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Discover the Best of Central America, Mexico & Cuba

 1 May to 4 June, 2020 
Personally escorted by Jacquey Turner

  


     

                   
Breakfast   Lunch     Dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tour Itinerary

 

Friday, 1 May:   Welcome to Mexico City     

 

We depart Gippsland and travel by private coach to Melbourne Airport for our flight to Mexico City via Los Angeles. On arrival, we clear customs and will transfer to the Mexico City Airport Hotel for an overnight stay. 

Mexico City, the City of Palaces, the ancient capital of the Mexican empire and the jewel in New Spanish 

Viceroys’ crown, is today one of the biggest, most complex and most beautiful cities in the world. The mere size of the urban spread makes it a city among cities. Mexico City is a modern, cosmopolitan city situated in an old lake basin that is surrounded by volcanic mountains. The different cultures that inhabited the city during the course of the centuries left an interesting architectural legacy that comprises many different styles. Firstly, there are the pre-Hispanic remains that tell of the greatness of the civilizations that settled on this land before the arrival of the Spaniards. Mexican art can be seen through the ruins of the Templo Mayor (The Great Temple), the site where the monolith of the goddess Coyolxauqui was found. 

The architects that arrived from Europe during the colonial period applied and shared their knowledge of baroque, neo-classic and other styles of art that were combined with the indigenous styles to create an architecture that is quite unique. Works such as the Metropolitan Cathedral, palaces, mansions and an endless number of sober, sumptuous churches adorn the central area of the city now called the Historic Centre; these extraordinary types of buildings can also be seen in some of the picturesque towns and villages such as Coyoacán, San Ángel, Tlalpan and Xochimilco that used to be the outskirts of the city but have now become incorporated into the built up areas; in spite of this, they still maintain their provincial atmosphere. Later, after Mexico became an independent country, new districts of the city were built in a Frenchified style and in the art deco and colonial Californian styles. 

 


Saturday, 2 May:   Mexico City – Los Mochis      

This morning after breakfast we will transfer back to the airport for our flight to Los Mochis. On arrival we will be met by our local guide and transferred to the town of El Fuerte. 

Los Mochis (pop. 275,000) is the westernmost stop for the CHEPE train—the railroad snaking through Copper Canyon—the city was first founded and developed by expats as a Robert Owens-esque utopian socialist colony, and later became part of a sugar-growing money-making scheme. While both its socialist and sugar days are over, Los Mochis continues to be an important link between the coast and the interior. 

After we check into our hotel, Posada del Hidalgo, or similar, for an overnight stay, we shall have an afternoon visit to Museo Fuerte Mirador. 


Sunday, 3 May:    El Fuerte – Posada Barrancas (Copper Canyon)        

We check out and transfer to the train station to board the Chepe Train to Posada Barrancos. 

Every day since 1961, El Chepe (as this unique train is familiarly called), ventures into the imposing landscapes of the sierra Tarahumara, until it reaches the area that encircles the most representative characteristics of the Tarahumara culture, history and folklore: the Barrancas del Cobre or Copper Canyon, as this region is known worldwide. 

Four times bigger than the Colorado Canyon, this magnificent Mexican landscape serves as the backdrop of one of the most spectacular journeys in the world. With 408 miles of railroad tracks, 86 tunnels and 37 bridges, this route is regarded as one of the most important in the world and one of the master pieces of Mexican Engineering. 

On arrival in Posada Barrancos, we shall transfer to the Posada Mirador Hotel, or similar, for an overnight stay. Dinner will be at the hotel. 

 


Monday, 4 May:  Posada Barranca – Creel       

There will be plenty to see as we travel on to Creel. We visit the Museo de las Artesanias; Vale de los Hongos and Valles de las Ranas. 

On arrival, we shall check in to the Best Western Plus The Lodge At Creel Hotel & Spa, or similar, for an overnight stay. After lunch at a local restaurant the rest of the afternoon is at our leisure to relax and enjoy our surroundings. 

 


Tuesday, 5 May:  Creel – Chihuahua          

We leave Creel today and on our way to Chihuahua we stop in Mennonites to visit the museum before continuing to Chihuahua. 

Chihuahua's atmosphere is truly Mexican and deeply patriotic, which adds remarkably to the sense of history. Its remoteness from the traditional colonial heartland means that it hosts fewer tourists than its counterparts; although a tour of Mexico's colonial heritage, without including Chihuahua, would certainly be incomplete. Chihuahua's colonial centre is filled with handsome colonial buildings, mansions and palaces – most are open to the public – and also has some fine museums, including the ex-houses of two of Mexico's most famous leaders. 

On arrival in Chihuahua, we shall check in to the Quality Inn, or similar, for an overnight stay. 


Wednesday, 6 May:  Chihuahua – Mexico City        

Today we will transfer to the airport for our flight back to Mexico City. 

On arrival at Mexico City airport, we will be met by our guide and transferred to the Las Alcobas Hotel, or similar, for a three-night stay. Dinner will be at a local restaurant located a short walk away. 


Thursday/Friday, 7 – 8 May:   Mexico City        

Over the next few days we really get to explore Mexico City visiting historical sites such as Shrine of Guadalupe and Teotihuacan Pyramids. 

We visit the plaza of three cultures; historical site where the last battle between the Aztecs and Spanish took place and symbolizes the merge of three cultural eras represented by the Aztec ruins We will also visit the Tlatelolco Church and the Building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Basilica of Guadalupe; where we will see the original image of the virgin of Guadalupe. We will hear story of how the image was stamped on the mantle of Juan Diego and see the ancient basilica located on Tepeyac Hill. 

Then we will make our way to the highway and go directly to see the ruins of Teotihuacan; the city of the gods. This is where we can admire the breathtaking pyramids of the Sun and of the Moon; walk along the avenue of the dead; see the palace quetzal-mariposa and the temple of the feathered serpent; Quetzalcoatl. 

During our time here we shall also see the Zocalo and the National Palace and visit the Anthropological Museum, which is the finest archaeological museum in the world. We will learn about Mexico’s 30 centuries of human evolution and have the chance to see thousands of artefacts, including burial tombs, giant Olmec stone heads, the famous Aztec Calendar Stone and a reconstructed Mayan temple. Our guide will take us through the main room of the museum. . 

We travel to Coyacan and enjoy some food tasting at the local market, before a visit to Xochimilco including a boat ride before visiting the university. We will get to taste some local cuisine with lunch included on each day. 


Saturday, 9 May:   Mexico City – Villahermosa       

There will be time to relax a little before we check out and transfer to the airport for our flight to Villahermosa. 

In this city, cobblestoned streets surrounded by majestic buildings merge into a mythical place where the shades turn in vivid colours and exuberant nature. Villahermosa (beautiful village), as its name indicates, is a beautiful city that balances modern buildings with a historic heart. 

Villahermosa was attacked by American and French invaders between 1846 and 1864, basically wiping it off the face of the earth. This is why in this 450 year-old city, only nineteenth and twentieth century buildings and monuments are preserved. Some of them open to the public since they turned into museums. It reappeared at the beginning of the oil exploitation, obtaining its current name in February 1916.

Villahermosa was settled on June 24th 1519, when Cortez founded it by the shore of the Grijalva River. This was the first Spanish colony and took the name of Santa Maria Victoria. Due to the continuous pirate attack, the city had to move down south and it was renamed to San Juan Bautista in 1826. 

We shall check into the Marriot Hotel Villahermosa, or similar, for a two-night stay before heading out on an afternoon tour to the La Venta Archaeological site. Dinner will be at the hotel tonight. 


Sunday, 10 May:   Villahermosa – Palenque       

There is much to see on our full day Palenque and Agua Azul Waterfall Tour as we travel to Palenque, where we visit one the most beautiful archaeological sites in Mexico, known as The Maya Jewel. We also visit the main ruins such as: “The Temple of Inscriptions, Pakal King Tomb; “The Temple of the Cross”, and “The Temple of the Jaguar”. The Palenque archaeological zone is situated 8 km from Palenque city in the State of Chiapas, Mexico. 

Palenque, located in the northwest of the Maya lowlands, is considered as one of the most important archaeological sites of Mesoamerica. As in other Maya areas, here there was a vigorous development in religious and civil architecture, as well as in art and crafts. The earliest evidence of occupation date from about 100 BC, when it may have been a small farming village. Throughout the early classic (300-600 AD) the city grew steadily, and by the late 600-900 AC, it had become the power centre that ruled over a large part of what today is the states of Chiapas and Tabasco. 

In the State of Chiapas, there are many languages: Spanish: Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Tojolabal, Chol, Lacandon, Chuj and Zoque. The archaeological site of Palenque lies in Chol speaking area; however, Tzeltal has become the language through which the numerous inhabitants of the various ethnic groups communicate with each other. That is why all Archaeological information is in that language. 

Inside this building three tombs were detected that together with three others behind it, were placed as construction offerings. In small plaza to the rear the skeletons of 18 people were uncovered, all of them aligned in a northward direction just as those in the tombs. The outside burials sites however, are not directly associated with the building. Most outstanding are the remains, probably belonging to a ruler, found in a sarcophagus in the middle room of the building 

A group comprised by a large number of buildings scattered between Otolum and Bat brooks. They were constructed on low platforms and had up to four parallel passageways. The buildings show various subdivisions suggestive of rooms: they have one or two levels reached over narrow stairways. Some of the rooms contain tombs beneath their floors; other, such as Temple III, clay vessels, as well as stone, jadeite and shell tools were found outside the buildings. Such wares attest to the everyday activities at these representative sets of living quarters during Palenque's final stage. 

We will also visit the Cataratas de Agua Azul (Spanish for "Blue-water Falls"), found approximately 69 kilometres from Palenque by the road in the state of Chiapas. With sparkling turquoise water set against a deep green jungle background, the falls are one of the most spectacular natural attractions in Mexico. Agua Azul is a long series of glittering cascades coursing over kilometres of lush valleys in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas Mountains. The larger cataracts may be as high as 6 meters or so. The water is as blue as it looks in the pictures, and has a high mineral content. 


Monday, 11 May:  Villahermosa – Campeche         

We check out this morning and travel to Campeche, via the Gulf of Mexico coast. There will be a lunch stop en-route. 

Campeche is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful capitals in the country. UNESCO named it as a model of a colonial baroque city planning. Additionally, it was declared a World Heritage Site. It has 17 archaeological sites including Calakmul, the largest Mayan city that has ever been discovered. Campeche has charming corners including the beautiful colonial port, various Mayan ceremonial centres and majestic nature reserves. When we visit Campeche we will take a stroll along the Fort of San Miguel, San José el Alto, and the Door of the Earth; their buildings will tell the story of this beautiful city. 

On our arrival in Campeche, we shall check in to the:Plaza Campeche Hotel, for an overnight stay and will have dinner at a local restaurant. 


Tuesday, 12 May:   Campeche – Mérida           

We shall have a morning city tour of Campeche, before driving to Becal for Panama Hat demonstration at a Sisal Factory. In Campeche downtown, we visit the redoubt of San Jose El Alto, churches of San Francisco and San Roman, Main Square, cathedral, churches of Dulce Nombre de Jesus and San Roque, House of Teniende de Rey, Museum of Arms and Puerta de Tierra. Our tour also includes a visit to the Uxmal archaeological site. 

Uxmal is one of the most well known of the Maya cities, and rated by many archaeologists as the finest. There has been much renovation work and the grounds are well tended, but wear good shoes if you intend to do any climbing. It is permitted to climb the largest structure, the Pyramid of the Magician, and the view from the top is well worth the effort, but the steps are extremely steep. 

We then continue to Merida and on arrival, will check in to the Mansion Merida on the Park, or similar, for a two-night stay. This evening we will be treated to a horse and carriage ride around Merida, before dinner at the hotel. 


Wednesday, 13 May:   Mérida       

On our full day tour today, we will drive to the quaint fishing village of Celestun, located 90km west of Merida. The Celestun Biosphere Reserve is home to 587 plant species, 42 of which are endemic. The fauna found in the reserve include 304 bird species, including the Mexican pink flamingo, least tern, jabiru, king vulture and greater white-fronted goose. There are also 75 mammals and 64 reptile species. We will take a boat ride through the estuaries to observe the beautiful pink flamingo colonies and other birds. We will make a stop at fresh water springs where the water is sweet, transparent and ideal for swimming. A delicious seafood lunch is included in the tour. 


Thursday, 14 May:   Mérida – Havana       

We have an early morning departure from our hotel to transfer to the Merida Airport for our flight to Havana. 

Havana is Cuba’s capital and the largest city in the Caribbean. It is Cuba’s political, cultural and economic hub. Founded in 1519, Havana was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. There is something for everyone in Havana with its eclectic mixture of architectural styles, from neo-classical, art nouveau to colonial and art deco. The city offers all kinds of attractions, hotels, restaurants, universities, modern hospitals, theatres, cinemas, zoo, aquarium, botanical gardens, museums and an incredible nightlife. 

On arrival we will be met and transferred to our hotel for the next four nights, the Iberostar Grand Packard, or similar, before heading to lunch at Ivan Chef Restaurant in Havana. In the afternoon, we will enjoy a panoramic city tour through modern Havana in a vintage car. 

We travel through neighbourhoods such as Central Havana, Vedado and Miramar, and will ride past the Capitol Building, Revolution Square, Hotel Nacional and the University of Havana among others. Our tour will finish with afternoon drinks at El Patio Restaurant at Cathedral Square before we head back to the hotel. Dinner tonight will be at a private restaurant, Paladar – La Guarida. 


Friday/Saturday/Sunday 15, 16, 17 May:   Havana           

There will be plenty to see during our time in Havana but also plenty of free time for you to explore. On our Hemingway Nobel Prize Tour, we visit the places where the famous North American writer Ernest Hemingway lived in Havana and discover places that he frequently visited and later became a scene of some of his most known stories. 

During the tour we will visit Hemingway Museum, the former house of the 1954’s Literature Nobel Prize as well as Room 511 at Ambos Mundos Hotel where he frequently stayed during the 1930’s and wrote the first pages of his novel “For Whom the Bells Toll”. We will also enjoy a panoramic tour through Cojimar fishermen village, an inspirational source of his novel “The Old Man and the Sea”. The tour includes La Terraza de Cojima Restaurant where he usually went with his close friend, “ship captain” Gregorio Fuentes. A must in this tour, is the visit to Hemingway’s favourite bars in Havana: El Floridita and La Bodeguita del Medio. 

On our Cuban Art tour, we visit the Fine Arts Museum to admire several of the best paintings treasured on this magnificent building. We also visit some Art Galleries, where we can admire and/or buy some pieces of modern Cuban art. A visit to Fuster House is also included. 

We will experience the traditions of the 1950's as we walk to the Buena Vista Social Club Music for dinner and enjoy a night out in the heart of the old town, listening to the music of a great band reminiscent of the 1950’s music. Excellent dancers accompany the band to let you have a glimpse into Cubans great dancing skills. 

We head off on a tour to Viñuales and travel by road from to Pinar del Río Province through the spectacular Sierra del Rosario and stop for a short while at Cafeteria Las Barrigonas to visit a small tobacco plantation. We visit a cigar factory in the city of Pinar del Rio and learn about the manufacturing process. We discover the beauty of Viñuales and take in the spectacular views from Los Jazmines lookout and spend some time touring the town of Viñuales and Dos Hermanas Valley where we see the Prehistoric mural and board a boat that will take us along the underground river in the Indian cave. 

Along with plenty of leisure time, there will be a visit to the Botanical Gardens and a very special Cabaret Parisian Dinner. 


Monday, 18 May:  Havana – Peninsula Zapata – Cienfuegos – Trinidad       

After breakfast, we check out and travel for a couple of hours to the Peninsula De Zapata. 

The whole southern section of the province is taken up by the Peninsula de Zapata, also known as the Ciénaga de Zapata, a large, flat national park covered by vast tracts of open swampland and contrastingly dense forests. The largest but the least populated of all Cuba's municipalities, the peninsula is predominantly wild and unspoilt, making it an ideal location for getting first-hand experience of Cuban animal life, including boars, mongoose and iguana. Its proximity to the migratory routes between the Americas makes it a birdwatcher's paradise as well, as do the endemic species that live here, amongst them the Zapata Rail and the Cuban Pygmy Owl. 

We then explore the unspoiled nature and luxuriant tropical vegetation of the Zapata peninsula. We visit Cuba’s largest crocodile breeding farm at Boca de Guama and continue to the Treasure Lake where we will get on boat and enjoy a 20-minute trip to the Indian Village, a reproduction of a Tainos (Cuban native Indians) community with 25 life-size statues captured in their daily activities. We resume our journey with a drive along this scenic part of the Caribbean coastline while enjoying the great views of the beaches Playa Larga and Playa Giron before we visit the small Giron Museum, featuring photos, weapons and the wreckage of aeroplanes used in the Anti-Castro invasion. 

We arrive in Cienfuegos for lunch at a local restaurant, before spending some time looking around this most interesting town. 

We will continue on to Trinidad and on arrival, will check in to the Iberostar Grand Hotel, or similar, for a two-night stay, with dinner included. 


Tuesday, 19 May:  Trinidad      

This morning we shall enjoy a walk along Trinidad’s historical centre. The city has an extraordinarily dense concentration of old colonial houses, many still inhabited by descendants of the old families. We can admire the details of windows and balconies, the spacious interiors, the irregular cobblestoned streets; all of this in an atmosphere of vibrant music and open friendly people. A visit to one museum is included as well as to the city mock-up and a complimentary drink at a local bar and a visit to local cultural projects. 

After lunch at a local restaurant, the afternoon is free to explore this vibrant city or a local beach. 


Wednesday, 20 May: Trinidad -Santa Clara – Havana         

This morning after breakfast, we travel by coach from Trinidad to Santa Clara via Sancti Spiritu. The city of Santa Clara is the capital of the province and was originally founded and settled by the people of the nearby town, Remedios. Founded for economic as well as other reasons, the town was referred to as San Juan de los Remedios. Remedios itself was under frequent attack from pirates. The town boasts several cultural activities along with interesting museums, some of which are dedicated to Che Guevara. 

On arrival at Santa Clara, we shall have lunch and then explore the city. At the central part of Cuba, Santa Clara stands out as a legendary and history- rich place due to its monuments and centenary buildings. A city of outstanding history, site of important battles that gave triumph to the Cuban Revolution. During the journey we’ll visit places of undoubtedly value as Memorial Ernesto Guevara, Monumento al Tren Blindado (Bullet –Proof train), Plaza Leoncio Vidal and Boulevard de la Ciudad. 

We continue on the Havana and on arrival we will check in to the Iberostar Grand Packard, or similar, for an overnight stay.  


Thursday, 21 May:    Havana – Guatemala      

This morning we shall transfer to the airport for our flight from Havana to Guatemala City via Panama City, where on arrival we shall be transferred to the Casa Santo Domingo Antigua Hotel., or similar, for the next two nights. 

In March, 1543, the city of Santiago de los Caballeros (St. James of the Knights), today Antigua Guatemala, was founded at the foot of Agua Volcano. King Phillip II conferred on it the title of Most Noble and Most Loyal in 1566, and since then art and culture irradiated from the city to all the Americas, especially in its golden age from 1720 to 1773, when it was destroyed by a violent earthquake. 

Although time has not been merciful to Antigua, the city conserves all its colonial charm. Public buildings, churches, convents and old residences are examples of the baroque architecture and the prosperity of yesteryear of this ancient capital, declared a Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. 

Antigua is one of the principal ceramic producing centres in Guatemala. The technique was inherited from Spain in the 16th Century. Notable families such as the Montiels and the Rodenas have kept tradition alive in Antigua, both in majolica and painted ceramics. The manufacture of fruit carved in wood, wax products and traditional candies are other artisan activities that have made this colonial city famous. 


Friday, 22 May:   Antigua     

This morning we enjoy a walking tour of Antigua. The tour takes in the main square, palace, Cathedral, La Merced Church, Capuchinas Convento, and St Clara & San Francisco Church. Lunch and the afternoon are at your leisure and we will get together again for dinner at the hotel. 


Saturday, 23 May:   Antigua – Chichicastenango     

We travel to the village of Chichicastenango which is surrounded by valleys with the nearby mountains in the horizon and thus seems to be isolated from the rest of the country. The village is especially renowned for its two weekly markets, which are an enjoyable experience. Both market days are lively and chaotic and anything from souvenirs to vegetables is available. We shall also visit the local cemetery and church. 

Our overnight accommodation in Chichicastenango will be at the Mayan Inn Hotel, or similar

Dinner will be at the hotel.    


Sunday, 24 May:    Chichicastenango – Atitlan        

We have some free time this morning to visit the market. We shall have lunch at the Mayan Inn Hotel before we continue on our journey to Atitlan, where on arrival we shall check in to the Atitlan Hotel, or similar, for an overnight stay. Dinner will be at the hotel. 


Monday, 25 May:    Atitlan – Guatemala City    

We have an early departure for a private boat ride to Santiago Atitlan, where we will walk through the village for weaving demonstration. We continue on to Guatemala City and on arrival we shall check in to the Westin Camino Real Guatemala City, or similar, for an overnight stay. Dinner will be at the hotel. 


Tuesday, 26 May:   Guatemala City – San José    

This morning we transfer to the airport for our flight to San Jose, via San Salvador, arriving in the afternoon to be transferred to our hotel, Gran Hotel Costa Rica, or similar, for the next two nights. Dinner will be at the hotel. 

During our time in San Jose we will visit the historic theatre and the gold museum. 

San José is located in the Central Valley, a fertile upland basin 3,773 ft above sea level in the heart of Costa Rica. The valley itself is surrounded by three majestic volcanoes, the largest of which is Irazu. On the hillsides and volcanoes surrounding San Jose you will find quaint little villages, rolling pastures, small farms and vast coffee plantations. In the basin itself, lies the San José metro area. 

San José has a distinctive charm and feel to it. The city is home to an extensive collection of museums, theatres, great restaurants, bars, discos, and of course, neighbourhood markets. Above all, the warmth and hospitality of the locals (ticos) make a stay in Costa Rica, and especially in San José a memorable experience. 


Wednesday, 27 May:   San José      

Today we visit the Irazú Volcano, a vulcanological museum, the colonial town of Orosi and a beautiful orchid garden. Irazú, the highest volcano in Costa Rica, provides great spots from which we will enjoy spectacular views of its four craters and, on a clear day, catch views of both the Pacific and Caribbean plains. A stop at the first museum of vulcanological studies will complement our trip to Irazú and give us some more information on the behaviours and history of these geologic formations. 

This tour also includes a visit to "Lankester," the most important orchid garden in Costa Rica not only for its history but, also because there are over 7000 orchids belonging to 1000 species from around the world, which also can be seen a diverse variety of bromeliads, ferns and heliconias. 

To round up the tour, we’ve scheduled a visit to the town of Orosi. This calm, rural town has a long colonial history and possesses the oldest colonial church in the country, which is preserved as historical heritage. Lunch is included at La Casona del Cafetal. 


Thursday, 28 May:    San José – Pavona – Tortuguero     

Early in the morning, we will depart from San Jose Central Valley to the Tortuguero area. On the way, we will pass through the Braulio Carrillo National Park, a flora and fauna sanctuary covered by an emerald-green mass of vegetation. We will have the chance to see from the comfort of the coach, open pasture lands, small farming towns, and will also notice a change in the climate, as it becomes a bit warmer and humid but very pleasant. We may stop for fruit snack at a local restaurant in the town of Guapiles. 

The journey will continue to the embarking point deeper into the Caribbean side, where the boats are waiting to transfer us to the lodge. A two-hour boat ride, will take us through the canals sheltered in the jungle of the rain forest. From the boat, we will be able to admire the unique flora and fauna of this area. On the way to the lodge, we will have the chance to see different birds. Upon arrival, there will be a short briefing of the lodge and the activities included during our stay, followed by lunch. For the next two nights, we will stay at the Evergreen Lodge, or similar. Dinner will be at the lodge restaurant. 


Friday, 29 May:   Tortuguero       

Tortuguero is a great place for ecotourism lovers. During this day we can explore the secondary canals, where we can see different species of mammals, birds and reptiles. Tortuguero offers full contact with Mother Nature. Much of the National Park extends along its unspoiled beaches that serve as refuge for spawning of the sea turtles. After the tour, we will return to the lodge for a delicious breakfast. 

In the afternoon we will visit the village of Tortuguero where we will learn the lifestyle of local residents and the significant conservation efforts that some NGOs have developed to protect the sea turtles that come to spawn each year along the 22 miles of the protected coastline. 

Lunch and dinner will be at the hotel. 


Saturday, 30 May:   Tortuguero – Arenal      

We can enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, and at mid-morning our journey continues with a charter flight back to San Jose, wher we will board a private coach that will transfer us to the Arenal Volcano area. On the way to La Fortuna town, we will visit the Else Kietzler Botanical Garden and will have a delicious lunch surround by exotic tropical plants. 

Along the way, we will enjoy the beautiful scenery, which includes amazing views of the mountains and one of the major sources of revenue in the area: the agriculture. You will have the opportunity to observe several crops, such as pineapple, bananas, sugar cane and others. 

We arrive into the town of La Fortuna late in the afternoon, where the mighty Arenal Volcano will welcome us with its impressive perfect conic shape. We check in at the Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa, or similar, where we will spend the next two nights. Dinner will be at the hotel. 


Sunday, 31 May:    Arenal        

A day to discover the nature and culture all around the Arenal Volcano area. At Mirador Arenal 1968, the view is simply breathtaking. You will be in front of the volcano, but on the left you see the lava flows of 1968 eruption and to your right the Arenal lake. This angle of triple view undoubtedly offers the visitor a unique experience so you can sit pleasantly to observe these natural monuments and with a little luck witnessing an eruption. 

Then, at the Tram, we will be able to fly among the trees inside a comfortable and spacious gondola while you watch local wildlife nearly at our fingertips. As we move among the forest, we will see how it starts changing due to the height. Here we will enjoy the fantastic views of Arenal Volcano and its highly known lake, as well as great views of the Tilarán mountain range. 

As the afternoon ends, we enjoy a guided journey of a local property and gather the tubers, fruits, and vegetables that have been organically produced. Mill and enjoy your own delicious juice of sugar cane squeezed in the handmade trapiche. At the restaurant, La Guaria Morada, we can be part of the classes of Costa Rican typical cuisine and be shown how to prepare traditional recipes. 


Monday, 1 June:    Arenal – Toro Amarillo     

This morning we depart from Arenal Volcano to the Toro Amarillo Valley, in the Poas Volcano area. On the way we will visit the beautiful town of Sarchí. Known as the most important hotspot of Costa Rican handcrafts, it is the home of an abundance of craftsmen who work fine woods. We will have time to see the artists in their workshops while they make the famous oxcarts, declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Here, we will also be able to choose your favourite gift to take back home as a souvenir of your visit to Costa Rica. 

We arrive to the hotel in the afternoon, the El Silencio Lodge & Spa, or similar, for our final night. 

The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to explore the grounds and relax. Re-join the group later this evening for a delicious Farewell Dinner. 


Tuesday, 2 June:   San José – Juan Santamaria Airport     In flight Meals

Breakfast is at the hotel before we transfer to the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José for our flight back to Australia via Los Angeles.    


Thursday, 4 June:   Arive Australia    

We arrive at Melbourne airport in the morning and after clearing customs, we shall be met and transferred by coach back to Gippsland. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tour Details

 

 This is a region famous for its fabulous landscapes, wonderful wildlife and rich and diverse cultures.

We visit colourful Mexico with its Mayan history, Cuba’s colonial architecture, music, food,
colourful old cars and beautiful white beaches, as well as smouldering volcanos and the 
steamy jungles of Guatemala and Costa Rica. 

Central America’s rich mix of people and cultures has created a diverse and dynamic society 


YOUR TOUR ESCORT

Jacquey Turner has more than 33 years’ experience as a highly successful travel agent and tour leader. 

With this itinerary, Jacquey will guide you through this intriguing destination. 

Along with the local guides she will ensure you have a most memorable journey. 

 

 

 

 

 


HIGHLIGHTS

  • Walking tour of Mexico City including murals of Diego Rivera and Museum of Anthropology 
  • Visit historical Coyoacan 
  • Visit Teotihuacan pyramids – walk along the avenue of the dead 
  • Explore jungle swathed ruins of Palenque 
  • Listen to the music made famous by the Buena Vista Social Club 
  • Walking tour of Old Havana visiting the Plaza de Armas, Plaza San Francisco, 
  • Plaza de la Cathedral 
  • Trace the steps of Hemingway as we visit the Hemingway Museum and his favourite bars in Havana 
  • City tour of Santa Clara with the mausoleum of “Che” Guevara 
  • Explore the colonial centre of Trinidad and get a taste of the Cuban nightlife. 
  • Free time to wander Trinidad’s cobbled streets or swim at Playa Ancon 
  • Tour of the “Pearl of the South” Cienfuegos 
  • Full day touring Viñuales Valley including a tobacco plantation and cigar factory 
  • Enjoy Cuban hospitality while dining at a Paladar 
  • Ride the CHEPE train, snaking through Copper Canyon 
  • Full day tour of The Maya Jewell, one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in Mexico 
  • Overnight stay in the World Heritage Site of Campeche 
  • The incredible colourful market at Chichicastenango 
  • A stay on the shore of the beautiful Lake Atitlan 
  • The wonderful flora and fauna of Costa Rica 
  • The stunning Gold Museum in San Jose 
  • Time spent in the area of the Arenal Volcano 
  • Two-night stay in the ancient capital of Antigua, Guatemala 


INCLUSIONS

  • Melbourne/Los Angeles/Mexico City economy airfares and taxes 
  • San Jose/Los Angeles/Melbourne economy airfares and taxes 
  • Economy flights within Central America, Mexico & Cuba as per itinerary 
  • Gippsland/Melbourne/Gippsland coach transfer 
  • Fully escorted by Jacquey Turner with 24-hour assistance 
  • All airport & hotel transfers and overland transportations between cities/towns, as per itinerary. 
  • Maximum group size will be 20 participants; minimum group size 15 participants 
  • Expert local English-speaking guides throughout tour. 
  • Local guides ensure you benefit from their intimate knowledge, passion and culture 
  • First class (or best available) hotel accommodation in twin/double bedded rooms with private facilities 
  • Air-conditioned private coach travel 
  • All entrance fees to local sights and national parks as per itinerary 
  • Porterage/baggage handling fees (one suitcase per person) 
  • Tourist Card for Cuba 
  • 79 Meals as per itinerary – 32 Breakfasts (B), 23 Lunches (L), 24 Dinners (D) 
  • ALL tipping/service charges of waiters/restaurant staff at included meals throughout the tour 
  • ALL tipping of local guides and drivers. 

EXCLUSIONS

  • Travel insurance (a surcharge may apply for passengers over 70 years or if there is a pre-existing medical condition) 
  • Optional activities 
  • Expenses of a personal nature like laundry, telephone/fax calls, alcoholic beverages, medical expenses. 

TERMS & CONDITIONS – CENTRAL AMERICA MEXICO CUBA 2020 

LATE BOOKINGS 

Higher deposit payments are required for late bookings. A guarantee of full payment is required at the time of booking for all bookings received within 4 weeks of departure. 

BOOKINGS SOLD ON A SHARE BASIS 

Bookings may be accepted on a share room basis on the proviso that the person requesting the share reservation agrees that while every effort will be made to match suitability of the passengers there is no guarantee that a share room can be provided. If a share room is not available at the time of final payment, either the single room alternative, at an additional cost, or the cancellation conditions detailed in your itinerary will apply. 

HEALTH & FITNESS 

A minimum level of fitness is required to be able to participate on a Gippsland Travel Tour, you are required to at least: 

  • Be able to walk at least 1 hour on uneven surfaces without the use of any walking aid (walking stick for stability is acceptable) 
  • Walk up multiple flights of stairs and short, steep hills 
  • Stand for 20 minutes without needing to sit down, often in hot/humid climates 
  • Carry your own hand luggage / handle your own suitcase when porterage is not supplied eg. at airports. 
  • Get on and off various modes of transport without assistance, including small boats. Assistance will be offered where necessary. 

Passengers must inform us of any medical conditions which may affect your ability to participate in the tour. 

At our discretion we can exclude you in a tour or in any activity if we consider that you are unable to safely participate in that tour or activity or if we consider your participation may place the safety of other guests at risk. 

PASSPORT and VISA 

A valid passport is required for all international travel. 

If you do not hold an Australian passport, you may require a resident return visa. 

Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. 

Gippsland Travel will advise you of all passport and visa requirements for this tour. 

UNUSED PORTION OF THIS TOUR 

We regret refunds will not be given for any unused portions of this tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation or transfers. 

ITINERARY CHANGES: 

Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Gippsland Travel make it necessary to change airlines, hotels or amendments to daily activities. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur. 

GENERAL CONDUCT 

Gippsland Travel reserves the right to remove a traveller from a tour if they are acting in a way that interferes with the general operation of the tour or compromises the general enjoyment of the tour by other travellers in any way 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tour Costs

 

$24,999 per person on a twin share

$ 4,800 Single supplement

  • Upgrade to Business class or Premium Economy Cost on application – available in July 2019 
  • Flight arrangements can be made from other Australian capital cities 
  • Should you wish to extend your travel arrangements after the tour, please contact me to discuss further options. 

PAYMENTS: 

  • Non-refundable deposit of $1000 per person by Friday, 24 May 2019 or within 10 days of booking. 
  • Second deposit due by Monday, 30 September, 2019 
  • Balance due by Wednesday, 29 January, 2020 

SPECIAL NOTES 

  • Flight schedules are subject to change. 
  • The order of the sightseeing may vary depending on local conditions. 

CANCELLATION FEES

  • Once paid, deposit of $1000 per person is non-refundable. 
  • Cancellations received between 30 September 2019 to 28 January 2020, a cancellation fee of $3000 per person will apply. 
  • Cancellations received after 29 January 2020; all payments received are then non-refundable. 
  • All costs are based on the exchange rate prevailing as at 15 May, 2019.