Summer High School Programs in Cuba with Rustic Pathways

Video and Photos

Che Guevara Mausoleum
Che Guevara Mausoleum
Tour of Old Havana
Tour of Old Havana
Sunset at La Cabaña
Sunset at La Cabaña
These pictures are of several of us working in the fields with local farmers in Charco Azul, myself and some friends in an old car from the 1960's in Havana, and a picture of myself in front of a painted mountain face in Viñales.
These pictures are of several of us working in the fields with local farmers in Charco Azul, myself and some friends in an old car from the 1960's in Havana, and a picture of myself in front of a painted mountain face in Viñales.
These pictures are of several of us working in the fields with local farmers in Charco Azul, myself and some friends in an old car from the 1960's in Havana, and a picture of myself in front of a painted mountain face in Viñales.
These pictures are of several of us working in the fields with local farmers in Charco Azul, myself and some friends in an old car from the 1960's in Havana, and a picture of myself in front of a painted mountain face in Viñales.
city square at night
city square at night
antique red car in front of yellow building
antique red car in front of yellow building
streets and cars in Havana
streets and cars in Havana

About

In true Rustic fashion, students have explored beyond Havana and the country’s tropical coastlines since we started offering Cuba programs in 2016. Built around local interaction, hands-on learning, and engaging community exchanges, our programs here are designed to reveal what life is really like in Cuba. Participate in environmental conservation efforts or explore this fascinating country behind the lens of your camera. The country is just beginning to open its doors to American tourism, and there is so much for us to learn and experience.

We invite you to get to know this intriguing Caribbean nation. The island’s vibrant streets, lush rainforests, and undiscovered adventures will captivate even the most experienced travelers. Music and dancing are an integral part of life, and the lively beats of the island will provide a tantalizing soundtrack to your trip.

Scholarships

Rustic Pathways Scholarships
Rustic Pathways Scholarships and Financial Aid

Rustic Pathways is committed to making life-changing opportunities possible for students worldwide. We know how impactful our programs are, and continually strive to make them more accessible to all students.

Value
$1,000 - $5,000

Want to travel this summer? Enroll up to 8 days before programs depart!

Programs depart weekly through August 6th to destinations around the world. Find out which programs still have space for you to enroll today!

Popular Programs

Join us for an amazing cultural exchange in the exciting Cuban cities of Havana and Trinidad. This program is tailored for those who are passionate about environmental conservation. Travel by horseback to the famous Charco Azul lagoon where a reforestation project awaits with local park rangers, sleep under the stars after a waterfall hike, get your hands dirty with local farmers while learning about their sustainable practices and experience youth culture in town with plenty of dancing, food, and new friends.

This program is designed to give students an up close and personal “through the lens” look at Cuban life, architecture, and natural landscapes. Capture life in Havana’s old city and its surrounding neighborhoods, wander the Viñales Valley on horseback, and take in the sunsets and wildlife on the shores of Cayo Levisa. Each afternoon you will have a workshop and exposition, sharing your photos with your group and guides, learning techniques that will help you develop your photography skills.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 6 reviews
  • Growth 9.3
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.7
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 6 of 6
Default avatar
Lillian
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cuba: Intro to Photography Trip Summer 2017

I cannot rave more about my trip to Cuba with Rustic Pathways. I have been fortunate enough to do a photo exhibit in my high school to share my Rustic experience. I have been able to share my story many students, faculty, and people in my community. I get so excited talking about the program because it has impacted me in so many positive ways. From adapting to a new culture and trying new things, to meet so many new faces, I have had endless opportunities on my journey through Cuba. I highly recommend this program, and the leaders made the trip even more exciting.

Default avatar
Alex
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Viva Cuba! Culture and Conservation

During my second trip with Rustic Pathways, I chose to go to Cuba. As the country is relatively new to United States tourism, I was very interested to see what it would be like. During my trip, I learned so much about the history of Cuba and its relationship with the United States. I believe that so many people have a skewed view of what the country is like, and I would highly recommend going there to experience it for yourself. Cuba is a gorgeous country and everyone I met was so kind and willing to share their life experience. My guides were amazing, especially my native Cuban guide Ycel.
For our service, we mainly focused on preserving the environment and sustainable farming. Because of the embargo, Cubans had to learn how to do sustainable agriculture so that they could produce enough food without ruining their environment. It was amazing to me to see how much everyone cared for their homes, especially while we were staying on farms and learning about their practices.
I think my favorite memory from my trip was the last few days we spent in Havana. Havana is one of the most beautiful cities that I have been to. It was incredible to work with a local organization called Bario Habana, which provides children with opportunities to play games like chess or soccer, as well as works to benefit the neighborhood as a whole. Seeing the work that this organization does and the love that it has for its neighbors has given me hope that there are always going to be good, kind people in the world.
After this trip, I am definitely going to be sharing my amazing experiences in Cuba and informing people about what I learned. I think that many people believe that Cuba is stuck in the mid 1900s, yet after going there I know that it is a very modern country.

Default avatar
Thomas
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A great experience, a little lacking on the rustic. Would recommend

Overall, I loved this program. Off the Map: Cuba offered a great tour of Cuba, stretching from west to east. Highlights included a natural pool carved into a rock, working with sea turtles, playing soccer with Cubans in Old Havana, a night tour of Camaguey, and a 9km hike in the Sierra Maestra. I did wish we stayed in more "rustic" accommodations- hotels were standard most of the time. Staying in a lodge in the Sierra Maestra was by far my favorite, and I wish we had more of that. Our program leaders were amazing- some of the coolest people I've ever met. Everything on Guanahacabibes Peninsula was also awesome. I would, however, have added some more community service. Overall, I'd recommend it for sure.

Things to know:

-Hope you like rice and beans- you'll eat A LOT of it.
-Bring lots of bathing suits. I only brought one, and it was a big mistake.
-A day pack and some water bottles can be VERY useful.
-Realize that schedules are VERY flexible.
-Bring books and cards- they're useful during free time.

What would you improve about this program?
Add more "Rustic" - more out-in-the-woods and more community service.
Default avatar
Jonathan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Innovation in Action

Traversing through Cuba was a completely unique, one-of-a-kind experience. Although much of the world has a more negative preconceived notion of this country, going and seeing it yourself is an experience one cannot take for granted. A few of my favorite experiences occurred in the more rustic-style areas like Lomas de Banao and Charco Azul, where we participated in ecological activities such as reforestation and farming. Besides the community service, Rustic does a terrific job of having a jam-packed itinerary chock full of incredible experiences that just can't be replicated anywhere else in the world. Ziplining and visiting the waterfall, Cascada de Bella, were both highlights of the trip. Also, the friends I made on these trips are people I will forever cherish and hold dear to my heart. These are lifelong experiences you share with them and you form a unique bond with these people over the trip. After my experiences in one Rustic Programs in the Dominican Republic, I couldn't wait to sign up for a brand new adventure in Cuba, a place few people ever get to see, especially Americans. To all prospective participants, don't miss out on these once in a lifetime experiences, these are moments and adventures that can never be replicated and Rustic does a particularly commendable job of making it a safe, exhilarating, and meaningful stay, no matter the country. I'm already trying to sign up for next year and this summers' programs haven't even ended yet! The memories I have made in my past Rustic programs have made me into the person I am today and have given a new outlook on life, as I have gained a newfound sense of appreciation for the little things. Coming from a very materialistic Western lifestyle, I was so happy to take a break from that and see how a huge portion of the world truly lives and what I take for granted every day, be it clean, running water, or a guarantee of food on the table every night, we take these things for granted that other parts of the world are not close to being guaranteed. Rustic Pathways is an incredible program that has indisputably changed my outlook on life for the better.

What would you improve about this program?
There is little that this program should or could change to improve. The group dynamics were incredibly strong and the group leaders knew exactly what they were doing. As a returning Rustic-goer, I did not feel as though I was going through the whole tutorial again but rather I felt a fresh adventure coming on. I had this sensation as though this were a new season of a reality TV Show, with a completely new cast of characters and in a new location, and I was the sole returning member. It was an unforgettable experience and there is little I would change, if anything at all.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Margaret
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Viva Cuba: Culture and Conservation

Traveling to Cuba is an opportunity many Americans do not have. I was lucky enough to travel to Cuba and learn about their rich culture. Everything about the trip was great the staff was excellent and the local guides were very knowledgeable. It was a great experience being able to learn about a forbidden land. Traveling to Cuba has allowed me to understand the complexity of our relations with the Cuban government. I highly recommend this trip and program to all who are interested in traveling abroad.

What would you improve about this program?
The amount of community service could have been increased, but overall it was excellent.
Default avatar
Jordan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cuba- innovation in action

This was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. I met people who I would consider to be lifelong friends. I loved doing this type of program through Rustic because I've done travel programs through other organizations that have been nowhere near as awesome as Rustic is, which I have done two trips with. Besides the wonderful people I met, the activities we did were also really cool. I got to learn so much about Cuba through actual natives and experience something anybody would be lucky to do. Rustic is is just a wonderful company and it completely changed my life. I'm still in touch with my best friends from the trip. Even though not everyone on my trip was my closest friend, it was still really great to meet people from around the country and world.

What would you improve about this program?
The leaders were kind of strict sometimes, i.e. we weren't allowed to be in the same bedroom of the opposite gender when we wanted to hang out even when it was buggy outside and there was nowhere else to go, and there were multiple people there.

Location

Location:
Havana
Currency:
Cuban Peso
Weather:
Jan-Mar
82 F / 66 F
Apr-Jun
88 F / 70 F
Jul-Sep
90 F / 75 F
Oct-Dec
84 F / 68 F
Airports:
José Martí International Airport
( HAV )

Havana has always been a hotbed for tourism; however, with the bans on U.S. citizens, this has decreased. There are still a large number of tourists that go to this colorful city every year including U.S. citizens for more volunteer projects.

Interviews

Meet the Alumni

About Rustic Pathways

Travel and volunteer abroad with Rustic Pathways. Choose from culturally-immersive adventure and volunteer programs in 17 countries. Make lifelong friends from around the world, work on sustainable community service projects, and discover new...
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