Cuba tailor made tour, 8 days

“An eight day tailor made tour, travelling in a circuit of the south coast from Havana, staying in casas along the way. An itinerary with a very real cultural and community aspect. ”


Havana | Buena Vista Social Club | Stay at casas particulars | Bay of Pigs | Ciénaga de Zapata wetland | Caleta Buena | Snorkelling | Trinidad | Sierra Escambray mountains | Topes de Collantes Nature Reserve | Horse riding in Valle de Los Ingenios | Cienfuegos

Description of Cuba tailor made tour, 8 days

This Cuba holiday is a bespoke tour. Although this itinerary takes in some of the classic Cuban sights, such as Havana and the Bay of Pigs and the coastal gem of Trinidad, we also endeavour to really step off the tourist trail as often as we can so that you can have a real people to people experience.

One of the ways we support Cuban people work is by staying at locally owned casas particulares homes, which are traditional guesthouses in Cuba. Starting in Havana, we explore the UNESCO old part of the city with its 16th century Spanish architecture and everyday life going on. You will learn about its history, its losses and its vibrant arts scene today. There are so many stories, and songs, to be heard in Havana.

We always try to combine Cuba’s cultural heritage with its natural one, and so en route to the Bay of Pigs, for example, we have a guided nature walk in Ciénaga de Zapata, because although this region is infamous for a failed US invasion, it is actually the largest wetland in the Caribbean, bursting with wonderful wildlife. While visiting the wonderful Spanish colonial town of Trinidad, you can also take time out to go horse riding in the Valle de Los Ingenios and hiking in the Sierra Escambray mountains, coming back to enjoy Cuba’s great musical city at night.

Coastal gems are always a feature of this trip, of course, with a whole day to swim, snorkel and just chill out at Caleta Buena and then your final day is spent in the French colonial town of Cienfuegos, also known as the "Pearl of the South" as this beautiful UNESCO town is set on a beautiful bay all of its own.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?


Departure information

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

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

As responsible citizens of planet earth, we are painfully aware of the impact humans are having on the climate.

Espiritu Travel now offers carbon-neutral travel for all trips to Cuba. We see it as yet another important step in our journey towards creating a more sustainable travel company. Greenhouse gas emissions are calculated for all our customized trips to Cuba, taking into account the use of fuels in local travel, emissions from food, and energy used in accommodations. We work with Carbon Credit Capital to ensure accurate results and come up with simple metrics like emissions per person, per trip while in-country.

As part of our commitment, we support a carbon offset project that reduces emissions by the same amount as what you emit during your trip! We have chosen to support a project in the Amazon rainforest that fights deforestation in one of the most highly deforested areas of Brazil. The project protects over 149,000 hectares of the virgin rainforest from deforestation, housing 44,000+ species of plants and animals, including over 30 vulnerable species. The project also provides improved quality of life for over 6,200 local community members—including paths to land title ownership, and improved diversity of the local economy with capacity building for cultivating new and highly valuable forest crops and products.

In a place like Cuba, where sustainable tourism is practically unheard of, it is not so easy to make a difference. However, we provide travelers with information before they depart on how they can reduce their negative impacts and make positive contributions to the communities they will visit in Cuba. This includes reducing waste, avoiding plastic bags and straws as well as being aware of water consumption. Furthermore, we encourage travelers to use filtered water bottles by offering a discount to purchase one before their trip. In the future, we hope to be able to offer travelers a free gift of these types of bottles.

Animal welfare
The issue of animals in captivity is a sensitive one for our company. We do not promote visits to any place where there are captive wild animals. The situation for domestic animals in Cuba is often appalling. Horse taxis and scenic rides. We do not recommend these activities as nostalgic as they may seem, many of these horses are in poor condition. In addition, the majority of them work extremely long hours, oftentimes in extreme heat and humidity with poor tack that leaves open wounds on their bodies. Horses around the country have borne the brunt of the transportation crisis in the country especially outside of Havana. While there are animal welfare laws, they are not enforced and it is obvious the suffering they endure horses. We promote the use of bicycles taxis to get around the cities and towns. In places where horseback riding excursions are part of the itinerary, we have carefully selected the stable in which we work ensuring the highest standards are met for the welfare of the horses.
Our guides are not permitted to take clients to places where animals are used as entertainment or are kept in poor conditions.

Waste management
In Cuba, solid waste pollution is a problem all over the island and in particular in the cities and towns. Waste disposal systems are just not adequate on the island and with a rapid increase in tourism this year alone, the problem could get worse. We provide suggestions on how travelers can reduce their impact.
We suggest bringing canvas carrier bags so that you can use them for when you purchase water or souvenirs rather than the one-use plastic bags. We provide discounts for purchasing filtered bottled water before the trip, reducing the need to purchase bottled water. In the near future, we hope to be able to provide these filtered water bottles to all travelers.

We provide information to travelers on ways to reduce water consumption during their trip.

We encourage travelers to use bicycle taxis or walking for exploring the cities. Bicycle taxis are a great way to enjoy all the towns and cities throughout the island.

The Impacts of this Trip

We work directly with Cubans and Cuban businesses, Our customized trips create jobs and help local families. We collaborate with local businesses, artisans and endorse real connections between countries and people
As an example, one of our eight-day trips to Cuba supports a number of entrepreneurs/small businesses and their families as well as the subsequent indirect linkages with other sectors. Over the last five years, we have maintained working relationships with a plethora of small businesses, from casas particulares, family owned restaurants to local guides and shop owners.
We endeavor to provide plenty of information so that travelers can also support small businesses that sell unique souvenirs or one of a kind home decor or even locally designed fashion. This support allows businesses to flourish, grow and expand.


4 Reviews of Cuba tailor made tour, 8 days

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 14 Feb 2019 by

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

Difficult to be specific - it was a very good tour, we enjoyed all the places we visited... we particularly liked Trinidad. We thought we should have had a night in Vinales - too far to drive to and from Havana in a day given the dreadful state of the roads.

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

Take everything you need with you! We would like this to have been made clearer before we went, you can't buy anything in Cuba. Also we would have liked much clearer information on how much to tip; it's clearly a tipping culture and a poor country but since we had no idea how much our casas or driver were paid, we had no means of assessing a percentage tip. It would be helpful to have some actual examples of how much to give. Also, our driver was constantly offering to take us around eg out to dinners, not included in our itinerary - it was difficult to know if this was his job, or if we should have paid separately for each ride, or just given him a good tip at the end - which is what we did.

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

In as much as we stayed in casas, which were very nice, clean and friendly yes.

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

Very good in the main. Important that UK customers realise there are very few direct flights to cuba, and dates may not match tour dates (they did not for us).

Read the operator's response here:

Hi Patricia, Thank you for taking the time to make a review and I am pleased to hear you enjoyed the trip. It would be great to have an additional day in Viñales but unfortunately for only an 8-day trip, a day trip is all that is possible. Since we are US based company, mainly our travellers are Americans who have much less vacation time than Europeans so the 8-day trip is ideal for seeing as much of Cuba as possible. We do have European travellers as well and in order to match with our departure dates, it is necessary just to arrive one day before (per night) the trip starts and that is all, no other adjustments are needed. I would also like to mention that in the 'Getting Ready to Travel to Cuba' document that was sent with your travel documents, there is a section about tipping guidelines and there is even a short paragraph about why this is so important in Cuba. I believe that during your trip you emailed me about tipping and I provided again this information to you about tipping guidelines. Also, in the 'Getting Ready to Go' document and on the packing list it indicates that all toiletries and sunscreen must be brought with you to Cuba as it will not be possible to buy it there.

Reviewed on 25 Dec 2018 by

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

My husband and I have so many good memories of our 12-day trip to Cuba. Did enjoy birdwatching with a biologist at Reserve de Bermejas near the Bay of
Pigs. Also, when we stayed in Trinidad we loved our hike to Topas de Collantes.

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

We are very glad that we stayed in casa particulares in Cuba. We had wonderful hosts. Our rooms were very clean. We had personal attention. We bought a piece of local pottery and put it in our carry-on luggage. It was confiscated at the Havana Airport. We were told that this item should have been packed in our checked luggage.

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

Staying with local people in casa particulares did help locals.

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

Our vacation to Cuba was outstanding. The tour company did a great job for the two of us.

Reviewed on 20 Nov 2018 by

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

Interaction with the hosts at our Casa Particulars, hiking in the mountains with a knowledgeable guide, sitting at a Casa de Musica conversing with a Cuban
and having him light you up a Monte Cristo gratis.

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

Bring a small umbrella, and bring small useful gifts for your hosts and guides who don't have access to good toothbrushes, colored pencils, pads of paper,
guitar strings. Be prepared to leave your hiking shoes, jeans, and shirts. Cubans are dressed well, but with substandard quality clothing. Bring a filtered water
bottle (from REI). Agree with your guide up front if you're after a "color-brochure" Cuba trip, or a "real" Cuba trip. Good guides can accommodate either. Go with an open mind.

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

Our trip did benefit local people who cannot survive on $80/mo state wages. We did our best to minimize our impact by avoiding plastic water bottles, but you
can't get around without burning fossil fuels, especially if you're moving between cities. Just accept it.

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

This trip is on the "exciting adventure" side of the scale. If you're looking for a place to sit by the pool and have mojitos brought to you, stick to the cruise ships.
But if you want to immerse yourself in real Cuban culture, this is an excellent opportunity.

Reviewed on 12 Mar 2018 by

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

Meeting and talking with Cubans about their daily experiences.

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

This tour uses knowledgeable local guides and stays in small casas in regular neighborhoods. Groups are small, ours was 5 people, so we did not overwhelm the local scene. We feel that we got a good sense of daily life for ordinary Cubans, much more so than we had been with a larger group staying in hotels. Activities were varied and included urban walks, mountain hikes, horseback ride, museums, snorkeling, and lots of delicious meals in unassuming family owned restaurants. Karin Eckhard was great to work with us in helping us decide which tour to take and promptly answering all our questions and concerns.

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

The local casa owners, restaurant owners and staff members and tour guides are dependent on tourists. Most seemed committed to protecting their local environments while developing their businesses.

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


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