Viva Cuba

Code: CUWHW

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Activity types:

  • Central location
  • Culture
  • Flora
  • New 2017 Itinerary

Level

  • Easier
More information

Difficulty indicator

Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.

More about difficulty levels

From £2,699.00 - 14 nights

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Holiday overview

Download trip notes

Walking in Cuba is a great way to see the country, to appreciate its colours, aromas, sounds and sights at a laid back pace.

Our Viva Cuba holiday concentrates on the western and central regions of Cuba, seeing in detail the mixture of historic towns and cities, small villages lost in time, lush tropical hills, fertile valleys of tobacco fields, limestone hills and smooth Caribbean beaches.

It's a really exciting time to visit Cuba, a country on the cusp of change. Be aware that the infrastructure and accommodation may be more basic than you might expect. See our general information tab for further detail.

Holiday highlights

  • Spanish colonial cities of old Havana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos
  • Walk in Viňales with limestone ‘mogotes’, tobacco fields and rainforest
  • Discover Cuba’s history and exotic culture
  • Stay in Cuban 'bed & breakfast' accommodation
  • Explore the Topes de Collantes trails and the Caribbean coast
  • Walks in Cuba’s countryside reveal the timeless heart of the country
  • See western and central Cuba in detail

Price includes:

  • 14 nights’ accommodation in en-suite rooms
  • Full Board from dinner on arrival to breakfast on departure (minus 1 lunch)
  • A full programme of guided walks led by a local tour director, local guides and an HF Holidays' leader
  • All sightseeing, and entrance fees
  • Travel by air-conditioned coach/minivan and open-sided jeeps
  • Tips

Accommodation

 

2016

Cuba's infrastructure cannot be compared to that of other Caribbean destinations. While city hotels are generally good 3 and 4-star standard, (this is Cuban star rating) accommodation in rural areas is in guesthouses, where the facilities are more basic. Despite Cuba's increasing popularity, it is still a developing country and some of the accommodation is not of a standard that is perhaps expected from a Caribbean destination. The accommodation is all air conditioned and in excellent locations. As Cuba becomes more popular, hotels are only confirmed 2 or 3 days prior to travel. Even then, things could change during the tour.  Many of the hotel facilities are still as they were 60 years ago, and slowly money is only just now being invested in improving the hotels or the infrastructure. If you can see past the accommodation problems, and really travel with a sense of adventure, then I'm sure the locals and the scenery will more than win you over.

Although we use the best available hotels in these areas, standards of service can be leisurely, but this is easily compensated by the warm welcome and Cuba's unique culture and scenery.

Our holiday starts (2 nights) and finishes (2 nights) in Havana, in the middle of the Vedado district of Havana, overlooking the harbour, seawall and city. A magical setting, and an excellent introduction to Cuba. The hotel is likely to be the Hotel Capri or the Hotel Nacional

Los Jazmines  (or similar) (2 nights) is our accommodation in the beautiful Vinales Valley; its comfortable rooms and pool make the perfect place to relax after our walks. We then head to Hotel La Moka, where we spend 2 nights. 

On to the modern facilities and city scenes of Hotel Faro Luna (1 night), at Cienfuegos, before returning to the countryside again and the stunning setting of Los Helechos (2 nights), at Topes de Collantes. This hotel is basic and can be crowded.

Our penultimate stay is in Cuban bed & breakfast accommodation (Casas Particulares), in Trinidad,(3 nights) where we enjoy wonderful local hospitality and get a real insight into Cuban culture, before returning to Havana. Guests will be accommodated in different properties on the same street, those booked in a single room will be staying in a house where other HF guests are staying. All bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms with hot and cold water. They have fans and/or air conditioning. Each house will have its own character and will be decorated according to the tastes of their owner. Food will be hearty home cooking and breakfasts will be in the house where you sleep. Dinner will be in different homes/restaurants each evening. Please note, it is likely that beds will not be made during your stay.


2017

Cuba's infrastructure cannot be compared to that of other Caribbean destinations. While city hotels are generally good 3 and 4-star standard, (this is Cuban star rating) accommodation in rural areas is in guesthouses, where the facilities are more basic. Despite Cuba's increasing popularity, it is still a developing country and some of the accommodation is not of a standard that is perhaps expected from a Caribbean destination. The accommodation is all air conditioned and in excellent locations. As Cuba becomes more popular, hotels are only confirmed 2 or 3 days prior to travel. Even then, things could change during the tour.  Many of the hotel facilities are still as they were 60 years ago, and slowly money is only just now being invested in improving the hotels or the infrastructure. If you can see past the accommodation problems, and really travel with a sense of adventure, then I'm sure the locals and the scenery will more than win you over.

Although we use the best available hotels in these areas, standards of service can be leisurely, but this is easily compensated by the warm welcome and Cuba's unique culture and scenery.

Our holiday starts (2 nights) and finishes (2 nights) in Havana, in the middle of the Vedado district of Havana, overlooking the harbour, seawall and city. A magical setting, and an excellent introduction to Cuba. The hotel is likely to be the Hotel Capri or the Hotel Nacional.

Los Jazmines  (3 nights) is our accommodation in the beautiful Vinales Valley; its comfortable rooms and pool make the perfect place to relax after our walks. If we are not in Los Jasmines, then we'll be staying at Casas Particulares (bed & breakfast) with evening meals in local Paladars.

We'll then travel to Santa Clara where we'll be at Hotel La Granjita or Los Caneyes (2 nights)

On to Trinidad for 3 nights in Casas Particulares where we enjoy wonderful local hospitality and get a real insight into Cuban culture. Guests will be accommodated in different properties on the same street, those booked in a single room will be staying in a house where other HF guests are staying. All bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms with hot and cold water. They have fans and/or air conditioning. Each house will have its own character and will be decorated according to the tastes of their owner. Food will be hearty home cooking and breakfasts will be in the house where you sleep. Dinner will be in different homes/restaurants each evening. Please note, it is likely that beds may not be made during your stay.

On to the modern facilities and city scenes of Hotel Faro Luna or similar (2 nights), at Cienfuegos before returning to Havana for our final 2 nights.

 

 

 

Itinerary

Download trip notes

Walks are 2-6 miles (3 - 10km). All but one walk have an ascent of less than 1000ft (300m), the exception having an ascent of less than 1500ft (450m). Travelling days include sightseeing stops, or short walks. 

2016 Itinerary

Day 1: To Havana - Fly to Havana and transfer to the hotel for 2 nights.

Day 2: Havana - Morning walking tour of the historic old centre of Havana, visiting the Plaza de Cathedral, Plaza Vieja and the old city walls. After lunch in the city, the afternoon is free to take in the sights.

Day 3: To Viňales - Drive west into the beautiful Viňales valley, a picturesque region of small farms and old tobacco plantations. This afternoon walk in the unusual scenery of limestone ‘mogotes’ on the Palmarito trail, which leads through small villages with a traditional way of life. Stay in Viñales for 2 nights.

Day 4: Viňales Valley - Walk on the Tradiciones Campesinas trail through tobacco fields and fruit plantations and with wonderful birdlife.

Day 5: To Las Terrazas - Travel to Soroa and follow a circular trail to Las Ruinas, the ruins of French coffee plantations, with remarkable birdlife and plants, then a visit to the orchid gardens. Continue to Las Terrazas, named after the picturesque hillside terraces of the area. Stay for 2 nights.

Day 6: Las Terrazas - Today’s moderate walk is on the El Contento trail around the Taburete mountain, with great views of the tropical hills, then down to the San Juan river for a refreshing swim.

Day 7: To Cienfuegos - Travel to the southern coast and the port city of Cienfuegos for 1 night. Take a stroll around the well-preserved historic centre and the attractive bay.

Day 8: To Topes de Collantes - Head into the interior and the unspoilt landscapes of the Sierra de Escambray, where a good network of paths offers wonderful scenery and a variety of wildlife habitats. Stay for 2 nights.

Day 9: Topes de Collantes - Take a short morning walk in the Topes de Collantes hills to the Javira waterfall and lunch at La Gallega ranch.

Day 10: To Trinidad - Walk on the El Cubano trail, with interesting medicinal plant life and beautiful hummingbirds, leading to a waterfall before continuing to Trinidad. Accommodation for the next 3 nights will be in Cuban bed & breakfasts.

Day 11: Trinidad - Walk in the Valley of Sugar Mills, among the remnants of large sugar plantations. This afternoon take a walking tour of historic Trinidad which, with its cobbled streets, colourful churches and quiet plazas, seems to be untouched by the modern world.

Day 12: Trinidad - enjoy a day at leisure by the beach or explore the charming streets of Trinidad.

Day 13: To Havana - Travel back to Havana (for 2 nights), stopping off at the Bay of Pigs en route. This evening take a guided walk on Havana’s atmospheric waterfront promenade, the Malecon. We'll enjoy a cocktail at El Floridita, one of Hemingway's old hangouts.

Day 14: Havana - Day at leisure in Havana to explore the city, relax, shop for souvenirs or take an optional excursion. We enjoy a transfer in classic American cars and finish with a special farewell dinner. For those that want to, carry on to a local bar for some Cuban sounds and possible dancing. 

Day 15: To London - Transfer to the airport for the return flight.

Day 16: London - Early morning arrival.


2017 itinerary

Day 1: To Havana - Fly to Havana and transfer to the hotel for 2 nights.

Day 2: Havana - Morning walking tour of the historic old centre of Havana, visiting the Plaza de Cathedral, Plaza Vieja and the old city walls. After lunch in the city, the afternoon is free to take in the sights.

Day 3: To Viňales - Drive west into the beautiful Viňales valley, a picturesque region of small farms and old tobacco plantations. This afternoon walk in the unusual scenery of limestone ‘mogotes’ on the Palmarito trail, which leads through small villages with a traditional way of life. Stay in Viñales for 3 nights. (Distance Havana - Vinales 210km approx)

Day 4: Viňales Valley - Walk on the Tradiciones Campesinas trail through tobacco fields and fruit plantations and with wonderful birdlife.

Day 5: Viňales Valley - Free morning. Later in the afternoon walk on the Sendero Valle del Silencio through this enchanting countryside. Famous for its mogotes, karsts and tabacco plantations, then we will have dinner for Wilfredo’s Organic Farm, high on the hill above Viñales to enjoy sunset and a delicious organic dinner.

Day 6: Santa Clara - Early breakfast and set off towards Central Cuba. We will make a stop on the way for lunch “Pio Cua Restaurant”. From here on to Santa Clara to visit the Che Guevara memorial, resting place for Che and sixteen of his men who were killed in action in 1967 CE in Bolivia. Stay in Santa Clara for 2 nights. (Distance Vinales - Santa Clara approx 502km)

Day 7: Santa Clara - In the morning we depart for the city of Remedios, located fifty minutes to the Northwest of Santa Clara, well off the beaten track. Remedios is one of the oldest towns in Cuba and the 17th century colonial architecture dominates this peaceful town. Remedios was declared a National Monument town, and on our arrival we depart on a relaxed walking tour of the historic centre. The main attraction of the square is the colonial church “Iglesia Mayor” of San Juan Bautista thirteen beautifully decorated gold altars. Time for lunch and drive back to Santa Clara

Day 8: To Trinidad - Drive to Jibacoa then continue in Russian trucks to the starting point of the Guanayara trail in Topes de Collantes. Walk to the Javira waterfall and lunch at La Gallega ranch. After that we drive to Trinidad town for 3 nights. (Distance Santa Clara - Topes de Collantes 75km, Topes to Trinidad 25km)

Day 9: Trinidad - Walk in the Valley of Sugar Mills, among the remnants of large sugar plantations. This afternoon take a walking tour of historic Trinidad which, with its cobbled streets, colourful churches and quiet plazas, seems to be untouched by the modern world.

Day 10: Trinidad- enjoy a day at leisure by the beach or explore the charming streets of Trinidad. A picnic lunch is included today.

Day 11: To Cienfuegos - After breakfast we drive to Hanabanilla and begin our walk around Hanabanilla Reservoir “Trek la Atalaya”. Lunch in Rio Negro Restaurant. After lunch, we transfer 1 ½ hours to Cienfuegos, a town settled by French emigrants descendants more than 150 years ago, and check into our hotel for 2 nights. (Distance Trinidad - Hanabanilla 95km, Hanabanilla - Cienfuegos 50km)

Day 12: Cienfuegos - Excursion to visit Cienfuegos Botanical Garden. Visit the Orchid Garden Macradenia, Palmira, and an orchard. We leave the garden and enjoy this beautiful town. Cienfuegos is one of Cuba’s most charming cities. Set on the shores of a huge natural bay, the city was originally one of Cuba’s most important harbours. Settled by French immigrants fleeing the Slave uprisings of Haiti, the city has elegant boulevards and classical homes, as well as spacious squares and one of Cuba’s most famous theatres (Teatro Terry). We visit the theatre and the main square.

Day 13: To Havana - Travel back to Havana (for 2 nights), stopping off at the Bay of Pigs en route. This evening take a guided walk on Havana’s atmospheric waterfront promenade, the Malecon. We'll enjoy a cocktail at El Floridita, one of Hemingway's old hangouts. (Distance Cienfuegos - Bay of Pigs 170km, Bay of Pigs - Havana 200km)

Day 14: Havana - We leave our hotel in classic American cars and travel to Finca Vigia, the home of Ernest Hemingway. After the visit we travel to Cojimar, where he moored his boat, Pilar. The fishing village is full of memories of the great American novelist and he kept a home close by for more than 20 years. We enjoy a daiquiri and lunch at one of his favourite restaurants, Las Terrazas, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. We finish with a special farewell dinner. For those that want to, carry on to a local bar for some Cuban sounds and possible dancing. 

Day 15: To London - Transfer to the airport for the return flight.

Day 16: London - Early morning arrival.

General Information

Passport
British nationals require a full valid passport with two months validity from the date of departure from Cuba, and a visa or tourist card to enter Cuba. Other passport holders please check with your nearest Cuban embassy or consulate for entry requirements.

Visas
For UK passport holders, the Tourist Card is included in the price of your holiday. The application form will be sent out to you with your booking confirmation. Those who do not have British passports with full right of residence in the UK should check requirements with a Cuban Embassy or Consulate.

Health Advice

Before booking, you should check with your doctor to see if any health precautions are needed. The following websites provide a wealth of information on travelling and health: www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk www.traveldoctor.co.uk

Vaccines: Hepatitis A & Tetanus vaccinations are recommended. Diphtheria, Rabies and Typhoid are sometimes recommended too. Dengue fever and meningitis may also occur.

General standards of health and health services in Cuba are of a high standard. However, there is no reciprocal agreement with the UK. As with all international travel, medical insurance is essential.

Cuban authorities have strengthened their health screening at entry ports; if you show symptoms of a temperature or infectious disease you may be subjected to a medical examination. The Cuban authorities are carrying out chemical fumigation across the island to control the spread of mosquito-borne diseases; the chemicals used may cause some discomfort if you come into contact with them.

Climate
Temperatures in Cuba are fairly constant year-round with sub-tropical heat being cooled by north-easterly trade winds. Average temperatures are 27°C (81°F) in February and 26°C (78°F) in November. Cuba has 80% humidity year-round and a wet season running from May to September and this is the main hurricane season.

Food
Vegetarianism is a relatively new concept in this part of the world, and vegetarian cuisine is therefore rather basic. Fish, chicken and pork are the most common options, meals in Cuba can sometimes be rather bland and choices can sometimes be limited. In general we do our best to accommodate dietary requirements, but it is important for travellers to Cuba to realise that there are limitations on food variety and food can be repetitive. You may wish to consider bringing some snacks with you.

Money
There is a dual currency system in operation in Cuba, and tourists and foreign visitors are required to use the Convertible Peso (CUC’s). Cuban Peso’s or ‘moneda nacional’ can be used in small shops, cafeterias and street stalls away from the tourist centres, although this is a rare occurence. The import and export of local currency is prohibited.

Since 2004 US Dollars are no longer legal tender in Cuba. It is possible to exchange US Dollars cash but there are charges of around 20% to do so. MasterCard and Visa are increasingly accepted, provided they are not issued by a US bank, or a bank with links to the USA, but hefty fees are often added. ATMs are more common but not everywhere.

Pounds Sterling, Euros and Canadian Dollars are readily changeable. CUC notes can be exchanged for other currencies on departure at the airport.

Credit cards can be taken as back-up although they incur a commission of over 10%. Traveller’s cheques are not advised.

Tipping
Tips are included on this holiday.

Cuba survival guide

So many people are wanting to visit Cuba at the moment that we have put together a survival guide which helps you be prepared for a trip to Cuba, the country that is ready to entertain and confound.

Havana is no longer frozen in time, at least not completely. With Cuba’s guarded openness to private enterprise grabbing hold, classic American cars and salsa singers now share the cityscape with new and inventive offerings in food, culture, night life and hospitality. No other city in Latin America, or perhaps the world, can claim to be having just the kind of moment that Havana is experiencing now after so many decades of being shut off from the rest of the world.

For visitors, the capital is a mash-up of past and present, freedom and restriction. It’s a city of architectural decay, but also creativity, where artists have turned a defunct cooking-oil factory into a performance space, bar and music venue that on any given night makes Brooklyn look as cool as a suburban Ikea. It’s a city where finding ingredients for a stellar menu requires feats of Promethean ingenuity; where opera is subversive, and kitschy too; where the Internet is just arriving, fully formed and censored; and where young Cubans without money are fleeing, while those with connections and ideas await great success.

Officially, some limits for Americans remain in place. Despite restored relations with Cuba, tourism is still banned by the embargo but Americans are flocking to the island, wanting to savour the “forbidden fruit” before Starbucks and McDonalds arrive.  Adventurous Europeans have been travelling to Cuba for years but it’s only recently that Cuba has become so popular that travellers might mistake it for a mainstream destination.  

Expect the unexpected

The first rule of any trip to Cuba is that nothing is set in stone.  Even though your booking may have been made a year ago and HF Holidays has confirmed that all is in place, things can change quickly and at the last minute.  The Cuban tourism industry continues to be controlled almost entirely by the State and its reservations systems are fallible and rickety.   By law, most of your services will have to be booked through the central reservations systems – designed for the good old days when barely a European or an American came to the island.   Now that Cuba is so popular, the system is critically overstretched and things do go wrong frequently.    Go with the flow and take it as part of the Cuban experience.  

Cuba really is buzzing at the moment and you will probably come across your fair share of frustrations and hotel cancellations - enjoy Cuba for what it is!  A gloriously disorganized, original and off beat place.   If your guide does announce a last minute change of plans, rest assured that everything possible has been done to try and avoid the change. 

As you will be staying in Casas Particulares (Cuban bed & breakfasts), and eating meals in paladars then you will experience the beginnings of private enterprise in Cuba and you’ll appreciate how efficient, warm and hospitable Cubans can be when they are given the opportunity to run things for themselves.  

What will my accommodation be like in Cuba?

Cuba is experiencing an unprecedented rush of visitors; tourism is up by more than 30% in one year and all accommodation is currently very overbooked. The Cuban Ministry of Tourism has responded to this rush by raising the prices for accommodation and other services by 100% in the last 12 months in an attempt to control numbers of visitors to Cuba. But people still keep coming so expect to find full hotels and restaurants wherever you go in Cuba.    

Guaranteed hotel reservations are the biggest issue at the moment and it’s wise to expect your accommodation to change at the last minute as the rickety reservations system buckles under the sheer weight of numbers wanting to stay in Cuba.  Even though we have reserved rooms months in advance, the central state-run reservations system will only confirm reservations a week or so before your arrival and will often make last minute changes to confirmed reservations. Please understand that we and our local agent in Cuba will have done everything within their power to get the best possible solution for you. These last minute changes are part and parcel of any trip to Cuba for the foreseeable future.  

Hotels in Cuba are famously overbooked and unkempt. For years Cuba languished as a forgotten backwater and the chic hotels of the 1950’s slowly became more shabby than chic.   Think Fawlty Towers and you’ll begin to get the picture!  While some decent restoration work has been implemented on many hotels, especially in Havana, there is very little budget for maintenance so it’s quite common for hotel rooms to have minor plumbing problems and noisy air conditioning.  It only takes a short visit to a Cuban home to realize that conditions in hotels are far superior to the average Cuban dwelling.  

Regular visitors to Cuba quip that the hotel star system doesn’t really apply in Cuba.  The general rule of thumb is to remove a star or 2 from the advertised standard to get a fair idea of what to expect. 

As hotels become more expensive and as more people want to have a genuine experience in Cuba,  casas particulares are becoming a great alternative solution.  These can range from quite luxurious and stylish hostels in Havana to very simple country rooms in Trinidad and Viñales.   Even though you will be staying in someone’s home, don’t expect too much interaction with your hosts.   Most understand that their guests want privacy so will leave you alone unless you specifically make attempts to strike up conversation.  

Rooms have en-suite bathrooms (poor water pressure is the norm and most towns only have running water on alternate days so shower quickly to ensure the water tanks don´t run dry!) and air- conditioning units.   Décor can be an eye-opener; some rooms will be so plain that they resemble a room in a friary while others are painted in a carnival of colours and decorated with kitsch silky curtains and matching cushions.   All will be spotlessly clean.  

What’s the food like?

Until recently the simple answer to any question about Cuban food was to state that it was pretty awful!   Dreary meals of rice, beans with chicken or pork and a cabbage salad is what the Cubans have been eating for decades so it’s easy to see why Cubans chefs have got into a bit of a rut. Things are changing, however, and there are now some decent paladars ( private restaurants ) in most towns. True, the menus can be a bit repetitive but what’s not to like about cheap lobster?! 

Don’t expect spicy food as Cubans hate anything with a hint of “picante” but do expect plenty of gutsy home cooking with an emphasis on creole cooking :  black beans, fresh fish, lobster, roast pork and chicken dishes are the staples with more and more restaurants trying to do something a little different with the limited range of ingredients available locally.

Are there any health worries?

Cuba is a tropical country so it’s a good idea to take extra care with personal hygiene to avoid stomach upsets and infections.  We recommend that you carry anti-bacterial gel with you at all times and use several times daily and especially before and after meals.  

If you’re keen on Cuban cocktails then we recommend that you only drink them in really clean restaurants and bars where the water for making ice will have been filtered.  When in doubt ask for your drink without ice or go for bottled or canned drinks instead. Tap water is drunk by the locals but will almost certainly give foreigners stomach upsets.

You should bring a good insect repellent with you and make sure that you apply both during the day and night.  The Aedis Aegypti mosquito bites during the day and is the carrier of dengue and zika.  While it is highly unlikely that you will catch either disease in Cuba, mosquito bites can cause an allergic reaction or become infected in the hot, humid climate.

If you’re staying by the beach, make sure you apply repellent in the morning and in the evenings just before sunset when tiny sand flies nibble. The bite won’t itch for 24 hours but when it does, boy does it itch! Take anti-histamines orally for a couple of days to stop the itch.

Health and Safety

Generally speaking Health and Safety hasn’t come to Cuba yet. The basics are there so you don’t need to worry about whether your bus is safe to travel. It is. In general there is no obsession with health and safety and many of the safeguards we take for granted are not in place.

So expect some or all of the following:

Potholes  Part and parcel of any road trip in Cuba.  

Cracked Pavements.    Most pavements have their fair share of cracks and uneven surfaces so take care when walking – even in the centre of Havana – and wear comfortable shoes.

Jineteros This is the local Cuban word for a hustler; offering to take you to eat at their cousin’s paladar, or to drink a mojito in their home or offering you cut price cigars they are the most charming band of hustlers in the world and can usually be batted off with a polite “No Thanks”

Dodgy Electrics.   Loose wires and electric showers are part and parcel of a Cuban home.   It’s not unusual to see loose wires in hotels and some of the casas particulares still use the electric showers.    We would love to eliminate all of them but these risks to health and safety will probably be part of Cuba for a number of years to come.  

Dehydration It’s quite easy to get seriously de-hydrated , especially during the first days of your trip as you acclimatize to the heat and humidity.    Make sure you drink plenty of mineral water and try to avoid drinking too many mojitos.

Standards of hygiene.   Cubans are extremely clean and house proud but lack the cleaning products which we take for granted.   This can make it extremely hard to give the impression of a well cleaned bathroom when, for example, the bathtub is stained by hard water deposits.   Replacement taps, toilet seats or broken tiles can be impossible to buy due to the US Embargo which still makes importation prohibitively expensive, so even hotels sometimes lack the basics or fail to replace leaking taps or faulty toilets.   This can give the impression that high standards of hygiene are not being demanded of cleaning staff.     No matter what standard of accommodation you’ll be staying in, expect some of the equipment to be faulty!  

 

For flights information please see the Dates and Prices tab

Leaders

Peter Shortt

Peter has travelled extensively around the mountain countries of the world. His favourite places are the Anti Atlas in Morocco and the Himalayas, both for their outstanding views but also for the cultural differences he enjoys sharing with guests. A later interest in life has come through exploring the economic and cultural changes taking place in old communist countries such as Vietnam and Cuba, and trying out his salsa steps. In his spare time he volunteers as a leader for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

He has worked as a guide and instructor in one form or another for most of has life and led for HF Holidays since 2001.

Peter is leading 7 November 2016

Frank Waterworth

Frank has been leading for HF Holidays for 12 years, both in the UK and overseas. His long haul trips have taken him to Kenya, Ecuador, Morocco, Jordan and Cuba. Originally from Yorkshire, but currently living in Scotland, he has a keen interest in history and wildlife. His other interests include volunteering for his local Sustrans group and a local woodland group. Last year he extended his volunteering experience with two months in southern Africa and South America. He finds Cuba an exciting and vibrant place and he is looking forward to leading in Cuba again.

Frank is leading 21 November 2016 and 10 April 2017

Alastair Clark

Alastair lives in England but has a Scottish mother who named him after Sgurr Alasdair in the Cuillin mountain range on the Isle of Skye.

He has a career history of working in formal and informal adult education and he has a strong personal interest in the outdoors and cultures. His passion for discovery of the outdoors and new cultures has taken him walking, cycling and canoeing throughout the UK and in Germany, France, Morocco and Korea. He is currently an educational consultant and language teacher and has led walking and cycling holidays for HFH since 2011.  

He volunteered in an international earthquake relief team in Guatemala, has visited Jamaica independently and recently led a schools camping expedition to Ghana, West Africa. 

He says 'As the country enters a new period in its external relations, there is no time like the present to explore the landscape and blend of cultures which combine to make Cuba a Caribbean island which will not disappoint anyone with an appetite for discovery. I still get a great thrill from being when they are discovering somewhere new.'

Alastair is leading 6 February 2017

Reviews

Date & Rating Customer Review HF Holidays says
9 May 2016, 7:09 p.m.

Service rating:

++

Product rating:

++

Service review:

Good

Product review:

I have a very sensitive tummy and went on this trip with some trepidation and a full medicine kit. I stuck rigorously to the food recommendations in all the guide books and whilst this limited my diet it did mean that I survived the holiday without major upset.

The walks were shorter than expected but we were more than happy to stop, look and then listen to the very knowledgeable local guides who showed us the birds and explained the medicinal properties of the plants. After all you can walk at home but you can't see a pair of Tocororo displaying on the beach at Brighton.

We had been warned that the accommodation wasn't going to be all it might have been and were not disappointed. However we hardly spent any time in our rooms so this did not really matter. The experience of staying in people's homes for a couple of nights - the 'casas' was well worthwhile.

Food was surprisingly varied and provided in vast quantity - a simpler and shorter lunchtime menu would have been appreciated in the hot weather.

The HF leader was excellent and the local guide was good and knowledgeable and able to answer all our many often difficult questions. The coach driver, who accompanied us throughout the holiday, inspired considerable confidence at all times.

Nowhere else in the world is quite like Cuba is at the moment. It may not last long - go now!
8 May 2016, 8:02 p.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

+

Service review:

Efficient booking system.
Holiday information on the website could perhaps provide more detail including suggested items to take (eg universal sink plug, hand sanitizer and own supply of toilet paper for Cuba holiday)

Product review:

Overall an enjoyable experience. Great group of people and good leader. The local guide could have engaged more with the group and on occasions came across as surly.
Itinerary was varied and it was good to have time in Havana at both the beginning and end of the holiday. Possibly not a holiday for anyone wanting more demanding walking and there was a lot of emphasis on bird watching (which was fine with us)
Fun activities Russian Truck/vintage car ride /Floridita bar/salsa lesson. Lots of laughs.
Holiday let down by accommodation at two hotels in particular Los Helechos and Faro Luna. Rooms in state of disrepair and those in annexe particularly bad eg mould, electrics, water on floor ,filthy indoor pool, food hygiene and generally dismal with no view. Don't expect any assistance with cases (no lifts either) However sheets on beds and bathrooms clean.
Hotel Capri good with excellent food and roof top bar and great staff service(far preferable to the Hotel Nacionale where we were originally booked I think)Hotel Moka saved by its location. Casa 's were a bit of a let down .
Some interesting meals but overall the food was pretty dull and repetitive ( we understand the reason for this.)
Other suggestions would be to not have a 2 hour sit down lunch every day (tho I don't think the alternative of a packed lunch is probably an option).
Also on penultimate day (which involved a long drive) we stopped at a coastal resort but were told by our guide we could not swim as there was no time . In fact there was plenty of time if given the option not to partake of the lunch which was a buffet anyway. We were also then dropped at a small 'museum of the revolution' which was all in Spanish (most of us went to the larger Rev Museum the following day in Havana anyway) so would gladly have forgone this visit and stayed longer at the resort.
Poor organisation at Cienfuegos meant little time was spent in this interesting town and most of it was spent waiting for everyone to use the toilet)
3 May 2016, 8:58 p.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

+

Service review:

Good

Product review:

We enjoyed our holiday and found Cuba fascinating. There had been changes to advertised accommodation but we found it comfortable. Walks were short but surrounded by stunning countryside, flowers and bird life. We had knowledgable guides, enjoyed the history, architectural gems and sights in Havana and Trinidad, together with music,cocktails,classic cars and the friendly people of Cuba.
30 Apr 2016, 10:54 a.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

+

Service review:

We were looked after very well in Cuba and all went to plan. It was so good having paid all the "extras" and not having to worry about tips, entrance fees etc. Would definitely go again with HF

Product review:

A couple of the hotels needed improvements, but in general we were comfortable and thought the bed and breakfast in Trinidad was excellent. Wonderful walks and well informed local guides. Too much food but the Cubans wanted to look after us and we did enjoy the cocktails! Amazing experience and lots of information about the country. Really good holiday.
28 Apr 2016, 7:09 p.m.

Service rating:

++

Product rating:

++

Service review:

The whole holiday was well planned and managed. The walking and sightseeing was just right in some hot and at times humid weather. Keep up the holidays to Cuba as it is a country of variety, sounds and enchantment.

Product review:

This was a very enjoyable holiday seeing the different sites and sounds of Cuba from the bustling city of Havana, the rural countryside and national parks, to the historic and beautiful town of Trinidad.
28 Apr 2016, 6:48 p.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

+

Service review:

I really enjoyed the holiday and learned so much about Cuba and it's social and political history. Our HF guide could not have been more helpful and the local guides were excellent, working tirelessly to make sure that we fully benefited from their expertise and experience

Product review:

My only real disappointment in the holiday was that there was so little walking. In the original brochure the description said that we would cover between two and ten miles each day. I doubt if we did more than three on any given day an although I enjoyed the bird watching and learning about the trees and plants it became somewhat repetitive after 3 days.
28 Apr 2016, 9:27 a.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

-

Service review:

We enjoyed the New Zealand holiday, but our second experience in Cuba was a disappointment

Product review:

Weather was excellent, local guide was excellent, but this was not a holiday, it was an experience. There were of course enjoyable moments and lots of it was very interesting, but some of the accommodation was appalling, and some of the tourist experiences were highly amateur and repetitive. There was a greater than 50% chance of getting diarrhoea, despite the most stringent vigilance. It was definitely not a walking holiday.
Thank you for your comments. We’re very sorry that you did not enjoy some aspects of your holiday. Cuba is in a period of significant change; and the popularity of holidays here has never been higher. This is putting huge strains on the tourism infrastructure, and unfortunately this sometimes has a knock-on effect on our guests. Cuba does have some really positive aspects, notably the scenery, people and fascinating history and I am glad there were some elements of your holiday that you enjoyed. Thank you.



Toni McNulty
Customer Relations Manager
HF Holidays
31 Mar 2016, 8:56 a.m.

Service rating:

-

Product rating:

--

Service review:

We have had several holidays abroad in the past & HF has been excellent but the holiday to Cuba was dreadful.

Product review:

The holiday was not at all as we had expected from the brochure when we booked last year. Accommodation was changed last minute, even the Cuban Guide did not know on the morning where we would be staying that evening. The quality of the Cassas we stayed in were poor even by backpackers standards.
Thank you for your feedback. We’re really sorry that there were some elements of the holiday that you did not enjoy and we sincerely apologise for the accommodation and itinerary changes that happened in Cuba. Please email us with your feedback so we can reply in detail - info@hfholidays.co.uk

Toni McNulty
Customer Relations Manager
HF Holidays
28 Mar 2016, 3:45 p.m.

Service rating:

++

Product rating:

-

Service review:

In the past, my experience of HF Holidays has been that they are well organised and use a good standard of accommodation.

Product review:

HF Holidays are, in Cuba, in the hands of the State Booking Agency, but I do expect to know where I will be sleeping on a night and not to be placed in basic backpackers accommodation. On 3 nights I was sharing a bathroom. Because of Obama's visit, we were moved from the Hotel Nacional at the beginning and end of the holiday and we missed the last 2 days in Havana as we were relocated to Varadero. The day before we left Trinidad we were told we would be 1/2 hours drive from Havana but, while travelling, we were told we were now going to Varedero, 21/2 hours drive form Havana! I did not get the holiday I had paid for. The walking was interesting and varied but the accommodation problems must be sorted out.
Thank you for your feedback. We’re really sorry that there were some elements of the holiday that you did not enjoy and we sincerely apologise for the accommodation and itinerary changes that happened in Cuba. If you have not done so already please contact us with further details - you can email at info@hfholidays.co.uk Your feedback will be looked at and you will receive a response from our Worldwide Product Manager shortly

Toni McNulty
Customer Relations Manager
HF Holidays
28 Mar 2016, 1:58 p.m.

Service rating:

+

Product rating:

--

Service review:

Good overall but last 3 holidays including this one required some adverse comments

Product review:

Holiday we booked was not as described in the brochure. All hotels but 2 were changed and for the worse.
Thank you for your feedback. We’re really sorry that there were some elements of the holiday that you did not enjoy and we sincerely apologise for the accommodation and itinerary changes that happened in Cuba. If you have not done so already please contact us with further details - you can email at info@hfholidays.co.uk Your feedback will be looked at and you will receive a response from our Worldwide Product Manager shortly

Toni McNulty
Customer Relations Manager
HF Holidays

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Dates & Prices

Date Description Nights Brochure price Book
6 Feb 2017 CUWHW - Viva Cuba
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

  • Depart: 6 Feb 2017, 12:30 p.m.
  • Arrive: 6 Feb 2017, 5:35 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Gatwick
  • Arrive at: Havana Jose Marti International

Flight - Return

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

  • Depart: 20 Feb 2017, 8:10 p.m.
  • Arrive: 21 Feb 2017, 9:50 a.m.
  • Depart from: Havana Jose Marti International
  • Arrive at: London Gatwick
14 £3,289.00 Book Now
6 Feb 2017 CUWHW - Viva Cuba 14 £2,699.00 Book Now
6 Mar 2017 CUWHW - Viva Cuba
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

  • Depart: 6 Mar 2017, 12:30 p.m.
  • Arrive: 6 Mar 2017, 5:40 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Gatwick
  • Arrive at: Havana Jose Marti International

Flight - Return

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

  • Depart: 20 Mar 2017, 9:10 p.m.
  • Arrive: 21 Mar 2017, 9:50 a.m.
  • Depart from: Havana Jose Marti International
  • Arrive at: London Gatwick
14 £3,349.00 Book Now
6 Mar 2017 CUWHW - Viva Cuba 14 £2,699.00 Book Now
10 Apr 2017 CUWHW - Viva Cuba
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

  • Depart: 10 Apr 2017, 12:15 p.m.
  • Arrive: 10 Apr 2017, 4:55 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Gatwick
  • Arrive at: Havana Jose Marti International

Flight - Return

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

  • Depart: 24 Apr 2017, 7:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 25 Apr 2017, 9:30 a.m.
  • Depart from: Havana Jose Marti International
  • Arrive at: London Gatwick
14 £3,289.00 Book Now
10 Apr 2017 CUWHW - Viva Cuba 14 £2,699.00 Book Now
6 Nov 2017 CUWHW - Viva Cuba
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

  • Depart: 6 Nov 2017, 12:30 p.m.
  • Arrive: 6 Nov 2017, 5:35 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Gatwick
  • Arrive at: Havana Jose Marti International

Flight - Return

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

  • Depart: 20 Nov 2017, 8:10 p.m.
  • Arrive: 21 Nov 2017, 9:50 a.m.
  • Depart from: Havana Jose Marti International
  • Arrive at: London Gatwick
14 £3,289.00 Book Now
6 Nov 2017 CUWHW - Viva Cuba 14 £2,699.00 Book Now
20 Nov 2017 CUWHW - Viva Cuba
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

  • Depart: 20 Nov 2017, 12:30 p.m.
  • Arrive: 20 Nov 2017, 5:35 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Gatwick
  • Arrive at: Havana Jose Marti International

Flight - Return

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

  • Depart: 4 Dec 2017, 8:10 p.m.
  • Arrive: 5 Dec 2017, 9:50 a.m.
  • Depart from: Havana Jose Marti International
  • Arrive at: London Gatwick
14 £3,289.00 Book Now
20 Nov 2017 CUWHW - Viva Cuba 14 £2,699.00 Book Now
21 Dec 2017 CUWHW - Viva Cuba
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

IBERIA INTL AIRLINE

  • Depart: 21 Dec 2017, 10:40 a.m.
  • Arrive: 21 Dec 2017, 8:25 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: Havana Jose Marti International

Flight - Return

IBERIA INTL AIRLINE

  • Depart: 4 Jan 2018, 2:55 p.m.
  • Arrive: 5 Jan 2018, 1 p.m.
  • Depart from: Madrid Barajas
  • Arrive at: Madrid Barajas
14 £3,629.00 Book Now
21 Dec 2017 CUWHW - Viva Cuba 14 £2,889.00 Book Now

Prices are per person

Information

  • Single room: £250 (2016) £540 (2017)

Please note, prices have increased significantly for 2017 due to huge price hikes with all suppliers in Cuba.

  • Non-member associate fee: (2016) £5 per person; (2017) £10 per person