CUBA | HOW CUBA WENT GREEN
Join Cross Cultural Journeys and Ocean Doctor’s Dr. David E. Guggenheim on a journey into the heart of Cuba’s extraordinary people and their ecosystem, living and thriving at Cuba’s cultural crossroads, with a special extension for diving at the Isle of Youth.
Back in 2015, a crew from Al Jazeera English tagged along on ourHow Cuba Went Green trip to learn about Cuba's environmental successes and challenges as a tsunami of U.S. travelers hits its shores. Watch the short clip, featuring both Dr. Guggenheim and CCJ President, Cilla Utne.
The People. The Culture. The Environment. How Cuba Went Green is a journey into the heart of Cuba’s extraordinary people and their ecosystem - living and thriving at Cuba’s cultural crossroads. Join Cross Cultural Journeys and Ocean Doctor’s Dr. David E. Guggenheim on an exciting People to People exploratory journey as we explore the history, culture and sustainable practices of Cuba through meeting with researchers, university officials, organizations and with the local people to learn and discuss Cuba’s sustainable environmental successes and issues.
What can the U.S. learn from Cuba about sustainability? When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Cuba lost its oil supply. Without petroleum for transportation, agriculture and manufacturing, Cuba's economy shrank by 30% in one year and famine loomed. To feed its people and rebuild its economy, Cuba had to adapt, developing novel ways to survive on less. Cuba's natural environment benefited, too, as its forests, reefs and coastal wetlands thrived in the absence of chemical pollution. Today, many of these practices are models for how other countries can adapt to challenges like global warming, resource depletion, species extinction. Join this extraordinary trip examining what lessons we can learn from Cuba's experience.
Day 1 | Miami / Havana Upon arrival in Cuba, meet your Cuban guide and drive to your hotel. On the way, your guide will show you the historical memorial to José Martí at Plaza de la Revolución and give you a short driving tour to see the general layout of this beautiful city including the Malecón. After settling into your accommodation, walk to dinner and absorb your first impressions of the tropical air, rhythm and color wafting out of the doorways you pass, laughter and conversation bouncing amongst neighbors easily, meeting local people along the way. Dine on local cuisine at a beautiful paladar, in company of a local expert in sustainability. A paladar is a small family-run restaurant licensed to provide meals in a private home. Here, you will taste some of the best food in Cuba as well as experience being in the intimate, warm spaces of local people. Havana Accommodation (D)
Day 2 | Havana After breakfast we begin our day with a talk on the history of the city’s fascinating architectural history and future urban plans, as presented to us by an expert architect and city planner. Our knowledgeable Cuban guide will then take us on a walking tour of Havana Vieja meeting local people along the way, and speaking with local entrepreneurs about their new businesses, and to NGOs (non-governmental organizations) who oversee sustainability projects such as women’s sewing groups or children’s art classes. Enjoy lunch at a local paladar. After lunch head to the Center for Marine Research from the University of Havana where we will visit with scientists, educators and students to discuss the main issues facing Cuba’s surrounding waters. Then enjoy the rest of the afternoon to explore the capital city on your own. Wander the streets to experience the people hanging around the doorways, offering friendly smiles. Dinner is enjoyed on your own at a local restaurant or paladar. Havana Accommodation (B/L)
Day 3 | Havana After breakfast head to Organopónico Vivero Alamar, a cooperative urban farm focusing on agricultural production and services. Meet with the founder and his family to discuss their experience and vision. Then visit the Antonio Nuñez Foundation for Man and Nature, who through its urban development program supports green urbanization initiatives. Learn about environmental challenges in Cuba and the education. Enjoy lunch at a nearby paladar with a local expert in sustainability. After lunch head to the Rancho Bolleros Research Center where the Cuban government maintains an agriculture experiment station in the borough of Santiago de las Vegas. Dinner is on your own at a local restaurant or paladar. Havana Accommodation (B/L)
Day 4 | Las Terrazas Today we depart Havana after breakfast, driving west towards the coffee growing countryside. We arrive at Las Terrazas, an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and ecological planned community focusing on sustainable living and environmentally friendly farming practices. Enjoy a meeting with a Goldman Prize winner for his work organizing heritage seed banks and discuss his work. Lunch at a local paladar. In the afternoon, discover this green space with a meeting and walking tour of the town by a local historian who will take you to a nearby eco-station and medical clinic. To end your day in Las Terrazas, enjoy a vegetarian dinner prepared at a local eco-friendly restaurant. Las Terrazas Accommodation (B/L/D)
Day 5 | Playa Larga Depart for Playa Larga, home to the Zapata Swamp, the largest protected area in the Caribbean and home to the Zapata Biosphere Reserve, where numerous areas are designated for environmental preservation and wildlife sanctuaries. Stop along the way at Caleta Buena, a protected swimming cove to enjoy lunch as well as a refreshing swim in the blue waters. Learn from a local expert about the Zapata Swamp Biosphere Reserve and the national system for protected areas in Cuba. Visit the Korimacao Culture Center, an innovative community development initiative in Playa Larga where they are providing community art, music, and cultural training free of charge to young artists. Dinner at the hotel in the company of a local expert. Playa Larga Hotel (B/L/D)
Day 6 | Playa Larga This morning experience an early morning tour by rowboat of the Hatiguanico River and its surrounding wildlife. Observe the various species in their habitat in this unique swampland. After lunch explore the healthy reefs of Punta Perdiz diving (or snorkeling) with the Ocean Doctor, David E. Guggenheim, and local experts working in ocean conservation. As an option you can also spend the afternoon exploring on your own or relaxing at the beach. Dinner will be at the hotel.Playa Larga Hotel (B/L/D)
Day 7 | Trinidad After enjoying breakfast at the hotel we will drive to Trinidad. Trinidad in central Cuba, is one of the best-preserved cities in the Caribbean. Dating back to a time when sugar trade was the main industry in the region, it offers exquisite Spanish Colonial architecture and warm, friendly people. A day spent within Trinidad’s streets is essential to experiencing the full extent of the Cuban spirit. When we arrive we will enjoy a lunch on the plaza. In the afternoon we will meet with an expert city historian to discuss the city’s preservation efforts. Walk to the Plaza Mayor, Trinidad’s central square and an UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988. In the square, visit the Museo de Arquitectura Colonial, the Museum of Colonial Architecture with its elegant portico and delicate wrought-iron balustrade. In the 18th century this building was originally two homes, both owned by the sugar barons of the Sánchez Iznaga family then converted into a museum in the 19th century. Also in the square, the Museo Romántico, a historic residence once owned by a plantation owner with lavish furnishings - evidence to the wealth Cubans once held. In the late afternoon we will visit with the women at an entrepreneurial crochet co-op, and then with artisans at an outdoor market — well known for their woodcarvings and fine handmade lace and crochet, as well as ceramics, masks and musical instruments.Dinner will be on your own followed by optional dancing at Casa de Trova Trinidad Hotel (B/L)
Day 8 | Havana After breakfast , we will depart to local farms and learn about green agriculture on our way to Havana. We will explore the Otero Family Farm, located 45 minutes from Cienfuegos, one of the first farms that started doing organic agriculture in Cuba. The well-known founder, was the late Gallego Otero, and his daughter Tania is now running the farm. We will have the opportunity to learn about the farm history and its organic practices, while participating in some of the work. After Otero Farm, we will head to the Botanic Garden Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, known as the Atkins Institution, which became a center for tropical plant research in the early 1900s. It combines research on sugarcane and other commercial crops, with a tropical garden boasting thousands of individual species. After to the Revolution in 1959, it was difficult for the university associated staff to travel to Cuba and greatly affected their ability to maintain of the Atkins Garden. The U.S. embargo in 1962 further restricted American involvement. In 1961, the director, Dr. Duncan Clement, left Cuba and Harvard terminated their financial support and resources. Currently, the garden is now known as the Cienfuegos Botanical Garden and is run by the Cuban government. It is a National Monument as well as a popular domestic and international tourist destination. We will finish the visit with lunch in the Botanical Garden and then we will continue our trip to Havana. Dinner on your own when you arrive in Havana. Havana Hotel (B/L)
Day 9 | Havana In the morning we head to the Finca Vigía, Hemingway’s primary residence from 1939 to 1960 and where he penned much of his classic “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and visit the Hemingway Museum that now occupies the space. After lunch at a local paladar, we will visit Havana’s National Museum of Fine Arts, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, where a museum guide can teach you about the history of Cuba through its impressive art history. After returning to your hotel, sit down with trip leader Dr. David Guggenheim to recap your Cuban experience. End the day with a special farewell dinner with the other travelers overlooking the Alamar river. Optional night out to experience some of Havana’s famous nightlife. Havana Hotel (B/L/D)
Day 10 | Havana/Miami Before your departure home, spend a few hours free for any last minute adventures before we bid Cuba farewell. Transfer to the airport for our flight to Miami, then onward flights home. (B)
Day 8 | Havana After breakfast, we will depart to local farms and learn about green agriculture on our way to Havana. We will explore the Otero Family Farm, located 45 minutes from Cienfuegos, one of the first farms that started doing organic agriculture in Cuba. The well-known founder, was the late Gallego Otero, and his daughter Tania is now running the farm. We will have the opportunity to learn about the farm history and its organic practices, while participating in some of the work. After Otero Farm, we will head to the Botanic Garden Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, known as the Atkins Institution, which became a center for tropical plant research in the early 1900s. It combines research on sugarcane and other commercial crops, with a tropical garden boasting thousands of individual species. After to the Revolution in 1959, it was difficult for the university associated staff to travel to Cuba and greatly affected their ability to maintain of the Atkins Garden. The U.S. embargo in 1962 further restricted American involvement. In 1961, the director, Dr. Duncan Clement, left Cuba and Harvard terminated their financial support and resources. Currently, the garden is now known as the Cienfuegos Botanical Garden and is run by the Cuban government. It is a National Monument as well as a popular domestic and international tourist destination. In the afternoon we will finish the visit with lunch in the Botanical Garden. After lunch the diving group would head to the domestic airport to take a flight to Nueva Gerona Isle of Youth in the late afternoon. When we land we will head to the Colony Hotel, and check in. After getting settled we will enjoy a dinner at the hotel together. Colony Hotel (B/L/D)
The ISLE OF YOUTH is thirty-one miles south of Cuba, and covers nearly 850 square miles of land. Originally famous for buccaneer activity and buried treasure, it was the inspiration for the private havens of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” and J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan”. The thick forests that cover much of the island gave its contemporary name of Isle of Pines. In 1978, Fidel Castro changed the name, to support the revolutionary youth activities. The southwest coast of the island is where the Punta Frances Marine Protected Area (PFMPA) is located. This spectacular protected area includes shallow coral reef ecosystems, as well as deeper reefs near the shelf break. These reef are important spawning and mating areas for threaten and commercial fish, such as groupers. The area is also home to extensive mangrove forests, seagrass beds, crucial protected nurseries and habitats for hundreds of fish species, marine turtles, manatees and saltwater crocodiles.
Day 9 | Isle of Youth Early morning and breakfast at the Hotel. Then we head to the local marina to board the boat that will take us to the Punta Frances Marine Protected Area (PFMPA). We will spend the day in the Marine Protected Area, where the group would do two dives and have lunch on board. Then we will return to the marina and head back to the Colony Hotel. After enjoying dinner, meet with trip leader Dr. David E. Guggenheim to recap your diving experience and learn from Ocean Doctor´s work in the PFMPA. Colony Hotel (B/L/D)
Day 10 | Isle of Youth Early morning and breakfast at the Hotel. Then we head to the local marina to board the boat that will take us to PFMPA to do two dives and enjoy the calm and quite beaches of the south of Isle of Youth, while having lunch. Then we will return to the marina and head back to the Colony Hotel. The rest of your afternoon is free to relax. We will connect for a final farewell dinner then meet with community leader to learn about the Red Alerta project in the town of Cocodrilo on the Isle of Youth. Cocodrilo is part of Ocean Doctor´s Red Alerta Project. Colony Hotel (B/L/D)
Day 11 | Havana/Miami Early morning transfer to Isle of Youth airport for departure to Havana. You will have 18 hours on land after diving before your flight. From the domestic airport, we will transfer to the international airport for our flight to Miami, then onward flights home. (B)
INCLUDED: In country transportation per itinerary; best available accommodations in Havana (double occupancy); full breakfast buffet daily at the hotel plus 8 lunches and 5 dinners (B/L/D per itinerary); Cuban English speaking local guide; all entrance fees on itinerary; preparation materials; tips for bellman and hotel staff, included meals on itinerary and bottled water on the bus, expertise of David E. Guggenheim
NOT INCLUDED: International air to Cuba, Cuban visa, departure tax and medical insurance while in Cuba; meals not on itinerary, 2 lunches and 4 dinners (B/L/D per itinerary); alcoholic drinks; excursions not on the itinerary; tips for local guide and driver (optional, yet customary); and Travel Protection.
For more information on the recommended travel protection plans or to enroll, contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 47-0272.
Please advise Travelex that Cross Cultural Journeys is the travel company for this trip.
Upon request for enrollment Travelex will collect the following information for the traveler(s):
- Dates of travel
- Name of traveler
- Date of Birth
- Traveler’s phone number, address, city, state, zip
- Reason for travel: Educational: People to People
- Name of Travel Agency (Cross Cultural Journeys)
Please note: Insurance for this trip may differ from previous insurance purchases and follows a different process given the destination. In addition, this is a process we must follow as regulated by the Office of Foreign Asset Control for any travel to Cuba.
For a summary of plan details on benefits, coverages, limitations and exclusions, please refer to the applicable Description of Coverage. Travel Insurance is underwritten by Transamerica Casualty Insurance Company, Columbus, Ohio; NAIC #10952. 1308294
NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change to take advantage of the serendipity of the moment when we are in Cuba; to meet someone special, to engage in an activity that might occur unexpectedly, or to accommodate circumstances beyond our control. Restaurants or hotels may change in similar category.
$ 5,300 (Double Occupancy)
Diving Extension $800.00
Single Supplement $700.00
David E. Guggenheim is a marine scientist, conservation policy specialist, submarine pilot, ocean explorer and educator. He is president and founder of the nonprofit organization, Ocean Doctor. As director of Cuba Conservancy, he is in his 17th year leading research and conservation efforts in Cuba. Guggenheim holds a strong commitment to environmental education and hosts several podcast series, playing a key role in public outreach and education about the oceans. He makes frequent speaking and television and radio appearances, having recently appeared on 60 MINUTES, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. His work can be seen at oceandoctor.org