Discover Cuba tailor made holidays

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Discover Cuba tailor made holidays

Environment

Having travelled extensively ourselves and witnessed first-hand how tourism can have either positive or negative effects on local communities; we vowed to always endeavour to leave a positive mark on all places we visit and send clients. Our clients’ requirements are of primary importance to us at all times, as we know that our growth and success depend on their continued support.

As a company: We strive to operate as a paperless company as far as possible, and recycle wherever facilities are available. We use toxic-free fair trade products whenever we can.

While travelling: Many of the resorts and operators we work with offer our clients free drinking water refills to minimise wastage of plastic bottles through out the trips; and ask clients if they want items laundered before simply washing towels and linens unnecessarily, to conserve water. While in remote areas, we carry rubbish with us and ensure we do not disturb anything in the natural environment.

While we are there: We will visit protected areas, such as the Viñales Valley,  El Paraíso farm, Trinidad and experience the endemic flora and fauna of the Zapata region. While in these protected areas, we will ensure that our clients are given the correct guidance to minimise impact on the environment and respect the natural wonders of the area. Typically these areas also ask for a fee to appreciate the protected area. These fees go to conservation and infrastructure efforts directly supporting these protected areas. Typically these areas also ask for a fee to appreciate the protected area. These fees go to conservation and infrastructure efforts directly supporting these protected areas.

This trip has a strong focus on exploring natural wonders with the aim of fostering a love of and respect for the environment and subsequently conservation in the areas visited.

Community

This tour has been designed to both operate in a way that minimises our impact on the environment that we visit and to maximise the benefit that our clients can have on the host community. We endeavour to follow responsible guidelines, as with all trips. Guests will be briefed on responsible tourism at the start of the trip, and encouraged to be mindful of the environment and respectful of local people and culture.

While we are there: We encourage our clients to have a truly immersive experience while in Havana, Trinidad, Camaguey, Santiago de Cuba and Baracoa, as well as support the livelihood of the local community. We will visit protected conservation areas, such as the Viñales Valley,  El Paraíso farm, Trinidad and experience the endemic flora and fauna of the Zapata region. All these protected areas and reserves use guides who are local to the area and have been trained, bettering their communities. These guides typically communicate all the do’s and don’ts while visiting these protected areas. Typically these areas also ask for a fee to appreciate the protected area. These fees go to conservation and infrastructure efforts directly supporting the reserves/protected areas.

While in the Viñales Valley in Pinar del Rio, our Clients will be immersed in the natural beauty as they not only enjoy the views of the valley but take a boat ride on the underground river to view ancient murals and caves. Our Clients will also experience local Cuban living at the El Paraíso farm in Viñales. Trinidad, a UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Mankind site, will be fully explored giving our Clients an opportunity to get a great sense for this unique city. No trip is complete without visiting Guantanamo City to experience the Tumba Francesa and the House of Changui (Cuban rhythm) to enjoy local entertainment.

Where we stay: As a boutique travel company we recommend unique and authentic travel experiences. We prefer to use local suppliers who recommend accommodation that will add to the uniqueness and sense of adventure of the trip and we therefore encourage our clients to stay in privately owned accommodation where possible to support the local community. Where the hotel owners source staff, produce, products and other services from within the local community. This gives the local people an opportunity to gain financially from the increase in tourism in the area.

Typically with all our tailor-made trips to destinations we enjoy offering new routes and encourage travel to areas that are not on the main tourist trails and further support communities.

Reviews of Discover Cuba tailor made 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 07 Sep 2016 by

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


Cuba is a fascinating and beautiful country - from the crumbling glory of Havana to the stunning countryside of Vinales this is an incredible place. Its unique history and culture add additional layers of interest and complexity typically not found elsewhere. However, in many ways the most memorable part of the trip - that will stay with us the longest - is the people of Cuba. Ingenious, inventive and entrepreneurial; they somehow manage to keep the whole place working.

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


Challenge yourself! Travel around, stay in a homestay, experience as much of this diverse place as you can. Don't stop at Havana and the beach.

Don't expect a slickly organised, smooth holiday. Things are different here. The plan rarely survives the reality on the ground and time is a relative concept - a Cuban 5 minutes is not the same... But, don't get distracted or irritated by this. Take it easy, you might not always end up doing what the itinerary says you should be doing but it will all work out in the end. You'll probably end up doing something even more fascinating.

Machismo is alive and well in Cuba, especially Havana. Women should be prepared for the fact that they might attract the interest of some of the local men, who are not afraid to call out, whistle or approach women they find attractive. We found that a polite but firm response, or simply ignoring them generally did the trick but travellers who are unused to this might be made to feel a little uncomfortable, especially outside the busier tourist areas.

If you are interested to scratch the surface of the history and culture of Cuba it would pay to do a little reading before you visit if you're not already familiar with the history of the revolution etc. Most of the historical sites and museums have little or no information in languages other than Spanish. You can still figure most things out for yourself but some background reading or a little Spanish will make it easier.

Knock off a star rating or two on accommodation. This will give you a more realistic expectation of facilities etc. in hotels.

Public transport is scarce and unreliable due to the poor infrastructure. Plan in advance if you can! And when it goes wrong (and it will) - see the second comment above.

There are a few banks with ATM's you can use in the larger cities. More common are currency exchange offices or most larger hotels will change currencies. If you take cash with you, Euros or Canadian Dollars are best. You can also exchange US Dollars but there is a large fee...

Internet / wifi is scarce, expensive and unreliable. Be prepared to be off the grid.

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


Almost everything in Cuba is owned by the Government or local private owners, so most of the money you spend stays in the country. There are a few internationally owned all inclusive resorts, especially around Varadero and Cayo Santa Maria.

Given the economic and political context of Cuba, there are real environmental challenges that are not high on the agenda of most Cubans. However, there are increasing efforts in educating people about the environment. The re-forestation project at Las Terrazas is fascinating and beautiful and a visit there certainly contributes.

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


A mind opening experience. Beautiful place, beautiful people and a fascinating and unique history.

If you don't learn a few lessons in humility from the Cubans you probably weren't paying attention!

Reviewed on 15 Nov 2015 by

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


We really enjoyed Havana - what an incredible city. Perfect for exploring on foot and packed with friendly interesting people.

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


Try and book the trip yourself rather than using a tour operator. The company we went through booked through a local agent who outsourced everything to another local agent so it was one mess up after the next with no real way to get in touch with anyone who could help. Three lots of travel agents all taking their commission also meant out trip was really bad value for money.

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


Absolutely not. There was nothing on this trip that was socially or environmentally responsible. Not sure what these companies are doing on Responsible Travel and made me question how they are being selected.

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


Disappointing. We won't be back unfortunately despite good experiences booking with Responsible Travel previously.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you very much for taking the time to send us your comments, and we appreciate the detailed feedback you've sent us via email too as this will enable us to improve our services going forward. We do wish you'd be in touch from Cuba so that we could have rectified things during your trip, but we can only apologise that you encountered any issues.

We are really disappointed to receive this negative feedback, and we are in the process of evaluating our services in Cuba as this isn't the typical services we offer and we usually have great feedback for our trips.

The complexity with Cuba is that legally we have to book transfers, cars and guides via an approved government agency, so we don't have the same level of control in Cuba than we have when operating trips in other countries. To ensure a more effective service, we use an approved ground operator to assist with the logistics. I am very disappointed to hear that they have not fulfilled their role satisfactorily this time. It appears that in this particular instance they assigned a third party guide (without our knowledge) who frankly appears to have been inadequate so you did not receive our typical services. This is obviously completely unacceptable and we are taking steps to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Usually we take customers on local cycle routes where you get to see an off-the-beaten track side to Cuba, and we use local casas to provide an authentic experience where you get to stay with locals, eat meals with them and learn more about the Cuban way of life while contributing directly to local families. We are very sorry that you didn't get to enjoy the best of Cuban culture on your trip, and are taking steps to monitor the local guides and casas selected to ensure we don't have similar issues in future.

Thank you again for your valued feedback. We do hope that you enjoyed visiting Cuba in spite of the issues encountered.

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