Shedd Adventures 2014
Cuba (May 8 to 17)
Nature (and Nightlife) on a Neighboring Isle
A People-to-People Program
Don’t miss this rare opportunity to experience the natural and cultural wonders of Cuba in this authorized people-to-people travel adventure. The immersive, nature-focused itinerary lets you interact with Cuban locals, birders and conservation leaders as you explore lagoons, wetlands, highlands and organic farms. You’ll also meet artists, musicians and ordinary people in Cuba’s historic cities—and in its famed music clubs.
Download the journey brochure for full details.
Thursday, May 8
Our Cuba people-to-people travel program begins in Miami with a briefing, welcome reception and overnight stay.
Friday, May 9
We take a charter flight to the city of Cienfuegos to visit Guanaroca Lagoon, home to more than 170 bird species, including the Cuban trogon, or tocororo, the national bird of Cuba.
Saturday, May 10
We’ll visit the main square of Cienfuegos and market areas. Outside of Cienfuegos, we’ll tour the Soledad Botanical Gardens with botanists, then drive to Trinidad, an architectural jewel and a World Heritage Site. Experience the community like a local, visiting with shop owners and sampling local fare as we walk through the colonial heart of the city. We might even drop in at a music club to mingle with the locals and enjoy authentic Cuban music.
Sunday, May 11
Get ready for an off-road journey to Topes de Collantes National Park, where a local naturalist will show us Cuba’s native birds. After a picnic lunch and a stop at a local coffeehouse, we’ll tour a modern art museum. Dinner is at a family-run restaurant in Trinidad, where we’ll learn about the challenges and opportunities facing this new generation of Cuban entrepreneurs.
Monday, May 12
The Zapata Swamp, which closely resembles the Florida Everglades, is Cuba’s most important wetland area and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, protecting more than 1,000 animal species. We’ll take a guided nature hike, then visit the Bay of Pigs with local naturalists.
Tuesday, May 13
At an exclusive stop at the Korimacao Project, which houses some of Cuba’s finest musicians and artists. we’ll chat with and present art supplies to the project staff. We continue to Boca de Guamaa for a boat excursion on Laguana del Tesoro—Treasure Lake—and visit the crocodile farm where the Cuban crocodile is protected.
Wednesday, May 14
We travel through the Sierra de los Organos Mountains to the Vinales Valley to enjoy a boating excursion into one of the huge limestone caves. Afterward, we’ll sample homegrown vegetables at an organic farm while meeting the family who is responsible for the land. We’ll visit another family farm where tobacco for Cuba’s famed cigars is grown.
Thursday, May 15
A Soroa Orchid Garden specialist takes us for a morning botany walk. Then it’s back to Havana, stopping first at the Havana Aquarium, where we’ll be joined by aquarium staffers and a member of the Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Humanity, a not-for-profit environmental group. In the afternoon, we’ll drive outside Havana to pay homage to Ernest Hemingway by discussing his work with Cuban Hemingway specialists at his former home, Finca Vigia.
Friday, May 16
We begin our day in Old Havana at a community social project at Belen Convent, where we’ll meet seniors and children taking part in program activities. Then we can enjoy the architecture as we stroll through historic plazas. At the public library, we’ll present children with Spanish versions of popular books. Following dinner at a local restaurant, we’ve organized an optional excursion to hear the famed Buena Vista Social Club perform (at your own expense).
Saturday, May 17
Transfer to the Jose Marti Airport for our charter flight to Miami, where you connect with flights home.
Meet Dr. Chuck Knapp, your Shedd Aquarium Guide
Dr. Chuck Knapp, Shedd Aquarium’s vice president of conservation and research, and Louis Family Conservation Chair for the Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation and Research, is an expert in Caribbean iguanas and conservation science. His extensive research has taken him to the Bahamas, Costa Rica and Dominica to study and implement conservation initiatives for endangered iguanas. And he has had the chance to confer with biologists in Cuba to help protect that island’s endemic iguanas. Chuck also has more than 15 years’ experience leading natural history and citizen science trips.
Your journey includes
• Customized pre-departure documentation
• Double-occupancy accommodations
• Meals as stated in the itinerary
• The services of an International Expeditions tour leader; the services of a local Cuban guide and driver
• The services of Shedd guide Dr. Chuck Knapp
• All transfers and excursions
• 1 complimentary Sponsor-level Shedd Aquarium membership per household
• Airfare to/from Miami
• Charter flight to Cuba
• Passport fees
• Travel insurance
• Items of a personal nature
• Alcoholic beverages and gratuities to the expedition leader
• Cuban guide
• Cuban driver and maids in hotels.
May 8: Miami Airport Marriott
May 9: Hotel Jagua in Cienfuegos
May 10 and 11: Hotel Trinidad Del Mar, Hotel Ancon, or similar
May 12: Hotel Playa Larga or similar
May 13 and 14: Villa Soroa, La Ermita, Las Jazmines, or similar
May 15 and 16: Hotel Melia Cohiba or similar
A trip to Cuba is an active one that calls for good health. Participants should be able to walk without assistive devices or the help of others a minimum of two hours at a slow to moderate pace in order to participate in this expedition. The activities involve a great deal of walking on uneven terrain such as cobblestone streets and slippery trails, and standing, all of which will be in hot weather. Participants will occasionally have to climb/descend stairs and negotiate places where the footing is uncertain, often times without handrails. If participants are in any doubt that they will be able to participate, then check with us and we will be happy to discuss it further.
International Expedition’s people-to-people program itinerary and/or specific hotel accommodations may vary depending on license regulations or other local conditions. Remember, we are not traveling to a typical “tourist” destination and must plan to be flexible. Our hotels will be comfortable, and you will enjoy a truly engaging experience. A people-to-people license does not allow for time to explore independently.
Getting there and getting home
Please plan to arrive in Miami on May 8 by 5 p.m., and plan to depart Miami no earlier than 8 p.m. on May 17. Our partners at International Expeditions have a full-service air department and can assist you with booking your flights if needed.
Journey cost, per person
• $4,498 double occupancy
• $750 single-room supplement
• $300 estimated airfare from Chicago to Miami
• $575 Charter airfare to Cuba
Other travel opportunities
This trip is one of four offered through Shedd Adventures in 2014. See where else you could venture.
Aquarium membership included with your adventure
Continue your connection with nature after you return home. Each household with a Shedd Adventures traveler receives a complimentary Sponsor-level Shedd Aquarium membership.
For reservations and more information