Throughout the geographically rich nation, of roughly 780 miles long, lush virgin forests embrace rustling tobacco fields, to then give way to Viñales’ peculiar mogotes. Rugged mountains pose no rivalry against fertile valleys where rivers run wild, in what is undoubtedly a blessed land with incredible biodiversity, ample archipelagos and crystal clear turquoise waters.
Despite the radical effects on a crumbling economy, the half-century old American embargo contributed to the survival of Cuban wildlife. Your seven-day Environmental Cuba Tour will shed light into the dramatic shift towards agriculture and environmentalism, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Cuba entered the Special Period. Enforcing a self-sustaining existence, it was during this time, that permaculture projects came to prominence.
As the week enfolds, you’ll visit institutions addressing preservation on the island, disclosing current endeavors, their goals, failures and successes. Together with our insightCuba leader and local Cuban guide, we’ll trail along groundbreaking sites where former wastelands have resurfaced anew, fresh and purposeful.
At the end of your Cuban voyage, the designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserves of Las Terrazas in Sierra del Rosario mountain range, and Ciénaga de Zapata National Park in Matanzas, will reveal quickly and surely - why Cuba is in fact, ecotourism heaven.
Following arrival at José Martí International Airport in Havana, continue with clearing customs and immigration. On our way to the hotel, we’ll enjoy a first glimpse of Havana on a city bus tour. Weathered buildings laden with a rusting glory, rebellious sea waves splashing against El Malecón, take it all in!
Hotel check-in. During this afternoon’s program orientation, you’ll meet your insightCuba tour leader, as well as your local Cuban guide.
For a first taste of the island nation, a welcome dinner awaits at a local restaurant. Then, your first evening in Cuba is yours to explore.
Right after breakfast, the day starts at the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), an NGO promoting healthy ties “of friendship” with other countries, while instilling the ways of Cuban culture to the world. A presentation of AMISTUR Cuba S.A follows, the Institute’s official travel agency and your host in Cuba.
Next, meet with representatives from the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (CITMA), to discuss the institution’s current policies.
Following lunch, a visit to the Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation for Nature and Men (FANJNH) ensues, for a debate on the development of sustainable agriculture in Cuba. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to visit a permaculture project.
The rest of the evening is at your disposal. We recommend dining at one of the local paladares, the island’s privately owned family restaurants – a must when in Cuba.
Today begins at the Havana Harbor Cleaning Project, for an overview into the projects’ purpose and effectiveness.
Continuing on, we’ll discover Havana’s historical center together with its fortification system, designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1982. Walking through centuries of history, an array of architectural styles dazzle and amaze. At every corner, and in every plaza, color overflows; along with it, a symphony of music, dance and Caribbean joie de vivre follows. Stops today include: Plaza de Armas, Plaza de San Francisco, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de la Catedral, as well as Bodeguita del Medio, iconic to Havana.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll head to Alamar Organic Farm ‐ an urban agriculture project. Upon return to the hotel, the day ends with a talk with members of a Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, a community organization.
Today we leave the busy capital for a day trip in Artemisa province, West of Havana. We’ll stop at Las Terrazas, a self-sustainable eco community in the Sierra del Rosario mountain range, designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1985. While visiting the community and its eco-station, conservation, development and environmental issues will be discussed. Following lunch, we’ll return to Havana.
New day, new getaway. This time, we’ll depart for Ciénaga de Zapata National Park in the province of Matanzas – a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and RAMSAR site – the biggest wetland in the Caribbean. At Ciénaga de Zapata National Park’s CITMA (Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment), local specialists will provide insight into actions for wetland conservation and protection.
After a replenishing lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll head to a crocodile-breeding farm. A fun bonus follows, on a boat trip around Laguna del Tesoro.
Come dusk, we’ll make our way back to Havana.
Your last day in Cuba starts with a visit to the Cuban Renewable Energy Research Center (CubaSolar). Here, you’ll learn about the use of renewable energy in Cuba, while you’ll observe renewable energy‐related projects.
We’ll break for lunch. Next, we’ll meet the dynamic artists and musicians behind Muraleando, one of Havana’s trailblazing projects, where artists converted an old water tank into an art-and-performance space.
A Visit to Almacenes de San José Cultural Project in Old Havana follows, for an example of the current Cuban economic model.
Upon return to the hotel, put on your finest for a farewell dinner in town.
After breakfast, it’s time for hotel check out. Prepare for departure to José Martí International Airport.