Cuba vacation, small group tours

“Travel across the island on this Cuba vacation, staying with local families, and experiencing coffee plantations & culture, nature walks & nightlife.”

Highlights

Havana | Tours in classic cars | Vinales & tobacco plantations | Cayo Levisa | Soroa | Bay of Pigs | Playa Larga | Playa Giron | Cienfuegos | Trinidad | Sierra Escambray | Santiago de Cuba | Baracoa | Cacao plantation | Optional: snorkelling, diving, birdwatching, catamaran tour to Cayo Leguano, salsa classes and more

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2016: 16 Dec
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Cuba vacation, small group tours

Environment

The program offers lots of adventure in the countryside and mountains with day walks, water- and beach activities. This Cuba group tour is designed and offered by guides who are certificated in the field of ecological tourism and have been guiding in the Caribbean & Latin America for many years. This Cuba group tour of 12-19 days gives a unique insight into the Cuban culture and nature. On our Cuba tours all walks are guided by local guides and organized by local organisations that respect and take care of nature. Your tour leader and local guides have an extensive knowledge of fauna and flora. As on Cuba a green pharmacy has been developed in the last decades you also may learn a lot about medicinal properties of Caribbean plants. A vacation to Cuba off the beaten tracks with local guides brings income to local Cuban people and their families. By making use of ecological responsible excursions during your travel on Cuba, you support the people to continue with taking care of their natural reserves.

Community

1) Roundtrip over Cuba from West to East, with expert tour leader and mainly private minivan transfers, staying in boutique homestay in Havana at beginning and end and the rest casas particulares to connect with the real Cuban life. Private Minivan transfers with your own driver have as great advantage that we will make beach & snorkeling stops along the way, that we can enjoy more of the real Cuba and that we have more freedom than with a regular bus trip. This trip can also be done all in style with American oldtimers out of the 50's on one stretch of the itinery or through the whole of Cuba with private operating drivers who were able to maintain their family car in a good state.

2) This group trip is exceptional in that we stay at homestays as a group, separated over different homes. It gives you more insight into the real Cuban life, an opportunity to improve your Spanish and access to excellent Cuban home cooking. We always dinner together at the casas particulares one or two nights to support the families and share this moment together in the cosy ambiance of a Cuban home. The income to the Cuban families goes directly into the Cuban society and support a whole family.

3) We work at all locations with local guides, some are working for the state some have started their own micro-enterprise which is allowed since 2011. They bring in their knowledge and Cuban feeling and form part of the Cuban experience. In two opportunities we work with guides who started their own business, they can tell us about the changes Cuba is going through and they can only survive as they are exceptional guides and contracted by us. In all cases a tip is essential to support the local guides and their families with their daily living.

4) We visit two times local mountain schools, besides being an interesting and beautiful experience to see al these children we can leave a donation for the school, teachers and kids. When we visit farmers during your excursion, we ask participants, if appropriate, to donate luxury articles like ballpoints, soap and shampoo, buy some coffee, handicraft and/or leave a donation. At Baracoa in East Cuba we collect clothes, shoes and toiletries to donate to a Cuban organization, which supports people from the countryside with no resources. You can also leave clothes, mountain shoes, toiletries or other articles with your local guides after the excursion.

5) Your tour leader has guided around 40 trips over Cuba the last 12 years and is an expert on nature and culture of this fascinating island in the Caribbean. Cuba has become like a family for your guide and it is not unlikely that you might experience the same. It is a special opportunity to travel with your guide and to be invited to take part in the Cuban rhythm of life on all parts of the island! This trip is for all ages from young to old, families with children, couples and singles alike. We have several free days and the program can always be modified to specific needs and wishes on location between the traveling moments
Your guide is also a certified PADI Advanced Open Water Diver and can help you with all your questions about diving in Cuba. He supports several families with children with clothes, medicaments, books, second hand luxury articles, purchases of their handicrafts, and donations for constructing materials and improving their housing.

6) With booking whether a group or individual Cuba tour you receive a Cuba Manual with all kind of information on Cuba, esp. handy for the individual traveler.

Reviews of Cuba vacation, small group tours

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
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 01 Apr 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Visiting Santa Clara and seeing the Che Guevara Mausoleum and statue.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Book all buses in advance. Having someone to pick you up from the bus station is also preferable as the amount of people waiting outside can be intimidating.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We only stayed in Homestays with local Cubans. This definitely gave the trip an
authentic feel.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


10/10. Absolutely perfect. I had wanted to vising Cuba from being a little girl. Marcel was the only tour operator who listened to what I wanted and helped me to create the tour I wanted. It was a dream come true.

Read the operator's response here:

When customers travel by regular bus Viazul, we take care of all bus tickets and they will receive them on the briefing in Havana. When they also book homestays casas particulares via us, we take care that the families, or a personal driver of the family waits for them with a name board and takes them to the homestay. Customers receive a worked out itinerary with all addresses and programme information. In this way it is pretty easy on the bus stations: you see someone with your name board, you give a sign that you have arrived, you pick up your luggage and you double check the name of the family who is waiting for you and you are on your way.

Reviewed on 10 Apr 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Hard to pick out a most memorable part of our vacation. We were bowled over by the variety of experiences, landscapes, music and architecture Cuba has to offer. If pushed I would say that Trinidad is the stand out location in Cuba - you feel as if you've travelled back in time. The city is over 500 years old and is just beautiful. Not to be missed.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


We stayed only in Casa Particulares. In general they were great, enabling us to meet local people and gain from their knowledge of the area. The food was also much better in the Casa's than in state restaurants where service is poor and the food even worse.

If you are going to use Casa's you need to realise that they can be very basic.
We knew this before we embarked on our trip but even so we were surprised by just how basic some Casa's were.
"All Casa's are basic - but some are more basic than others."
However they can also be extremely good. Stand outs for us were:
Cienfuegos - Hostal Colonial (Myriam y Gladys Fernandez Portillo
Havana - Casa Ana y Surama (truly magnificent 3rd floor apartment)

Marcel at was excellent. Lots of useful information and advice. Our contact whilst in Cuba, was also superb.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We hope so. We paid Casa owners directly and mostly ate with them which put much needed CUCs in their pockets. We mainly used private Taxis and local guides so I'm sure we did our bit to improve the lives of local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


We really enjoyed this vacation. We had a fantastic range of experiences and met some wonderful people. We've travelled extensively, but Cuba is pretty much a unique destination. If you do visit Cuba don't make the mistake of thinking that it is just a beach destination. Havana is amazing and the rest of the island has so much to offer. Architecture, history, landscape and fantastic music. The people are wonderful. We never once felt threatened or uncomfortable. Try it. You wont regret it!

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