Cuba small group holiday, 9 days
Description of Cuba small group holiday, 9 days
See the very best of central Cuba on this small group holiday. It begins and ends in Havana, the hectic, complicated capital city. Old Havana piles up sun-bleached monuments, Cuban tapas bars, Spanish cathedrals and sky-high murals. Or you could cycle along the Malecon to see Miramar and the shining suburbs out west.
You'll spend the rest of the week hopping between some of the prettiest places in Cuba, while experiencing life away from the big city. See how Cuban cigars are made in the Vinales Valley, where sloping tobacco plantations and limestone karsts paint the hills. Share dinner with a Cuban family in Cienfuegos. And road trip down to Trinidad, where there's a musician on every corner.
Opting for a small group holiday to Cuba gets you closer to the people that live there, so perks include relaxed salsa lessons and homestay accommodation (casas particulares) that give you real insight into a revolutionary country.
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1 Reviews of Cuba small group holiday, 9 days
Reviewed on 02 Apr 2016 by Jackie Sayers
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
The most memorable aspect of our holiday was the devastating effect on Cuba of 60 years of sanctions and 'socialism'. The country is about to welcome large number of tourists and it is not ready. Havana international airport is chaotic: on our last day it had run out of water so the toilets weren't flushing, run out of sterling so we had to accept euros, and possibly ran out of electricity as the air con was off.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Tips. Take your own toilet paper, sink plug, air freshener, snack bars and insect repellant. If you struggle with humid heat or have any physical limitations, don't go.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
We contributed to the local economy
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
This was not a holiday, it was a fascinating but demanding fact-finding expedition. There were 20 people in our group which was rather too many.
We aim to benefit Cuban communities as much as possible by frequently stopping to use local restaurants, cafes and services. For example, we encourage clients to take optional excursions where 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. In Cienfuegos we include a tour of the city on Bici Taxis (Bike Taxis), which is a eco-friendly and very typical form of city transport. We also include a visit to a community in La Vega, where the group will discover some of the communal services in this 50-person community, such as the ration shop, school and medical facility.
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through energy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.
PeopleAccommodation and Meals:
We spend 3 nights in hotels and 4 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. Were 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 the monuments that commemorate events integral to Cuban heritage. These include Che Guevara's Mausoleum in Santa Clara and a tobacco farm cigar factory in the Vinales Valley. We encounter small handicraft stalls in most towns, were guests are able to purchase them. A huge part of Cuban culture is music and dancing, therefore we have a one-on-one salsa class in Havana using local dance students as partners. This is a great earning opportunity for the students and an equally valuable learning opportunity for visitors. Guests will also be able to experience music and dancing in local bars and clubs.
Our local operator sponsors a school in the Matanzas Province. 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. Currently it is not possible to organise school visits for clients.
This is a small group tour, 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.