Humanitarian – Environmental Project Itinerary: CENTRAL

CUBA CENTRAL: Full-Time Schedule of Activities (515.575)

Our organization leads educational groups to participate in humanitarian-environmental projects with meaningful contact through citizen science and cultural activities to offer direct support to the Cuban people.

The centerpiece of the Central Cuba itinerary is the bull shark population in Nuevitas bay of Santa Lucia, Cuba where visitors will dive and participate in a shark conservation program led by a local Cuban marine biologist.

“Cuba is a kind of biodiversity epicentre for sharks,” says Robert Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida, who is one of many working with Cuban scientists. Preventing the overfishing of sharks is a major part of Hueter’s research and outreach efforts. “The current fishery is not intensively targeting sharks but the catch is still significant,” Hueter says. “We have a collaboration with the University of Havana to study the sharks of Cuba, assess their status in Cuban waters, better understand Cuban fisheries for sharks and assist the Cubans in the development of a National Plan of Action for Sharks and Rays in Cuban waters.”

Your trip begins with environmental experiences in the northeast coast of Cuba in the sleepy town of Santa Lucia where horse drawn carriage taxis are the main transportation.

While here, you’ll monitor local bull sharks and explore historical shipwrecks. Capture photos and help gather details for our 2nd ecological book. Then, you’ll spend the weekend in private, chic homes in the quiet, clean art colony of Camagüey – world renowned for its pottery. If you’ve ever been to Havana, you will appreciate Camagüey’s fresh, clean air with flourishing artists of all kind—devoid of street hustlers.

The cobblestone, European streets with Cuban flare are made for pedestrians and quaint bicycles.  You’ll delight in the humility of Camagüey people who are polite, accomplished, highly-educated and living out their passions in every creative way imaginable. They take care of each other. Be inspired as you take home new ideas and a fresh look at your own life. Meet your new friends as you provide direct support to benefit local Cuban marine biologists, cowboys, artists, orquestra musicians, doll-makers, private business owners and chefs.

 

This is a highlight of marine life awaiting you in Santa Lucia:

 

Sunday Day 1:  Camagüey Airport
Arrival

After you land in the Camagüey International Airport, your modern, ai  r-conditioned bus will take to Santa Lucía, on the northern coast of Camagüey Province, protected by a long coral reef only 2 km from shore. The seabed supports an astonishing variety of marine life and several sunken ships dating from the 19th century. Santa Lucia is a prominent spot for observing bull sharks from September – January each year.  Get your bearings as you settle in to Las Brisas, your 4-star, all-inclusive resort.

  • Camagüey Airport pick up & bus transfer to Santa Lucia (about 1.5 hours)
  • Check in to Las Brisas Santa Lucia Resort
  • Meeting with dive center manager & marine conservationists
  • Dinner at resort (included)
  • Double occupancy, Las Brisas, a 4-star, all-inclusive resort

 

Monday Day 2:   SANTA LUCIA
Environmental Conservation

Learn from Cuban marine professionals about the north coast environment & corals, conservation, shipwrecks and safety procedures as you acclimate, fine tune your equipment and observe the ecological reef in Santa Lucia.  (3 dives)

  • Breakfast buffet (included) & overview of Marine area
  • 9:00am One tank guided immersion & marine ecosystems discovery with Cuban Marine Professionals (included) 2 hours
  • 11:30am One tank guided immersion & marine topography discovery with Cuban Marine Professionals (included) 2 hours
  • Lunch buffet (included) 1.5 hours
  • 3:00 pm One tank guided immersion & Caribbean fish ID discovery with Cuban Marine Professionals (included) 2 hours
  • 5:30pm Meeting with local marine biologist about shark conservation (included) 1hour
  • Dinner at resort (included)
  • Double occupancy, Las Brisas, a 4 star, all-inclusive resort

 

Tuesday Day 3:  SANTA LUCIA
Environmental Conservation 

Meet with local marine biologists to learn about the migration and behaviors of the bull shark population in Santa Lucia. Dive with and observe Cuban Marine Professionals interact with anywhere from 2-9 bull sharks up to 10 feet in length.
You’ll have the best opportunity to observe them in Santa Lucia from October through early February before they migrate for the mating season.  Bull sharks are listed as near threatened because they are more at risk from pollution and habitat degradation than other species.

They are intentionally caught for their fins, liver oil, and skin, and are sometimes caught unintentionally as well.

The EDF (Environmental Defense Fund of the United States) has teamed up with Cuba’s Department of Fisheries Regulations and Sciences and WWF to ensure the scientific and management actions outlined by the plan are initiated through a four-year “Shark & Rays Project.” Across the Gulf of Mexico region, their long term aim is that improved international cooperation, science and management will lead to the recovery and long term health of shark populations. Success in Santa Lucia, Cuba could provide a roadmap for advancing sustainable management of sharks and other migratory species around the globe.
(3 dives)

  • Breakfast buffet
  • 9:00am (subject to high-tide schedule) One tank guided immersion with bull sharks & 19th century shipwreck topography with Cuban Marine Professionals (included) 2 hours
  • 11:30am One tank guided immersion & marine ecosystems discovery with Cuban Marine Professionals & site diagramming for Divemasters and above (included) 2 hours
  • Lunch Buffet at resort (included)
  • Afternoon topside exploration (self-guided)
  • Dinner at Resort (included)
  • Double occupancy, Las Brisas 4 star, all-inclusive resort

 

Wednesday Day 4: SANTA LUCIA / CAYO SABINAL
Environmental Conservation

Participate in a full day visit to Cayo Sabinal’s natural lagoon, the first island in the Jardines del Rey archipelago on the north eastern coast of Cuba.  Meet with local conservation workers where wild flamingos and iguanas are sometimes seen. Here you can observe a coral reef wall and occasional sting rays. (3 dives)

  • Breakfast buffet (included)
  • 9:00am One tank guided immersion & coral reef ecosystem topography with Cuban Marine Professionals (included) 2 hours
  • 11:30am One tank guided immersion & Fish ID discovery & topography diagramming with Cuban Marine Professionals (included) 2 hours
  • Lunch buffet (included) 1.5 hours
  • 3:00pm One tank guided immersion with Cuban Marine Professionals
  • Dinner at Resort (included)
  • Double occupancy, Las Brisas 4 star, all-inclusive resort

  

Thursday DAY 5:  CAMAGÜEY   
Cultural Immersion & Support for the Cuban People

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the resort before departing for Camagüey. As you travel your local, certified, English-speaking Cuban guide will explain the organic farming techniques which help preserve the environment.

Enjoy a traditional family style lunch at a local ranch previously owned by a famous Texan-Cattle rancher before the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Meet with working cowboys to learn about the rural life in Cuba and beef industry. Observe a Cuban rodeo.

After lunch you’ll head an hour onward to Camagüey also known as the City of Pottery and the City of Churches.  You’ll receive a warm welcome to the city with your own caravan of private bicycle taxis to tour the city.  Visit the plaza mayor where your guide will give you an orientation at a museum with a life size replica model of the city.  Enjoy dinner at a local private paladar restaurant on the plaza

  • 9:00 Breakfast
  • 10:30am Check out & transfer (1/2 hour)
  • 11:00am Cuban Rodeo & countryside lunch
  • Bus Transfer to Camagüey (1 hour)
  • 4:00pm Check in to local private bed and breakfast (Casa Particulares)
  • 6:00pm WELCOME TO CAMAGÜEY – tour via private bicycle taxi caravan with local guides. Visit to plaza mayor town hall.
  • Dinner at Private Restaurant Paladar
  • Visit Casa de la Trova – traditional live Music
  • Stay in Private Homes – Casa Particulares in Camagüey

 

Friday DAY 6:   CAMAGÜEY  

Support for the Cuban People & Humanitarian Project

Soak in the cultural fabric and participate in the vibrant musical pulse of Camagüey while you support private community leaders in unique humanitarian projects that boost local society. After a traditional breakfast in your private Bed & Breakfast, you’ll enjoy meeting dancers and observing the folkloric demonstration, followed by a private dance lesson.
After lunch at a local private paladar restaurant, you’ll meet the founder of a doll making & restoration community project which benefits local children with cancer.  Here you’ll see their resourcefulness and also have the option of donating cloth, buttons, felt, or even a doll or two.

After dinner, you’ll enjoy meeting members of the Camagüey Chamber Orquestra who will play a private concert for you at a local artist gallery. You’ll also have the opportunity to mingle with various local artists and learn what inspires their unique mediums.

  • 9:00am Breakfast in your Casa
  • 10:00am Cultural Folkloric dance demonstration and private dance lesson
  • 12:30pm Private Paladar Lunch 1.5 hours
  • 3:00pm People-to-people humanitarian project support to community doll-making & restoration project
  • 7:00pm Private Restaurant Paladar dinner
  • 8:30pm Meeting at private art gallery community project with 13-16 Camagüey chamber orquestra members to discuss Cuba’s classical music followed by a private 45-minute concert
  • Stay in Private Homes – Casa Particulares in Camagüey

 

Saturday Day 7:  CAMAGÜEY
Support for the Cuban People & Humanitarian Project

Enjoy an exciting day mingling with artists starting with the iconic, local artist who has earned the internationally acclaimed UNESCO distinction for the National Culture.  Her life-size bronze sculptures can be seen in the most prominent plazas of the city. You’ll also participate in and support her children’s social project for her environmental art class.

After a private paladar restaurant lunch, meet with private local potters to see how they turn clay into the ginormous pots on display around the city.

Observe the demonstration from this private family of potters and then make your own local pottery keepsake too!  Enjoy a tour of the art gallery of pottery & paintings.  Take in a breath of peace in the outdoor sanctuary too.

Enjoy your farewell dinner at a countryside farm home with a cultural pig roast and

traditional live music. Congratulations on a job well done in supporting the Cuban people and participating in collecting photos and information for our 2nd book!

  • 8:30am Breakfast in your Casa
  • 9:30am Meeting with Iconic local artist & art class. Optional Art supply donation
  • 12:30pm Private Paladar Lunch
  • Meet with private, local potters. Observe their demonstration of art via the creativity of these family potters. Art gallery tour included
  • 6:00pm Farewell dinner party in private countryside house. Enjoy the cultural pig roast! (included)
  • Stay in Private Homes – Casa Particulares in Camagüey

 

Sunday DAY 8:  DEPARTURE

  • Breakfast in your casa
  • Check out
  • Transfer to Camagüey Airport (20 mins)

 

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