Havana, Cuba

Hike, horseback ride, and salsa

Experience Cuba's outrageous festivals     Photo: viajodastephen/flickr

Long shrouded in the mystique of travel restrictions, trade embargoes, and black market cigars, Havana’s glamour is built around its crumbling Spanish colonial architecture, the prolific Che Guevara portraits, and the 1950s-era American cars that fill its narrow streets. Yet, Cuban life is slowly starting to change as tourist numbers continue to tick upward. Book now before all is lost. Cuban Adventures’ New Years Rumba 11-day tour combines two of the island’s most outrageous festivals, Las Parrandas in Remedios and Las Charangas in Bejucal, with a choose-your-own-adventure format. Hike, bike, horseback ride, or enjoy authentic Cuban mojitos while taking in panoramic views of sprawling tobacco fields outside the agriculturally rich town of Viñales. Spend Christmas in Trinidad, scuba dive off the coastline, and then head back to your casa particular, the Cuban version of a bed and breakfast, for a non-state-run Cuban Christmas dinner. Trek into the Sierra Maestra mountain range where Fidel Castro and his comrades hid out during the Batista dictatorship in the 1950s. On New Year’s Eve, dinner is served in front of Cathedral Plaza, Havana Club rum is poured with a heavy hand, and salsa music is a given. $1,325; Dec. 23 – Jan. 2, 2012.

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