Day 1 (Friday)
Private transfer to the Zapata Peninsula on the south shore of Matanzas province, where a test paddle will be offered in the wetlands of the biosphere reserve (Salina de Brito or Boca de Guama), a Ramsar site and important area for bird conservation. Picnic lunch on a key, snorkeling available at the Fish Cave or Punta Perdiz enroute to Cienfuegos. Founded by French immigrants in 1819, Cienfuegos’ historic center was added to UNESCO’s list of Cultural World Heritage Sites in 2005, listed as the best extant example of early 19th century Spanish Enlightenment implementation in urban planning.
Meals: Lunch (boxed), Dinner (B&B)
Accommodations: Cienfuegos (B&B)
Paddle distance | time Salinas: 6-7 nautical miles | 4-5 hours
Day 2 (Saturday)
After breakfast explore El Nicho Natural Park with dozens of waterfalls, natural pools with refreshingly cool crystal water, protected flora and fauna and breathtaking views in the Guamuhaya mountain range. Walk the Reino de las Aguas path before lunch, then we’ll drive to Hanabanilla Lake where you’ll launch your kayaks. Paddle south across the country’s only intra-mountainous lake with steep mountains rising from the shoreline. Stop at La Cueva del Brollo, accessible only from the lake before paddling to Rio Negro. Hike “El Mirador”, a path to a lookout affording a spectacular lake/mountain view. Dinner at Rio Negro, and rustic camping under the stars tonight.
Meals: Breakfast (B&B), Lunch with beverage (Las Yaguas), Dinner with beverage (Rio Negro)
Accommodations: Rio Negro (camping)
Paddle distance | time Salinas: 10 nautical miles | 7 hours (alternative route Cueva del Brollo = 4-5 nautical miles | 3-4 hours)
Day 3 (Sunday)
Breakfast and continue paddling south on the lake. Visit “Cascada Los Helechos” waterfall which spills over into the lake and continue paddling to the Jibacoa dam on the southern end of Hanabanilla. Transfer by jeep to Guanayara Natural Park and hike the 1/2 kilometer “Centinelas del Rio Melodioso” path featuring a high level of endemic flora & fauna, rivers, waterfalls & impressive ponds. The unique adventure leads you via the river canyon to the waters of the “Poza del Venado” where we’ll stop for a boxed lunch. Jeep transfer to visit the Topes de Collantes Coffee House and enjoy a tasting of local brew plus a permanent exhibition of the world of coffee. Lunch at the spectacular El Manantial private restaurant before departing to Cuba’s most colonial villa Trinidad, over 500 years old. Accommodations at a local b&b and dinner at a local restaurant. Visit the Casa de la Musica tonight.
Meals: Breakfast (B&B), Boxed Lunch, Lunch (El Manantial), Dinner (Trinidad paladar)
Accommodations: Trinidad (B&B)
Paddle distance | time: 4 nautical miles / 4 hours
Day 4 (Monday)
Breakfast and transfer to the Guaurabo River to launch our kayaks close to Ma. Dolores and paddle south to La Boca fishing village at the river’s mouth. Continue paddling to Maria Aguilar beach for free time at the Ancon Peninsula. Seafood lunch in a private restaurant in the fishing village of Casilda. Return to Trinidad for a tour of the city’s historical center and museums including a visit to La Canchanchara & Casa del Alfarero (a potter’s house). Continuation of stay in Trinidad with dinner at a local paladar.
Meals: Breakfast (B&B), Lunch (La Marinera), Dinner (Trinidad)
Accommodations: Villa Guajimico (Cuban “glamping”)
Paddle distance | time: 5 nautical miles / 2 hours Sunset = 1 nautical mile | 1-2 hours
Day 5 (Tuesday)
Breakfast and early morning transfer to Guajimico. a secluded “glamping” property hidden on Cuba’s southern coast about halfway between Cienfuegos & Trinidad. The 3* Cuban camping facility (featuring air conditioned cabins with hot water) is a little-known paradise set on an inlet with a rock wall backdrop in an area full of lush vegetation, attractive forests, caves and hidden beaches. The ocean bottom features quiet waters and extensive coral growth, making it ideal of nautical and diving activities. The rooms aren’t luxury or glamorous, but with air conditioning and hot water, it’s a big step up from tenting. today’s paddle is to El Naranjo & La Guanabana. Snorkeling & beach time will be provided before lunch at the hotel. Optional sunset paddle (included). Dinner included at the Guajimico restaurant. Note that even when meals are included at Guajimico, the food service isn’t at the same level as some guests would prefer, so if comfortable, venture outside of the property at least once to experiment with other local establishments for variety. The price for that independent option is very reasonable, and a good opportunity to explore independently for a superior food experience. One of our favorite spots in the area is a locally-owned grill, very close to the entrance to Guajimico at the main road.
Meals: Breakfast (B&B), Lunch/Dinner (Guajimico)
Accommodations: Villa Guajimico (cabañas)
Paddle distance | time: 2 nautical miles | 3-4 hours
Day 6 (Wednesday)
Breakfast and transfer to Guanaroca Lagoon in the Cienfuegos Bay, home to one of Cuba’s largest flocks of pink flamingos. Paddle in this natural area, pass Cayo Ocampo and the wrecks before reaching our lunch destination, Rancho Cristal, with a lovely view of Cienfuegos Bay. Enjoy a tasty traditional Cuban lunch with one beverage included. After lunch transfer to the historic center for a guided tour. There is no other place in the Caribbean which contains such a remarkable cluster of neoclassical structures. Entrance fee included for the classical Tomas Terry theater and Palacio del Valle. Accommodations at a local B&B and dinner in a Cienfuegos paladar.
Meals: Breakfast (Guajimico), Lunch (Rio Cristal), Dinner (Cienfuegos paladar)
Accommodations: Cienfuegos (B&B)
Paddle distance | time: 5 nautical miles / 3-4 hours
Day 7 (Thursday)
Breakfast. Paddle in the Cienfuegos Bay from Pasacaballos to the Jagua Fortress. Guided tour followed by lunch at El Pescador. Free time for exploring some of Cienfuegos’ treasures this afternoon. Farewell dinner tonight at Cuatro Caminos.
Meals: Breakfast (B&B), Lunch (El Pescador), Dinner (Cuatro Caminos)
Accommodations: Cienfuegos (B&B)
Paddle distance | time: 5 nautical miles / 3 hours (alternative route Pasacaballo-Castillo de Jagua-Punta Milpa = 3 nautical miles | 3-4 hours including beach time at El Caletón de Don Bruno)
Day 8 (Friday)
Breakfast and outbound airport transfer included to Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, Varadero or Havana airports.
Meals: Breakfast (B&B)