Cuba small group holidays

“This is a Cuban tour with twist, spanning all the main attractions along the entire length of the island, but really getting under the skin of the country too.”

Highlights

Havana | Sancti Spiritus | The Che Guevara Mausoleum | Bayamo | Baracoa | Santiago | El Morro Castle | The Moncada Barracks | Fidel Castro’s hideaway - Sierra Maestra Mountains | Camaguey | Trinidad | El Cubano Nature Park | Bay of Pigs

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

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06 Oct 2016
£ 2069
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Our top tip:
Don’t expect lavatory luxury from public toilets - many lack seats, locks, or even doors.
Trip type:
Small group tour. 5-18 adults (min. age 16) with a tour leader.
Activity level:
Leisurely/moderate: happy to walk for most of the day.
Accomm:
12 nights hotel, 2 nights private homestay B&B.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome. Single rooms available with surcharge.
Included:
All transport, all accommodation, tour leader, flights and transfers (if booking with flights.)
Meals:
All breakfasts, 5 lunches, 1 dinner.
Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.
“The most useful words I can teach my guests are “Un mojito, por favor” and “bailamos?” [shall we dance?]”

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Cuba small group holidays

Environment

Activity:
We aim to benefit Cuban communities by stopping to use local restaurants, cafes and services as much as possible. For example, we encourage clients to take the optional catamaran trip and excursions to Vinales and 'El Yunque' as we hire local transfers, boats and guides. We operate on a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy and local guides enforce this through responsible tourism briefings. These should help visitors to better understand the environmental issues in the area. We pay park fees when we enter Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, which are contributed to funding conservation initiatives and community projects.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Community

Accommodation and Meals:
We spend 12 nights in a range of different Cuban hotels and 2 nights in ‘Casas Particulares.’ These are privately -owned Bed and Breakfast properties which enable you to have a rewarding insight into the local lifestyle by staying in a family home. Where meals are provided, fresh and local ingredients are always used. Although this is largely out of necessity, we can ensure that local farmers and vendors benefit. We visit a number of local, family-run restaurants called ‘Paladares’ throughout the trip. These sell a variety of authentic Cuban dishes like fresh lobster, black beans and rice, roast pork and chickpea stew.

Local Craft and Culture:
We visit several important cultural and historical sites on this tour, where our entrance fees contribute towards the preservation of artefacts and monuments that commemorate events integral to Cuban heritage. These include the Mausoleum of Che Guevara and his comrades who died in Bolivia, Revolution Square, El Morro Castle and Moncada Barracks and El Cobre. We encounter small handicraft stalls in most towns, so guests are able to purchase local crafts. Trinidad is famous for ceramic and lacework, and Havana’s Almacenes de San Juan is a great place to buy art, crafts, shoes, clothes, hats, instruments and food. A huge part of Cuban culture is music and dance so there will be the opportunity to experience this in local bars and clubs on most evenings.

Charity:
Our local operator sponsors two schools in the Matanzas Province. The first is the local Primary School in Playa Giron, where they have repainted the school and provided educational supplies such as notepads, pens and sporting equipment. The second school is the Special Needs School in Matanzas City. Here, they have made a number of donations- from school materials and clothes to fans and sheets. We discourage giving to beggars on the trip as we don’t want to encourage this behaviour. Instead, our guides will help visitors to donate presents and supplies where the goods can really be utilised.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

Reviews of Cuba small group holidays

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 holidays.

I am reborn! Simply the best holiday 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 05 Apr 2015 by

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


It was all fantastic - it's impossible to identify one particular aspect as Cuba is such a diverse and fascinating country, from the landscape to the architecture and the people. I felt really priviledged to be able to see Cuba in early 2015 as it will undoubtedly change rapidly, and probably for the worse, in terms of exploitation once the Castro regime has come to an end.

Just a few of the main highlights were:
Havana - what a fantastic city - absolutely beautiful and slightly bonkers - wonderful architecture, slightly shambolic and a brilliant mix of Caribbean and European vibe.
Swimming in the azure sea
Travelling to a state cocoa farm across a river by rowing boat a' la African
Queen
Salsa dancing everywhere, and in particular at the Casa de la Trova in Barocoa
A trip to the National Park and a hike to Fidel's mountain hideaway
An unmissable taxi ride in a hot pink, open-topped 1950's Chevrolet
Drinking Mojitos
Staying in a spotless Casa Particular with a Cuban host who could not have been kinder or more helpful
The encyclopaedic knowlege of our Cuban guide, Enio
The deftness and skill of our Cuban bus driver who kept everybody feeling very safe on sometimes challenging roads
The rolling Cuban countryside dotted with horses and carts and Royal Palms..... I could go on and on...




2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Go to Cuba as soon as you can - it's marvellous!
BUT
Try to collect enough small change to tip the ubiquitous lavatory attendants at every loo stop!
Take plenty of loo paper and tissues
Be prepared to abandon shyness in lavatories which frequently are missing seats, locks, or even doors
Don't expect variety in the food
If you can find a few dozen small tablets of soap, keep them with you to give out as you go around to people who are clearly short of such luxuries
Allow enough time to explore Havana
BE PREPARED TO BE ENCHANTED !!!

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


Yes, very much so

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


It was an excellent holiday - a whistle stop tour of almost the entire country but brilliantly executed by our tour guide. It was somewhat frenetic and we didn't have enough time in Havana, but I would not change a thing.

Reviewed on 28 Dec 2015 by

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


Being let loose in Havana.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be aware that the estimated travel times between towns were far less than the actual - one "four hour" journey took more than six and a half not including stops. Twice we got to our hotel after dark. Long hours on the coach traveling through pretty boring countryside were followed by rushed sightseeing tours.

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


Certainly it benefited local jobs etc but I saw no evidence of conservation.

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


Not one of the best holidays I've been on. Not even one of the best I've had in Cuba.

Reviewed on 06 Apr 2014 by

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


Visiting Fidel Castro's mountain hideout.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?




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


Yes.

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


Excellent from start to finish.

Reviewed on 21 Feb 2014 by

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


Havana old city

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


forget about internet - it practically does not exist where it does it's
expensive and very very slow. Be a Cuban for a while.

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


Yes in most ways and as far as is possible in Cuba

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


Great - interesting country

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