Cuba cultural tour, 9 days

“Discover Cuba’s culture and people, alongside its most beautiful cities, on an immersive nine-day small group tour, with homestay accommodation throughout, many meals and local guide included.”

Highlights

Havana | Old City walking tour | fishing village of Jaimanitas | visit to artist Jose Fuster’s home | Las Terrazas community | Viñales | visit to organic farm | learn about Cuban cigars | Cuban cooking demonstration | Bay of Pigs | Cienfuegos | Trinidad | cultural tour | group salsa class at private dance studio | waterfall hike | bonfire barbecue | Valle de los Ingenios | Santa Clara

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16 Aug 2020
US $1600
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06 Sep 2020
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20 Sep 2020
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11 Oct 2020
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25 Oct 2020
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22 Nov 2020
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29 Nov 2020
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13 Dec 2020
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07 Nov 2021
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21 Nov 2021
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28 Nov 2021
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12 Dec 2021
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26 Dec 2021
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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your vacation will help support conservation and local people.

Environment
We minimise the single use plastic on our tours by encouraging our travelers to bring reusable bottles and water filter bottles with them. Since tap water is not drinkable in Cuba, unfortunately there isn’t a safe large-scale plastic-free way to make sure our travelers stay hydrated, but we purchase several gallon water bottles so that reusable bottles can be refilled.

Additionally, our tour leaders (guides) participate in the No Straws campaign by encouraging our travelers to use reusable straws or to decline straws altogether. All of our tour leaders have been given metal straws which not only reduces their own plastic consumption but sets an example for others in their community. They have enthusiastically supported this campaign, so much so that one tour leader found a rural vendor selling sustainably produced bamboo straws which we now purchase to use on our tours, supporting both the environment and the local economy.

Some of our tour leaders started an initiative to pick up trash en route between the provinces, not only does this maintain the health and beauty of the environment, but also sets an example for the community which has noticed the efforts of the group.

The treatment and care of animals is a particular concern of ours, to that end we donate a portion of tour proceeds to Cubans in Defense of Animals (CeDA) a non-governmental non-profit organization in Havana that provides care and sterilization to street animals, advocates for animal rights, and facilitates adoptions of stray dogs and cats. We encourage our travelers to bring donations of money or much needed supplies to CeDA, our guides will help arrange a drop off. We run in the Havana Marathon in November to raise funds for CeDA, and you are welcome to participate!

All our staff are trained in Responsible Tourism and make this an important part of their tour. We ensure all the activities offered to the travelers take into consideration the impact on the local environment and wildlife.
We promote best practices in responsible tourism and actively encourage our local suppliers to join us in our green campaigns.
Community

The Impacts of this Trip

This trip is filled with opportunities to get to know the culture and vibrant society of the intriguing island nation of Cuba. Nearly all of the accommodation is in the homes of Cuban families, where you will get to see how Cubans live, observe their way of life, and participate in their culture.

We directly run all the on-ground services and do not go through a second agent as the majority of tour providers to Cuba do. We have our own dedicated staff of locals in Havana and regional centers. A network of tour leaders, local guides and local transport providers, plus local office staff. We use local coordinators in regional centers to get the best possible access to services possible and to bring in local expertise.

Our tour leaders are paid fair and healthy wages, and thusly are prohibited from taking commissions or other unethical business practices. We offer bonuses and other incentives to encourage honesty and transparency from our tour leaders which results in better service to our customers and has a positive influence on the local culture where they are seen as role models. The tour leaders receive annual training in several different subject areas, including responsible travel, safety, diversity, and ethics, and we encourage them to develop and grow through additional training, special projects, and leadership opportunities.

We encourage and support their charitable endeavors. We have a team of kind-hearted generous tour leaders who have initiated company-supported donation drives and fundraising for disaster relief, medical expenses, and animal welfare.

We also encourage our groups to eat in small Paladars run by the locals or to eat in homestays with local families.

We ensure that we 'spread the wealth' throughout each town so the benefit is to the community as a whole and not a few individuals. In this we attempt to get as many local providers involved in our tours as possible, providing a BBQ by the river, or similar activities where the group is mixing with the real locals and not just those in the tourism industry.

We encourage respectful travel in Cuba. Our Cuban tour leaders will give you an insight into the complex Cuban history and society. The tour leader will demonstrate how this unique country has managed to resist many of the negative impacts of North American culture, influence, and capitalism, and how it has achieved significant social goals, and at the same time, show you the short-comings of the present system.

The maximum group size of this tour is limited to 12 travelers which enables us to more easily interact with the Cubans and to visit their homes and places of work and play. It also minimises our impact on the local culture and society. You will get the chance to visit government run local community projects such as Fusterlandia, bringing joy and industry to a formerly impoverished fishing village and Korimakao, a cultural project and boarding school that teaches performing arts to students around the country and nourishes the cultural development of the swamp lands where it is located and isolated or socially discriminated areas nationally and internationally. Our positive interactions with these projects assist in the funding and promulgation of their mission, and we also encourage you to donate cash or supplies.

All travelers are encouraged to explore with the group and on their own, learn a few words of the ‘Cubanised’ Spanish, and to interact with the locals as much as possible. The local guides are employed to help explain as much as possible about the cultural differences and the historically significant places that we visit and to make your experience in Cuba as enjoyable and as much fun as possible.

Our commitment to responsible tourism is not limited to our overseas operation and we have measures to ensure our Australian and US offices operate according to our responsible tourism policy.

Climate

11 Reviews of Cuba cultural tour, 9 days

4 out of 5 stars
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6
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Reviewed on 04 Mar 2020 by

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


Contact with the Cuban people

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


Get in shape— some of the events were
arduous

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


Very much so. Loved staying in the casas.

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


Very interesting

Reviewed on 12 Aug 2019 by

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


Actually landing in Havana and being easily and promptly identified by our
greeter/driver. Our exhilaration at being in Cuba and lack of anxiety about the
“next step” after getting luggage put us in an immediate mode of relaxation and safe-being.

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


Make it longer than the 8 day tour or extend time on either the arrival or departure end to do some independent exploration and maybe even repeating a part of the tour.

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


I think it benefited the locals to whom money for our room and board, meals and purchases went. It was easy to follow conservation by simply doing what our hosts did, except for one slip up and leaving on the aircon when we left the casa. That NEVER happened twice.

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


I’d rate it “”Let’s do it again” high!


Reviewed on 29 Mar 2018 by

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


It was great to experience more activities and learn more from Cubans that would one could do with just a guide book. We had a lot of free time and flexibility to still do what we wanted but was able to accomplish seeing and experiencing the country from a unique view for outsiders. I loved going to the tobacco fields in Vinales, meeting the farmers and their families, AND seeing how cigars are made. The food was great too.

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


Learn about Cuba and its history before your trip- it will help you understand even more from the people and guide. Although the trip does a great job of
discussing all parts of the history of the island it was more interesting to have a basic understanding before too.

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


100%

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


I would highly recommend this tour.

Reviewed on 23 Mar 2018 by

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


The activities in the Viñales region.

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


Wear old, comfortable shoes.

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


It definitely benefited the local people.

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


This was a very educational trip.

Reviewed on 06 Jun 2017 by

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


The most memorable part was visiting the organic farm and getting to eat a delicious and huge farm to table meal overlooking the beautiful mogotes.

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


Bring sunscreen,a hat, and water bottle. Forget wearing jeans, only pack easily washable lightweight clothing. The humidity is killer.

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


I definitely feel like we supported local people.

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


Not the most relaxing vacation but a wonderful learning experience!!! Really got to experience the culture :)

Reviewed on 27 Jan 2017 by

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


The most memorable was getting to meet people and learning more about the history of Cuba. The most exciting experience was hiking to the waterfall.

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


Come with high expectations and comfortable walking shoes, ready for unique experiences.

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


Yes, I felt that our being there helped local people and was cognizant of environmental impacts, although I feel that a deluge of tourists may cause a negative impact in the future.

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


Fabulous! Our guide was very informed on any topic we mentioned. I really appreciated the fact that our guide not only knew historical facts but was able to share insights on the underlying meaning.

Reviewed on 02 Apr 2016 by

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


Everything from the incredible music clubs to the food to the beautiful beach.

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


Let the vacation company do everything for you.

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


Our home stays benefited the local people.

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


5 stars for a great Cuban tour guide with cool and fun fellow travelers.

Reviewed on 28 Aug 2016 by

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


It is hard to pick just one moment of the trip but I highly rate the tour through Havana's historical district. Daniel the guide was so informative on the
restoration and history of the area I wished we had more time with him.

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


The biggest tip would be to dress comfortably. There is a lot of walking and some of the terrain on excursions are very rocky and muddy.

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


I felt the vacation did benefit some of the local people we encountered.

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


I highly recommend this tour. Our tour guide was friendly and informative. She always welcomed us to join her by telling us where she will be when it was our
time to go off and explore the area on our own. The day trip guides that we had were humorous as well as knowledgeable which made the long walks more
enjoyable.

Reviewed on 16 May 2016 by

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


Many highlights to the trip, but three that stood out were the tour of Fusterlandia in Havana, learning about the Yoruba religion, and the profusion of art and music
everywhere.

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


If you are fluent in Spanish and comfortable just winging it, this may not be the
right trip for you. For us however it was perfect: we felt like we saw and learned a lot thanks to our guide, which otherwise we would have completely missed. The pre-trip info sent out by the vacation provider was extremely helpful, so questions about tipping, toilets, line-standing etiquette, etc. were addressed in advance. Read it before you go--it's worth your time!

Also, remember that Cuba is not as wealthy as the US. Our casas were invariably squeaky clean, with good food, and run by extremely nice people--but in some cases they were very basic accommodations. As one of our fellow tourists said "this is a trip, not a vacation," so just be ready to roll with it and you'll do fine.

You will be kept pretty busy every day seeing things and going places. There was reasonable time to relax (it wasn't a crazy pace), but if you're looking to just flop on a beach for a week then you picked the wrong tour. Embrace all the cool stuff you'll see, enjoy meeting as many people as you can (especially if you speak Spanish), and run with it!

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


Tourist income is clearly a huge benefit to the economy (at least those who work in the industry). You always wonder where your money ends up, but we felt that staying in casas and eating in local restaurants got the most into the pockets of the small business owners running these places, which was very satisfying.

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


We loved it, and were very happy to have gone. Our guide Camilo was a great guy, and we were all very sad to see him go when the trip was over. He did a great job keeping things on schedule, scoping out good places to eat and other off-schedule activities, and just generally hanging out with us. Especially in the US, news about Cuba is tangled up in politics, so it was nice to actually talk to some Cubans to hear their thoughts. We felt like we got a much better appreciation of Cuban culture than we had, and would absolutely recommend this operator to anyone who was interested in a this sort of trip.

Reviewed on 16 Dec 2016 by

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


Seeing the Cuban landscape -- both natural and human -- and interacting with people.

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


Be patient, be flexible and plan ahead.

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


Yes, to the extent we contributed to the local economy and added to people's exposure to the outside world.

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


Enjoyable, interesting and worthwhile.

Reviewed on 10 Apr 2016 by

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


The beautiful plazas of Old Havana.

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


Allow yourself to be changed.

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


The homestays allowed for a deeper association with the Cuban people.

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


Great opportunity to explore several aspects of Cuba: geography, culture, history, politics, struggles, etc.

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