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: Active Cuba vacation, 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.
Most activities in Cuba are done at a slow pace: there aren’t many cars on the road; cycling and walking are the principal ways of getting around for the patient, laid-back population. This active vacation takes you all over the island but you will be exploring at a similar leisurely speed, enabling you to interact with the local population and minimise your consumption of valuable natural resources.
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. We spend a couple of days at Trinidad, Cuba’s well conserved UNESCO World Heritage Site, to give you a greater understanding of Cuba’s history; and you will go hiking in Topes del Collantes, a nature reserve park in the Escambray Mountains.
Another of the exciting outdoor activities you’ll undertake is to climb the flat-topped el Yunque, a distinctive mountain situated in the Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve. Your entrance fee will help the programme of conservation here, with initiatives to preserve endangered species as well as to promote sustainable practices in the forestry and agricultural activities which take place within its limits.
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.
Several of the guides we work with are working in the state-supported Arts sector the additional income from their work with us helps to sustain their other professional activities. Our guides will also take you to see small private craft and retail initiatives - where you can buy products not specifically targeting the tourist market - using Cuban pesos, the local currency. For example, our salsa guide in Santiago is personally involved with the arts sector. She will introduce you to the best places to dance and listen to Cuban music.
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 properties rescued from a neglected state. Hotel Royalton in Bayamo has similarly been happily restored. We have also long favoured the use of casas particulares, the homestays where you overnight in local people’s actual homes. Here we stay in one in Trinidad. 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.
We also encourage you to eat in paladares, family run restaurants in private homes. The standard of cuisine will often be higher than at a formal restaurant. You do not integrate with the family as such but there may be an 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.
Eastern Cuba (Santiago, Baracoa, Sierra Maestra) doesn’t benefit from the trappings of tourism in the same way that Havana and the larger seaside resorts do, so by visiting this historically significant area you are helping to boost the local economy and also to create enough demand to bring about change and transformation in an environmentally and socially positive way.
Baracoa is a remote historical town where the surrounding landscape is conducive to walking and hiking. Our guide there is an experienced trekker and naturalist. Thanks to your using of his services he can spend less time nowadays having to supplement his income by taxiing people around on the back of his old motorbike. He will still offer a lift to anybody who needs it though!