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This morning we drive inland to Topes de Collantes Natural Park in the beautiful, wooded Escambray Mountains, famous for its many endemic species of flora and fauna.After a short bus ride up a steep, switch-back road into the forest we arrive at the park entrance.On arrival to the main guesthouse in 'Centro Habana' (as detailed in your Joining Instructions) you will be met by your host and shown to your room in one of their three local guesthouses. In 'Old Havana' Spanish grand colonial buildings rub shoulders with those of glorious art deco style, as the ubiquitous old American cars and taxis cruise past.After years of neglect some of these magnificent buildings are being restored, and it is not hard to imagine back to Havana's glamorous heyday when it was a popular haunt of the rich and famous.Here we meet our local guide, who along with our tour leader will accompany us in the park, and climb into an old Russian military style truck for the journey to the start of our walk.
We rarely have groups that are smaller than five or six people and the average is 12 people plus an Explore leader. Throughout this tour we stay in casas particulares, family-run guesthouses.
We drive through large citrus and sugar plantations and down onto the Zapata Peninsula to the coastline where the infamous 1961 'Bay of Pigs' attack (Cuban exiles supported by the US) failed to overthrow the Communist regime.
After an optional lunch and swim in the area we continue on for another two hours to Cienfuegos, where we take a walking tour of this sheltered colonial seaport.
Later we drive to the small town of Vinales where we have a short walk around the centre and meet our homestay hosts for the next two nights.
Vinales is situated in one of the most picturesque areas of Cuba - the Valle de Vinales is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.