Responsible tourism: Small group tour to Western Cuba
Community This tour is lead by a local Cuban guide who will give you an insight into the complex Cuban history and society. The guide 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. We encourage travellers to eat at local restaurants, roadside eateries, street vendors and market stalls to enjoy the 'real' Cuban experience. We actively promote small family-run legally registered homestays - where you will get to see how typical Cubans live, observe their way of life, and participate in their culture. Nearly all of the accommodation is in the homes of Cuban families.
You will get the chance to visit government run local community projects such as the 'organoponicos' (urban based community organic produce gardens), local schools and ration stores. Gifts such as ballpoints, soap and shampoo etc are encouraged to leave as small gifts in farms and rural areas. We gladly make stops at local schools to donate pencils, pens and any other useful materials. You can 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, medical kits, fishing equipment, cycling gear, running shoes, toiletries or other articles with your local guides after your tours.
Environment The maximum group size of this tour is limited to 12 travellers which enables us to more easily interact with the Cubans and to visit their homes and places of work and play, and which minimizes our impact on the environment.
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 centres. A network of tour leaders, local guides and local transport providers, plus local office staff. We use local coordinators in regional centres to get the best possible access to services possible and to bring in local expertise. We stay almost exclusively in are locally run homestays and Cuban run Hotel, not major chains that dominate tourism in Cuba. 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 tour 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 promote best practice in responsible tourism and actively encourage our local suppliers to work with us in this. 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 travellers take our impact on the local environment into consideration. Similarly we monitor the impact on the local wildlife. Our commitment to responsible tourism is not limited to our overseas operation and we have measures to ensure our Australian office operates according to our responsible tourism policy.
Reviews of Small group tour to Western Cuba
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I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 25 Jan 2017 by Sue Ellen Christensen
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
I am particularly interested in the arts, so found these particular visits very rewarding: Las Terrazas community and artist collective; a visit to a live-in camp for young artists in several arts disciplines--dance, music and visual arts; and the community of Fusterlandia, built around the work of Fuster, which is a bit like Hundertwasser in Vienna. Also, the knowledge imparted by our guide of Cuba's history was very enlightening.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Have an open mind. Things are not necessarily as you might expect them to be. Much of Cuba is like the rest of the Caribbean and central America--the smells, the flora, the street life. Exchanging money is sometimes time consuming. (And bring toilet tissue.)
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
We made every effort (with the guidance and assistance of our guide) to be sure that we were good travelers and that we promoted conservation whenever possible. We stayed in local homes and interacted with the very charming and hospitable people.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
It was a wonderful experience. I have had wonderful experiences all over the world, and this was definitely one of the best.