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Premium Mexico & Cuba

Premium Mexico & Cuba

From $ 10,815 AUD

Description

Uncover little pockets of paradise on a 23-day Premium adventure through Mexico and Cuba. Explore Mexico City and the great ruins of Teotihuacan, learn the colonial history of Puebla and Oaxaca before continuing south to Puerto Morelos. Walk through magnificent Maya ruins, the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula and renowned Chichen Itza before flying to Havana – Cuba’s captivating capital. Experience Havana in all its faded glory, uncover the easy beauty of rural Vinales, wander the cobblestoned streets of Trinidad and soak up the coastal vibe of Cienfuegos. Find a common thread with the locals and discover the warmth and charm of these neighbouring nations.

Trip Name
Premium Mexico & Cuba
Last Updated
2021-09-25
Days
23
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • 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.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any such changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested in the Group Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Mexico City
Welcome to Mexico! Your adventure begins in Mexico City, the vibrant beating heart of the country. You will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel, where you will meet the rest of your group and local leader for a 6pm welcome meeting. Your hotel in Mexico City is housed in a beautiful building from the 1890s and the location is truly one of the city’s best. The buzzing Zocalo Plaza and spectacular National Cathedral are right on your doorstep; views of which can be admired from your hotel’s rooftop restaurant and bar. After your meeting, head out for dinner with your leader and small group. Tonight you will have the chance to sample a tempting array of local dishes during a tour of local street food stalls and taquerias with your leader. From tacos and tostadas to tamales and quesadillas, the city’s fresh food scene will surprise and delight even seasoned travellers. End the evening with some sweet treats at the city’s oldest churreria.
Day 2 - Mexico City
Today will be spent getting to know Mexico City on a tour with your knowledgeable leader. From cosmopolitan glamour to ancient and colonial history, there’s a lot to see, so rise early and head out to the National Museum of Anthropology where your leader will walk you through the different stages of the country’s past. Continue to the Zocalo Plaza, the lively main square of the city. Visit the National Cathedral to hear its story and marvel at its impressive Gothic architecture, then continue to the sprawling National Palace. This spot first held a palace built by an Aztec emperor in the early 16th century, and now houses the offices of Mexico’s president. Enjoy an evening at leisure. There’s no doubt that the food here is best experienced like a local, so be sure to ask your leader for some excellent dinner recommendations this evening.
Day 3 - Puebla
Depart Mexico City and travel to Teotihuacan. Here you'll discover the extraordinary ruins known as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, which dominate the skyline. This was once one of the country's biggest ancient cities and the Aztec capital. Join an expert local guide and stroll down The Avenue of the Dead to see fascinating clues as to what life here was like nearly 2000 years ago. After lunch continue to Puebla. Stop off on the way to visit a local family who produce beautiful stonework carved form obsidian, a naturally occurring volcanic glasslike rock. Take some time to admire their striking pieces and speak to the family about their craft. Arrive in Puebla, a charming city that has retained its colonial heritage despite rapid growth and development. Set out for a walk around town and visit Calle de los Dulces (Candy street) and the El Parian handicraft market, as well as the impressive Rosary Chapel and Town Hall Palace. Mexican food is deliciously diverse and Puebla is no exception. Head to a marvellous restaurant for dinner this evening, where a local chef serves up creative food in an elegant setting – the mole here comes highly recommended.
Day 4 - Puebla
After breakfast, drive out to the fascinating Cholula archaeological site. Meet with an expert local guide and tour the complex, including the Great Pyramid of Cholula – if you include its basement, this is the largest pyramid in the world. Explore the excavated areas around the pyramid and the maze of tunnels beneath it while learning how the structure was built to honour the god Quetzalcoatl. For lunch today, stop off at a wonderful restaurant serving up organic dishes made with locally sourced produce to minimise their impact on the environment. The rest of the day is free for your own explorations – you may like to join your leader for a visit to a local artisan to discover more about the Talavera pottery tradition.
Day 5 - Oaxaca
Today you will make the journey to Oaxaca, a colourful and captivating city rich with history and culture. Arrive in the late afternoon and settle in to your feature stay accommodation for the next three nights – the beautiful Casa de Sierra Azul. Converted from a 19th-century colonial mansion, traditional charm emanates from every corner of this hotel, from its ivy-clad courtyard to original frescoes and stone fountain. Each room is wonderfully unique and individually decorated, but they all feature gorgeous high ceilings and modern amenities. Just a stone’s throw away from the city’s main Zocalo, bursting with interesting cafes, musicians and artisans, there’s no better base for your time in Oaxaca. Head out for an orientation walk with your leader to get a feel for the city, stopping by the delightful local markets of Benito Juarez and 20 de Noviembre, then enjoy a free evening for further explorations. The best way to get to the heart of Oaxaca’s culture is to taste its food, so your leader will be happy to offer up some great local recommendations for dinner.
Day 6 - Oaxaca
Today, venture out of the city and take a tour of the Oaxaca region. Visit the Mitla ruins archaeological site – once the religious centre for Zapotec communities – and the Tule Tree, considered the world’s widest tree at over 11 metres in diameter. The Montezuma cypress’ gnarled trunk is over 1500 years old, roughly the same as the ruins. Stop off in Tule town to try some Mexican ice cream – an important part of Mexico’s culinary history, this hand-churned ice cream is up there with the best of them. Perhaps try some Mexican vanilla, fresh fruit sorbet or even a scoop seasoned with chili. Continue to a beeswax candle-making workshop, learning age-old processes passed down for generations and the intricate designs that are created. Later, take part in a Zapotec weaving demonstration, which uses only traditional techniques, tools, patterns and organic dyes. Watch as local families meticulously craft folk clothing and rugs, some taking months to complete. You will learn the whole process from preparing and dyeing the yarn to traditional weaving methods. Here, enjoy a mostly plant-based lunch of regional Zapotec specialities. On your way back to Oaxaca, stop by an agave mezcal factory for a tasting before returning to the city in the late afternoon.
Day 7 - Oaxaca
Enjoy a free day to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of Oaxaca. There’s something here to suit every interest – speak to your leader about arranging a visit to the Monte Alban archaeological site, a local cooking class or a street art cycling tour. You may like to head to one of the city’s many markets to browse stalls of coffee, spices and crafts made by local artisans. In the evening, it’s time for a send-off in style as you head just outside of the city for a special dining experience. Your venue for this evening looks like a typical Oaxacan house, but for the lucky few in the know, opening the front door will reveal an award-winning restaurant like no other. Enjoy an amazing menu of traditional Mexican dishes with a five-star twist, curated and cooked by a world-renowned chef. With the kitchen station right next to the tables, you’ll have the opportunity to chat to the chef while watching your dishes come to life. This final dinner will certainly be one to remember.
Day 8 - Puerto Morelos
Today you will catch a flight from Oaxaca to Cancun, transferring on arrival to Puerto Morelos, a charming seaside town on the Yucatan Peninsula, known for its stunning turquoise waters. You will be collected on your arrival at Cancun International Airport and transferred to your hotel. A meeting will take place here at 6pm to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next part of your adventure. The Yucatan’s bountiful Caribbean coastline means it is home to some of the freshest seafood in the country, and after your meeting you will head to one of the best restaurants in Puerto Morelos to sample some yourself. Here you can enjoy a traditional feast of fresh fish, mussels, shrimp and clams.
Day 9 - Valladolid
After breakfast, depart Puerto Morelos and head to the secluded Laguna Chabela. Here you will meet a local Maya family who have lived here for generations. Gain a deeper understanding on their way of life as you tour their farm, see what they grow and learn how they live off the land. Enjoy a demonstration on how to make delicious tortillas in the Coba style then sit down to a traditional lunch. In the afternoon, continue to the city of Valladolid, known for its delightful pastel coloured colonial buildings. On arrival, settle in to your hotel. Set on the city’s main square, the charming hotel was converted from a 16th century colonial house and offers a perfect base for your explorations. The main square is flanked by excellent local restaurants serving up classic Yucatan cuisine – you may like to try one out for dinner this evening.
Day 10 - Merida - Chichen Itza
This morning will be spent exploring the fascinating complex of Chichen Itza. Named as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza is considered the most important archaeological vestige of the Maya-Toltec civilization in Yucatan by UNESCO. Meet with a local historian for a guided tour to uncover the secrets of what is perhaps the most famous Maya site in Mexico, dominated by the Temple of Kukulkan, or El Castillo, a Mesoamerican step-pyramid. After your visit, you will be treated to a special lunch with a local family in the town of Piste. Here you will enjoy a traditional Pibil feast, a Maya style of cooking that involves barbecuing underground, which the family have perfected over generations. After lunch, visit a beautiful cenote for a swim, then continue to the historic town of Merida. Founded in 1542, the city is the Yucatan capital and retains much of its old-world charm. Your feature stay accommodation for the next two evenings is the magnificent La Misión de Fray Diego – a 17th century mansion turned boutique hotel. Spacious rooms flaunt elegant decor with traditional touches, surrounding a glowing courtyard with a wonderful swimming pool. Enjoy exceptional service and a privileged location in the heart of the city.
Day 11 - Merida
This morning you will join your leader on a walking tour of downtown Merida to take in the splendour of its many colonial buildings and learn more about the Maya heritage of the town. Visit the market for a look at local life, and stop by the city museum, Montejo's House and the cathedral. Step inside the Palacio del Gobierno to admire the murals by Fernando Castro Pacheco, a famous Mexican artist from Merida. The paintings depict the history of the city and interactions between the Maya and the Spanish. The afternoon is free for further discoveries – you may like to relax in the green and shady Plaza Grande, or browse the outdoor market selling Maya replicas. Regroup for dinner at a fantastic local restaurant serving up Yucatan specialties – the sopa da lima (lime soup) is especially delicious here.
Day 12 - Merida
After breakfast, drive to the Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve. One of the first places migratory birds arrive for the winter, the reserve offers a birdwatching experience like no other. Here you will meet with a local conservationist to tour the area, learn about its unique flora and fauna and hear about the conservation efforts taking place in the region. Look out for the Yucatan woodpecker, Mexican sheartail, tropical mockingbird and depending on the season (usually November–March), you may be lucky enough to witness thousands of flamingos painting a pink streak across the landscape. Return to Merida for an afternoon at leisure. For a taste of Merida's 19th-century glory, you may like to take a walk along the mansion-lined Paseo de Montejo. Be sure to ask your leader for some great local recommendations for dinner this evening.
Day 13 - Tulum
Depart Merida this morning and head towards Muyil, stopping off for lunch in the quaint village of Coba along the way. Continue to the Muyil archaeologic site. This ancient Maya trading post is one of the oldest once-inhabited sites in the country, with a history stretching back to 350BC. Explore the ruins with your leader who will explain what life here once looked like. Next, head to the banks of the Maya River and board a small boat, from which you’ll explore the canals and lagoons of the river. Admire Maya ruins on the riverbanks and enjoy a peaceful swim in the crystal-clear waters. You will be joined by guides from the local community who will help you get the most out of this tranquil experience. Carry on to Tulum, home to pristine beaches and ancient Maya history. Settle in to your boutique hotel, just steps away from the stunning white sand beach, then set out for an orientation walk with your leader to get a feel for this mellow town.
Day 14 - Tulum
Enjoy a morning at leisure in Tulum. You may like to unroll a towel and relax on the beach, or take a dip in the calm and clear Caribbean waters. A stroll through the town will reveal an array of independent shops selling handicrafts and Fairtrade goods. In the afternoon, head to the Tulum archaeological site for a special after hours visit, allowing you to appreciate the incredible history of the ruins without the crowds. One of the last cities built by the Maya, your leader will paint a picture of how life played out here as you explore the complex against a spectacular ocean backdrop. This evening you will dine at one of Tulum’s most celebrated restaurants. Set within the jungle and inspired by the freshest local produce, this final dinner with your newfound friends will certainly be one to remember.
Day 15 - Havana
Today you will say goodbye to Mexico and catch a flight from Cancun to Havana, Cuba’s captivating capital. You will be collected from the airport and transferred to your hotel where a meeting will take place at 6pm to welcome any travellers joining you for the next leg of your adventure. After your meeting, head to a lively local restaurant for dinner with your leader and small group. Sitting down to eat in Cuba means experiencing the country’s rich African and Spanish roots. Tonight your leader will introduce you to some classic dishes such as picadillo, a flavoursome beef and tomato stew, and ropa vieja, pulled beef with vegetables. You may like to toast to the beginning of the Cuban part of your adventure with a delicious daquiri, which is believed to have been invented in Cuba.
Day 16 - Havana
Start the day in style as you tour the city in a convoy of classic American vintage cars. Cruise down Havana’s grand old streets as your leader points out significant sights like the Malecon, Revolucion Square and Vedado. Finish your ride in Old Havana where you’ll continue your explorations on foot during a walking tour with your leader. Learn the history of the Havana cathedral and discover the city’s old-world charm when you stop by Plaza de Armas, San Francisco de Asis, Plaza Vieja and Central Park. Enjoy a free afternoon in this exciting neighbourhood – perhaps head to a rooftop bar for a local cocktail or take a leisurely stroll around the famously colourful streets.
Day 17 - Vinales
This morning drive west to Soroa, where you will tour a beautiful orchid garden. Meet with a local expert on the flora and fauna of the region for a private tour of the gardens and learn about the vibrant array of plant and bird species from this diverse area – it’s not hard to see why this valley is known as the rainbow of Cuba. Take some time out for lunch then continue to Vinales, where tobacco and sugarcane fields lie side by side and limestone outcrops dot the landscape. Use this travel time to take part in an informal Spanish lesson so you can converse with the friendly locals throughout the rest of your trip. Check in to your guesthouses, then take a short orientation walk with your leader to get acquainted with this peaceful town. Later, perhaps enjoy the porch rocking chair and soak up the slow pace of rural Cuba as oxen plod gracefully along the streets.
Day 18 - Vinales
Begin your day with a guided walk through the verdant farmlands of Vinales, where your leader will talk to you about the geography that makes up the area’s spectacular scenery. Vinales is known for its tobacco farms which still use traditional growing methods – learn more about the longstanding tobacco industry and watch a farmer whip up a world class cigar in seconds. Take some time to find a local place for lunch, then regroup in the late afternoon for a salsa dancing lesson. Find your feet and learn a few steps while embracing the electrifying rhythm of Cuba. After working up an appetite, head to the top of the valley for dinner at an eco-farm. Here you’ll enjoy an exceptional farm-to-table meal made entirely from organic produce grown on site – this is truly one of the freshest dining experiences in Cuba.
Day 19 - Cienfuegos
Prepare for a long travel day as you make your way to Cienfuegos. Drive back through Havana before stopping in the Bay of Pigs for lunch. After lunch, you may like to take a dip in the crystal clear water, or unroll your beach towel and sit back as your leader shares stories of the botched USA Military counter-revolutionary invasion in the Bay of Pigs. Now a tranquil spot for relaxing, it’s hard to imagine the chaotic battle that took place here in 1961. Then it is just a short drive to Cienfuegos, one of Cuba's prettiest coastal spots. Arrive in the early evening and join your leader on a short orientation walk before visiting the Palacio del Valle, Cienfuegos' architectural pride and joy. Its grandiose carvings in Venetian alabaster strike an impressive pose in this beautiful seaside city.
Day 20 - Trinidad
Enjoy a free morning in Cienfuegos – perhaps stop by a local cafe for a fabulous cup of Cuban coffee. Then make the journey to Trinidad, a brightly coloured town peppered with colonial influences. On arrival, your leader will introduce you to the town’s history and stunning architecture during a walking tour. Take in Trinidad’s eye-catching combination of cobblestone streets, colourful houses and old-fashioned locals. It's a great town to explore on foot, and almost every scene offers superb photographic opportunities – from residents relaxing with huge cigars on their doorsteps to old Chevrolets cruising by. In the evening take a trip out of town to a local house for a homely and festive dinner. Be welcomed with the local drink, Canchanchara, made from 'fire water', local honey and lime juice. There will even be a musician or two serenading you and your fellow travellers as you dine.
Day 21 - Trinidad
The day is yours to explore all that Trinidad has to offer. For some beachside fun and perhaps a little snorkelling, head down to Playa Ancon (just be careful you don't stand on a sea urchin!). The town is dotted with open-air venues where you can check out a folklore show that nods to Cuba’s rich and varied music and dance tradition. With roots in Spain, Africa and France the show is a delightful display of Cuba’s history. Be sure to speak to your leader who will be able to help tailor a wonderful day.
Day 22 - Havana
Head inland to the beautiful city of Santa Clara where you’ll enjoy an included lunch followed by a visit to the Che Guevara mausoleum. Here you’ll see the imposing statue of the iconic revolutionary leader. In the museum that accompanies the mausoleum, you'll find an intriguing spread of photos and other ephemera related to Che – letters, medical devices and firearms. Return to Havana and arrive at your feature stay accommodation – the iconic and infamous Hotel Nacional de Cuba. This 1930’s Art Deco hotel has played host to an illustrious roster of guests, including Frank Sinatra, Winston Churchill and Rita Hayworth. Walk in their glamourous footsteps as you explore the palm fringed property, boasting three restaurants, gorgeous gardens and a tranquil swimming pool. This evening, perhaps enjoy a final fiesta in the hotel’s buzzing bar.
Day 23 - Havana
Your Cuban adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. As there's a great deal to do in Havana, we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
08-01-202230-01-2022AUD $ 11,145-
05-02-202227-02-2022AUD $ 11,145-
19-02-202213-03-2022AUD $ 11,145-
12-03-202203-04-2022AUD $ 11,145-
16-04-202208-05-2022AUD $ 11,145-
21-05-202212-06-2022AUD $ 10,815-
18-06-202210-07-2022AUD $ 10,815-
16-07-202207-08-2022AUD $ 10,815-
10-09-202202-10-2022AUD $ 10,815-
24-09-202216-10-2022AUD $ 10,815-
15-10-202206-11-2022AUD $ 10,815-
26-11-202218-12-2022AUD $ 11,145-
17-12-202208-01-2023AUD $ 11,145-
20-05-202311-06-2023AUD $ 11,355-
17-06-202309-07-2023AUD $ 11,355-
15-07-202306-08-2023AUD $ 11,355-
23-09-202315-10-2023AUD $ 11,355-
25-11-202317-12-2023AUD $ 11,700-

Accommodation

Comfortable hotel (11 nights),Premium guesthouse (4 nights),Feature Stay (7 nights)

Transport

Private vehicle,Plane,Boat

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