Dare We Dream for 2014?

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2014 Trips





April 9th – April 22nd


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When I went to South America for Antarctica, I absolutely fell in love with what I was missing out on. It’s time to go back and do it right this April.

From April 9th to April 22nd:

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Iguazu Falls; Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Santiago, Chile

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Valparaiso, Chile

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La Paz, Bolivia

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Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

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Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Interested? Email me: calvin[at]monsoondiaries[dot]com or sign up for our emails.

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April 25th – May 2nd


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Join us on an adventure in the Caribbean like you never could have anticipated:

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Cancún, Mexico

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Underwater Sculpture Park, Cancún, Mexico

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Chichen Itza, Mexico

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The Bahamas

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After leading successful trips together to North Korea, Iran, Chernobyl, and Antarctica for the past 2 years, The Monsoon Diaries and Young Pioneer Tours is once again joining forces and inviting YOU to take on the Caribbean in a way nobody else has! 

More than that, YPT is specifically inviting everyone to join them in the Cuban celebration of May International Workers Day! This is by far the biggest celebration in Cuba, and you can imagine it as a combination of a Soviet era parade and a classic Latin-American carnival.

The Monsoon Diaries will first lead a few easy days in Cancún and Chichen Itza in Mexico before Young Pioneer Tours takes over on April 25th in Old Havana. We then head to the Bay of Pigs and the mausoleum of Ché, where we not only see his final resting place but also the legendary train that he derailed. We then travel to explore Trinidad, after which we return to Havana for the highlight of the trip: MAY DAY.

For May Day, all of Havana (and Cuba) take the day off to dance through the streets with their work parties as they listen to Latin themed revolutionary music extolling the greatness of Fidel, Ché, and Chavez whilst the ruling communist party elite look down at us from the balcony (last year YPT got some great pictures of Raul Castro).


Therefore, this is the time to be in Cuba, and it will be a truly amazing once in a lifetime experience.


Our journey will be accompanied by local representatives, our Cuban guide Roger, a western guide, and our very own bus, which means lots of flexibility and chances to get very off the beaten Cuba track.

The trip is budgeted to be $1040 USD. We will offer an immediate $50 USD discount to anyone who is both following The Monsoon Diaries’ Facebook Page as well as subscribed to its mailing list (which is only used a few times per month). And as with all our trips, we will offer excellent ADDITIONAL discounts for old customers and group bookings.

Jay-Z and Beyoncé in Cuba

Nothing stays the same forever, and Cuba is changing rapidly day by day, so see it with us now!

And if that is not enough for you, The Monsoon Diaries is offering an optional 2-3 days long to a weeklong beach/cultural relaxation extension in The Bahamas which can be done as a standalone tour or as an extension to the May Day Tour.

Young Pioneer Tours will split off and lead a tour in Haiti and The Dominical Republic (a trip which The Monsoon Diaries led last year) and is offereing a 150 Euro discount to anyone who joins along their Cuba AND Haiti + Dominican Republic trip altogether (an additional 50 Euros off the Cuba trip, and 100 Euros off the Haiti trip): Haiti Exploration Tour.

Therefore, the opportunities for travel this Spring are endless!

*Note: Cannot accept payment by either Paypal, or MoneyBookers/Skrill*

Overview of the itinerary in Cuba:



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Cienfuegos, Cuba

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Santa Clara, Cuba

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Trinidad, Cuba


Playa Ancón




The itinerary in detail:


Friday 25th April

  • Guests arrive/transfer to their homestay accommodation
  • Free afternoon in Havana
  • Meet up with the rest of the group
  • Walk through the old city of Havana, one of the best preserved colonial cites of the Americas
  • La Catedral San Christobal de la Habana
  • Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras
  • Dinner and drinks in the Old town
  • Overnight in Havana

26th (Sat)

  • In the early morning, we depart for Cienfuegos (a 5 hour drive via the Bay of Pigs)
  • On the way to Cienfuegos we travel along the flat central plain of Cuba where there are lots of citrus plantations. We then will turn off the main highway where the scenery changes to a densely vegetated swamp where the natural fauna includes boa snakes and crocodiles
  • We have the opportunity to visit a crocodile farm here at Guama
  • Once reaching the Caribbean coast we travel along the picturesque Bay of Pigs past the site where the landing of counter-revolutionary exile militia occurred in 1961
  • Option of visiting a museum that recounts the events of this conflict that resulted in the first defeat of a U.S backed takeover in Latin America
  • There are some beautiful places to stop for a swim along the way including a sinkhole which resembles a huge natural tropical fish tank, so make sure to pack your swimwear and snorkeling gear if you have any!
  • Cubans are known to be very proud people, and the citizens of Cienfuegos call their town La Perla del Sur (the pearl of the south). Founded by the French, Cienfuegos appeal lies partly in the European flavour of its colonial hub, with a wide Parisian-style boulevard and elegant colonnades, and there is an ambience to inspire Cuba’s most celebrated Son singer to write the words “Cienfuegos is the city I like best”
  • After checking-in with your host family, you will have a short time in the afternoon to walk around the city and take in the atmosphere
  • Go with the guide or explore on your own
  • Dinner in a local paladar private home restaurant
  • Night out drinking in the bars of Cienfuegos
  • Overnight

27th (Sun)

  • Breakfast
  • Depart Cienfuegos for Santa Clara
  • Depending on road conditions we can take a number of different routes around or through the Sierra del Escambray perhaps making a few spontaneous stops along the way!
  • We visit the city of Santa Clara, a key city in the triumph of the Revolution
  • Upon entering Santa Clara there is a huge statue of Ernesto Ché Guevara, to commemorate his death and that of the revolutionaries that died with him in Bolivia
  • We visit the museum here that is dedicated to Ché’s life.
  • We take a walking tour of Santa Clara where we come across significant sites such as the armoured train derailed by Ché and his troops
  • Dinner and optional evening of local music
  • Overnight in Santa Clara

28th (Mon)

  • We leave Santa Clara for the scenic drive through the Escambray mountains
  • We stop at a very beautiful waterfall on the way
  • We stop at a farmers house for an extremely local styled lunch
  • The beautiful colonial city of Trinidad is home to numerous churches and many beautiful colonial buildings
  • Visit the lovely nearby Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar mills)
  • Visit Playa Ancón, where you can enjoy long stretches of unspoiled, white sand beaches.
  • Scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming in waterfalls, and horse-riding are other optional activities here!
  • Group dinner with unlimited rum in a local Cuban home
  • The nightlife in Trinidad is probably the most accessible and intense in all of Cuba, with numerous live music venues and many dance performances everyday of the week, all amongst the enchanting setting of old colonial buildings and cobblestone streets
  • Overnight in homestay

29th (Tues)

  • Breakfast
  • We head off on our exploration of Trinidad
  • La Villa de la Santisima Trinidad was founded by Velazsquez in 1514. The defender of indigenous rights in the Americas, Fray Bartolome de Las Casas, attended over this settlement’s first mass. The future conqueror of Mexico, Hernan Cortes, recruited sailors here for his future expedition into that land.
  • Trinidad is also a charming, small town with the green mountains in the background.
  • The turquoise waters and pure white, sand beaches of the Caribbean Sea is just a short distance away
  • Option of visiting The Museo Nacional de la Lucha Contra los Bandidos and the Casa de los Mártires de Trinidad that chronicles the struggles of this period in the town’s history
  • Lunch in city
  • Return to homestay for some rest and free time
  • Free afternoon to explore the city or the nearby Caribbean beaches
  • Group dinner and night out in Trinidad: We will be visiting the extremely famous Cave Club for a great night out!
  • Overnight in homestay

30th (Wed)

  • Breakfast
  • Scenic drive back to Havana
  • City tour of Havana, which encompasses the Plaza de Armas and a statue of Manuel de Cespedes: one of the leaders of the independence movement
  • There are plenty of good museums we will pass (and can visit later if you would like to)
  • We visit the famous Museo de la Revolución today to learn more about the revolution and its history
  • Lunch in city
  • Visit to the Havana Club Museum of Rum: Free samples optional
  • Afternoon free time for some rest and relaxation or to wander some more
  • Meet up for dinner and evening out at the iconic Hemingway Bar amongst other places
  • Overnight in homestay

Thursday May 1st – May Day!

  • ***Trip Highlight*** Group meets up early to join the walk to the May Day March & celebration in Havana. Hopefully seeing Fidel!
  • This is by far the biggest celebration of the year, and by far the biggest May Day celebration in the world…And we will be very much part of this! Last year we were lucky enough to see Raul Castro waving down at us from the balcony.
  • Lunch in the city
  • We spend the rest of the day exploring the city and very much taking part in the biggest celebration of the year in Cuba
  • Dinner at our favourite secret private restaurant
  • Goodbye drinks around the malecon
  • Overnight in homestay

Price inclusive of:

  • Accommodation: Every night of the tour.
  • Transport: To complete the itinerary.
  • Breakfasts: for each day of the tour, except the arrival day.
  • Dinner: 1 group dinner in a local homestay.
  • Local guide: throughout.
  • All entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Unlimited Rum in Homestay

Price exclusive of:

  • International Flights
  • Visa (we will advise you depending on your passport and country of residence)
  • Insurance
  • All meals (except for 7 breakfasts, and homestay group meal)
  • Drinks
  • Tips
  • Optional activities/day-tours/excursions
  • Departure taxes (25CUC/person) and excess baggage fees

Note: People who went last year reported they spent no more than 130 euros for the whole week they were there, which included drinks, tips, meals, etc. That said, it’s definitely an affordable place for travel!   IMPORTANT NOTE:  Due to Paypal regulations, we cannot under any circumstances accept Paypal payment for our Cuba tours. Please contact us for other payment options.   DISCLAIMER:  YPT Cuba LTD is a separately run company independent of YPT Group LTD. Payment for all tours booked with YPT Cuba LTD follow their own set of terms and payment conditions. YPT Cuba LTD cannot under any circumstances accept payment by Paypal, Moneybookers, US backed credit cards, or US based bank transfers.




Interested? Email me: calvin[at]monsoondiaries[dot]com or sign up for our emails.

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May 8th – May 20th

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Take a chance at the roads less traveled: 

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Asghabat, Turkmenistan

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Merv, Turkmenistan

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Derweze, Turkmenistan

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Baku, Azerbaijan

Tblisi, Georgia

Mtskheta, Georgia

Ananuri Fortress, Georgia

Gergeti Trinity Church, Georgia

Mount Kazbegi, Georgia

Gergeti Glacier, Georgia

Davit Gareja Monastery, Georgia

Borjomi National Park, Georgia

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Yerevan, Armenia

Interested? Email me: calvin[at]monsoondiaries[dot]com or sign up for our emails.

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June 2014: From the Gulf to Africa

June 4th – June 25th

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Start your summer with a journey of epic proportions:

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Kuwait City, Kuwait

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Muscat, Oman


Nizwa, Oman


Wahiba Sands, Oman


Sana’a, Yemen

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Socotra Island, Yemen

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Asmara, Eritrea

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Djibouti City, Djibouti

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Lake Assal, Djibouti

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Lake Abhe, Djibouti

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Hargeisa, Somalia

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Laas Gaal, Somalia

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Kigali, Rwanda

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Hôtel des Mille Collines, aka "Hotel Rwanda", Rwanda

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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Lubumbashi, DR Congo

Interested? All you gotta do is email me: calvin[at]monsoondiaries[dot]com or sign up for our emails.


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Autumn? 2014

1 week


Undecided. Maybe Iraq? (Send me suggestions!) 

Interested? All you gotta do is email me: calvin[at]monsoondiaries[dot]com or sign up for our emails.

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December 2014: Oceana

Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia

14 days


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Milford Sound

We’ve done 6 continents since The Monsoon Diaries was started, the last of which being the great white continent of Antarctica. Then we wondered, what the hell, we might as well finish it off with the 7th and last continent of Oceana/Australia!

These are just ideas of places to visit, and given 2 weeks we might not be able to see it all…but crazier things have happened!

If we are to do this trip, space will be limited given that traveling around here can be crazy expensive, even in groups:

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Sydney, Australia

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Melbourne, Australia

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Brisbane, Australia

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Cairns, Australia

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The Great Barrier Reef

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Auckland, New Zealand

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Milford Sound, New Zealand

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Nouméa, New Caledonia

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The Heart of Voh, New Caledonia

Interested? All you gotta do is email me: calvin[at]monsoondiaries[dot]com or sign up for our emails. 

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Come with us to Antarctica!


  1. Hey! I think i’m interested in joining your next adventure in South America…Please advise :)

  2. For Cuba, you may want to try Playa del Este, nice beach where locals and tourists alike hangout, good cheap local food, very close to Havana and doable by cheap taxis. Get drop off in them morning and then ask the same taxi dude to pick you up in the afternoon (settle the price but pay after each trip – never pay in advance). It’s about 15-20 minutes from the city and open for everybody.

  3. I’d love to figure something out with you guys. Have fun in Antarctica! One of my dream destinations. Until then, I’ll live it vicariously through your travel blog!

  4. Dear Sandie,

    Of course! We’ve done similar trips before; in the winter of 2010 we traveled to Tijuana to build a community health clinic for an underserved population of 1,500 locals (who only before had a trailer that could fit only 4 people as their “clinic”): http://monsoondiaries.com/2011/01/04/when-its-over/ (start from there and work your way backwards).

    So we would LOVE to do something like this again if the the right opportunity (and people!) presented itself. If you want to help plan this, let me know and we can start working on this when I get back from this current trip!

  5. For winter 2014 would you guys be interested in doing something that involves travel but is a bit different from your other trips? For instance, I’d love to go to the Philippines and perhaps help with the rebuilding effort or else do something health-related for the people. Also, do you know any organizations that I should look into for that? I’d be open to anywhere in Asia as I’d love to be a hop and skip away from Taiwan afterwards.

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