“Take two weeks to travel across Cuba as part of a small group (max 14) and discover the cultural and natural highlights ranging from old town Havana to the Bay of Pigs and Guantanamo Bay.”

Highlights

Old town Havana | Santa Clara | Che Guevara Museum | Camaguey | Santiago | Cienfuegos | Trinidad | Baracoa | Bay of Pigs | Moncada Barracks | Yunke National Park | Optional activities, include: snorkelling, scuba diving, beach bbq's, steam train rides and horse riding |

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Vacation type

Small group cultural tours

Typically you will be sharing your experiences with between 4-20 like minded travelers (depending on the trip, operator and how many others are booked on the trip) and you'll have a group leader with you. Whether you are traveling alone or with friends it's good value, and a great way to meet new people! While itineraries are pre-planned there is some flexibility and you'll have plenty of privacy. This trip will appeal to travelers of all ages who enjoy meeting new people as well as experiencing new cultures.

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
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 economize our use of resources as much as possible, and we also try to reduce the amount of waste we produce and encourage our guests to do so as well. One example of a measure we have taken is to include drinking water for our travelers and include this in the tour package. The tour leader (guide) is given a budget to buy large 5 litre bottles of drinking water and store these on the tour bus. The guests are encouraged to use this water to refill their own drinking bottles. This avoids the guests buying smaller plastic water bottles everyday. If they haven't brought their own bottle to refill, they can buy 1 small bottle at the start of the tour for their personal use, which they can refill with the drinking water we provide. Filtered or purified water is very uncommon in Cuba, and the vast majority of tourists buy plastic bottles of drinking water. Our method reduces the amount of plastic waste from this practice as much as possible.

Additionally, our tour leaders 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.

We look for ways to be efficient with our energy use and implement these methods on all of our tours. For example, we try to reduce as much as possible the use of air-conditioning. With the high levels of heat in Cuba for most of the year, and the fact that the travelers are usually unaccustomed to this, the use of air-conditioning is in many cases unavoidable. Our tour leaders are trained to include in their briefing to the guests, to stress the importance of turning off air-conditioning when they are not needing it and to close all doors and windows so that the cool air does not escape from the room. They are encouraged to see if they can sleep comfortably with just a fan, instead of having their air-conditioning turned on all night.

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!

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

On this tour you will have the option to visit the remote Yumuri village, an agricultural and fishing village where you can enjoy a beautiful meal and boat ride down the picturesque Yumuri river. Tourism gives this village a much needed economic boost, as it is the only available employment for many in this town between harvest seasons. This is also a good place for you to bring donations, such as clothes, shoes, linens, particularly items for children. We also support the ballet school in Camaguey. The ballet school has a costume department that runs on more creativity than resources, and would welcome donations of sewing and costuming supplies (thread, needles, sequins, etc).

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 14 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 the ‘organoponicos’ (urban based community organic produce gardens), and ration stores.

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

13 Reviews of Cuba cultural tours

4 out of 5 stars
SHOW
6
5
1
0
1

Reviewed on 09 Dec 2017 by

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


It was all memorable. Being in Cuba itself was an amazing experience. Every town we visited was different but everywhere the people were warm and welcoming. Outside Havana the nights were full of music - with live bands in the restaurants and squares as well as the House of Music venue in each town.

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


Avoid giving money or things like shampoo to the hustlers who will gather around asking. (That just encourages a begging culture.) But be generous to those who are trying to make an honest living - like the musicians. So be ready with your tips when the hat comes around.

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


All our accommodation was with local families and we ate in local restaurants. We were also able to support local musicians with our tips and craftsmen and craftswomen by buying handicrafts.

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


Excellent. The tour was very well organised and Camilo is a great guide - very
knowledgeable and passionate about his country.

Reviewed on 20 Nov 2017 by

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


Old Havana, Mountains around Baracoa, Ballet School in Camaguey

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


Make the most of your time alone! The day is full packed with guided activities.

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


Somewhat.

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


Our guide was outstanding and the organization and scheduling part of the trip flawless. Amazing in a country so unpredictable as Cuba. I would have loved
more time to explore on our own, outside the group dynamic. Also, although activities were well chosen and for the most part interesting, I missed some visit
to a hospital or health care center and school or university, to learn more about the health care system and education, two of the more prominent achievements of Cuban society. That is just my personal preference and I would still without reservations recommend this tour to anybody interested in learning about the country and its people.

Reviewed on 08 Mar 2017 by

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


Exploring the quieter residential parts of Havana.
Swimming under a waterfall in National Park near Trinidad

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


Travel light and wash your clothes/have them washed at guest houses

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


Yes, via local payment to operator in Cuba, using local facilities and guides.

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


Very varied, exciting, fascinating, stimulating, warm and fun!

Reviewed on 25 Mar 2017 by

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


Horse riding in Vinales; salsa lessons in Havana.

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


Don't book it - it was not good value for money. The service provided by the local guide and the standard of accommodation did not merit the cost.

Some of the casas we were placed in were very poor quality. We were relocated from these on our request. However on one occasion, in Havana, we were told that the casa we had been allocated, which was apart from the rest of the group, was a VIP casa, despite being dark, airless and in a very dilapidated building with dangerous, unearthed bundles of wiring everywhere, dirty corridors, and no casa owner on site. We were told that we would have to pay to be relocated. I had to meet with the local manager the nest day to dispute this, and we lost valuable vacation time.

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


The casa owners definitely benefited from us staying with them.

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


We had a wonderful trip - but I feel that our best experiences were due to my own initiative and organisation and not through the help of the guide.

Read the operator's response here:

As a result of this feedback we have spoken to the tour leader about offering more information to his guests on tour and being more proactive in suggestions for optional activities and assisting his guests with any such activities. We have offered him additional training in this area to assist him improve these skills.
Cuba is a difficult country to travel at times. There can often be problems with food, running water, ground transport, cancelled flights, cancelled hotel bookings. The country's infrastructure is not ready for such large scale tourism. Our local team will do their very best to prepare traveler's for many of these 'charms' of travel in Cuba.

Reviewed on 07 Nov 2016 by

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


The whole thing was pretty amazing. Constant interest and surprise.

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


Go with a completely open mind- it's not usually obvious to non-Cubans quite how things work or what they mean. Always have toilet paper with you.

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


Staying in casa particulares definitely felt that it benefitted local individuals.

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


Excellent.

Reviewed on 28 Feb 2016 by

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


All of it. I still can't believe I have been to Cuba and back. I would urge everybody who is thinking of going to Cuba, go and book your vacation now, you will not regret it. We had a fantastic guide and had a lovely time out there.
The weather, food, people, music and art, buildings, parks, everything is beautiful.

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


We went on the 1st week in February and the weather was perfect, temperature 20-26 degree C, one or 2 days it was 30degree C.
I was told it can get very hot from April onwards.
Lots of ATM machine to get cash and it all works.
The casa particular accomodation you would expect one or two to be below standard, but on the whole it had very good standard.

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


Definitely, we went on a local tour out in the countryside with a lovely guide call Oscar in Baracoa. That was an amazing trip, we went to visit the local fruit plantation and sample all the fruits they grow. We packed used clothings, toiletries, pens, shoes in our suitcase for this trip. It was at this point we were able to distribute our stuff to the poor people living here. It was so rewarding to actually taking part in this exercise. Would advice people who would like to donate items to bring children's clothing. We also had a beautiful lunch, local catch fish meal in a small local10 restaurant, the fish was so tasty.

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


10
Excellent

Reviewed on 05 Feb 2016 by

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


We felt very comfortable in all parts of Cuba even at night in the heart of any city.
The huge number of old American cars that are still in use.


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


If you have to leave the trip early, as we did, be sure to check on your plane reservations. We did not have seats on the plane back to Havana from Baracoa, as we were supposed to, and so spent an entire day getting to another airport.
Our guide - Yima- did however spend a great deal of her time to make sure we got back in time to Havana.

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


Yes to the benefit financially to local people.

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


Excellent! We really enjoyed staying in peoples homes instead of hotels. The fact that I do not speak Spanish was not a problem.
Strongly recommend this trip. Just be sure of your flight if you have to leave early.

Reviewed on 29 Dec 2016 by

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


Meeting the people, learning about a different culture, admiring what once was beautiful architecture.

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


Steep stairs to casas. Don't book this trip if you cannot manage steep narrow stairs everywhere....especially with heavy luggage. Take some Tabasco to spice up the generally bland food. Learn some Spanish!

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


Yes, definitely benefited local people by the use of the CUC currency but made it very expensive as a traveler in a poor country. As dear as Europe.

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


Excellent guide, nice group, learnt a lot of history (and propaganda) and saw a good part of the country. Well worthwhile!

Reviewed on 01 Feb 2016 by

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


It's difficult to say. Every place has its own charm and character. But as I
love tropical landscapes Baracoa is probably the most memorable place. I highly
recommend Yumuri river tour. Manglito beach with its blue restaurant is not to
be missed. Just wonderful.
I was also overwhelmed by Trinidad - its architecture,energy, music. It's
simply a non-stop party town. The salsa evening in Santiago de Cuba is another memorable moment. Also the sunset on Playa Ancon. And our beach stop near the Bay of Pigs. And ....

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


It's absolutely safe to leave valuables in the homestay for those who plan to
take (a lot of) cash. Using ATMs or banks can be stressful and time consuming.


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


Yes, especially local businesses.

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


This tour is well thought through and planned. We saw a lot in 2 weeks. It felt
like 2 months. The tour programme is substantial without being crammed. It also
gives flexibility for those who want to do their own things. The tour leader with his unbeatable patience,calm and humour contributed a great deal to the success of the vacation.
Big thank you to Rayner, the very friendly tour leader trainee. Practising my
salsa steps with him was a real treat.

Reviewed on 02 Jan 2016 by

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


The homestay accommodations, which allowed us to meet and interact with local Cubans in personal and meaningful ways, was one of the best things about this trip for me. Cubans are so warm and friendly getting to know the people a little bit made this a very special vacation.

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


Learn a little Spanish before you go. It helps tremendously in meeting and interacting with people and will serve you well when visiting museums and sites of historical interest.

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


I could see how staying at the casas particulares as well as eating meals there and in the small family-run restaurants directly benefited local families. And at the same time it helped made the trip special for the guests.

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


This is the best trip I've had in years! Our tour leader and bus driver were exceptional, demonstrating daily their desire to ensure that everyone in the group was happy and comfortable. I fell in love with Cuba and the Cubans!

Reviewed on 10 Feb 2016 by

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


To be honest, the non-organized stuff I did myself, and the group were great.

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




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


To a degree, but most people we stayed in were probably pretty well off already, and used to tourists.

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


Good value, but the guide was very disappointing. For convenience, it was well worth it, but to really experience Cuba, I would travel alone.

Reviewed on 18 Feb 2014 by

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


Dancing to a four piece live cuban band in a cafe at lunchtime in Santa Clara. They were outstanding musicians and so inviting and funny. We couldn't help but get up and dance! We attracted quite a crowd on the pavement outside, which is down to Cuban peoples' enthusiasm and friendliness. We also had another wonderful dancing afternoon, one Sunday in Camaguey at the Casa di Trova, all locals, a very good band, a lovely friendly humourous atmosphere, all ages and us two sisters dancing with two very delightful and respectful older gentlemen.

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


Read up beforehand. Ensure you have top class insurance and tour visa. Take loo roll and antiseptic hand gel as Cuban loos are frightful on the whole!! Staying in casas particulares beats hotels every time and security is good; use a lockable suitcase and lock your room, casas owners won't go into your room as they don't want to risk anything as could lose their licence. Take plenty of loot as debit and credit cards don't generally work. Visa and mastercard cards issued thro british banks don't work. Take gifts, nail varnish, paracetamol, soap, soap, soap, any clothes you can leave there, all these are SO appreciated! Go on an organised small group tour, you just can't do it yourself until you have visited the country several times.

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


Absolutely, we stayed in casas particulares like english b&b but could provide evening meals if required. Evening meals were very good homecooking. We felt the casas gave a fantastically interesting dimension to our vacation as we could interact with the whole family. Cubans are very, very friendly and demonstrative. Nothing is too much trouble.
Yes because we were in a small (group of 12) tour bus, and had a local guide who could help us.
River swimming in Baracoa in a reserve was marvellous, our guide pointing out that we must not take souvenirs.

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


Amazing, fun, varied, good overall tour, we didn't want to come home. Five Star

Reviewed on 10 Jan 2012 by

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


Xmas eve fireworks in Remedios.

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


Ensure that accommodation is booked as we were told our accommodation at Remedios was not booked so we stayed in Santa Clara; also we had no dinner reservations which is very frustrating given it was Xmas eve and extremely busy in the square.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


We stayed at casas and ate in private restaurants.

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


I got to experience the Xmas eve festivities with locals and had New Years Eve dinner in the old square made the trip special versus if I went during other times of the year.

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