Cuba’s Oriente: Karst and Caves, Cultural History and Revoution

CUBA'S ORIENTE:

Karst and Caves, Cultural History and Revolution

Camaguey – Holguin – Santiago de Cuba
November 1 – 14, 2018

An optional extended trip to Havana will be available.

Karst photo 2018

                                                                     Image by Jim Patera, 2016, Cueva Santa Catalina

Cuba’s Oriente takes us to less traveled areas on the island and introduces us to new Cuban counterparts who pursue the study and exploration of caves and karst in their region. Visits to archeological sites will illustrate the life of aboriginal inhabitants. Physical science and archaeology are entwined in the studies of eastern Cuban caves.

While recent changes have been proposed by President Trump, travel for groups continues to be allowed. We will be in compliance with all U.S. and Cuban rules and regulations.

Cuban organizations that will give sponsorship and provide permits are: 

  • Cuban Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (CITMA) 
  • Sociedad Espeleológica de Cuba (SEC)
  • Cuban Institute for Friendship with the People (ICAP) / AMISTUR
  • Eco Cuba Network / Marazul Charters, Inc

ITINERARY:

As on our previous karst trips, we will be interacting with our Cuban colleagues and sharing cave exploration and research experiences. This is a real "people-to-people" opportunity. Our focus in Eastern Cuba, and there is a lot to appreciate in what is called the "Oriente." We cannot do it all in this short time, but we will give you the flavor of the country with caves and karst as a unifying theme. This is not a caving expedition but more like a field trip where we will get into caves and also learn about the people and the countryside.

Many opportunities will feature cultural and historical experiences. One theme that comes into focus is the genesis of a revolution. Fidel was born and raised in this region, and the Sierra Maestra with its mountains and deep forests was perfect for hiding the fledgling patriots. We plan to spend a day along the southern coast from Santiago de Cuba to see for ourselves the nature and challenges presented by this terrain. We will make an easy hike to the Comandancia de la Plata – museum and Fidel's headquarters and envision his operation to meld together misfit members who developed into highly organized cells coordinating a large scale urban resistance that became instrumental in the success of the Cuban Revolution.

We will connect with Revolution sites and visit the grave of Fidel Castro who lies among other revolutionary heroes in the military cemetery in Santiago de Cuba.

Cubas Oriente November 2018

Cuba's Oriente Background Notes

WHERE WILL WE GO?

Holguin – a city population but more like a town in construction and community expression. Several active caving groups work together and are assisting us to explore nearby karst areas. A region of magotes lies just northeast of town. 

Gibara – a fishing village with beaches, crashing ocean waves, strong winds, and a "developed" cave beneath its suburb. It also has a quiet protected square and cinema that hosts a popular International Film Festival that transforms this mostly ignored northern coastal town into a buzzing cultural nerve centre of Cuba. The cavers carry on throughout the year with their projects, one which offers cinema in a cave.

Santiago de Cuba – historically the second most important city on the island after Havana, it has a bay connected to the Caribbean Sea and is an important sea port. An early influx of immigrants added to the city's eclectic cultural mix, already rich with Spanish and African culture.

Camaguey – pronounced “cam-a-way”, was a colonial city by the sea, but after almost continuous attacks from pirates it was moved inland in 1528. Built by the Spanish with a confusing lay-out of winding alleys and forked streets that lead to squares of different sizes, it was thought to be done by design to make the city easier to defend from any raiders. Others say it was to allow people to be close to their church – and there are many of those. It is delightful to get lost and discover another charming plaza.

Read the Cuba Article, September 2017 NSS News

Reading Materials on Cuba

Photos and Reflections from former Participants

Let us know if you have questions or interests to consider in our planning. We try to make our trips fit the desires and abilities of our travelers. Sometimes there are options to allow stronger cavers to forge father underground while others enjoy a cultural exploration in the city. Those of you who have traveled with us in the past know that although we cannot promise this, it has often worked out once we are in Cuba and working closely with our local colleagues.

No formal scientific qualifications are required for trip participants and anyone with general good health will enjoy the program. A majority of the travelers will be members of the National Speleological Society, but membership is not a requirement.

ESTIMATED TOUR FEE (could vary by $100 or so):

$5485 with 16 – 20 participants
$5785 with 12 – 15 participants

FEE INCLUDES:

  • Airfare Miami to Havana and Holguin to Miami
  • Double room accommodations
  • Two meals per day most days
  • In-Cuba travel on air conditioned bus
  • Full program with US and Cuban guides
  • Honoraria  to Cuban presenters
  • Gratuities to hotel and wait staff
  • Bottled Water

FEE DOES NOT INCLUDE:

  • Airfare from your home city to Miami
  • Overnight in Miami
  • One meal per day

HOW TO REGISTER:

Please print out and complete the Cuba's Oriente November 1 – 14, 2018 Registration Form and then scan/email it, along with a photocopy of your passport, to Pam Montanaro at pam@ecocubanetwork.net. If you prefer, you may call in your credit card account number to Pam at 510-318-4910, but you must still complete and sign the Credit Card Authorization page on the form. A deposit of $500 is due upon registration.

If you prefer to pay by money order or certified check, please contact Pam Montanaro to let us know that is your preference. You will mail the money order or check directly to Marazul Charters at the address on your registration form. Please write "Attention: Victoria Lebron" on the envelope.

Application forms will be processed in the order in which they are received. Participants are encouraged to submit their forms as soon as possible to ensure participation.

We must receive your application and a non-refundable deposit of $500 by two months before departure, but preferably upon registration. Payments by Mastercxard, Visa and Discover are welcome. Full payment is due 4 – 6 weeks before departure.

Participants should also allow at least $50 – 100 per day for personal expenses and non-covered items, the flight to Miami from your home city and one overnight stay in Miami the night before departure for Cuba.

Cuba travel for Eco Cuba Network tours, including the flight, visa and required Cuban health insurance, is arranged by Marazul Charters, a licensed Cuba Travel Service Provider with a half century experience arranging Cuba travel for professional, educational, cultural and "people to people" delegations to study every aspect of Cuba life.

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Eco Cuba Network is a project of the Green Cities Fund.