Espiritu Travel

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We offer small group trips to Cuba. Our tours help and promote the small but growing entrepreneurial activity by only working with casa particulares, paladars and other privately owned businesses*. EspŪritu Travel believes travelers want to experience authentic trips in a way that makes a positive impact to local communities while at the same time minimizes its environmental impacts. Our goal is to connect travelers with meaningful and unique experiences which makes the vacation experience better for them and for the places that they visit. We believe responsible tourism is possible that is why we make sure that every itinerary and activity is done in a responsible way. *95% of the Cuba tourism industry is owned by the government or the military who reap the benefit which is why working directly the private business (even restaurants are owned by the govt) is so important.
Member since: 19 Sep 2017

How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...

Economic responsibility

We only work with small businesses and in Cuba that means outside of the govít owned agencies, restaurants and hotels. Our incoming agency is a husband and wife team whose aim is to show travellers the real life of Cubans as well as the cultural and historical sights of the country. We do not work with any hotels, all of our tours utilize casas particulares, these are private homes where people have converted part of their homes into guest accommodations.
Our tour leaders and guides are all independent, licensed guides who work for themselves. Our tours do not use restaurants, which are government owned. We only use paladares which are family run or independently run restaurant (i.e. not owned by the Cuban govít). In addition, we use local guides for almost each destination on the itinerary. So there is a tour leader with the group (usually from Havana) but for excursions outside of Havana, it is always a local guide.

We are monthly donors to AniPlant the only animal welfare charity in Cuba. You can see us listed on the website In addition, we provide in our departure documents, an AniPlant wishlist so that our travellers can bring much needed supplies to the animal clinic there. We also take our travellers there to personally deliver the items and see the project and meet the women who founded the organization 30 years ago. Note: Donating money to charities in Cuba can be tricky and if you are not careful the money could up going to the govít and not the intended recipient. AniPlant has a US counter part so I know that the money gets to the animal clinic.

Environmental responsibility

We have taken the pledge with TAP and we are now in working with ÷ko to start providing water filtration bottles as travel gifts for our clients.
Water in Cuba is not potable and it is a hot climate so 2 people on a 9 day program adds up to a lot of plastic bottle.

All our guides were provided with water filtration bottles so that when they are on tour, they do not need to buy water.

In our departure documents we have a responsible tourism section, that deals with horse taxis (many of the horses are in appalling condition), plastic waste, encouraging people to use the water filtration bottles, and bring canvas bags for purchasing items. In addition to helping travelers to understand about reducing their water usage, whenever possible, we suggest and provide a list of coral safe sun screen.
In our US offices we recycle everything and all paper is used on both sides or is used as scrap paper for jotting down notes. The paper we buy is 100% recycled. We have many windows in our office so most days we donít need to put the lights on, relying on natural lighting. Our office has several large plants to filter the air and give a pleasant work environment. We are a small office so we donít generate so much energy or waste.

Almost all over our trips visit a national park to do hiking or horseback riding in this way travelers are contributing to conservation through entrance fees. As a side note international conservation organizations do not operate in Cuba, there are a few local conservation organizations but most on marine and reef conservation. We attempted to partner with Ocean Doctor who does a community based conservation project but it is located in a very remote area of Cuba and none of our clients would be able to visit it.

Social responsibility

As part of our tours that head west of Havana, our travelers visit El Patio del PelegrŪn Community Project, dedicated to local students where there are free workshops of all kinds from painting and drawing classes, to dance, chorus and music theory courses. Travelers can donate painting and drawing supplies or buy the artwork to support the project.
Travelers visit working tobacco, cocoa and coffee, all of which are an integral part of Cuban culture and life, All of our tours have an evening at one of the Buena Visa Social Clubs which are bastions of traditional Cuban music. We offer visits to an urban farm in Havana which feeds about 50,000 per year. In Trinidad, travelers are introduced to SanterŪa, a religion that was developed by the slaves mixing Yoruba and Christianity. This religion is still active in Cuba and sometimes it is available to see one of their ritual ceremonies. In Trinidad, travelers have the opportunity to visit a 4th generation ceramics studio. In Bayamo, travelers are taken to see the only workshop in the country where horse carts/carriages are made by hand and by wood.