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2020 Mexico and Cuba Explorer

Join us on the trip of a lifetime & take in some of the most popular and spectacular sights of Mexico and Cuba on our ULTIMATE TRIP around these spectacular and fascinating countries.

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Tour Overview

Our 2020 “Mexico and Cuba Explorer” leaves no stone unturned as we visit many of the most spectacular sights of these two fascinating countries.

We’ve teamed up with one of the biggest travel companies in the world as our elite partner to bring you this ultimate 4-star trip through these exciting countries.

Our three-night start is in the vibrant Mexican capitol of Mexico City exploring all it has to offer before heading south to explore the amazing scenery, culture and history of the ancient Aztec and Mayan empires.

Along the way we experience the culture, food and ways of the locals plus explore many of the most famed ancient sites with expert local guides.

We include two internal flights, one within Mexico and also the flight from Mexico to Cuba plus airport transfers. A local expert Tour Manager in Mexico and another local expert Tour Manager in Cuba PLUS a Quo Vadis Holidays host joining you along the way you’re well taken care of.

From the ancient sites of Chichen Itza, Palenque and Teotihuacan to the vibrant cities of Merida, Campeche with their Spanish colonial architecture and small villages with locals weaving their traditional textiles and local cooking. From the stunning natural sights on our boat rides in the Celestun Bird sanctuary and Sumidero Canyon, the beautiful “frozen waterfalls” of Chiapas and the spectacular cenotes “sunken waterholes” of I’Kil and Dos Ojos. Two nights relaxing on the famed Playa del Carmen coast before our flight to Havana!

Eight nights in fascinating Cuba visiting all the big ticket items with local experts. Havana and Trinidad, rides in classic vintage cars in Havana, Che Guevarra and Revolution Museums plus a cigar factory visit. Bay of Pigs, tobacco farms, salsa lessons and the famed Buena Vista Social club. The stunning scenery of Vinales and the lovely French colonial architecture of Cienfigues.

Hand-picked, 4-star accommodation in each location that’s based on either being central to all the action or being in locations of particular interest on our journey around these two countries.

We include ALL the activities and tips to crew and guides so you’re not having to constantly put your hand in your pockets to pay for extra activities along the way.

Our 2020 “Mexico and Cuba” is designed for those who want to have the ULTIMATE TRIP through this fascinating part of the world without cutting any corners and missing out on any of the major highlights!

See you on board with us in 2020!         Tim

Highlights (23 days Mexico City to Havana)

Premium Inclusions

  • Mexico City tour with local guide incl. National Palace, Cathedral and National Museum of Anthropology visits.
  • Mexico City “taco crawl”
  • Teotihuacan site visit with local guide Palace visit and see
  • Oaxaca city tour with local guide incl. lunch cooked by Zapotec indigenous people
  • Mitla ruins, Tule Tree and Hierve el Agua “frozen waterfalls” by Oaxaca
  • Don Agave Mexcal distillery visit
  • Boat excursion in Sumidero Canyon
  • San Juan Chimla church and Mayan customs incl local textile making
  • Agua Azul and Misol Ha waterfalls visits
  • Palenque ruins visit with local expert guide
  • Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve visit and boat tour
  • Chichen Itza site visit with local expert
  • I’Kil and Dos Ojos Cenote visits and swim
  • Flights from Oaxaca to San Cristobal and Cancun to Havana
  • Havana City tour and Old Havana and Vintage Classic car tour
  • Cigar Factory, Revolution Museum and Revolution Square visits in Havana
  • Soroa Orchid Garden and tobacco farm visits
  • Bay of Pigs excursion Cuba
  • Guided walking tour of Trinidad
  • Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara
  • Buena Vista Social Cub Highlight Final dinner in Havana

Other Inclusions

  • Welcome drink and dinner in Mexico City
  • Walking tour of Puebla, Campeche and Merida
  • Vinales and Cienfuegos orientation walks, valley and Los Jazmines lookout in Cuba
  • Informal Spanish lesson with tour leader in Cuba
  • Guama , Zapata “half-island” lunch stop
  • Spectacular Mexico and Cuba drives
  • Group photo (one per couple/single)
  • Hotel porterage (departure mornings)
  • All tips to Tour Leaders, Tour Drivers, local guides and hotels and included meals
  • Escorted by local Professional Tour Director plus Quo Vadis Tour Host
  • Up to 10 guests we travel in a 18-seater Mercedes Sprinter. Above 10 we travel in an air-conditioned full-sized coach with restroom for the tour
  • 22 nights in Mexican and Cuban standard 4-star hotels
  • 22 buffet/continental breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 1 Hotel dinner, 8 Highlight Dinners (incl. three beer/wine/soft drink plus coffee)

Tour Pace

Using the resources of our uber-experienced travel partners in Mexico and Cuba, we’ve teamed with one of the biggest travel operators in the world to put together the ultimate fully-escorted trip through these two fascinating countries.

With our local operators we’ve hand-picked each hotel and have included two flights, one internally in Mexico and then the international flight from Mexico to Cuba.

Lots of two night stays and even a three night stay to start off in Mexico City with a great mix of included local site-seeing of all the main Aztec and Mayan ruins, local villages and and local experiences, museums and highlight sights plus free-time to explore at one’s own pace.

Being Mexico we have a few longer drives and some early starts. All designed to make sure we beat the crowds to some of the main sights.

This trip is targeted at those fit and active with good walking ability and ready to explore all these fascinating places to make the most of the spectacular sights and cities we visit!

 

QUICK FACTS

DURATION

23 Days

COUNTRIES

Mexico and Cuba Explorer

DEPARTURES

Sunday 8th March, 2020 in Mexico City

PRICING

23 Day Mexico City to Havana trip:   *AU$11,950 pp twin share

Single Supplement: *AU$1,950

  • Pricing and dates to be confirmed February 2019

AVAILABILITY

As at April 2019:  Tour almost full! Just four places left. Contact us TODAY!

TOUR MAP

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 / START MEXICO CITY

Arrive at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport, where you’ll be transferred to your hotel in the evening (about 6 pm) you will meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place and have your insurance details and next of kin information ready for collection. This meeting will be followed by a group dinner at a nearby restaurant.                                                                                                         (D)

Hotel: 3 nights Mexico CityHotel Geneve

Day 2 / MEXICO CITY SITESEEING

Today we have an early start at approximately 8.30am as it’s a busy day ahead! To begin, we visit the impressive National Museum of Anthropology, before heading to the Zocalo (main square) for a visit to the Cathedral and National Palace. We discover that Mexico City is an exciting mix of modern cosmopolitan glamour with remnants from both its ancient and colonial history. Mexico City is the best place to try authentic tacos, so this evening our leader will take us on a ‘taco crawl’ around town. Explore a variety of tastes from locals’ favourite “taquerias”. Warning – you may not want to know the ingredients in your taco before you try them! Just trust your taste buds. After Tacos, your leader may suggest taking a taxi to Plaza Garibaldi, where for about MXN 200 you can get a Mariachi band to perform for you! If not, the rest of the evening is free for you to explore or rest.         (BB, HD)

Day 3 / TEOTIHUACAN MEXICO CITY SITESEEING

Today we travel to spectacular Teotihuacan – about 50 km northeast of Mexico City. Here we’ll discover the extraordinary Aztec ruins known as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline. This was once one of the country’s biggest ancient cities and the Aztec capital. With the help of a local guide, we’ll have time to stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’ to see fascinating clues to what life here was like nearly 2,000 years ago. Return to Mexico City in the afternoon and spend another afternoon exploring this vibrant metropolis.       (BB)

Day 4 / PUEBLA and OAXACA

Today we say farewell to Mexico City and head south to Puebla. About 3 hours before arriving into this beautiful, warm city. Our leader will take us on a walk around this town which has retained its colonial heritage despite rapid growth and development. We visit the Calle de Los Dulces (Candy street), El Parian (handcraft market) as well as a couple of colonial buildings that remain a testament to Puebla’s proud history, such as the Town Hall Palace and the Rosary Chapel. Time for lunch in Puebla where our guide will make some delicious recommendations, before continuing south to Oaxaca, another 5hrs drive. Oaxaca is renowned for its cuisine and vibrant art scene. It’s also an excellent place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, as descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians sell an array of bright woven blankets and shawls here. After checking in and leaving our luggage, we’ll enjoy a group dinner nearby to begin experiencing this gastronomical dream!       (BB, HD)

Hotel: 2 nights Oaxaca Hotel Quinta Real

Day 5 / OAXACA SITESEEING

Today we thoroughly explore one of Mexico’s greatest treasures: the magical city of Oaxaca..Enjoy a full day tour with transport, entrance fees and other details taken care of, so you can relax and feast your eyes on the sights instead. Speaking of feasts, food is central to understanding Oaxaca, a biodiverse culinary paradise with many regional dishes that are difficult to replicate elsewhere. With that in mind, today you’ll enjoy a special lunch prepared and served in an indigenous Zapotec household, where you’ll likely be stunned by the variety of dishes that can be prepared from the humble corn cob. The rest of the day is full to the brim with essential activities. Explore the Zapotec roots of modern Oaxaca in the ruins of Mitla, learning from a guide about this important religious site. Then, gaze upon the gnarled bark of the Tule Tree, the stoutest trunk in the world. The petrified falls of Hierve El Agua also await you. Despite their name (roughly boiling water) these cascading falls appear to be frozen in time and provide ample opportunity for stunning videos and photographs. Your Oaxacan culture immersion would not be complete without a tour of a mezcal distillery, and the proud folks at Don Agave Mezcal will be happy to show your how they make their traditional spirit.                                                    (BB, L)

Day 6 / SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS

Take the morning to relax and enjoy a typical Oaxacan breakfast. You will then take a noon flight to Tuxtla Gutierrez. Your private transportation will pick you up to start making your way to San Cristobal de las Casas. You will make a stop at one of the most breath-taking sites in the state of Chiapas: the Sumidero Canyon. You will take a boat tour through an 800-metre deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River and dating from the same time as the Grand Canyon – the boat tour takes approximately 2hrs. Afterwards, continue driving a further 1.5hrs to San Cristobal de las Casas where you can expect to arrive by 7pm. In the evening, take in the distinctive old-world feel here, which comes from the Spanish colonial architecture and pretty, cobbled streets.                                (BB)

Hotel: 2 nights San Cristobal de las CasasMison Grand San Cristobal

Day 7 / SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS

A short drive takes you to nearby Maya villages where local customs, habits and laws often prevail over the conventions of non-indigenous Mexico. This independent spirit is encapsulated in the church of San Juan Chamula where, if the timing is right, you can witness a ceremony that combines Maya customs and animism with a heavy dollop of Catholicism. Join some local women at home in Zinacantan and watch as they create the textiles typical of the area. Choose between lunching or strolling further, then return to your hotel where you can decide what to do with the rest of your day. If you’re interested in Mesoamerican art, why not visit the Jade Museum? This privately- owned museum is a labour of love, designed to educate about the historical and cultural importance of the green mineral.                (BB, HD)

Day 8 / PALENQUE

Today is a long travel day as you depart San Cristobal de Las Casas and travel north to Palenque. On the way you will visit the waterfalls at Agua Azul and Misol Ha. One of the must see in Chiapas, these waterfalls are absolutely worth the drive! Today’s driving time adds up to approximately 8hrs. You should expect to arrive to Palenque at about 6pm. Situated in hot jungle, Palenque is the jump-off point to the nearby Maya ruins of the same name – you’ll visit them tomorrow.                                                                      (BB)

Hotel: 1 night PalenqueHotel Villa Mercedes

Day 9 / PALENQUE and CAMPECHE

Today we visit possibly one of the best highlights of the trip. Early in the morning we meet a local archaeologist for a memorable morning visit to the ruins of Palenque.
 Archaeologists have been hard at work uncovering the secrets of this ancient city, but around 90% of the site remains unexcavated and concealed in the forest. Sitting on a hilltop surrounded by thick trees, the ruins date back to 600 AD and are some of the most impressive Maya relics in Mexico. As we wander among the temples, listen out for the eerie calls of howler monkeys and screeching parrots echoing through the jungle. The area gives us a real idea of what the Spanish invaders must have seen when they first came across the hidden ruins. 
After lunch, continue driving north to Campeche. This will be our last long travel day on this itinerary – approximately 6 hours, so sit back, relax and take in all the magic we’ve experienced today. (BB)

Hotel: 2 nights Campeche Casa Don Gustavo Boutique Hotel

Day 10 / CAMPECHE

This morning you will explore Campeche in a led city tour. You will walk through the colourful streets of Campeche and learn about the history and culture of this friendly town. It has been voted many times as the city with the best quality of life in the whole country, you will agree after spending the day indulging in this breath-taking destination.           (BB, D)

Day 11 / MERIDA

In the morning, continue along the coast to visit the Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve where we’ll get to go on a guided boat tour. Here, near extensive beaches lined with coconut trees, we’ll see a variety of coastal birds. Depending on the season (usually Nov-Mar), we may be able to witness the magnificent sight of thousands of flamingos painting a pink streak across the landscape. Arrive into the historic town of Merida in time for dinner (not included). Merida was founded in 1542 and it still retains much of its old-world charm. Take in the splendour of its many colonial buildings and learn more about the Maya heritage of the town.          (BB)

Hotel: 2 nights Merida Mision de Fray Diego

Day 12 / MERIDA

Today is a free day to explore the many sights of Merida and your guide will be able to recommend some good options. Perhaps visit some of the museums, including the impressive Regional Museum of Yucatan and stroll the city streets which are alive with art and culture. Hang out in the green and shady Plaza Grande, with the 16th-century cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Montejo on the other. For a taste of Merida’s 19th-century glory, go for a walk along the mansion-lined Paseo de Montejo. The outdoor market is another essential visit, with an array of hammocks and Mayan replicas for sale, plus a selection of enticing local cuisine, including the dish cochinita pibil (‘little pig’). One of the most delightful treasures of Merida is its cuisine. Maybe participate on a cooking class with locals so you can impress your friends and family back home with Yucatan’s unique flavours!        (BB)

Day 13 / CHICHEN ITZA and PLAYA DEL CARMEN

Today we leave Merida at 6am to arrive to Chichen Itza by 8am in time for breakfast. After breakfast we take a 2hr fascinating tour of Chichen Itza, possibly the most famous Mayan site in Mexico. Recently named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza has both Toltec and Mayan ruins lying alongside each other. The famous El Castillo (Temple of Kukulkan) pyramid dominates the site. Not far from the temple is the ‘ball court’ where many disputes were settled by way of a ball game that employed only the elbows, hips and wrists. Nearby, excavations of the Well of Sacrifice offered up treasures of jade, copper and gold, as well as many human and animal bones. Following a guided tour of the site, stop for an included buffet lunch and cool down in the fresh water rock pool of stunning Cenote lk-Kil. A cenote (pronounced say-NO-tay) is a natural sinkhole created where a limestone cave ceiling has collapsed creating a window to this spectacular subterranean world Afterwards, continue to the Caribbean coast and the resort town of Playa del Carmen. Blessed with azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city close to Cancun but with less of a party atmosphere.         (BB, L)

Hotel: 2 nights Playa Del Carmen Grand Hyatt Playa Del Carmen

Day 14 / PLAYA DEL CARMEN

Today is a relaxed day for us to enjoy the beach and soak up the Mexican sun! We have a visit to one of the most important cenotes in the area: Cenote Dos Ojos. Cenote Dos Ojos is part of one of the most famous underground river systems in the world. Stretching over 50 miles, the full extent of the Dos Ojos system is yet to be discovered. Dos Ojos (two eyes) is named after a pair of cenotes that connect into a giant underground cavern, an incredible effect that makes Dos Ojos one of the best known cenotes near Tulum & Playa del Carmen for snorkelling and scuba diving. We will be picked up at our hotel, given our snorkeling gear (optional) and begin our adventure.            (BB, L)                            

Day 15 / HAVANA, CUBA

This morning we will be transferred to Cancun Airport in time to catch our international flight to Havana. The international flight between Cancun and Havana is included in the price of this trip. Welcome to Cuba! Arrive at Havana’s Jose Marti International airport, where we shall be transferred to our hotel. There will be a welcome meeting this evening to go over the itinerary for our exciting Cuban adventure. After a quick briefing, we have a group dinner before having some rest to begin this exciting new part of our adventure. (BB, D)

Hotel: 2 nights Havana Hotel Nacional or Melia Cohiba

Day 16 / HAVANA

Havana is the crown jewel of Spanish colonial towns in the Caribbean. However, this city is much more than just a museum: the pulsating street life can be just as fascinating as the many architectural treasures. Today, you will get to know the most important sights of a city that has written centuries of Cuban history – and continues to do so until today. The day begins with a panoramic tour through the Havana of the 19th and early 20th century: along the esplanade Malecón, past the legendary Hotel Nacional, over the Avenida de Los Presidentes to the Revolutionary Square with its portrait of Ché Guevara and monument of José Martí. Continue to the imposing Capitol, past the Gran Teatro and Bacardi house over the Prado to Cathedral Square.
Continue foot through the alleys and over the squares of Havana’s historic colonial city centre and take in the most important sights: Plaza de Armas, Templete, Palace of the Generals, Plaza Vieja, Hemingway’s “Bodeguita “and much more. You will have the chance to visit a cigar factory and observe the process and witness the skilled hands of the “Torcedores” (cigar rollers). You have the rest of the afternoon to lunch at leisure and explore further.                                                                          (BB)

Day 17 / VINALES

Drive west to Soroa (1 hour) to tour the beautiful orchid garden. A local expert will take you on a private tour of the gardens to identify the bird and plant species of this diverse area (approximately 45 minutes). You will easily see why the valley is known as the rainbow of Cuba.
There will be time for lunch before continuing to Viñales (1.5 hours), where tobacco and sugarcane fields lie side by side and limestone outcrops dot the landscape. Use this bus time to take part in an informal Spanish lesson so you can converse with the friendly locals throughout the rest of your trip. We will stop to have a group lunch at “Finca Paco Hernandez”.
Check in to your hotel, leaving enough time to undertake a quick orientation walk. Later, perhaps enjoy the porch rocking chair and soak up the slow, old-world pace of rural Cuba as oxen plod gracefully along the streets.             (BB, L)

Hotel: 2 nights Vinales La Ermita or similar

Day 18 / VINALES

We start with a guided walk through the farm lands of Viñales which is home to some extraordinary scenery – some of Cuba’s best. Learn more about the tobacco industry and see a farmer whip a world class cigar in seconds. Take some time to find a local place for lunch, then regroup to embrace the rhythm and learn a few steps in a salsa dancing class. Next, head to the top of the valley for dinner at an Eco-Farm. Everything is grown organically on the farm itself so get ready for one of the freshest dinner experiences in Cuba! At the Bella Vista food becomes an authentic experience. A local family lovingly prepare meals for their guests. Here we suddenly find ourselves amidst an extraordinarily personal ambience as we sit with Alberto for a drink or start playing dominos with the whole family. The food is delicious and the ambience, including the service, is distinct and familiar. The restaurant is located a little outside of Viñales and guarantees an original view into the Cuban cuisine. Have fun and enjoy!      (BB, HD)

Day 19 / CIENFUGEOS

Today it is a bit of a long drive in the direction of Central Cuba. Stop in Guamá on the half-island Zapata for lunch and afterwards, you will have an excursion to the legendary Bay of Pigs, scene of the failed US Invasion in 1961. Continue to Cienfuegos, a port city characterized by its French colonial architecture. You will stroll over the Parque Martí with the nostalgic Terry Theatre, where Caruso used to sing, and to the half island Punta Gorda with the “Moorish” Palacio del Valle and its typical wooden mansions.     (BB, L)

Hotel: 1 night Hotel Melia San Carlos

Day 20 / TRINIDAD

This morning  we drive along the panoramic coastal road to Trinidad, a UNESCO world cultural heritage site with one of a kind architecture. During a guided walk of the town we take in its eye-catching combination of cobblestone streets, colourful houses and old-fashioned locals. It’s a great town to explore on foot, and almost every scene offers superb photographic opportunities – from residents relaxing with huge cigars on their doorsteps to old Chevrolets cruising by. In the evening take a trip out of town to a local house for a homely and festive dinner. Be welcomed with the local drink; Canchanchara made from ‘fire water’, local honey and lime juice. There will even be a musician or two serenading us as we dine.       (BB, HD)

Hotel: 2 nights Iberostar Grand Hotel

Day 21 / TRINIDAD

Today is a free day in Trinidad. For some beachside fun and perhaps a little snorkeling, head down to Playa Ancon. Just be careful you don’t stand on a sea urchin. At some point while you’re here, a great activity is to go to a folklore show at one of the town’s numerous open-air venues. Cuba has a rich and varied music and dance tradition that draws roots from Spain, Africa and France, and this is your chance to experience it all first-hand, from the Mambo to the Rumba.                             (BB)

Day 22 / SANTA CLARA and HAVANA

Head inland to Santa Clara to lunch then visit the Che Guevara mausoleum. Here we’ll see the statue of the iconic revolutionary leader looming. In the museum that accompanies the mausoleum, we’ll find an intriguing spread of photos and other ephemera related to Che – letters, medical devices, firearms.
 Return to the capital for our final night to enjoy Havana. In the evening, we will visit the famous Buena Vista Social Club – the perfect way to say farewell to this marvelous place. Enjoy a concert with the music of the legendary Buena Vista Social Club and other representatives of Cuban music, who travelled around the world to represent and introduce Cuban music to the world. Sit back, order a mojito and enjoy!             (BB, L, HD)

Day 23 / END HAVANA

Sadly, our adventure comes to an end after breakfast. Your private transfer will take you to the airport, please let us know if we can arrange additional accommodation if you wish to stay for a few extra nights.              (BB)

Hotel: 1 night Havana Hotel Nacional or Melia Cohiba

DEPARTURES

8th March to 30th March, 2020

PRICING

From $11,950* per person twin share

    Contact us for Single Supplement Pricing

*Dates and pricing to be confirmed by February 2019*

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