Premium Mexico & Cuba

Trip Code: QBPCC

Why we love it

Explore Mexico City on a tour with your leader, visit the spectacular ruins of Teotihuacan, Chichen Itza and Tulum, learn some salsa steps in slow-paced Vinales, and take in the colours of Soroa, the valley known as the 'Rainbow of Cuba'., Discover traditional craft industries and the locals who produce them in Oaxaca and Zinacantan, and meet a Maya family in the secluded Laguna Chabela for a traditional tortilla making demonstration., Your local leader will help you learn the story of the Cuban Revolution, as well as a visit to the memorials dedicated to revolutionary hero Ernesto Che Guevara in Santa Clara., Enjoy the old-world charm of your feature stays in Oaxaca and Merida – magnificent mansions turned boutique hotels, and walk in the glamourous footsteps of the famous and infamous during your feature stay at the iconic Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana., Understand the diversity of Mexican and Cuban food during a taco crawl in Mexico City, traditional lunches with Zapotecan, Maya and Trinidadian families and dinners at an award-winning hidden restaurant in Oaxaca and in the Tulum jungle.

Is this trip right for me?

Hotels in Cuba are government-run, which means renovations are few and far between. As for the guesthouses (casas) we use, they are much nicer than your average Cuban dwelling but keep in mind that each and every room is unique. That said, regardless of where you stay, power cuts and breaks in hot water are sometimes unavoidable, as in any developing country.

Part of Cuba’s appeal is its old-fashioned style – this includes the banking systems. Funds in Cuba can be difficult to access. Please read our Essential Trip Information to be fully prepared.

Internet in Cuba can also be scarce, unreliable and expensive. Treat this trip as a holiday from emails and social media.

Cuba is different, and that's a big part of its allure. Things don't always go according to plan, and many things don't work the same way as back home. Patience and good humour will go a long way in this beautiful destination.

Important information

1. A complimentary airport arrival transfer is included; valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information. 
3. Travel insurance is compulsory for all travellers entering Cuba. You may be asked to show proof of your travel insurance by immigration staff upon arrival at Havana Airport.
4. Please advise bedding configuration requests to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
5. There are unprecedented changes happening in Cuba right now. It is an exciting time, but it also means some patience and understanding is required for the heightened demand of infrastructure, accommodation and services. To help set your expectations correctly, please read the ‘Is this trip right for you?’ and ‘Joining point description' sections in the Essential Trip Information.
6. We recommend travelling to Cuba via Canada, Europe, South or Central America. Please refer to the ‘Passports, visas and entry requirements’ section of the Essential Trip Information for further details.

What to bring/pack

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. We recommend you pack as lightly as possible, ensuring that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Help will be on hand in most locations, but there may be times you need to handle your own luggage, for example in airports and train stations.

A lockable suitcase with wheels is ideal for this trip. It is recommended that you keep your main luggage weight around 15kg and certainly no more than 20kg. A small or medium-sized backpack (45-50 litres) is another good option.

You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, jacket, etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below is a link to our ultimate packing list, a guide to get you started:, https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

Physical rating

 
2

None of the activities featured in this trip require special training or skills, just a reasonable level of fitness and a willingness to participate. Stairs are prevalent in Cuban homes, and cobblestones and uneven roads are common. If you are in any doubt, please share these concerns or issues with your sales consultant so that your leader is aware prior and can pre-empt your needs. 

Joining your group

Hotel Zocalo Central, #61 Avenida 5 de Mayo, Historic Centre, Mexico City, MEXICO, Phone: +52 5551305130

Overlooking the Zocalo main square, this elegant hotel in an 1890's neoclassical building is a 9-minute walk from the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Featuring wood floors and decorative ceilings, the cozy rooms have flat-screen TVs, in-room safes and free Wi-Fi, plus tea and coffeemakers. Suites add open-plan whirlpool tubs, and many have plaza views. Room service is offered 24/7. There's an elegant rooftop restaurant with a terrace overlooking the main square, as well as a laid-back coffee shop. Additional amenities include a fitness room, a steam room and a business center.

Joining instructions

An arrival transfer from Mexico City International Airport [MEX] is included in this trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised. If you have pre-booked this service, please look for the sign with the Intrepid logo and your name on it; the driver will be located nearby to the Information Desk specific to your arrival terminal.
Terminal 1 Domestic Arrivals – Information Desk A1 (in front of door 2)
Terminal 1 International Arrivals – Information Desk E1 (in front of door 7)
Terminal 2 Domestic Arrivals – Information Desk Q (in front of door 4)
Terminal 2 International Arrivals – Information Desk N (in front of door 3)

If you have any problems and cannot locate your driver on arrival, please call our Intrepid Emergency number listed under the ‘Problems and emergency contact information’ section of your Essential Trip Information document. If you don’t have a device or mobile coverage, Mexico City Airport has a free Wi-Fi connection, so you can call that same number via an online application such as Skype or WhatsApp (you can also send a message via WhatsApp).. There are also several information desks and tourist information desks around if you require further assistance.

Otherwise, you can travel from the Mexico City Airport to the hotel by taxi. We recommend you use the authorised taxi services organised from inside the terminal. They will charge you approximately MX$250-350 (USD$14-20) for a trip to downtown. The drive to where the hotel is located is approximately 30 minutes depending on traffic.

Finishing your trip

Hotel Capri, Street 21, between streets M & N Vedado, Havana, CUBA

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 22

Lunches included: 8

Dinners included: 9

To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. Our groups tend to eat dinner together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though. Your group leader will also be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip.

DIETARY REQUIREMENTS
More restrictive diet requirements (vegans, celiac, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance, etc.) can be accommodated along this trip but you should expect a lesser variety than what you can expect at home. We recommend bringing your own supply of snacks with you.

Vegetarians should be aware that while you can get vegetarian meals in Cuba, you generally won't find much variety and you may get tired of being offered the same every day (i.e. - rice, beans, omelette and salad). Vegetarians are often surprised that their meals are no cheaper than those containing meat, and this is because vegetables on the free market in Cuba are of similar prices to those of meat.

Please let us know your diet requirements before your trip starts.

FOOD IN CUBA:
Food in Cuba has a reputation for being bland and lacking variety, however it has improved dramatically over the last two years. There are very limited snacks available in Cuba; convenience stores exist but are certainly not as prevalent nor sell the quantity or variety of snacks or junk food you may be used to at home. You may wish to bring your favourite chocolates, candy or healthy snacks like muesli bars.

Beans and rice are the staples, with cucumber, tomato and cabbage being the conventional ingredients for a Cuban salad. Chicken and pork are the most common meats served in Cuba, however fish and a variety of seafood is also frequently on offer. Please be aware that it is a cultural trait to serve meals larger than you are expected to finish, but be assured nothing will go to waste.

It can be hard to find a suitable place to eat while travelling in Cuba, as roadside restaurants tend to cater for large tour groups and either offer a fixed meal or a very limited selection of snacks. In the cities and towns small privately-owned restaurants, paladares, offer a little more choice but can often only seat a maximum of twelve people (the number for which they are officially licensed).
 

Climate & seasonal information

WEATHER IN CUBA
Cuba's subtropical climate is ideal for exploration, with most places catching the cool trade winds that blow in from the coast, providing pleasant year-round temperatures. June, July and August are usually the hottest months. The dry season runs from November to April, and the wet season from May to October. Even in the rainy season, downpours are short and shouldn't impede travel plans. Tropical storms and hurricanes are more prevalent in September and October, but rarely cause problems for travellers.

HURRICANE SEASON
Hurricane season runs from May to October, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. We monitor these situations as they arise and amend itineraries or activities as necessary.

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office:
Intrepid's Local Operator (located in Havana): +53 5333 8121 or +53 5510 5525

In Cuba, if necessary, you may use *99 prior to dialling to make a reverse charge call.

If you cannot reach the operator using the above numbers, alternatively you may try our Cuba representative located in Australia +61 430 504 636

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +506 6022 4721

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +506 6022-4721

Accommodations

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation.

Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available.

We have classified guesthouse rooms into two standards for the comfort levels of our trips: Standard and Premium. Most differences can be a little hard to tell at first, particularly when taking aesthetic into account which varies greatly not only between rooms but also between cities and provinces. Be assured though that the comforts to which foreign travellers are accustomed have been considered in classifying premium guesthouses a higher standard of accommodation.
For this itinerary, the standard guesthouse rooms will have an ensuite and air-conditioning however will not necessarily have a split system, an in-room or in-house safe or imported bedding.

Premium:
- Larger rooms
- Imported mattresses and pillows rather than locally made
- The linen is cotton rather than synthetic
- Split system air-conditioning
- In-room or in-house safe available for use

Stairs are prevalent in Cuban homes. If this presents a problem to you, then please advise us at time of booking so we can request rooms on or closer to ground level.

Feature Stay:
The Hotel Nacional de Cuba is considered a symbol of history, culture and Cuban identity. 85 years of history give prestige to the classic property. With its privileged location in the middle of Vedado, the centre of Havana, it stands on a hill just a few meters from the sea. It offers a great view of the Havana Harbor, the seawall, and the city.

PRE/POST-TOUR ACCOMMODATION:
If the hotel does not have availability for your pre-tour or post-tour accommodation request, we can also offer you accommodation at a premium guesthouse in Havana. These are both in Old Havana and Vedado: If you have a preference over the area, please advise your booking agent at time of booking and we will try to accommodate your request. You will need to make your own way between the start/finish point hotel to the guesthouse.

Transportation


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