the real cuba - steam and culture
Rail Historians/Educational & People to People TOUR
MARCH 2-16, 2017
We aim to travel by rail to the east of the island using our own chartered diesel railcar, but we commerce our journey on the Hershey Railway with electric traction. We will be accompanied throughout by our chartered motorcoach, which will convey our luggage and undertake our transfers. Our itinerary requires flexibity, and we will aim to incorporate all steam operations which are available during 2017, but we must always be mindful of mañana and the Soviet legacy.
U.S. EASES RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL TO CUBA
The Obama administration announced that it would allow individuals to travel to Cuba for "people to people" educational trips and lift limits on the use of American dollars in transactions with Cuba, wiping away stiff restrictions on travel and commerce. The actions are some of the most significant regulatory changes the Treasury and the Department of Commerce have made on the way toward normalization. Americans who plan a trip with a full schedule of educational exchange activities, including interacting with Cuban people, will for the first time in decades be able to travel on their own to Cuba without special permission from the United States government.
US RESTORES REGULAR FLIGHTS TO CUBA
The United States and Cuba has signed an agreement authorizing daily US commercial flights to Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years. The deal allows up to 110 daily flights to 10 destinations in Cuba, with about 20 of them to the capital Havana, where authorities have ordered renovations to double the capacity of Jose Marti airport.
FIRST AMERICAN FLIGHT TO CUBA
NEWS RELEASE: A JetBlue Airways Corp passenger jet landed in the central Cuban city of Santa Clara on Wednesday August 31, 2016 , becoming the first scheduled commercial passenger flight from the United States to the island in more than a half century. The arrival of the Airbus A320 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, opened another chapter in the Obama administration's efforts to improve ties and increase trade and travel with the former Cold War foe.
Services on regional carrier Silver Airways and American Airlines Group Inc from the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area to Cuba's outlying provinces will be the next to start, in September. Three other carriers will follow.
Day 1 Thursday March 2: (D)
Individual flights to Havana. Transfer to a central hotel, where we have dinner.
Day 2 Friday March 3: (B,D)
We make a leisurely start on our first morning, starting with a visit to a cigar factory followed by a short guided walking tour around Old Havana to obtain an overview of the central area. We have a free afternoon for you to relax and get yourself into the Cuban spirit for the adventure that lies ahead. Dinner will again be at our hotel.
Day 3 Saturday March 4: (B,L)
We begin the day with a panoramic city tour in our bus to make short visits to a number of the significant tourist sites. We include the Capitolio, Gran Teatro, Museum of the Revolution, Bacardi Building, Plaza de Armas, Coche Mambi, Havana Club Museum, Castillo del Morro and along the Malecon. We take lunch in a restaurant central to Old Havana. We head to the port where we have a chartered steam train. We then visit the rail museum at the former Cristina terminal station that includes about 40 preserved locomotives many of which are steam. We visit the Central Railway Station adjacent to which are 6 preserved steam locos. La Coubre terminus. Iglesia de Paula where there are another 5 preserved locos and continue by bus to Castllo de la Real Fuerza. We return to the hotel and have a free evening when you can dine at a restaurant of your choice.
THE HAVANA CLUB RUM COMPANY MUSEUM AND MODEL RAILROAD
Day 4 Sunday March 5: (B,L,D)
Visit Havana Club Rum Museum. Railfans take the ferry heading for the Casablanca Terminus of the Hershey Railway. This antiquated electric line was built to deliver sugar to Havana for the Hershey Chocolate Co. The stock used today are second-hand emus from Catalonia which we plan to use to transfer us to Hershey and then continue our journey to Matanzas at the end of the line. Our culture group will have the opportunity to visit some of the haunts of Earnest Hemingway before departure to Matanzas. We have a city tour in Matanzas and then take our bus to Varadero and our all-inclusive resort.
Day 5 Monday March 6: (B,L,D)
oday we plan two steam hauled journeys. We transfer on a fast highway to the museum sugar mill of Jose Smith Comas near Cardenas. Here a number of steam locomotives are nicely preserved. We can examine these or, be given an explanation of the sugar process while we await our journey behind steam to Cardenas, and onwards with a small amount of street running on the town's rum factory branch. After lunch near Jovellanos, we transfer to Central Australia mill near Jaguey Grande, for yet another spell of steam haulage during which we halt at a banana plantation. There will be opportunities for photos and to drive the locomotives before we join the main Cuban Autopista by bus to Santa Clara to see the tren Blindado and the Che Guevara Monument before arrival at our resort, Los Caneyes, just outside the city of Santa Clara.
Day 6 Tuesday March 7: (B,L,D)
We commence our day with a transfer north-east past the city of Remedios to the Museo de Vapor Marcelo Salado. Here again there are a large number of preserved steam locomotives, which railfans will have time to observe before we return to Remedios by steam hauled train. Lunch will be taken here by our cultural group before a brief tour of the colonial city with its outstanding central square, followed by some free time. Those with a railway inclination must make do with a packed lunch and are taken to the nearby Central Herberito Duquesne mill, to view British built narrow gauge diesel locomotives at work hauling sugar cane, after which, we all transfer south to extraordinary Trinidad for a 2-night stay in an all-inclusive hotel.
CAB RIDE ANYONE?
Day 7 Wednesday March 8: (B,L,D)
We have the same program for everyone today. We take the tourist train from Trinidad along the "Valley of the Sugar Mills". We have lunch at Manaca Iznaga colonial house. We visit the Ignaza Tower and craft market. We return to Trinidad for a guided city tour of the UNESCO World Heritage site and have free time before returning by bus to our hotel.
Day 8 Thursday March 9: (B,L,D)
The day commences with a transfer to Sancti Spiritus, one of Cuba's oldest towns. We continue then to Ciego de Avila for lunch at a restaurant adjacent to 3 preserved steam locomotives. We depart by bus, stopping briefly at Ciro Redondo before continuing to Central Patria O Muerte, a former and very welcoming sugar mill with a railway museum and many preserved locomotives to view. We board our steam locomotive to the end of the line at Rancho Palma and back to the mill. Transfer by bus to Moron. The rail fans can visit the Moron workshops and the cultural group will have a brief guided city visit before both groups check in to Hotel Moron. We have dinner at the hotel.
Day 9 Friday March 10: (B,L,D)
We depart by bus to Camaguey for a short city tour. At Camaguey station we continue our tour by joining our chartered ex-Canadian RDC Budd Railcar that will take us first to Las Tunas with a stop for lunch. Our rail journey continues to Holguin from where our bus takes us to our all-inclusive hotel at Guardalavaca
Day 10 Saturday March 11: (B,L,D)
here is an option for much of the day to remain at the resort and take lunch near the beach. However, railfans can enjoy the nearby Central Rafael Freyre, once arguably Cuba's most delightful narrow-guage mill, where we plan both a steam journey behind a recently restored locomotive, and a railcar trip along a branch serving an area not connected by metalled road. Then, after lunch in our resort, we take our Budd railcar from Holguin to travel from the north to the south of the island at Guantanamo. Check in and dinner at Hotel Guantanamo.
Rafael Freyre Has A Unique Railcar That We Will Charter
Day 11 Sunday March 12: (B,L)
We start our day with a bus trip to Boqueron where we have a guided city tour before taking the local Brill railcar to Caimanera. Our bus will take the group to Guantanamo after a stop at Hotel Caimanera for lunch. In Guantanamo we board our Budd railcar for the run to Santiago de Cuba where our bus will take us to the hotel for 2 nights.
Day 12 Monday March 13: (B,L)
Today we have cultural activities for the whole group beginning at 10:00 with a guided city tour of Santiago de Cuba. We take our bus to el Morro where we have free time to explore San Pedro de la Roca del Morro Castle before our lunch at Restaurante del Castillo del Morro. After lunch our bus takes us to El Cobre where the shrine is the most important religious site on the entire island and the focus of intense popular devotion.
Day 13 Tuesday March 14: (B)
In the morning we take our bus to Julio Antonio Mella sugar mill for a visit to the working central. We have free time for lunch and exploration at Santiago de Cuba before departure to Santiago airport for our internal flight to Havana. We transfer by bus to our hotel for 2 nights.
Day 14 Wednesday March 15: (B)
We have a free day in Havana to explore and enjoy the classic old American built cars.
Day 15 Thursday March 16: (B)
A free morning and departure to the airport for flights home.
Disclaimers: (1) The Cuban authorities reserve the right to change any arrangements if circumstances should make it necessary, and we cannot promise that everything outlined above will be achieved. However, the Cubans are also good at offering an alternative.
PRICES PER PERSON
DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY$4,895
single room supplement$695
EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT BOOK BY AUG 31-$300
FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY DECEMBER 2 , 2016