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Cuba in 5-7days & moving on to Belize/Guatemala/Honduras

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Hi there

I've just found a mega cheapie to Varadero from London for 16nts (£215 in case anyone fancies it!). I'm a would-be backpacker and always like to cram a few countries into a 14/16nt trip. Did Yucatan & Belize Cayes in Jan and would like to try and make it down to see Placencia, Rio Dulce, Copan and Utila. Can anyone make any suggestions to help me achieve that?

Also, a list of must-see/do's in Cuba would be fantastic. Ideally I want to get a genuine Cuba experinece as opposed to a generic Caribbean one.

Big thanks!

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    Hola Welsh_sian:

    Well with only 5 to 7 days in Cuba your options are somewhat tight but here's some suggestions.

    I would fly to Havana and base myself there. If you want to keep your costs down and experience more of an experience, book yourself into a Casa Particular, which are legal B & B private homes that rent rooms. It's what I ALWAYS do when in Havana. By the way, Havana is my favourite Caribbean destination.
    You should plan on spending several days at least exploring Havana.
    From there, two suggestions would be head east and a two day trip to Cienfuegos and Trinidad, a UNESCO world heritage city. Stunning architecture in the Spanish/Colonial style. To further experience Cuban life and travel, I suggest you take the Viazul bus down from Havana so you see the countryside etc.
    Then back through Havana and westward to the Pinar del Rio area of Cuba which is very strong tobacco country. Also be sure to see the Vinales valley between Havana and Pinar. Very beautiful scenery and some areas are being kept as a natural bioshpere.
    Then back to Havana to fly out.
    By the way, if you stayed at the Casa I use, you could also very safely leave some excess luggage at the house on your excursion trips. Very safe and very nice couple who own the home.
    Here's a couple of links to get you started.
    My personal website with photos and text from some of my travels in Cuba and especially Havana.
    http://photopilot.tripod.com
    And here is the link to Viazul buses with schedule and fares.
    http://www.viazul.cu/home.htm

    Hope this gives you some ideas to start your planning. Enjoy the wonderful people and Culture of Cuba.
    Steve

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