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a unique blend of learning Spanish, travelling adventure & volunteer projects

Program Overview

Our most ambitious Cuban program! This is a 6 week program that comprises 4 weeks in Havana and 2 weeks on Cuba’s south coast. Two weeks in Havana learning Spanish, dance tuition and cultural excursions are followed by a two week placement at a beachside ‘Campismo’ on Cuba’s south coast. Finally you return to Old Havana to enjoy a final two weeks learning Spanish and volunteering in the city.

Upon arrival Havana International Airport you will be picked up for a transfer to your Casa Particulares*. You will be staying in ‘Casa Jakera’, a licensed Casa Particulare, sharing a dorm room with other student clients OR upon payment single room supplement you have the option to stay in another nearby Casa with your own room and en suite bathroom. Either way breakfast and lunch are served at Casa Jakera and this will be the hub of program activities, as this is also where Spanish lessons are taken as well as group discussions, planning meetings and impromptu social gatherings.

* Casa Particulares are government licenced ‘private homestay’ accommodation whereby Cubans are permitted to rent out one or two bedrooms in their home to paying guests. However, the licensing regime has recently been extended to include larger hostal style accommodation. Casa Jakera falls under this latter category and whether you stay at Casa Jakera or another Casa Particulare breakfast & lunch and Spanish lessons are taken at Casa Jakera.

During your first two weeks in Havana your weekly program will work as follows;


Monday to Friday’s intensive Spanish lessons will take place shortly after breakfast. Tuition is delivered by an accredited and licensed Cuban teacher and on day one you will receive a short test to establish your level and objectives. Lessons will take the format of 3 x 45 minute lessons each morning, with 15 minute breaks to refresh, making approximately 3 hours of Spanish lessons each day – 15 hours per week. Lessons are held from 09:00 sharp, Monday to Friday at Casa Jakera.

* The Discover Cuba sessions will feature additional Spanish language tuition, oral comprehension and dialogue (approx. 4 hours per week).


There are 2 dance classes per week – each approximately one hour duration, during which you will be taken through your paces learning Salsa, Son, Rueda de Casino, Mambo, Cha Cha Cha, and Rumba and perhaps a few moves you haven’t heard of… The lessons are delivered a 5 minute walk from your Casa at 'La Casa del Son' by a licensed dance instructor, and in the evenings there are MANY free live music venues where you can do your homework!


Hop onto a Wah-Wah (fume belching local bendy bus) or Colectivo (classic car/communal taxi) and take to the streets to discover the real Habana. Understand how Habaneros live; the practical day to day issues Cubans face living in this complicated country at this exciting time, and help us take away some answers to our own ‘first world’ problems!

Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 14:00 (plus the occasional nighttime tour) we will take you on an adventure to help you understand and enjoy the history of Cuba and Habana. Understand the source of her amazing wealth, the rich cultural mix, marvel at the faded patina of Habana’s famous gorgeous neo classical architecture, the rumble of classic American cars, curious soviet era high rise buildings, unbiquitous live music on every street, dance, exotic religions etc etc the list is endless.

You will quickly feel comfortably at this home, gain the knowledge and confidence to enjoy the city during your own time, with new found traveller and Cuban friends. You have been immersed into the Cuban culture - enjoy!


For two of the weekends you are in Havana you will be accompanied on a daytrip to a beach directly east of Havana. Journey time is 30 minutes by bus and you will enjoy the exhilarating rollers that break on these pristine sandy beaches.

The second weekend will feature a two-night trip to Viñales, a three hour drive to the central western region of Cuba and a UNESCO World Heritage destination owing to the outstanding landscape, traditional architecture and agricultural techniques still used.

The trip will include a horseride into the valley to drying houses where you can learn about the art of curing tobacco and rolling cigars, and an early morning hike to view a spectacular sunrise.


After two weeks enjoying the sights and sounds of Havana its time to head out of town to our residential volunteer placement. Playa Giron is world renowned because of the ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion in April 1961 that led to the first US military defeat in Latin America. It is in the heart of the Zapata Swamp, the largest wetlands of the Caribbean islands and one of many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Cuba. There is an abundance of plant, bird and other wildlife, many of them endemic to the area.

You are now in a small quaint local community, where everyone knows everyone and everyone has time for each other; never an air of rush or stress. It feels like you are living in a real Cuban community with a great opportunity to get to know real Cuban people. Tradition is everywhere and the local people appreciate and value it.

You will be staying in Casa Particulars and will have the opportunity to interact and learn about Cuban life in the countryside. Your Spanish language skills will be put to the test too, with constant opportunity to practice and improve your conversational skills.

Once we are settled in our new home stay we will be taken on a welcome walk around the community. This welcome tour is to help orientate you in your new surroundings; it also gives us the opportunity to meet personalities and characters with whom we will be working with during the volunteer projects. The village is also filled with important history and we will also show you the historical sites during the welcome tour including the ‘Bay of pigs’ museum.

Usually you will depart Havana for Playa Giron on a Monday and return to Havana on the Friday 12 days later. The middle weekend will be ‘free’ – there are plenty of local diversions including the beach with fantastic scuba dive and snorkeling in tropical reef literally 30 meters from the shore.

Weekdays will feature volunteering. There is no ‘fixed’ daily timetable as our routine will adapt to requirements of volunteer placement and other factors outside our control, such as weather! Traditionally our last day features a friendly (= competitive!) baseball match against the locals.

Volunteer placements include;

SPORTS FACILITIES Following our welcome/orientation walk we will immediately begin volunteer work by visiting our work sites. At each location we will discuss the particular circumstances that have warranted our volunteer contribution. We will discuss past projects before deciding our groups aims and objectives, and as a group set our own targets as well as distributing roles within the team.

Most of our work is currently focused on sports facilities in Playa Giron – those used by the public school and community. The positive impact that sports have on society are well known, and in Cuba the health and societal benefits are emphasized. We have been working hard to rehabilitate a disused baseball field and upgrading various basketball, volleyball and other facilities.

The objective of the baseball field initiative is to make it possible for the Playa Giron Junior Baseball team to invite host competitors to play locally.

BEACH CLEANUP & PEZ LION One day will feature a beach clean-up and other initiatives to keep the coastal area from littering, and fishing for Pez Lion. The Lion Fish has no natural enemies in the ocean and is becoming quite a problem in the Caribbean.

Click here to view images of Playa Giron

At the end of this 2 week volunteering placement you will return to your Casa in Havana and continue with Spanish language tuition and your next volunteer placement!


[We actually start preparation for volunteering in Habana during your second week with orientation walk and discussion of work done to date by previous groups, and the start of planning for weeks 5 & 6!]

In week 5 & 6 it’s back our familiar surroundings in old Havana. You will apply skills developed working as a team in Playa Giron to volunteer projects. Spanish lessons will resume during these final two weeks in Havana – see first two weeks for format of these lessons – while at the weekend we will take another trip to a nearby beach to top up your tan before returning home!

We have several volunteer projects underway in Havana and the specific project for each start date will be selected 4 weeks before commencement program start date (= 8 weeks before project start). Generally speaking we focus on upgrading infrastructures for educational, sports and other recreational facilities.

Volunteer placements include;

ARCO IRIS & BARRIO HABANA VIEJA COMMUNITY CENTRES We work with kids, and support volunteer organisers with maintenance and kids activities in Habana Vieja & Centro. The kids include those from broken and troubled families and our focus – in addition to creating a fun filled environment – is to give its members better preparation for adulthood and parenthood. A variety of classes are given, but focus always remains on social skills and confidence building. Activities include acting, dancing and singing classes and we often make presentations with our volunteers.

SPORTS COMPLEJO The sports complejo has been the main sports facility for all the schools in Habana Vieja for generations. It is a very established facility but lacks basic facilities. Sports run at this location include; baseball, volleyball, athletics, wrestling, basketball and judo in the near future.

We support sports in Cuba whenever possible, the benefits sports bring to society are well known to Cubans and we follow their lead. Improving facilities and donating equipment are where our support is most required.

EL GYMNASIA BOXING GYM Following the work we have over the last 2 years at the legendary ‘Rafael Trejo Gimnasio’ – including rewiring, painting and a huge amount of donativo – we have now found another, younger, boxing gym that is in need of our help.

The facilities are very poor and in a desperate situation, and equipment is almost nonexistent. The coaches are passionate and therefore have a large following of kids, with ages ranging from 5-21 years old.

ESCUELA Y INSTITUTO DE MUSICA CUBANA POPULAR This is the only official institute for music and dance in Habana Vieja. Established pre-revolution the institute gifts theory classes to local Cubans on the all-important history and evolution of Cuban music and dance. Practical dance and music classes are also given. Folkloric Afro-Cuban music and dance is its main focus but mainly dance owing to a shortage of instruments and other equipment.

Our volunteers are helping to restore the facilities and theater. This is also a wonderful place to bring donativos and spend time learning this magical and vibrant form of music and dance.

Click here to view images of Volunteering


Cost of 6 week program* USD 2,840 / EURO 2,555

* Price includes accommodation, breakfast & lunch plus over 60 hours intensive Spanish lessons, twice weekly dance lessons and three times weekly Discover Cuba sessions in Havana during first two weeks, two escorted trips to the beach, two night trip to Viñales Valley, and 2 week volunteer placement (inc transportation) in Playa Giron

Cost of extra night – accommodation & breakfast USD 35

Airport transfer – USD 35 each way


While in Havana, each morning Monday to Friday from 09:00-11:45 you will receive intensive Spanish tuition comprising 3* x 45 minute lessons spaced with 15 minute breaks. Tuition is delivered by an accredited and licensed Cuban teacher, and lessons take place in the Casa. On the first morning there will be a short test to establish your level and requirements.

* The Discover Cuba sessions will feature additional Spanish language tuition, oral comprehension and dialogue (approx. 4 hours per week).

During first 2 weeks in Havana, midweek each week there will be two dance lessons (approximately one hour each lesson) delivered by a licensed dance instructor (ratio of instructor to student 1:1).

During first 2 weeks in Havana, each week there will be three cultural sessions on separate days.

Two weekends will feature a guided trip to the beach.

Two week volunteer placement in Playa Giron.

During 4 weeks in Havana, accommodation Monday to Sunday in Casa Jakera with shared bathrooms facilities and lots of nice areas to socialise or chill. Accommodation at Playa Giron will be Casa Particulares with shared bathrooms (western style showers and toilets).

Meals – breakfast & lunch included.

Telephone: 00353868220333
Skype: jakera1