Aché Cuba – the spirit of Santería
We follow the trail back in the history of the Santería. We follow the trail of the Yoruba or Lucumí, formerly taken away as slaves from West Africa, now the driving force of the Cuban-African population. Guides, museums tell their story about how their enthusiasm and life energy, their aché, helped the old tradition to survive in times of oppression. You will see their temple houses. You will learn about their occult rituals. Their Santeros, spiritual mediums, searching, sometimes in a trance, wisdom with the Orishas, (half) gods and with the souls of the deceased.
We follow the trail back in the history of the Santería. We follow the trail of the Yoruba or Lucumí, formerly taken away as slaves from West Africa, now the driving force of the Cuban-African population.
Guides, museums tell their story about how their enthusiasm and life energy, their aché, helped the old tradition to survive in times of oppression. You will see their temple houses. You will learn about their occult rituals. Their Santeros, spiritual mediums, searching, sometimes in a trance, wisdom with the Orishas, (half) gods and with the souls of the deceased.
Live performances give their story an authentic sound. You can hear the vocals and the stirring drums that inimitably accompany the Santería rituals. It is the pulsating heartbeat of Cuban music and dance.
Their story, musically framed, in four beautiful cities of the island. In Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Matanzas.
En route, the sea, the dozing countryside and for dessert a lazy day on the beach.
- Your trip, your way
- Booked and organised in Cuba
- Our local roots, we live in Cuba
- 24/7 support by our local hosts
- Recommended for
- Baile, Cultura, Historia, Música, Religion
- Departure time
- Starts and ends in Havana - Daily between May 1st and October 31st, 2019
- Privé tour
- English, French, German, Italian, Nederlands, Other languages on request, Spanish
- Activity level
- Easy (light walking)
- Insider's tip
- • Local circumstances may cause a change of accommodation. Think of overbooking or temporary closure. In that case accommodation of the same standard will be booked. • The program may also be subject to changes due to local conditions such as closures due to repair work, weather and road conditions, etc.
Day 1: Day 1. Arrival in Havana
Day 2: Day 2. Havana
After breakfast, your guide will pick you up for a walk through the historic center of Havana, Old Havana, UNESCO World Heritage since 1982. The tour takes you along the most beautiful squares in the city; Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco de Asís, Plaza de Armas and the cozy Plaza de la Catedral, seductive and stunning. Beautifully restored buildings everywhere. Atmospheric streets and alleys, bustling with life, connect the squares of 500-year-old Havana. The dominant Spanish culture, colonial and catholic, has given the city its charm but we are looking for the heartbeat of Cuba, the culture of the Yoruba or Lucumí, slaves from West Africa, who perform their religious rituals and rhythms, despite all oppression, have passed on from generation to generation.
You will visit La Casa de África, a unique collection of objects and artifacts that bear witness to the indestructible zest for life of the Afro-Cubans. In addition to a tour, you will hear your first African sounds. Without these ancient rhythms, Cuban music and dance would never have received the appreciation it receives today worldwide.
You will have lunch in El Mesón de la Flota, popular among tourists because of the performances, mostly flamenco, passionately and gracefully imbued with the cadence of Moorish-African origin.
The rest of the day is for you, plenty of time to explore happy Havana your own way. Your guide may give you some suggestions.
- Meals: Breakfast and lunch are included
Day 3: Day 3. Havana – Cienfuegos
After breakfast in your casa, you will head south towards Cienfuegos, a charming town at the bay with the same name and where the Castle Jagua defines the skyline. Cienfuegos is 300 years younger than Havana and Trinidad and mainly built by French settlers who had fled the slave rebellion in Haiti. Cienfuegos has a well thought out street plan, with room for squares. It still exudes a French atmosphere. Elegance par excellence.
In a panoramic tour you will see Parque José Martí with the impressive theater Tomás Terry and the cathedral of La Purísima Concepción. Authentic Cuban crafts can be admired at La Casa de Bienes Culturales. A little further is the Casa de Ron y Tobacco. Over the boulevard, the Malecón of Cienfuegos, you reach the southern peninsula of Punta Gorda. The nineteenth-century villas are showpieces of colonial wealth. The Palacio del Valle takes the lead. A magical palace has been realized here in a magical mix of architectural styles, Moorish, Gothic and Venetian. Your lunch will be served in this fairy-tale palacio. A chicer location is almost unthinkable.
In the afternoon we take the time for the Palmira Yoruba Pantheon, a museum with a collection that talks about Santería and syncretism, the fusion of Roman Catholicism and the Yoruba religion, a surprising story about how these people (with much Aché) secretly cherished their culture. After a tour there is music again. Obakasó brings a spectacular act with exciting rhythms and ritual dance, pure and full of fire, an ode to the cultural heritage of the Yoruba.
You will stay in a casa particular. The evening is yours. Stroll down the boulevard, choose a pleasant paladar for dinner or sit on one of the terraces. Plenty of choice.
- Meals: Breakfast and lunch are included
Day 4: Day 4. Cienfuegos – Trinidad
You have had breakfast, and now to Trinidad. See how beautiful the coastal road is. You are approaching Trinidad; sheltered between the sea and the Escambray mountains. Trinidad, 505 years old, is one of the most authentic colonial towns on earth according to UNESCO and to many others. The cliché wants that time stood still here, but that only applies to the decor, not to the liveliness in the cobblestone streets and the monumental center. Since the city has been awakened by tourism for centuries, it has been buzzing with music and fun. Trinidad is a party in full color where the drums also sound.
The Palacio Brunet (1812) houses the romantic museum. El Museo Hístorico Municipal has found shelter in the Palacio Cantero, full of original ornaments, frescoes, galleries and a tower that shows you Trinidad from above, overseeing the Plaza Mayor beautifully below you. Further on, the parish church of the Holy Trinity, which you will soon enter. The altar in particular is impressive.
After this anthology of colonial culture, you have earned a cocktail. This cocktail, La Canchánchara, is a typical local recipe; rum, lime, yet also sweet and with crushed ice. You can taste it in the bar, also called La Canchánchara. They mix the tastiest ones. Your lunch will be in a local restaurant.
In the (late) afternoon you will visit the most important Cabildos de Nación of Trinidad. A Cabildo was traditionally a tolerated place for ethnic minorities, the Yoruba in this case, where one could exchange whispers, sing, drum, softly admittedly and limited because the Spaniards were tapping the conversations. Cabildo de Santa Bárbara is one of the oldest in the city, dedicated to Changó. The temple house of Yemaya, Virgin de Regla, is still popular among the devotees.
Fancy a live performance? You will attend a concert at the Palacio de los Congos Reales.
In Trinidad you also will stay with a Cuban family in their house. The evenings in Trinidad are lively. During the day you probably have seen where to go.
- Meals: Breakfast and lunch
Day 5: Day 5. Trinidad – Matanzas - Varadero
Woke up well? Then heading for Matanzas! First the Castillo San Severino, in those years a robust stronghold against pirates. You will see the best of Matanzas; your guide will tell you about the city.
You get access to a Casa Templo. Many Cubans, including Catholics, visit such a temple house for good advice. The Santeros, the ‘priests’, try, among other things, to make contact with the Orishas and the souls of their ancestors through sacrifices and shell rituals. In a trance and to the rhythm of drums, they pass on the reflections to those who are open to it. Santería has been incredibly popular in Cuba in recent years.
No Santería without drummers. This temple house even has its own group of percussionists. Join the folklore, listen with respect.
During lunch time you will visit the old coffee plantation La Dionisia, originally French, with the original wells, the haciendas of the lords and the barracks of the slaves. Today it is a rural scene. You can ride horses, relax and enjoy a refreshing Cuban cocktail. Take your time, the beach is nearby.
Check-in at your hotel in Varadero.
About 1.5 million guests stay in this popular beach destination every year. Most of them stay in luxury resorts on the hotel-strip that occupies about half of the 20 km long beach.
In the evening, there will be probably music in town if you want to dance. Or just relax on the beach, processing all the splendor that you have experienced in the last days. Sleeping early would be a shame.
Here are some suggestions for a swinging time in Varadero:
- Casa de la Música: A renowned stage for live music.
- La Comparsita: Loved by Cubans, live music, salsa dance groups, comedians and karaoke. A bar, dance club and cabaret in one
- Calle 62: During the day a snack bar, in the evening a vivacious night spot. Often live music until midnight.
- Palacio de la Rumba: In short called La Rumba. Popular disco for dancing on Caribbean beats. On Reggaeton, on Salsa, on all that is trendy in Cuba.
- Mambo Club: Also trendy, yet stylish, Cuban Mambo, and related music from the 50s. They employ dancers to teach you the Mambo.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included
Day 6: Day 6. Varadero
Day 7: Day 7. Homebound
Your last breakfast after an exciting week. If you have to go to Havana airport or Varadero airport today, we will bring you and your bags there. Maybe you can spend more time in this magical country, then you can choose. Return to Havana for more of the good or staying on the beach. We are happy to advise you on a possible continuation of your journey.
Too bad it's almost over. You can still hear the sounds of the drums. They are a connecting element in the multicultural society that Cuba is today.
Viva Aché Cubano. Hasta Cuba siempre!
- Meals: Breakfast is included
- Arrival and departure transfer from and to Havana airport.
- Four nights in a casa particular, including breakfast
- Two nights in a Varadero All-inclusive Hotel
- Air-conditioned transport (taxi/van) to all planned visits and activities.
- Multilingual specialist guide
- Program (including entrance fees) and meals according to description
Not included in the price
- Other drinks, meals
- Optional activities
- Personal expenses
Customise your trip
You can adapt this travel program to your personal wishes. You can extend your trip. Would you prefer to stay in a hotel (5*) instead of a casa particular? Would you like to book a longer stay in Havana? Or in Varadero? Add activities or excursions? Would you like to rent a car? Do you need any other travel services? We are happy to help you.
Contact us. With your specific wishes and our knowledge, together we create the perfect trip.