Drifter Sister
Small Group Tour of Cuba

 

 

Africa

Tours to AfricaThis is a thrilling two-week safari to Kenya during the annual migration. Plus, your photos will be amazing because renowned photographer and teacher, Jeff Sink, will be along to help you get stunning photos.

 

We are also offering a 10-day pre-trip that begins in Victoria Falls, heads to Botswana for game drives, and on to the Okavango Delta.

 

We are also offering a 10-day pre-trip that begins in Victoria Falls, and then heads to Botswana for game drives in the Okavango Delta.

 

Croatia & Montenegro

Tours to Croatia-MontenegroThis small group tour combines one of the latest ‘must see’ destinations, Croatia, with a wonderful little country under most folks’ radar, Montenegro – a hidden gem if there ever was one.

 

We begin our adventure in Dubrovnik, Croatia, as we board our mega-yacht, M/S Splendid, and begin our exciting 7-Day Island Hopping Cruise through Croatia’s Dalmatia Coast

 

Week two is on land, exploring the wonders and mysteries of lovely Montenegro. Transported by deluxe motor coach, we begin our journey by climbing the scenic old mountain road to “Old Montenegro,” and each day a new adventure awaits.

 

 

France

Tours to FranceDuring the two weeks of our small group tour of France, we will discover the beautiful Minervois villages and the fascinating Languedoc region of South France.

 

This tour is a balance of relaxation and discovery. The region is rich in history (primarily Roman Colonization, and the Cathar movement, which provoked the Albigensian Crusade) and wine production.

Greece & Turkey
Acropolis, Athens, Greece

Can you imagine two weeks immersed in two of the most exotic and archeologically rich civilizations of the world? You can experience it all on our small group tour of Greece and Turkey.

 

Our tour of Greece will combine conventional cruising with private yachting aboard the 25-cabin Harmony V mega yacht. We will visit the famous islands of Mykonos and Santorini along with many of the smaller, beautiful islands.

 

An optional small group land tour of the Pelloponnese is available for touring classical sites like Olympia, Delphi and Meteora.

 

Our small group tour of Turkey includes the enchanting city of Istanbul, a cruise on the Bosphorus strait, and a visit to the Cappadocia region.

 

Istanbul is a unique city combining Eastern and Western cultures. It is set in an amazingly beautiful location that everyone should visit at least once.

 

Cappadocia is a stunning area of other-worldly rock formations, subterranean churches and underground dwellings.

 

Ireland

Tours to IrelandFor two weeks our small group tour of Ireland will explore the Emerald Isle, escorted in our luxurious and spacious motor coach.

 

We will discover the myriad beautiful, charming and mysterious sights, sounds, and tastes of the Emerald Isle, making a wide circle, primarily around the coast. ‘Must See’ locations, such as Cliffs of Moher, Kilkenny Castle, Ring of Kerry, Killarney, the ‘Quiet Man’ country of Connemara, and more will be interspersed with lesser known local gems, such as Cobh, Doolin, the Aran Island of Inish Mor, and New Grange.

Luxurious Spa

Luxurious SpaOur small group tour of a week of pampering at Ixtapan de la Sal, Mexico is an experience you don't want to miss. And it’s a great bargain!

 

This family-owned and operated Spa has been in operation since the mid 19th century and is the most relaxing and beautiful place one can imagine.

Spain

Tours of Andalucia, Spain

This small group tour of Spain is an in-depth exploration of a most treasured region - ANDALUCIA!

 

Rich in Spanish traditions influenced by the ancient Moors, sunshine, olive groves, white pueblo villages, tapas, Sangria... Spain's Andalucia contains all this and more, and we will have two weeks to enjoy it to the fullest!

 

Highlights include three guided tours, a visit and show at the famous Andalucian Equestrian School, and an authentic Flamenco Show at an intimate, locally owned establishment. Two meals are included daily, as well as rental cars, including gas.

 

Lodging will be in Haciendas and hotels, conveniently located within walking distance of historic city centers, shops and attractions. Three 4-night stays help make this an in-depth experience and adventure you don’t want to miss!

 

Tuscany

Tours to TuscanyStaying in a villa on a small group tour of Tuscany is one of the least expensive, and perhaps most rewarding, travel experiences one can enjoy.

 

We stay one week each in two villas, which are strategically chosen for convenient day trips throughout central Tuscany. First is Borgo Corsignano, a renovated medieval village in the lovely Casentino Valley. Our second villa is San Giuseppe, near Sienna, a big, old restored farmhouse with six bedrooms (all with ensuite bathrooms).

Let's Go to Cuba!

March 2019

 

 

Summary

 

Old Ford truck license plate

If you have been wanting to see Cuba, now is the time to do it, before it becomes spoiled by a rush of American tourists. And if you would like to experience it in depth, you should do it with Drifter Sister.

 

You will find that most tours to Cuba concentrate on Havana and its surrounding area, staying four days there, and perhaps one or two in Trinidad, for a total of 5-7 days. If you come with me on this custom tour, you will see Cuba from end to end in 12 days, from Baracoa* in the east, to Valle de Viñales in the west, and you will do it in-depth, exemplifying the Drifter Sister style. First, we fly from Miami directly to Baracoa for two nights*. From that point we travel by mini-bus back across the country, staying two nights each in Santiago de Cuba, Camaguey, and Trinidad, culminating with four nights in Havana, to explore this rich area in-depth. Included are two nights in Miami, one at the beginning and one at the end, for a total of 14 nights.

 

Trinidad Cuba

Enjoying the oceanWith only two hotel stays, we will mostly lodge with the locals, in their casas which have been converted into B&B’s. Bursting with old-world charm, clean and welcoming, these casas are hidden gems.

 

Breakfast is proudly served by the family, and we enjoy lunches and dinners in local paladares (privately owned and operated restaurants), each with its own specialty and charm, including one cooking demonstration and dinner in the prestigious Arte Chef school in Havana.

This people-to-people tour with a combination Culinary and Cultural Emphasis can accept a maximum of 10 passengers. You will not be lost in the crowd.

 

Spurs and chaps

Come with me… experience the quirky, sometimes unpredictable and chaotic, yet enterprising life of the Cuban people. Witness their spirit and ingenuity. Marvel at what they can do amidst the crumbling infrastructure. Travel the nearly deserted highways through the gorgeous countryside, with cowboys on horseback, and horse-drawn carts interspersed among the classic cars, trucks and buses.

 

This is a Catch the Wind tour you won’t want to miss, especially now, before Cuba changes, and before the onrushing crowds ruin it.

 

*Plans are now in the works for direct flights Miami to Baracoa. If this has not yet happened by March 2017, the itinerary will be changed, eliminating Baracoa.

 

Cuba horse and buggy Organic gardening

Taxi line-up in Cuba

 

 

 

 

Itinerary

 

Excerpt from another tour company offering trips to Cuba:

 

Please note that Cuba is an adventurous destination where things do not always go as planned – in fact they often do not go as planned. We urge you to bring a flexible attitude and a sense of humor on your Cuba tour. The itinerary reflects our best planning, but there may be times when we have to substitute different activities and accommodations. That is la aventura Cubana – the Cuban adventure!

 

After experiencing Cuba for the first time in May of 2016, I couldn’t have said it better myself. All I ask is that you approach this tour with an open mind and heart. The people mean well, and do the best with what they have. Our ground operator, Bob Older of Creative Travel, also does the best he can in the conditions under which he must operate, and will adhere as closely as possible to this itinerary.

 

 

Day -1 (Friday) ARRIVE MIAMI

 

  • Arrive Miami
  • Over night in hotel near airport

Day 1 (Sat) MIAMI to BARACOA (B)

 

  • After breakfast at the hotel, we will shuttle to the Miami airport where we will meet Bob, our escort, and board our flight from Miami to Baracoa*
  • Upon arrival, we transfer to casas in Baracoa
  • This afternoon/evening we will visit Playa Maguana, Here we will have an early dinner on our own followed by a visit to Casa de la Trova to enjoy time with the locals, listen to their music and watch or dance Salsa with them

Day 2 - BARACOA (B, L, D)

 

  • After breakfast at your casa, we will embark on a City Tour of Baracoa, including the Museo Municipal del Fuerte Matachin and the Museo Arqueologico la Cueva Del Paraiso to learn about the Taino culture and history of the Eastern part of Cuba. The tour will also include a stop to see "Cruz de la Parra," a dark, well-worn, metal-tipped cross in the cathedral on Plaza
  • Dinner will be at a local paladar

Day 3 - BARACOA to SANTIAGO de CUBA (B, L)

 

  • After breakfast at your casa, we will transfer by minibus to Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s second city, stopping along the way for lunch
  • Depending on road conditions, we may visit Guantanamo Bay’s Granma Island
  • Dinner will be on our own tonight. 

Day 4 - SANTIAGO de CUBA (B, L, D)

 

Morro Castle, Cuba Morro Castle
  • After breakfast at the hotel, we will take a fun journey up into the foothills of the Sierra Maestra mountain range to tour Cafetal la Isabelica, the first coffee plantation in Cuba
  • After lunch on the mountain, we will drive back down to the Santiago de Cuba, where we will have a City Tour, including Revolution Plaza and Gran Piedra, followed by a visit to San Pedro de la Roca del Morro Castle 
  • Lunch and dinner will be at local paladares

 

Day 5 - SANTIAGO to CAMAGUEY (B, L)

 

Morning in Camaguey, Cuba Morning in Camaguey, Cuba
  • After breakfast at our hotel, we will transfer by minibus to Camaguey
  • Lunch will be en route
  • In Camaguey we will have a City Tour to include Plaza del Carmen and Galeria Martha Jimenez
  • Dinner is on our own tonight

 

 

 

Day 6 - CAMAGUEY (B, D)

 

Parade in Camaguey, CubaParade in Camaguey, Cuba
  • After breakfast at our hotel, we will transfer to an area to see wildlife including Pink Flamingoes and other beautiful sights.  We will spend the morning and early afternoon enjoying the beauty of nature before returning to our hotel 
  • Lunch is on our own today, and Dinner will be at a local Paladar

Day 7 - CAMAGUEY to TRINIDAD (B, L, D)

 

Valle Ingenios, Cuba Valle Ingenios
  • After breakfast at the hotel, we will transfer by minibus to Trinidad
  • Lunch will be in Sancti Spiritus along the way, as well as a visit to a sugar mill in Valle Ingenios
  • Tonight we will stay at a Casa in Trinidad, and have dinner at a local Paladar

 

 

 

 

Day 8 - TRINIDAD (B, D)

 

Trinidad, Cuba taxiTrinidad taxi
  • After breakfast at our local casas, we will enjoy a short City tour of Trinidad
  • We will then have a free afternoon to explore Trinidad, which could include visiting a museum or two, shopping for trinkets from the street vendors, or just people watching while enjoying a drink on the steps outside Casa de la Musica
  • Lunch is on our own, and Dinner will be at local Paladar

Day 9 - TRINIDAD to HAVANA (B, L, D)

 

Cienfuegos CubaCienfuegos
  • This morning after breakfast, we depart Trinidad and transfer by minibus to Havana, stopping for a quick walking tour of Cienfuegos and then for lunch at the Bay of Pigs along the way
  • Tonight we will have a cooking demonstration and dinner at Artechef Culinary Arts School

 

 

 

 

Day 10 - HAVANA (B, L, D)

 

Havana Square CubaHavana Square
  • This morning after breakfast at the Casa, we take a Walking Tour of Old Havana, including the famous Cámara Oscuro
  • After lunch in the old city, we continue the tour of the four squares including Ambos Mundos hotel 
  • Dinner tonight at a local paradar

 

 

 

 

Day 11 - HAVANA AREA (B, L)

 

  • Today after breakfast we will visit La Vigia Hemingway Museum
  • After lunch and short visit to Cojimar (setting for Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea), we return to visit modern Havana
  • Dinner on our own tonight

 

 

 

 

Day 12 - HAVANA AREA (B, L, D)

 

Las Terrazas coffee plantation CubaLas Terrazas coffee plantation
  • Our day will be spent in the beautiful Las Terrazas area. We will visit a coffee plantation, have lunch casa campesino style, and visit the famous Maria’s Café for a coffee break
  • Tonight we will have our Farewell Dinner at a Rooftop Paladar

 

 

 

 

Day 13 - HAVANA to MIAMI (B)

 

Fusterland Fusterland
  • After our breakfast at the Casa, and depending on our flight time, we will either head right to the airport or make a stop along the way to Fusterland to see the unique neighborhood, before bidding farewell to Cuba

 

 

 

 

Day 14 - (Friday) MIAMI to HOME

 

  • Today, after breakfast at the hotel, we will take the hotel shuttle to the airport and fly home

 

*Plans are now in the works for direct flights Miami to Baracoa. If this has not yet happened by March 2017, the itinerary will be changed, eliminating Baracoa. Two days will be added somewhere else in the itinerary. 

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Inclusions

 

 

Included

 

  • RT Flight Miami/Cuba
  • Airport Transfers
  • 2 Nights Lodging in Miami (beginning and end)
  • 12 Nights Lodging in Cuba as stipulated in Itinerary
  • Entrance to All Activities as stipulated in Itinerary
  • 29 Meals, most including beverage (all but 3 dinners and 2 lunches)
  • English-Speaking Guide
  • Guide’s Gratuities
  • Cuba Visa
  • Cuban Health Insurance
  • Departure Tax
  • Letter of Authorization
  • Catch the Wind promo items

 

Not Included

 

  • Airfare to/from Miami
  • Optional Activities not on Itinerary
  • Housekeeping Gratuities
  • Beverages not included with meals
  • Any personal expenses (i.e. telephone calls, laundry, etc.)
  • Travel Insurance (Highly Recommended – ~5% of trip cost)

 

 

Price

 

Note: The price of this tour is perhaps higher than you were expecting. Keep in mind, however, that most tours to Cuba are 5-7 days; this one is a full two weeks, almost totally inclusive, including bookend stays in Miami, and all tips; we are going in high season, in order to minimize our exposure to the oppressive heat and humidity; U.S. citizens must still go on people-to-people tours with strict and expensive guidelines, and are charged more than other countries, so when you are doing your comparison research, be sure the tours you are looking at are not for Canadians, Europeans, or South Americans. Due to the demand caused by the lifting of the U.S. restrictions, hotels have jacked up their prices by double or more. Finally, this is a small group – shared costs are spread over fewer passengers than with most tour companies taking larger groups.  

 

LET'S GO TO CUBA - 2017

 

$TBD per person, double occupancy

 

Single Supplement $TBD

(an attempt will be made to pair you with a roommate if you want, but there is no guarantee)

 

DEPOSIT AND FINAL PAYMENT DUE DATES

 

$500 Deposit due October 15, 2018, or upon sign up after this date

$TBD Final Payment due January 15, 2019

 

__________________________

 

Cancellation Policy: If you must cancel 120 days prior to departure, you will receive 100% refund of any monies you have paid to Drifter Sister. Between 119 and 75 days prior to departure, you will receive a 75% refund of any monies you have paid to Drifter Sister. In the case of a cancellation after 75 days prior to departure, a 50% refund of monies paid to Drifter Sister will be allowed only if the trip is full and a replacement can be found for you. Otherwise there will be no refund.

 

 

How to Book

 

How To Book

 

  • This tour has a strict maximum of 10 participants. Secure your spot by sending $100 Good Faith check (made out to Drifter Sister) to:

 

Drifter Sister
P.O. Box 60042
Boulder City, NV    89006


OR

 

Pay through PayPal

 

(For your convenience we offer this credit card payment option. No fee is added for the Good Faith Deposit. However, for the Trip Deposit and Final Payments, we must include PayPal's 3% fee. The Deposits can be made via the link below. The Final Payment will be via the PayPal Invoice system.)

 

Payment Type

 

  • When the Good Faith deposit is received, sign-up paperwork will be sent to you via snail mail. Please let me know if you would prefer it to be sent via email.
  • Deposit for this trip is $500, and is due by October 15, 2018 or upon sign-up after this date.
  • Final payment will be due January 15, 2019. A separate invoice will be sent to you for this payment.
  • Payments can be made by PayPal (subject to 3% fee, see details above), or by check made out to Drifter Sister.

 

NOTE: Your Good Faith deposit is applied to the cost of the trip, and is fully refundable if you must cancel for any reason.

 

 

FAQ

 


 

 

GENERAL QUESTIONS

 

NOTE: Cuba is a third-world country. Their infrastructure is crumbling, and their living conditions meager. You cannot expect standards to be the same as in the United States, or other Western countries. The people do the best they can within the constraints of their circumstances. Our lodgings will be clean, yet simple. Our meals will safe, but most will be simple with limited choices. You will come away with an understanding and appreciation of courage and ingenuity in the face of adversity.

 

Q. Are there physical limitations for this trip?

A. Active adults of all ages are welcome. You will need to be able to take care of your own luggage, walk distances, and climb stairs. We do a LOT of walking on this tour. The home stay casas are often 2- and 3-story, with no elevators and steep stairways to get to the rooms. I am sorry, but I cannot accommodate wheelchair-bound, or limited mobility clients. If you have a question in your mind whether you can do this trip, please call me to discuss your circumstances.

Q. Is there a limitation on luggage?

A. No. However, I strongly suggest you not bring large pieces of luggage.

Q. What is a reasonable size for luggage?

A. One medium-sized bag (maximum 26") and one small carry-on per person. As you pack, remember that nothing fancy is planned, and the weather conditions are hot and humid. One nice-casual outfit for evening dinners is appropriate, but shorts, t’s and lightweight pants are fine for daytime outings. If you are a couple, each should have his/her own medium-sized piece of luggage (maximum 26"), instead of sharing one big one.

Q. What is the dress code for this trip?

A. We will not be doing anything fancy, so casual is fine. Shorts, lightweight pants, casual tops or T-shirts work well. However one nicer casual outfit is good to have along for the nicer dinners Keep in mind most churches do not allow sleeveless tops or shorts.

Q. What will the weather be like?

A. It should be pleasantly warm while we are there in mid March, the very best time to be in Cuba. The following is provided as a guideline. Average weather conditions in March:
- Havana - hi 82, low 66, Precipitation: 2 inches (5 days)

Q. Is there air conditioning?

A. Yes. The bedrooms are equipped with wall unit air conditioners. Most restaurants are either air conditioned or have fans circulating the air. Public buildings are usually air conditioned.

Q. Do we all have our own bathroom?

A. Yes. All accommodations will have en suite bathrooms.

Q. Are the beds twins or doubles?

A. Twins for two singles rooming together; twins or doubles for couples, depending on location.

Q. What about washing our clothes?

A. The two hotels at which we will be staying will have laundry service. However, most of our laundry will have to be done ourselves, in the rooms.

Q. Do we need to bring our own laundry and hand soap?

A. Yes. It would be a good idea to bring your own bar of hand soap, and a small amount of laundry soap.

Q. Are there hair dryers at the hotels and casas?

A. In most cases, no.

Q. What about TP. I've heard we need to bring our own.

A. You should bring some TP with you. It is furnished in the lodgings (low quality), but not while out and about. Don’t go overboard. Small tissue packs work well for this.

Q. I’ve heard we cannot put TP into the toilets.

A. Correct. You NEVER put TP into the toilet. There will be a trash bin or receptacle supplied for this.

Q. What opportunities will there be for gifting?

A. - We will be visiting a cooking school in need of utensils, knives, and other items.

    - Small cooking utensils and other items will be gratefully accepted by our casa hosts, as well as small commodities such as toothbrushes/tooth paste, small bottles of aspirin or ibuprofen, pens and pencils.

    - Pens were the most requested item, even by the clerks in the hotels.

 

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ELECTRONICS

 

Q. Is Wi-Fi available?

A. Wi-Fi was very unreliable in 2016, but may improve over time. The hotels had Wi-Fi access in the lobbies or designated areas (not in the rooms), and it was not free. Perhaps one or two of the casas had Wi-Fi. Do not expect to carry on your normal email activity, other than perhaps a safe arrival message and periodic check-ins.

Q. Is there a computer available for our use anywhere?

A. Not that I know of.

Q. Are electrical outlets different in Cuba?

A. No. They are the same as in the States.

 

TRANSPORTATION & DRIVING ARRANGEMENTS

 

Q. How will we get around while in Cuba?

A. We will be transported by private mini-van or small motor coach.

 

SIGHTSEEING DESTINATIONS, MEALS, & LOGISTICS

 

Q. What if I don't want to go to a particular destination?

A. The authorities in Cuba are very strict. Our Ground Operator will get in trouble if we all don’t participate in all of the activities on the agenda.

Q. Should I bring a bathing suit?

A. Yes. There should be a pool at the two hotels in which we will be staying, and there will be opportunity to swim in the sea (weather permitting).

Q. What hours do I need to look out for? For instance, do the Cubans take a siesta mid-day like some other countries?

A. Not that I could detect.

Q. What is the food like?

A. The food served in the restaurants is safe and tasty. Commodities are limited, which means your choices are limited, with not a lot of variety. In many cases there will be a set menu with two or three choices, almost always the same – grilled chicken cutlet, grilled pork cutlet, or ropa viejo – a local dish of shredded beef. Our ground operator will do his best to provide variety, interspersing buffets and seafood restaurants when available.

Q. Is the food spicy (hot)?

A. No. It is quite bland, not like Cuban food in America.

Q. Are there limitations to what we can talk about with the Cuban people?

A. No. However they may be uncomfortable talking about politics, and our guide will not be allowed to talk about politics, other than basics about their system. DO NOT TRY TO ENGAGE THEM IN CONVERSATION ABOUT POLITICS, as it could get them in trouble.

 

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MONEY

 

Q. I heard that we cannot use our credit cards, and that there are no ATM machines.

A. That is correct. As of May 2016, we cannot use our credit or ATM cards. This may change by March 2017 when we will be there.

Q. What is the currency used in Cuba?

A. There are two currencies. One for the locals, and one for U.S. tourists, called CUC, which is equivalent one-to-one with the U.S. dollar. You will want to be careful when receiving change, as they may try to give you local pesos instead of CUCs. Pesos are worth about 10% the value of CUCs.

Q. Can I get CUCs before I leave?

A. No.

Q. How can I get CUCs while there?

A. We will exchange our U.S. money into CUCs at the airport, and at currency exchange offices if needed after that. Unfortunately, you will be charged a fee to do so (~10-15%), but this cannot be helped.

Q. What can I expect to spend?

A. You will need very little spending money, other than for the 3 lunches and 2 dinners not included. You also may wish to purchase souvenirs, CDs of ubiquitous musical groups and buskers, etc. I suggest $200 worth to begin with, and you can get more if needed later.

Q. What do we do with our leftover CUCs?

A. They can be exchanged for U.S. $ at the airport before leaving Havana.

Q. What is paid for?

A. As delineated in the itinerary.

Q. What will I need to pay for?

A. - You will be on your own for three dinners and two lunches.

    - Museums and other attractions not on the Itinerary

    - Alcoholic and other beverages not listed in the Itinerary

    - Souvenirs

Q. What is the tipping etiquette in Cuba?

A. - Restaurants – 10%, if not included in the bill already

    - For baggage handling: A tip of 1 CUC per bag

    - Chambermaid: 1 CUC per person per night if service was good

    - Taxis: Just round up the fare

 

COMMUNICATING WITH THE HOME FRONT

 

Q. How can we get in touch with friends/relatives at home?

A. This is very difficult. As of May 2016, U.S. mobile phones will not work in Cuba. This may change over time. Before you leave, you will need to talk to your carrier about coverage and charges while in Cuba.

 

NOTE: Please be advised that if you have important business to conduct while on this tour, it is your responsibility to make arrangements for communications.

 

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