Dec Code BVC /05/16/ Adult$1,940 Status Available Book now
Thu 02 Feb - Sat 11 Feb Code BVC /01/17/ Adult$1,860 Status Available Book now
Thu 09 Mar - Sat 18 Mar Code BVC /02/17/ Adult$1,860 Status Available Book now
Thu 06 Apr - Sat 15 Apr Code BVC /03/17/ Adult$1,620 Status Available Book now
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for joining the itinerary in Havana. Please refer to 'Joining Arrangements and Transfers' in the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing as 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee*

* Against Land Only services.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • trip direction
  • transfer
  • trek

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Havana. A single transfer from Havana Airport is provided.

    On arrival in Havana we have a single timed transfer to the hotel. There will be a single timed group transfer to the hotel in the old town. On arrival at the hotel we will meet our guide, who will advise on a good place to dine in the evening. Time allowing we have a chance to look around the town before dinner. KE Land Only package services begin with overnight at the group hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

  • Historic Havana city tour. Classic American car ride.

    After breakfast at the hotel we will have a briefing with our guide about the days ahead before heading out on our seeing tour of the city. Havana is one of the best preserved colonial cities in Latin America. Centuries of Spanish and African interaction have created a unique culture, and its years of isolation from globalisation have left the city unspoilt by the stores and fast food outlets that have now taken over so many of the world's city centres. The ice-cream coloured colonial buildings, shaded squares and palm-tree lined avenues give the city a real charm. We visit the historical centre, now classified as a UNESCO heritage site and explore the pretty squares, museums and streets. We will also visit the Rum Museum at the Havana Club and learn about the manufacture of Rum, and of course have a taste at the bar! We end our sightseeing tour with a ride in an iconic classic American car, which actually run off Russian Lada engines! The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the squares and streets of the centre on foot. If we feel like having a bit of fun we can have an optional salsa dance lesson (payable locally). In the evening we have dinner at a restaurant in the old town before returning to our hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bd

  • Transfer to Pinar del Rio. Tour of the Indian Caves by boat. Travel to Vinales.

    After breakfast we leave Havana in our vehicle and drive west to the province of Pinar del Rio. The drive takes approximately 2 hours along a good highway. On arrival in Pinar del Rio, the capital of the province, we visit the cigar factory for a fascinating insight into the history of the area and the production of cigars. The area between Pinar del Rio and Vinales (where we head next) is well known for its unusual landscape of conical hills, locally called mogotes and more technically known as limestone karsts. In between the mogotes there are vast tobacco plantations. Many slaves were brought here in the 1800’s to work on the fields alongside the local population and this synthesis has produced a unique culture. These fields still produce the best tobacco plants in the world and most of the work is still done by hand and animal traction, from cutting the leaves right through to rolling the cigars. The workers are also famous for their musical expression and traditional crafts. The whole of the Vinales valley is now classified as a UNESCO heritage site. The area is also famous for its large cave systems, during colonial times these caves were inhabited by indignenous Cubans hiding from Spanish persecution. These days the landscape has become a haven for climbers and cavers. We have lunch at a speciality ‘cave’ restaurant before visiting the ‘Cueva del Indio’ or the Indian Caves, which were inhabited by the Guanajatabey Amerindians before the Spanish arrived. This is the biggest system in Cuba and a short tour on a boat allows us to explore amongst the stalagmites and stalactites. We will also see remains of utensils, bones and several carvings on the walls of crocodiles, other animals and Indian chiefs smoking their pipes. In the late afternoon we head to our hotel in Vinales.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Morning walk in Vinales through the tobacco plantations. Afternoon free.

    We have a gentle day today with a lovely walk along the Sendero Coco Solo-Palmarito trail. This 8km walk should take us a maximum of 3 hours, and along the way we experience some beautiful views. We walk through the Valle del Silencio with the mogots of Coco Solo and Palmarito surrounding us. The walk takes us through tobacco plantations, the crops here are still farmed in the traditional day and we will see the farmers tending to their crops and and rolling their cigars by hand. We we have time we may also have a chance to visit one of the tobacco fincas (farmhouses). We return to Vinales, where we have lunch at our hotel. The rest of the afternoon is free to relax.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

    • Time 3 - 4 hrs walking

  • Drive to the Sierra del Escambray and Lake Hanabanilla.

    After breakfast we board the vehicle and leave Vinales for a long days journey to the Sierra del Escambray, stopping en route in the town of Jaguey Grande for lunch. After 6-7 hours driving we arrive at Lago Hanabanilla in the Escambray mountains. Our hotel is situated on the shores of Lake Hanabanilla between some lush forests and rolling hills.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Walk along the lake, boat ride and transfer to Topes de Collantes.

    From the hotel we start our day with a walk from the hotel. There are many different options for walks on this day, and we can make the walk longer or shorter by taking a short boat ride across the lake. The routes take us through humid forest, past waterfalls and over several streams. There is much bird life here, along with butterflies, orchids and other numerous other colourful flora. We have many viewpoints or ‘Miradors’ with stunning views back over the lake and the surrounding hills. Descending to the shores of the lake we take the short boat ride back to the hotel where we jump in the vehicle and transfer to our next base, located 32km up in the heart of the Topes de Collantes mountains at 800m.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

    • Time 3 - 4 hrs walking

  • Russian lorry ride into the forest, short walk. Transfer to Playa Ancon on the coast.

    After breakfast we have an exciting ride in a big Russian lorry! Probably not the most comfortable of travelling methods, but certainly exhilarating as we travel in the back, bouncing along the track with the lush forest all around us. We trundle along to Cuerva de Juana and then further to El Parque Cubano, where we stop for lunch. Afterwards, we have a chance to explore the pathways, waterfalls and natural pools that makes this area so magical. In the afternoon we transfer down to the coast (approx 1 hr) to our pleasant accommodation in Playa Ancon. Here we can relax by the beach and enjoy the sunset.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Boat to paradise island of Cayo Iguana islands for snorkelling and swimming.

    We awake in a Caribbean paradise, where sandy beaches merge into the crystal clear turquoise sea. After breakfast we board a boat to take us to the even more idyllic Cayo Iguana and Cayo Macho Afuera. Cayo Iguana, as the name rightly suggests, is a tiny white sandy island about 20 miles from the mainland and has a diverse marine life, mainly the rare endemic Cuban Iguana. Lunch will be served on the boat. We have plenty of time to relax, swim and snorkel in this area. There are many beautiful coral reefs here, which are host to numerous tropical fish, black corals, sponges, turtles and shellfish. After a fantastic day we return on the boat to the mainland and transfer back to our hotel in Playa Ancon for a second night. We have time to relax with a mojito before dinner.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Sightseeing tour of Trinidad. Transfer to Santa Clara and then back to Havana.

    Dating from the 16th century, and now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trinidad is quintessential Cuba. The heart of the historical town is the Plaza Mayor a palm filled open space flanked by churches, government buildings and one time mansion houses over 100 years old. In the morning we have a guided sightseeing walk around this charming old city, characterised by its cobbled streets, old colonial buildings and pastel-washed walls. After some time to explore we take the 1.5hr drive on to Santa Clara. Santa Clara is an interesting and famous stop in Cuba because this was where, in 1958, troops of Che Guevara ambushed the Batista army train full of munitions bound for Havana, a turning point in the Cuban revolution. There is a monument here to this attack, the ‘Tren Blindado’. From Santa Clara make the short drive to the restaurant for lunch, before driving the last 3hrs back to Havana, just in time for a celebratory farewell dinner and overnight at the hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Departure day. A single transfer to Havana Airport is provided.

    KE Land Only package service end after breakfast. Depending on your flight schedule, there will be time for some more sightseeing before departure. A single timed group airport transfer is provided.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • Professional English-speaking tour leader
  • Airport transfers
  • Accommodation as described in the trip dossier
  • Meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • All land transport required by the itinerary
  • All entrance fees required by the itinerary
  • Cuban Tourist Card (Cuban Visa)

  • Travel insurance
  • Airport departure taxes (if applicable)
  • Some meals as detailed in the Meal Plan
  • Tips to local staff
  • Cost of any optional activities
  • Miscellaneous personal spending

During this holiday you will spend 3 nights in a comfortable tourist-class hotel in the old town of Havana, 3 nights at tourist-class hotels with swimming pool in Vinales and Hanabanilla. In the Sierra Escambray you stay 1 night at a simple hotel, with an indoor swimming pool. At Playa Ancon you have 2 nights at an all inclusive hotel with bungalows near the beach. All hotels have en-suite facilities. Single rooms are available for a supplementary cost. If you are travelling by yourself, you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex. Additional hotel nights in Havana are also available. For hotel prices and single supplement costs please refer to the dates and prices page of the trip on our website or contact the office. Hotels are subject to availability and prices may vary.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

All meals, with the exception of 1 dinner and 1 lunch, are included in the holiday cost. When staying in Havana, with access to a wide choice of dining options and budgets, it makes sense to leave the choice to you. You should allow approximately $15 per meal for a total of 1 lunch and 1 dinner whilst in the city.

Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, African and Caribbean styles and varies according to the region. Typical Cuban main dishes are Arroz con Pollo (yellow-saffron rice with chicken), Carne con Papas (meat and potatoes), and Arroz con Bistec y Papas Fritas (white rice with beef steak & French fries). The Cuban diet is meat heavy and it can be difficult to cater for vegetarians. A typical Cuban breakfast is espresso and toast, although all hotels will give you the option to add eggs or may provide a buffet. Wine is not usually taken with meals and most Cubans will drink beer at mealtimes if they want an alcoholic beverage. 1 litre of water per person per day is provided, we do recommend that you drink more than this. Water is readily available to purchase.

The group will rendezvous at the group hotel in Havana. A single, timed group transfer from the airport is provided. This transfer will be timed to the arrival of the Air Europa flight and will normally be in the early evening. At the end of the trip a single, group transfer will be provided. This transfer will be timed to the departure of the Air Europa flight and will reach the airport in the early evening.

If your flight schedule does not permit you to take advantage of these transfers you will need to make your own transfer arrangements, or you can book an additional transfer through KE. Hotel contact details and an emergency number will be provided with your booking confirmation.

The group will be accompanied throughout the holiday by an experienced English-speaking Cuban leader. You will also have a driver for the whole trip, and specialist guides for certain excursions on the itinerary.

Approximately £150-200 (or equivalent in US$ or Euros) should be sufficient for miscellaneous expenses including your 2 not included meals, bar bills, airport departure tax and reasonable tips - approx. £40 for the local tour leader, guide and driver(s). The optional salsa lesson costs $16 per person. Water costs about $1 per 1.5 litre. If you intend to buy expensive souvenirs, you should budget accordingly (credit cards can be useful in this respect, although their use is still limited). Departure tax is 25 CUC. The national currency of Cuba is the Convertible Peso, which is on an exchange rate of one to one with the US Dollar. One Convertible Peso is broken down into a hundred cents. We recommend that you take Pounds Sterling or Euros cash to exchange into Convertible Pesos in Cuba. US Dollars may be exchanged for Convertible Pesos, but a service charge is usually levied. Money can be changed at the airport or in an exchange bureau or at a cuban 'cadeca'. It may also be possible to change money at your hotel in Havana. Banking hours tend to be Monday - Friday from 09.00 - 15.00hrs. It may be possible to obtain cash from ATM’s using a credit or debit card. ATM’s are only available in Havana and Trinidad and are not always reliable. Travellers cheques can be exchanged with difficulty, but not those drawn on US banks. Most hotels, travel suppliers, and larger restaurants will accept credit card payments (but not credit cards drawn on US banks). All credit card payments will incur a 12% charge. British travellers should check that their cards can be used, as around 20 percent of British-issued cards (including those of Abbey National) are outsourced to a US company that is barred from processing such transactions.

Tipping is the accepted way of saying ‘thank you’ to you local guide and driver. Tipping is entirely voluntary and should be dependent on good service. We advise you to tip as a group.

Your baggage will be carried in the vehicle throughout this trip. There is no weight restriction other than that imposed by your international carrier. However, we do ask you to restrict your luggage to one main bag and a small day bag. We recognise that for some of our holidays and for some of our travellers, the KE Trek Bag (see below) may not provide the best solution when packing for your trip. A bag with fitted wheels or a holdall with more than one compartment and more than one access zip can, in some circumstances, be more appropriate. We have no problem if you choose to use an alternative bag.

Our holidays are normally designed with minimal 'down time' at the start of the trip, but having a day or two at the beginning will have the additional benefit of allowing you time to get over the stress of travelling across time zones, leaving you refreshed and ready for your holiday. We can easily arrange for you to have additional nights and airport transfers.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.

You must bring the following items:

  • Comfortable hiking boots or walking shoes
  • Trainers / sneakers or walking sandals
  • Socks
  • Lightweight trousers / pants
  • Waterproof over-trousers / rain-pants
  • Underwear
  • Shirts or T-shirts (wicking)
  • Fleece jacket or warm jumper
  • Windproof/waterproof jacket
  • Sunhat
  • Eyewear - Sunglasses
  • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)
  • Antibacterial handwash
  • Wet wipes
  • Washbag and toiletries
  • Small towel
  • Swimwear
  • Small padlock (to lock your KE kit bag)
  • Daypack c.25 litres
  • Selection of dry bags (to keep trek bag contents dry)
  • Headtorch / headlamp with spare batteries

    Basic personal first aid kit, including: A broad spectrum antibiotic, antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, plasters (band aids) and blister treatment, Insect repellent (DEET), and re-hydration salts (Dioralite). Glucose tablets and multi-vitamin tablets are also a good idea.

The following items are optional:

  • Alternative footwear for sightseeing / evening wear
  • Travel clothes
  • Camera, media, spare batteries
  • Pocket-knife (note: always pack sharp objects in hold baggage)
  • Own mask & snorkel
  • Water bottles 1 Litre / 1 quart (x2)

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

Transit via Canada

From 15 March 2016

All citizens (except for USA citizens) will require an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorisation), and you must get this before boarding any Canada-bound aircraft or ship, or entering on a land border. The fee is CAD$7 and you should apply for it at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta-start.asp

NOTE: This is required if you are transiting through Canada

Visa Cuba

UK and USA passport holders do require a Tourist Card. If you are a UK passport holder and travelling on one of our scheduled departure we will send you the Cuba Tourist Visa Card prior to departure.

Although US citizens are still not allowed to visit Cuba for the purposes of tourism, there is change in the air and in July 2015 the US opened the embassy in Havana . We recommend that you consulate a local travel agency for advice on Cuban Visas and direct flights for the latest information.

You should contact your GP or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations or other preventive measures. You should be up to date with routine courses and boosters as recommended in the UK e.g. diphtheria-tetanus-polio and measles-mumps-rubella, along with hepatitis A and typhoid. A good online resource is Travel Health Pro.

The unit of currency in Cuba is the Convertible Peso.

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:


As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: www.fco.gov.uk. North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: www.travel.state.gov for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

Cuba enjoys a warm, tropical maritime climate and, at the time of our trips, the daytime temperatures, both on the coast and in the hills will range between 20°C and 28°C. Evening temperatures are a little cooler but usually still warm. It’s entirely possibly that we won’t experience any rain. However, it’s always best to carry a lightweight waterproof in your Camelbak/daypack just in case.

  • From Columbus to Castro and Beyond - Jaime Suchlicki
  • Cuba: A New History - Richard Gott
  • To Cuba and Back – Richard Henry Dana

Cuba ITMB - International Travel Maps 1:600,000

The map is double-sided, dividing the country west/east with a good overlap between the sides. Altitude colouring with spot heights indicate the topography, with swaps, seasonal rivers, and coastal reefs also marked. The map shows Cuba`s road network including selected local roads and country tracks with locations of petrol stations and driving distances on main routes. Railway lines are included and local airports are marked. Also shown are internal administrative boundaries and names of the provinces.

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