Arrive in Havana. Built around a deep natural harbour, Havana is one of the most impressive cities in the Americas. It's also one of the most exciting: the modern city is a fascinating mix of old and new, with crumbling tenement blocks and 1950s American Cadillacs rubbing shoulders with grand colonial buildings and monuments to the revolution.
Due to the number of evening flights into Havana, our local Leader plans to do the welcome briefing in the morning of day two, and will leave a message for us with details on timings and everything else that we'll need for the day. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Havana at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Havana's Jose Marti International Airport (airport code HAV) which is 23km, around 45 minutes from the airport. A representative from our local partners in Cuba will meet you at Havana Airport and assist you with the transfer formalities.
During this trip, we stay in 'casas particulares', or local guesthouses, a style of accommodation unique to Cuba. The industry began in the early '90s when entrepreneurial homeowners rented out rooms in their houses for a little extra cash, a side hustle that was initially illegal in a country that did not allow for private enterprise. In 1997 the Cuban government legalised the business, and while you can now find some large casas that are run more as a typical bed and breakfast, the majority, particularly in Havana, are still a couple of rooms in the owner's house. The beauty of the casas is that each one is very different. You will have ensuite bathrooms, hot water, a delicious breakfast and air conditioning across the board, but that is where the similarities end. Décor and aesthetics vary dramatically not just between cities but also between streets. Some are still the primary residence for the owners, which is a great opportunity to interact with local people, or practice your Spanish. In other cases, the owner may live elsewhere. In Trinidad, you may have some outdoor space, whether it is a terrace, balcony or courtyard, while in Havana many are located in Communist-style apartments. So while everyone's experience will be different, we like to use them as an alternative to staying in standard hotels, one that offers a new perspective on Cuban life.
Our airport transfer will take us to a 'reception' casa in Havana (details of which will be in your final Joining Instructions), where you will be met by the host and shown to your room in one of the other casas located nearby. For each group we use around 3-6 different casas in the Vedado area of Havana. There are several restaurants and bars within walking distance, or a short taxi ride away in Old Havana.