“Travel by bus, bike and boat on a round-trip from Havana via Viñales, Trinidad and the snow white sand beaches of Cayo Santa Maria.”
Walking tour of Old Havana | Cuban homestay | bike tour of Viñales | boat trip to Cueva del Indio | UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trinidad | free days in Cayo Santa Maria |
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Tailor made vacation
This trip is run by a company which specialises in only Central and South America vacations. It can be tailormade to create a unique vacation for your individual requirements by travel experts with intimate knowledge of the destination. The length of stay, standard of accommodation and even the itinerary can all be amended and tailored to suit your preferred style of travel and budget. Quality and value are the hallmark of these trips.
Responsible tourism: Cuba on a shoestring, tailor made
Travel and tourism can both benefit and damage the environment, the economy, the social structure, culture and communities in any country. We know how mass tourism, unrestricted hotel building, poorly devised tours and environmentally destructive activities can bring money flooding in and governments have, in a spirit of short termism, been tempted to accept them. But experience teaches us that in the long term this sort of uncontrolled activity can be detrimental to the country's development, and we endeavour to do nothing to encourage it.
Cuba has been on the tourist map for some decades now, and many of the trips offered there are package vacations where visitors stay in fully inclusive hotels, often owned by multinationals. These do provide employment but much of the profit is syphoned off back to the chain’s home country and does not filter down to the community. The buildings are also frequently huge edifices designed without any reference to the natural or urban environment and without demonstrating any attempt to complement the landscape. The popular beach resort of Varadero was for many years virtually off-limits to Cubans, and tourists inhabited a sterilised ghetto. You don’t stay there on this vacation.
Consistent with our aim of providing you with a street-level, nose-to-the-ground vacation you explore Havana’s historical centre on foot and cycle through the Viñales Valley, thereby helping to conserve Cuba’s limited energy resources. You spend a couple of days based at Trinidad, Cuba’s well conserved UNESCO World Heritage Site, to give you a greater understanding of Cuba’s history.
The accommodation we have chosen for this economical vacation is locally run and has plenty of character; the Telegrafo in Havana is a refurbished historical property rescued from a neglected state. We have also long favoured the use of casas particulares, the homestays where you overnight in local people’s actual homes. You do not integrate with the family as such but there is plenty of opportunity to engage in interesting conversation. The revenues are used to reinvest in the property so that the family’s often meagre living standards rise and humble homes can be upgraded, benefitting the town or city as a whole. You also stay at Hotel Cayo Levisa a modest, traditional, Cuban run little resort where modest wooden bungalows blend seamlessly with its remote island environment.
You will stay at La Moka Eco Lodge in Las Terrazas, which has developed as a self-sustainable community project to include one of the nicest lodges in Cuba. Rather than change the ethos of the project, the establishment of the lodge has given the residents more resources to enhance and grow the experiment. Complejo Turistico Las Terrazas is located in an area of 5,000ha, in which a plan for sustainable rural economy is being developed based on the rational use of its natural resources for tourism. The buildings of Las Terrazas Community have been designed to blend with their surroundings. You will be benefitting them by staying there and even more so if you treat yourself to their coffee and contract their local guides.
Standard package vacations suit some tastes but we prefer to encourage you to enjoy a more authentic experience. This is especially valid in the case of Cuba, with its unique and fragile society, nowadays in flux, always in danger of unpredictable transformation. Go now, and you will be able to evaluate close up this extraordinary socio-politico-economic situation your selves. We have no idea how long it will last.
Many companies offering tourist services in Cuba are established in and work out of Havana. Not only are they less familiar with other parts of the islands, they send their guides and transport out from the capital. Our operator has close connections with local communities, and recruit guides and other staff within the towns and regions which you will visit. This has the added advantage of helping in a small way to put a brake on the flight of talent to Havana, means that much needed revenues stay in situ, and breadwinners can stay close to their families. A further beneficial result is that we are able to offer a broader range of excursions and activities outside the capital, which is very innovative.
Cubans are friendly and curious, most speaking at least a little English, and interacting with them is most rewarding. Our walking tour in Havana and cycling tour in Viñales open up the opportunity to converse with local people as well as to get to know your Cuban guide, who will give you interesting insights into daily life in Cuba as well as its revolutionary history. Many of the guides contracted by our local operator are supplementing income they are earning as workers in the Arts sector. Guides may take you to visit small retail outlets and workshops where you can buy items with Cuban pesos, rather than mass produced items restricted to the tourist currency CUC and dollar sector.
We also encourage you to eat in paladares, family run restaurants in private homes, where the benefits are the same as those of staying in casas particulares and happily where the standard of cuisine will often be higher than at a formal restaurant.
Reviews of Cuba on a shoestring, tailor made
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.
I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 05 Dec 2016 by Sue Rice
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
We enjoyed all the places we went to but... We loved Havana - it's a vibrant place with live music on every street corner and in every bar. Wandering around the streets in old Havana both during the day and in the evening was great and there is lots to see -lovely squares, colonial buildings, palaces, museums, cathedral, harbour plenty of old American cars........ It was good just to find a cafe or bar and watch the world go by. We enjoyed staying with Basita in Vinales and we loved exploring Trinidad
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Do some research before you decide where in Cuba you want to go. With hind sight, we would have had longer in Havana and probably Trinidad. Although the beach we went to was lovely, if we had realised where it was we would have chosen something different.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
It's difficult to know, but presumably our stays in Vinales and Trinidad in Casas Particulares would benefit the people whose houses we stayed in. We also used a number of Paladares -eating places run by families in their homes
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
We found Cuba to be a most interesting destination. We learned a little more about its complicated political and social history, mainly from our guides who were excellent. I do hope that the people in charge in the future will find ways of welcoming tourists that don't spoil the atmosphere and uniqueness of the country