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Cuba: Backroads to offer educational exchange trips

March 26, 2013|By Brian E. Clark

Backroads, which leads guided hiking and biking tours around the globe, says guests will gain “rare access” to Cuba through the company’s recently approved People-to-People license by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Backroads received approval at the beginning of March for the educational exchange trips, which will be offered throughout this year and next. The first trip will depart May 4.

Berkeley-based Backroads has five confirmed departure dates for this May and June. It also has 10 pending departures in December and 14 pending departures in January and February of 2014. 

The outfitter expects pending dates to be confirmed by April 15. All tours will leave from Miami and accommodate up to 20 guests per tour.

On the eight-day tour, participants will have opportunities to experience the Cuban culture and interact with locals, a hallmark of Backroads tours. The itinerary will include visits to museums, art studios, coffee plantations, farms and national parks.

Trip highlights will include:

  • Delving into Hemingway's Cuba during a visit to the Museo Ernest Hemingway
  • Discussing Cuba's rich arts heritage with artists at private studios and a community art project
  • Learning about Cuban enterprise from budding entrepreneurs, including owners of private restaurants and private room rentals
  • Chatting with farmers, cowboys and coffee plantation workers
  • Talking conservation with local naturalists
  • Learning about Afro-Cuban religious traditions with a Santeria priest
  • Meeting musicians, dancers and performers from such groups as the Yoruba Assn. of Cuba and the Spanish Ballet of Cuba

Because of the tour's license requirements, officials said it would not be nearly as active as typical Backroads’ walking, hiking and biking tours. 

However, there will be some opportunities for walking. Additionally, accommodations and food will be simpler than Backroads’ Premiere and Classic Inn tours.

The price is from $5,198 a person, double occupancy, plus $550 for return airfare from Miami to Havana. The trip includes all meals, except for one dinner.

In 2013, Backroads also began offering both a biking tour and a hiking tour to Myanmar, a nation that has largely been closed to tourism until recently, but which gained attention after a visit by President Obama, as the first sitting US president to visit that Asian country.

Info: Go to backroads.com/trips/ACUQ for a detailed itinerary and departure dates. (800) 462-2848. 

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