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Tag Archives: Zegrahm Expeditions

Heart of Cuba 2017 Itinerary

Itinerary

Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. In the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel, this tour may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.

Cuba

February 9, 2017

Miami, Florida

Depart on your independent flight and arrive in Miami. Transfer to the Sheraton Miami Airport Hotel for a welcome reception and special presentation by your expedition leader. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

February 10, 2017

Miami / Santa Clara, Cuba / Cienfuegos

Cienfuegos

Photo by Rich Pagen

Return to the Miami Airport for your charter flight to Santa Clara. Visit the Che Memorial, then transfer to colonial Cienfuegos—a World Heritage Site—on Cuba’s southern coast. Enjoy lunch at a bayside restaurant before checking in to Hotel La Union. This afternoon explore the historic center of town with its neoclassical architecture, the legacy of French immigrant settlers. Enjoy a performance by the Cienfuegos Choir before dinner in a lovely garden setting.

 

 

February 11, 2017

Cienfuegos / Trinidad / Topes de Collantes

Cuban Local

Photo by Rich Pagen

Drive southeast to colonial Trinidad, a World Heritage Site, founded in the early 1500s. Over lunch in a paladar, a privately owned family-run restaurant, you’ll have the opportunity to hear the stories of Cuban daily life and visit local homes. As you explore the center of town, enjoy personal exchanges with shop owners, meet the artists and potters at Casa Del Alfarero Santander, and listen to live, authentic Cuban music in a popular club. Drive into the cool mountains of Sierra de Escambray for a two-night stay at Hotel Los Helechos in Topes de Collantes National Park.

 

February 12, 2017

Topes de Collantes National Park

Laced with rivers and photogenic waterfalls, this 12,500-acre park is also a wonderland of lush forests and tropical botanicals. For those interested, begin your day with a birding walk around the grounds. After breakfast, enjoy an off-road adventure through Topes de Collantes. Join a local naturalist for a forest walk and watch for such avian species as Cuban trogons and West Indian woodpeckers. Savor a traditional roast pig lunch at a farm, and a rich Cuban brew in a nearby coffee house. On the way back to your hotel, visit the Museum of Contemporary Cuban Art.

 

February 13, 2017

Trinidad / Bay of Pigs / Zapata Wetlands

Cuba Under Sail

Photo by Rich Pagen

Travel westward to the infamous Bay of Pigs on the border of the Zapata Peninsula. Join local farmer, Orlando Ramirez, for a hike to observe the endemic bee hummingbird, the world’s smallest bird. At Playa Giron visit the Bay of Pigs Museum, which offers the Cuban perspective of the historic events. This evening, discuss the importance of the Zapata Wetlands—a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the largest wetlands in the Caribbean—with the director of Zapata National Park. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Playa Larga.

February 14, 2017

Zapata Peninsula / Boca de Guama / Viñales

The ecosystems of the Zapata Peninsula are home to more than 900 botanical species; 171 bird species; and 31 species of reptiles, including crocodiles. Early this morning join naturalists in a search for the endemic Cuban green woodpecker and the colorful Cuban parrot. Continue to the Korimakao Project, which nurtures the talents of some of Cuba’s finest musicians, dancers, and artists, and present a gift of art supplies to director Hilda Tamayo. At Boca de Guama learn about Cuban crocodile conservation efforts during a boat excursion on Treasure Lake, then drive to the Viñales Valley in Pinar Del Rio Province, stopping to visit a local tobacco farming family to witness the process of creating Cuba’s legendary cigars. Check in to Hotel Las Jazmines for the next two nights.

 

February 15, 2017

Viñales 

Explore the World Heritage Site of Viñales Valley, punctuated with mogote—karst outcroppings. In a huge limestone cave board a boat for a ride on the interior river. At lunch savor vegetables grown at an organic farm while meeting the family responsible for the land; afterwards, walk an easy trail to look for the endemic Cuban solitaire. In the small town of Viñale visit a private botanical garden, then browse a local bodega where residents shop with their ration books. This evening’s restaurant is located at the colorful Mural de la Prehistoria.

 

February 16

Viñales / Soroa / Las Terrazas / Havana

Soroa

Photo by Rich Pagen

Drive into the mountains of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Sierra Del Rosario, to visit the lush orchid gardens of Soroa, accompanied by local botanists. Watch for such bird species as great lizard cuckoos and Cuban grassquits. In nearby Las Terrazas, learn about daily life from the farmers and business owners of this planned eco-community. Continue to the outskirts of Havana to pay homage to Ernest Hemingway at his remarkably preserved home, Finca Vigia, and discuss his life with Cuban Hemingway experts. Follow oceanfront Malecon Avenue and see famed Revolution Square before arriving at Hotel Melia Cohiba, where you will spend the next three nights.

 

February 17, 2017

 Havana
Begin your exploration of authentic Old Havana, a World Heritage Site, at the Belen Convent to learn about neighborhood social projects and enjoy personal exchanges with senior citizens and children participating in program activities. Walk the historic streets, stopping to visit local artists in their studios and at the Havana Library, to present a gift of children’s books. After lunch mingle with the locals in an art market along the harbor. This evening, you have the option to watch a show by the famed Buena Vista Social Club at nearby Café Taberna.

February 18, 2017

Havana 

Meet with staff from the Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Humanity to learn about its mission of environmental education and protection of Cuba’s delicate ecosystem, particularly the coral reefs. After lunch in the garden of the iconic Hotel Nacional visit the Museum of the Revolution, housed in the former presidential palace. Gather for a final trip recap, then enjoy a special farewell dinner.

February 19, 2017

Havana / Miami, Florida

Transfer to the airport for your charter flight to Miami, and connect with your independent homeward flight.

Would you love to hear more?

Contact our Cuba expert, Andrew, by calling 805.969.7746 or emailing him directly at aseligman@sbtravel.com

Looking for More Inspiration on Cuba? Follow Us on Facebook

A Patagonia Penguin Primer

Who doesn’t love the animal that’s always ready for a formal event?  Monika Weinsoft from Zegrahm Expeditions will be speaking this coming Thursday evening, September 3rd, at our Santa Barbara office.  She’ll discuss their upcoming 18-day Patagonia trip, and the many ways you can see penguins up close, as well as whales, dolphins, seals and an enormous variety of other animals.

One lucky attendee at this lecture will win $1500 of airfare for themself and a traveling companion, so mark your calendar to attend NOW!

While you’re waiting, we’d like to whet your Patagonian palate with a penguin article recently published by Zegrahm Expeditions.

Penguins of Patagonia—A Primer

Zegrahm Contributor|June 8, 2015

Always looking dapper in their natural tuxedos, penguins are amazing little creatures. The dashing appearance of these flightless birds—evolved from sky-bound birds some 40 million years ago and found solely in the Southern Hemisphere—is quite strategic: their black backs provide camouflage to predators from above, while their white bellies blend into the water’s bright surface.

Magellanic Penguins

Magellanic Penguins

Most penguins mate for life, joining up to a thousand others in large breeding colonies. They return year after year to the same rookery, often the very nesting spot where they were born. (In Patagonia, females lay their eggs, usually two, in October; babies are born about 40 days later.) Both parents are involved in caring for young chicks, and in some species, the males incubate the eggs while the females hunt for food.

Although other sea mammals have a layer of blubber for warmth, the penguin’s feathers actually act as insulation, trapping warm air against the body. The seawater they ingest is filtered through a special gland behind the eye, then discharged through the beak—the reason penguins sneeze so often.

Gentoo Penguins

Gentoo Penguins

Four penguin species make their home in Patagonia between September and mid-March. The macaroni—standing some 30 inches tall and weighing in around 10 pounds—earned its moniker for the stylish yellow crest on its brow. About a third larger in size, the gentoo is the fastest swimmer among all penguins, reaching speeds of more than 20 miles per hour. There are approximately 250,000 pairs of southern rockhopper penguins, which come in at just under two feet and got their name from the colorful way they hop about on the sheer, rocky cliffs.

Rockhopper Penguin

Rockhopper Penguin

Also medium-sized, Magellanic penguins make up Patagonia’s largest population with upwards of 2 million breeding pairs. While its closest relatives are the African, Galápagos, and Humboldt found along the coasts of Chile and Peru, Magellanics prefer to winter in Brazil, swimming nearly 2,000 miles for its warmer waters.

Patagonia penguins feed on krill, cuttlefish, shrimp, and sardines; their predators include petrels, sea lions, leopard seals, and Orcas. Yet their biggest threats by far are polluted waters and the effects of climate change. 

Who does Adventure Travel?

When you hear the phrase ‘adventure travel’, what images spring to mind?  Indiana Jones?  Crocodile Dundee?  …. or just generally those buff, 20-something fellows who rock- climb the face of Yosemite’s Half Dome with nothing but their bare hands and an occasional rope?

Well, surprise.  According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, the average age of an adventure traveler is 48. And as for the image of  adventure travel being a guys’ world?  Wrong again.  More than half – 53% – are female.  In fact, women traveling solo on adventure excursions has become one of the hottest trends in travel the past few years.

In fact, the entire field of adventure travel is quickly growing. The ATTA found that adventure tourism companies were estimating a 24% increase in revenue for 2014.  Why?  The appeal of active travel might lie in the broad variety of possible experiences, or having an immersive experience with the globe’s natural and cultural treasures.

On Thursday, September 3rd, Santa Barbara Travel will be proud to host Zegrahm Expeditions at its State Street office location.  For over 25 years, Zegrahm has been leading inquisitive explorers to the farthest corners of the globe and -with a staggering return traveler rate of over 70% –  providing the opportunity to fully immerse in the culture and natural history of each destination.

Nina Ruhland from Santa Barbara Travel meets up with Monika Weinsoft, acting as 'adventure princess' for Zegrahm Expeditions during Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas

Nina Ruhland from Santa Barbara Travel meets up with Monika Weinsoft, acting as ‘adventure princess’ for Zegrahm Expeditions during Virtuoso Travel Week.

On September 3rd, Zegrahm will be focusing on some particularly unique departures, including their trip next March to Patagonia in Chile. This trip includes visits to both the Falkland Islands and Cape Horn, and has opportunity for plenty of activity, including complimentary kayaking and zodiac excursions to see dolphins, whales, seals and penguins.

Part of that huge demographic that wants to travel solo? Well, take note: Zegrahm is waiving any single supplement on this departure.