Travel Program

Cuba | Gardens, History, Art, and Nature with Sherman Library and Gardens

Oct 18, 2020 - Oct 28, 2020

Join the Sherman Library & Gardens on this exciting 11-day exploration of Cuba’s unique indigenous species of flora and fauna. Despite the revolution and economic hardships endured by the people of Cuba, its botanical gardens, organic farms, private gardens, and agriculture have thrived. Discover the history and culture of Havana, with its many museums, churches, fortresses, and urban parks. Travel to Viñales Valley, one of the most beautiful regions of Cuba, onto the coastal city of Cienfuegos and the colonial town of Trinidad. Evidence of the Cuban people’s passion is apparent at every turn, from their music, dance, love of life, and appreciation of the natural beauty found on this small Caribbean island.

Discover a selection of Cuba’s public and private gardens, including the National Botanical Garden, the Jardín Botánico de Cienfuegos, and the urban cooperative Alamar Organoponic Gardens.

Learn about Havana’s culture and history as you enjoy a musical show, dine at Hemingway’s favortite restaurant, and take a guided walking tour of Old Havana, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tour a working tobacco farm in Viñales Valley, home to the limestone formations known as mogotes.

Explore Trinidad, Cuba’s best-preserved colonial town. To register for the trip.


The 2016 Cuba Expedition

Havana - Oct 18

Upon arrival at the José Martí International Airport in Havana, you will be met by your guide and driver, and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, you may have the afternoon to explore Old Havana on your own, taking a wonderful old taxi car to get there from your hotel. This evening dinner is on your own.

Overnight at Hotel Nacional

Havana - Oct 19

Today you will be given a guided walking tour of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discover the four “plazas” in Old Havana: Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis, and Plaza de Armas. You will also learn about the restoration projects going on throughout Havana. This evening at the private restaurant La Guarida, which is the location of the Cuban Oscar nominated film “Strawberry and Chocolate.”

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner Overnight at Hotel Nacional

Vinales - Oct 20

This morning visit the National Botanical Garden in the outskirts of Havana. Explore the gardens with your specialist guide. Enjoy a delicious, healthy lunch at El Bambu, an ecological restaurant at the garden. After lunch, you will continue your travels to Valle de Vinales. Following arrival, you will have the remainder of the late afternoon and evening to explore your new surroundings. If you would like, your driver and guide can take you to a local restaurant in the “downtown” area of Vinales, or you can enjoy dinner at your hotel.

Breakfast-Lunch Overnight at Los Jazmines

Vinales - Oct 21

Today you will have breathtaking views of the Valley and the Mogotes; flat-topped hills dating back to the Jurassic period that can be found in only four countries in the world. Meet a farming family and tour their tobacco farm. Your host, Paco Hernandez, will explain how Cuban farmers collaborate with the government in order to get farming supplies and transport produce to market. Paco’s family is one of the many hardworking Cuban families that have been growing tobacco for more than 100 years.

Lunch today is at a very special location known as the Prehistorical Mural restaurant. Have some time on own this afternoon, then early evening visit the garden and views from this home/farm/paladar – Agro Ecologico. Enjoy a delicious dinner as you savor all the dishes made with the produce from their gardens, utilizing their special family recipes.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner Overnight at Los Jazmines

Havana - Oct 22

This morning you will return to Havana, stopping en route for lunch at La Terraza de Cojímar, one of Hemingway’s favorite Cuban restaurants. It offers a fabulous view of the Cojímar Bay where Hemingway would go out fishing and from where he met the fisherman on which the Old Man and the Sea is based. After lunch, you will be taken to the beautiful Melia Habana, located on the sea, in the section of Havana known as Miramar. You will have the remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure to enjoy the amenities of your hotel.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner Overnight at Melia Habana

Cienfuegos - Oct 23

Today you will travel to the city of Cienfuegos. Upon arrival, enjoy lunch at a local paladar. Following lunch, you will be given a guided walking tour of the city. Some of the places you will see are the following:

  • Castillo de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de Jagua (fortress)
  • Arco de Triunfo – the only Arco de Triunfo in Cuba
  • Cathedral de la Purisma Concepción – cathedral with stained glass work, built from 1833 to 1869
  • Museo Provincial, a furniture and porcelain museum
  • Palacio de Valle – built from 1913 to 1917 in neo-gothic style
  • Parque José Martí, a park in Plaza de Armas
  • Palmira Yorubá Pantheon, a museum of religious afro-catholic syncretism

You will have the remainder of the late afternoon and evening to enjoy your beautiful views and seaside location. Dinner this evening is at a local Paladar in Cienfuegos.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner Overnight at Jagua Hotel

Trinidad - Oct 24

This morning you will be taken to Jardín Botánico de Cienfuegos. With 97 hectares it’s one of the oldest institutions of its kind on the island, founded in 1901 by Edwin F. Atkins and his wife. They arrived in Cuba in 1899 in search of the island’s most precious commodity; sugarcane. Atkins built the “Soledad” sugar mill and soon after a research center dedicated to investigation and enhancement of sugar cane under the name: “Harvard Botanical Station for Tropical Research and Sugar Cane Investigation”.

Mr. and Mrs. Atkins were also fond of plant collecting and soon afterwards started a tropical and rare species garden in the backyard of their estate where plants from as far as India and China were grown in tropical Cuba. Today the garden has a large collection of tropical exotic plants (2000+ species) clustered in 670 genera and 125 botanical families. Among the most complete collections are orchids (400+), palms (230+), ficus (65+) and bamboo (29).

Following your time at the garden, you will be transferred to the beautiful city of Trinidad. Trinidad, Cuba’s best preserved colonial town, was the third settlement in Cuba and founded in 1514 by Diego Velazquez, the country’s first governor. Upon arrival at your beautiful hotel, you will have the remainder of the day at leisure. Dinner will be at the hotel this evening.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner Overnight at Iberostar Heritage Grand Hotel

Trinidad - Oct 25

This morning visit Topes de Collantes, a nature reserve park in the Escambray Mountain range. It is the third highest peak in the reserve, where a small settlement and tourist center is located, all sharing the same name. After your visit, return to Trinidad for lunch, followed by a walking tour of Trinidad.

Explore the cobblestone streets of this UNESCO Heritage site that are seemingly just as they were centuries ago. You will be able to visit the artisans and street vendors in the local market. There are also several casas de musica, including one next to the cathedral in Plaza Major. The remainder of the afternoon and evening are yours to enjoy on own.

Breakfast-Lunch Overnight at Iberostar Heritage Grand Hotel

Havana - Oct 26

Today you will travel back to the Miramar neighborhood of Havana. En route, stop for lunch in Playa Larga. Upon arrival at the hotel, you will have the remainder of your late afternoon and evening on your own.

Breakfast-Lunch Overnight at Melia Habana

Havana - Oct 27

This morning, visit Alamar Organoponic Gardens, an incredible urban garden located outside of central Havana. Here you will meet with one of the cooperative representatives and discuss how this garden functions as a cooperative and the techniques that have been utilized to minimize the use of pesticides. Enjoy lunch at a local paladar. In the afternoon, visit the Quinta de los Molinos Garden, the first Botanic Garden in Cuba. This evening, following dinner at your hotel, enjoy the innovative musical show Opera de la Calle to celebrate your last night in Cuba.

Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner Overnight at Melia Habana

Departure - Oct 28

This morning you will be transferred to Havana International Airport for your flight(s) home.