Only have a few days in Cuba but don’t want to limit your experience to the capital? Consider a short overnight tour with At Home In Cuba to get more of a glimpse of authentic Cuba, even if your time is limited. Hiring one of our guides for a private, tailor-made trip will ensure that you get to see as much as you can, without wasting time waiting for public transport or searching for those hidden gems. In this post, read about two of our favourite places for a quick trip out of Havana: Viñales, in the Pinar Del Rio province and Playa Larga, close to Ciénaga de Zapata National Park
Why hire a driver and guide for an overnight trip in Cuba?
Many visitors are surprised at the size of Cuba. It’s the largest island in the Caribbean, and a bus trip from one end to the other can take up to 20 (uncomfortable) hours by bus. Even a city a few hours away can involve a long wait for public transport, and then an uncomfortable trip when it finally arrives. Leave the planning and transport to us, however, and you can travel in comfort to get a glimpse of Cuba beyond the streets of the capital city.
Private guided tours to Viñales from Havana
In just over two hours, you will be in the peaceful greenery of this beautiful rural region.
Situated in the heart of Cuba’s prime tobacco growing region, Viñales is where many of Cuba’s trademark cigars are made. Accompanied by a local tour guide, you can visit a working tobacco plantation and meet the family who run the farm. The family will give you a tour of the fully operating secadero (drying house) and give you a cigar rolling demonstration. Our expert guides will help you to find restaurants serving local, fresh produce and to organise visits to the farms and gardens where this food is grown.
If you want to get active, it is possible to hire a bike and cycle through incredibly scenic countryside, between the strange mogotes, to the Cuevas del Indio (Indian Caves). Here, you can find out about the indigenous population of the island.
The hotels Los Jazmines and La Ermita are great options if you just want to relax by a pool with a beautiful view of the valley. You don’t even need to be a guest: day passes can be arranged at the hotel reception – or just let your guide take care of that and head straight for the pool.
Can you visit Ciénaga de Zapata National Park and Playa Larga from Havana?
Yes you can! In just under three hours from Havana, history and nature combine in this fascinating region. We recommend visiting this area as an overnight trip and travelling with one of our private tour guides and drivers so that you find your way around with ease. Using the quirky beach town of Playa Larga as your base, there’s plenty to explore here. A private guided tour here will ensure that you get the most out of your visit – just contact us to find out more, or read about some of the options we can arrange.
Cycling, diving and hiking trip in Ciénaga de Zapata National Park
This region is well known for its beautiful diving sites, for both scuba and snorkelling. We can arrange for a qualified instructor to accompany you on a private, guided scuba excursion in the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea.
Alternatively, take a guided cycling tour through some peaceful forests and countryside. You are likely to see some of the bird species endemic to the region, as well as some black crabs picking their way through the undergrowth. Hidden down a forest track, your guide can take you to visit the memorial site of Fidel Castro’s dramatic Christmas Eve dinner, immediately after the Triumph of the Revolution. You can visit rural settlements and let your guide introduce you to some local people. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the smallest bird in the world: the Bee Hummingbird!
What else is there to do in Ciénaga de Zapata National Park?
If you prefer to go by foot, you can take a forest hike through fascinating natural rock formations and unspoiled natural habitats. With a local expert to guide you, you are likely to see many exotic plants, animals, bird and insects native to this region. The hike reaches a natural ‘cenote’ pool where you can take a refreshing swim before heading back down the trail.
Can you see flamingos in Cuba?
Yes you can! At certain times of the year, it is possible to view flocks of flamingos in their natural habitat. At Home In Cuba can introduce you to a local, English-speaking ornithologist who will take you 30km into the UNESCO reserve area ‘Las Salinas de Brito’. Here, you can spot – and catch on camera – large groups of migrating flamingos, as well as experiencing the breath-taking natural beauty of the nature reserve. Traveling with a local expert will ensure that no birds are disturbed by your presence.
What is there to see and do in and around Playa Larga?
For history-lovers, it’s a great idea to travel on from Playa Larga and visit the commemorative site of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion – Playa Girón. Visit the museum in the village of Girón to understand the political importance of this event and to understand the local perspective of the conflict, before taking a short walk along the coast to see some of the left-over bunkers. You may wish to visit Fidel Castro’s command centre in the village of Australia. Your guide can also organise a boat trip to visit a reconstructed indigenous village, to give you a sense of how the people of Cuba lived for centuries before the colonialists turned up.
Take a look at our overnight packages to Playa Larga, where we can combine any of these activities in a tour that’s tailor-made for you.
At Home In Cuba’s commitment to sustainability
We believe in the importance and power of sustainable, responsible tourism which benefits local people and communities. We are proud of the fact that we treat everyone with the kindness, fairness and respect that they deserve. This means not only our drivers and guides, but also the local people who interact with our visitors and make our private guided tours so special: casa owners, street vendors and local experts – to name just a few. First-class relationships, and positive, beneficial interactions are at the heart of what we do. When you discover Cuba with us, you become part of that. Thank you!