GARDEN/CULTURAL TOUR –
MARCH 12 TO 26, 2018

The aim of this tour is to get you exposed to the plants and gardens of Cuba, while offering you a look at the history, culture, and people of this island.  In each location we go to you will have time to fully explore the organic revolution of Cuba and each place we visit will have a local guide familiar with the plants and gardening techniques,  I have included 4 nights in Havana because of the importance of this city and each day will be filled with exciting events.  Included will be some time to do your own thing and at the end of the tour you will spend two days relaxing at an all inclusive beach resort in Varadero.  Group size is limited to 20 so early registration is most important.  Please check the links at the bottom.  I look forward to having you along.

MINIMUM NUMBER TO CONFIRM TOUR IS 15 PEOPLE


Compare the quality and the price to other companies offering similar tours…Cuba1tours is best in both.


 


MEAL CODE

Please note meals included:

  • B – breakfast
  • L – lunch
  • D – dinner
  • AI – All Inclusive

Julianne Labreche is a freelance writer and gardening enthusiast who volunteers with Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton. She was on this tour that was organized by Square 1 Travel & Cruise in Courteney, British Columbia.  Enjoy this article written by Julianne on her recent visit to Cuba and its gardens.  Link:  Lee Valley & Veritas Gardening Newsletter. February 2016

 

DAY 1 – Arrive in Varadero and transfer to a 4* all inclusive resort. (AI)

DAY 2 – Transfer to Havana after lunch at the resort. En route to Havana you will stop at the highest bridge in Cuba with a spectacular view of the Yumuri valley and the best piña coladas in the world.  Accommodation and dinner dinner at a 4 star hotel. (B/L/D)

DAY 3 – Breakfast and transfer to Vivero Organoponico Alamar in east Havana. You will meet up with an agricultural engineer who will explain the origin of the garden and how it functions. Then you will walk around the garden area to have an up close look at the production. You will have plenty of time here to learn all the aspects of Organic gardening in Cuba and how they operate and sustain themselves. You will have lunch in the fishing village of Cojimar where Ernest Hemingway once kept his boat, the Pilar and have lunch at Las Terrazas restaurant which he frequented. Return to Havana and walk the four squares in Old Havana. Dinner at the hotel. (B/L/D)

DAY 4 – Breakfast and transfer to the National Botanical Garden in Havana. First, you will have a briefing about the gardens and then visit the amazing green houses with displays of cactus, ferns and many other species. You will then drive to and walk in some of the more interesting parts of the garden. Lunch is not included this day and the afternoon will be free (possible panoramic drive around the city). Dinner will be at a famous chicken restaurant, El Aljibe. (B/D)

DAY 5 – Breakfast and transfer to Vinales in the beautiful Vinales valley with unique hill formations called magotes (huge haystack formations composed of limestone and sandstone).  The rich soil here produces some the worlds best tobacco and farming methods take you back to a time lost in history in most parts of the world. Lunch will be at one of the out lying restaurants and after lunch a tour by walking and boat through a cave. Accommodation and dinner will be at the either La Ermita or Jazmines hotel.  (B/L/D)

DAY 6 – Breakfast and guided hike in the valley with a local guide familiar with plants, birds and history of the valley. After lunch you have an option of visiting a private botanical garden in the town and and it will be by donation and guided.  Lunch and dinner not included. (B)

DAY 7 – Breakfast and transfer to Soroa in the Sierra del Rosario mountain range. Visit to the Orquiderio Soroa (famous orchid garden) built between 1943 and 1953 by a Spanish lawyer in memory of his wife and daughter (google). There are 700 orchid species, 6,000 ornamentals, various growing houses and research facilities. Lunch at a local restaurant. Continue to Havana with accommodation and dinner at the same hotel. (B/L/D)

DAY 8 – Breakfast and transfer to the city of Cienfuegos, the ”pearl for the south”.  It is a small, clean and very safe city surrounding a huge, protected bay.  Lunch is not included, but we will stop en route.  Accommodation and dinner will be at the Jagua hotel. (B/D) (this is also a place to have your laundry done by a local woman)

DAY 9 – Breakfast and transfer to El Nicho park which is located in the Sierra de Trinidad mountains opposite to Topes de Collantes. This is again a feast of nature and El Nicho hosts a small river which cascades down the side of the mountains creating pools for swimming, spectacular scenery and lush vegetation. After a short hike and perhaps a refreshing swim, we will have lunch before returning to Cienfuegos. Dinner at the hotel. (B/L/D)

DAY 10 Breakfast and visit to the Cienfuegos botanical garden which was a former botanical institute and research centre for Harvard University. The garden has a remarkable collection of tropical palm trees among other peculiar plants such as the “Cavanillesia platanifolia”, “Lecythis spp” and “Strychnos nux-vomica”.  The garden is located just outside the city and you will have a local guide to walk you through the varieties finishing at the greenhouse area.  We will continue along the Caribbean coast before we arrive in the UNESCO heritage town of Trinidad.  We will have lunch at a local restaurant in the centre of the city and after, a short city tour before heading to an all inclusive beach resort on Playa Ancon.  (B/L/D)

DAY 11Breakfast and transfer to Topes de Collantes, in the Escambray mountains.  From here we will load into our Russian military truck and go for a hair raising ride to a small farm called Codina and take an eco hike with the guide.  Lunch at the farm and transfer back to the bus and continue to lake Hanabanilla where we will spend the night and have dinner at hotel Hanabanilla. (B/L/D)

DAY 12Breakfast and boat ride on the lake to visit a local farm. Return by boat to a restaurant on the lake for lunch and then back to the hotel.  Transfer to Santa Clara and visit the Che Guevarra monument and mausoleum.  Accommodation and dinner at hotel La Granjita(B/L/D)

DAY 13 – Breakfast and transfer back to Varadero with  accommodation at a 4 * + all inclusive beach resort.  (B/AI)

DAY 14 – Day free in all inclusive. Good time to relax by the pool, on the beach, snorkel, hike around the area and take local transportation to visit the area.

DAY 15 –Breakfast and transfer to the airport.

PRICE – $3,375.00 (CDN) DOUBLE occupancy
Add: $575.00 for single supplement.

All pricing is in CAD and includes taxes
Compare the quality and the price to other companies offering similar tours…Cuba1tours is best in both.  Due to the US influence in Cuba, prices have increased substantially.  Therefore, in order for me to compete, I have had to raise my prices and they still remain in Canadian dollars.

 

INCLUDED:

  • Excellent accommodations
  • All ground transportation
  • Breakfast and dinner daily
  • Lunches where mentioned
  • 4 nights at all Inclusive resorts
  • All entry fees
  • Guided tours
  • Cuban guide and driver
  • Canadian tour leader

NOT INCLUDED: –

  • Air Fare
  • Beverages (except at all inclusive resorts)
  • Tips for bell boys and chambermaids (a collection is made at the beginning of the tour for tips of guides and driver and you will be informed of the amount with other detailed information mailed to you once you sign up)
  • Trip insurance (cancellation and medical if required).
  • VALID PASSPORT REQUIRED
  • Deposit: A $500 deposit is required at time of booking and can be done by cheque (check) or credit card made payable to:
  • SQUARE 1 TRAVEL
    449-B Fifth Street
    Courtenay BC V9N 1J7
    250-334-0355 1-877-334-0355
  • If you are using credit cards for payment of Cuba portion there will be a 2% service charge added.
  • IMPORTANT: Flights to be booked once a minimum 14 people are confirmed. You will be informed and for this reason, it is important to book early. 
  • WHEN BOOKING PLEASE STATE SPECIFICALLY WHICH TOUR, BY  NAME AND THE DATE.  This is Garden/culture tour…March 12 to 26, 2018

WHEN BOOKING PLEASE STATE SPECIFICALLY WHICH TOUR, BY NAME AND THE TIME YOU WISH TO GO. This is Garden/Cultural Tour February 12 to 26, 2017


TO BOOK…Use Contact form below of email: tom@cuba1tours.com or contact Louise at Square1Travel – 250 334 0355 or toll free – 877 334 0355

TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF PAYMENT WITH CUBA1TOURS IN ASSOCIATION WITH SQUARE1TRAVEL, COURTENAY, BC:

  • A $500 CAD deposit is required at time of booking and unless the tour is cancelled, it is NON- refundable, but can be held by Square1travel and put towards a future tour within 1 year.
  • Full payment due sixty (60) days prior to date of the tour.
  • Once final payment is made it is 100% non refundable unless the tour is cancelled by the operator in which case it is then 100% refundable.
  • Money for all Cuba tours is transferred to Cuba and their policy is “non refundable”.
  • No travel documents are issued by Cuban tour operators prior to arrival in Cuba. 
  • All vouchers are presented direct to the hotels and other services by the Cuban tour guide
  • When payments are sent to Square1travel, you will be informed by the office when they arrive.

VALID PASSPORT REQUIRED

  • Deposit: A $500 deposit is required at time of booking and can be done by cheque made out to Square1travel and mailed to the office or credit card (attention LOUISE).
  • If you are using credit cards for payment of Cuba portion there will be a 3% service charge added.
  • IMPORTANT: Flights to be booked once a minimum 14 people are confirmed. You will be informed and for this reason, it is important to book early.

Mention this is GARDEN/CULTURAL TOUR March 12 – 26, 2018 

Please put in the message section of the contact form:  Garden & Cultural Tour

CONTACT TOM:

7 + 15 =

Buenas Dias Tom, Thank you for your e-mails and photos and especially for a wonderful trip. We have come back with many great memories and much to think about.

We would appreciate it if you would convey our thanks to Eric and Angel for their outstanding work during our two week trip in Cuba. Our experience was greatly enhanced by their attention to detail and the courteous and conscientious manner in which they attended to us all. What a great team they made with you.

We really appreciated Eric’s thoughtful answers to our many questions. From these answers we learned a great deal about Cuban history and culture, and we have a much better understanding of Cuba and its people through his efforts. We were very impressed at his ability to interpret for us, and to add background material where necessary. Eric dealt really well with emergencies that occurred during the trip, looking after both the well-being of those injured and accommodating changes to plans as required. Throughout the trip he did a superb job of looking after our needs. We have come away with a very high regard for the country and the friendliness, resourcefulness and determination of its people.

We also really appreciated Angel’s driving. From the very first his careful attention to the road and his very smooth style of driving inspired our confidence. He dealt magnificently with the many different situations and road conditions that always arise during hours of road travel. We know that all of us on the trip were very upset that he was penalized twice for parking infractions during the trip. The first, at Vinales, seemed to us to be unwarranted, the result of over zealous and uncompromising police action; the second penalty. at Trinidad, left us all appalled at its unfairness to a driver who, throughout the trip, had demonstrated extremely courteous professionalism in his driving. On this occasion he stopped for a very short time while we all climbed on board as quickly as we could. For this brief, safe stop, made without causing any lasting impediment to others and made particularly to ease our passage, he was penalized. We feel that Angel is an outstanding driver who deserves commendation for the exemplary manner in which he performed his work.

Also, we thank you for all your efforts to make our trip so memorable and interesting. We learned a great deal and enjoyed the many discussions we had together. Some of the jokes were great too!

Best wishes, Maureen and Allen

Maureen and Allen

Buenos Dias Tomas…thank you for the kind words. all too soon the trip is over, but the memories stay imprinted on ones soul. the warmth of friendships, Cuba, and all it has to offer, two being; fantastic rice & beans and Papayas, like none other!!! The easy connection with my bunk buddy & the feeling of a togetherness, of course, with our traveling family. There were many moments of tears and happiness at the same time learning about a country, trying so very hard to make a comeback, and Eric showed us as a Cuban,himself,that happiness above all will make it right. as for you Three Muskateers, what can I say???? You all know, anyway!!! …..For Cuba, an island sitting out there in the sun, Bona Fortuna! Adios mi amigo…Elaine, aka. Rosey

Elaine aka Rosey

Hi Tom, It was a fabulous holiday. Thanks again for organizing such a spectacular journey, although I’m sure you breathed a sigh of relief when our accident-prone crew flew back to Canada.

FYI, I submitted the piece to Lee Valley last week. I’ll let you know when it gets published, likely either in the next issue or not for awhile. I never know for sure.

Barry and I were trying to remember some of your jokes yesterday. You tell them better than us.

Take care, Julianne

Julianne

Hi Tom;

Well, I think that must have been one of your more difficult tours, what with the injuries, and some busted arrangements you had to straighten out. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience, meeting you, and the others on the tour. I’ll send some pictures for you separately. Please use the following as you wish, and we would be interested to read the remarks of others you get.

If it were possible for a guided tour to provide more than 100% – this would be the one. The Garden Tour of Cuba in March 2015 by Cuba!Tours arranged by Tom Roberson from Courtenay, B.C. provided all it promised and plenty more besides. Tom’s knowledge of the accommodations, restaurants, and cultural attractions of Cuba gives visitors an experience they could never match on their own in the time available.

Tom’s localCuban guide – Eric – smoothed the path through some difficult arrangements, translated the expert guides at all locations, and gave an entertaining history of the island day by day. Angel, the gentle giant coach driver saved the lives of at least a dozen dogs, several horses, and about 50 pedestrians during the fourteen days with his careful and expert driving.

We can see that one does not go to Cuba for the quality of the hotel rooms, or the resort buffets; but the people, the music, and the locations chosen for this tour gave a unique perspective of life in a country on a different path. Special mention must be made of the visit in Vinales to the Jardin Botanico of the sisters Caridad and Carmen Miranda now maintained by their relatives, and in the evening the truly outstanding organic garden tour and dinner (feast!) at the Finca. In Cienfuegos the Hotel Jagua, the Bodega de Valle, and the Botanical Garden were also wonderful attractions.

Tom – you love what you do, and we love how you do it ! Keith and Suellen Stratton, Cobourg, Ontario

Keith and Suellen Stratton

We would like to add our voices to the chorus of thanks to Tom, Eric, and Angel for arranging and executing an enjoyable and informative tip through Western Cuba. I hope your next trip together will be less “eventful”. For everyone’s information, Eric’s email is elieser.santiesteban@nauta.cu

On a more personal note, I would like to thank you as a group for your help and support during a challenging week. Recent X-rays show that the bones are still aligned, and I am now sporting bright new and very purple casts, to the delight of our 4 year old granddaughter. I felt it prudent not to mention to the medical staff the salsa dancing or indeed the bone rattling ride in a 6-wheel drive Russian Truck!

I hope that Fran is healing well, that Elizabeth had no ill effects from her last night fall, and that Keith is feeling well again.

Take care, Mary C

Mary C

Dear Tom,

First of all, Charlie and I would like to thank you so much for the absolutely wonderful trip to Cuba. We are back home as of the 22nd of March after a long few days of driving to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, for a choir practice (that sounds extreme) and back to Bella Coola. But it’s hard to come down to earth and get back to routine after such a great holiday. (Bruises are all healed.)

We want to express our appreciation to you, Eric and Angel for all you did for us. Eric is a master tour guide, generous, fun and very knowledgeable about Cuba, its people, history, geography, flora and fauna. Angel is an amazing bus driver and we trusted his driving implicitly. He carried us safely and carefully to all our destinations, including several extra trips to clinics or hospitals, and never gave anyone a moment’s concern. Both he and Eric always tried to be considerate of their less than youthful passengers, and attempted to find places to pick us up and drop us off that would be convenient for us and to minimize walking distance. We were so sorry that this concern for us resulted in difficulties for Angel. He is truly an asset to the travel company.

If you can use any of the above to support Angel, please pass it on to those concerned.

We’re attaching a few photos you might enjoy. Eric said he can’t download too much on his email regarding photos so am not sending them to him. If you have a good way of sharing them with him (and the one of the three of you, with Angel), please do.

Thanks, again, Tom, for a seriously wonderful trip to an amazing country. We will be watching over the next months the developments that take place, and wish the Cubans all the best for their future.

Sincerely, Liz and Charlie

Liz & Charlie