Advantages of taking a guided small group tour over independent travel in Cuba
- Independent travel in Cuba is complicated
- A guided small group tour will give you a deeper understanding of Cuba's enigmatic society
- Convenience - an organised tour of Cuba will take the hassle out of travel
- Local Expertise
- Conditions in Cuba change frequently and guidebooks go out of date quickly
- Freedom and flexibility
- Great companionship
Traveling in Cuba can be complicated
Even if you speak Spanish, Cuba is one of the more complicated countries in which to travel independently. Accurate and impartial information on available activities, cool things to do, and places to go in Cuba, is difficult to obtain. This is party due to the Cuban Government wanting to control the tourist industry and party due to the dishonesty of locals unofficially working in it.
Local Cuban Government tourist agencies that organise day trips and activities can be useful to an extent, however the Government tends to only promote tourist activities that will earn the government income, and activities that keep the tourists separate from the locals. This is presumably to keep to a minimum, interactions that may erode socialist mentality.
As an independent traveler looking for interesting things to do in Cuba, asking a Cuban often doesn't lead you to the information you are after. Many Cubans rely on tourists for extra income and so the answer they give you may well be something they contrive in the hope of making some money from you, rather than the truth. (See Dealing with Jineteros for a more complete explanation). Unfortunately, as an independent traveler you will meet these types of Cubans more frequently as they are the ones that come up and introduce themselves to you on the street.
Fortunately most Cubans are not in this game, and are genuinely warm and friendly, and delighted to share their country (and whatever they are fortunate enough to have) with you. Our small group tour of Cuba can more readily put you in contact with such people. You will be introduced to families, artists, doctors, musicians, and dancers that the local tour guide knows well, and knows he can trust to treat his foreign guests with respect.
Cuba is one of the more complex and enigmatic nations - from its turbulent and unique political history to its complicated present situation. It is surely a very different country from any other you will visit. Many independent travelers come away from Cuba enchanted and enriched, but confused about how the whole system in Cuba works.
Travelers visiting Cuba usually leave with more unanswered questions than they arrived with.
- How do the Cubans survive on such meager salaries?
- Do they have a say in how the country is run?
- What percentage of Cubans actually believe in socialism and support Castro?
- How much do they blame the United States for the problems in Cuba?
- Why is the US still allowed to have a naval base at Guantanamo bay? and
- What will happen when Castro goes? Just to name a few.
Most Cubans struggle to find complete answers to all these questions themselves and are often shy to tell you their truth. However, a local tour guide who has fielded these questions from many curious travelers before has lived many years here, and traveled the entire country, will be able to give you a much deeper understanding of the current situation in Cuba than most. Your visit to Cuba will be much enhanced with a qualified person to answer all the questions and curiosities you may have, and you will come away from Cuba enriched with a first hand understanding of a unique and fascinating society.
Convenience - a small group tour takes the hassle out of travel in Cuba
If you have accommodation and transport already arranged, and a tour guide to help organise activities, this can take a lot of the hassle out of travel in Cuba. You won ’t have to queue for tickets, lug around your backpack looking for a hotel, or wait two days for a train. Everything is taken care of for you. Better still, the price is comparable to doing it on your own. What you will see and experience in two weeks on this tour of Cuba may take you up to double this time to achieve on your own.
Local Cuban Expertise
Apart from acting a source of information to answer the many questions you will have about this intriguing nation and society, the tour guide has an expert local knowledge about interesting things you can see and do in Cuba. He knows the places you visit like the back of his hand and can show you to the coolest hidden corners and out of the way places that you won't find in any guidebook about Cuba. He can take you to the country's natural highlights, introduce you to his friends, and maybe even find a sacred Santeria ceremony or a Rumba street party that few tourists will ever have the privilege to attend. If you have a special interest, such as art, architecture, baseball, boxing, music, dance, religion etc, he can help you find ways to explore this in Cuba, and put you into contact with local people who are involved.
Conditions in Cuba Can Change Quickly
Because of Cuba's special political situation, the Cuban Government's reaction to increasingly aggressive political policies of the United States, and the delicate position the country is in emerging from the Soviet sponsored old style communism to a more independent socialism with limited capitalist elements - rules, systems, and conditions in Cuba can change quite frequently and quickly. Guidebooks about Cuba can struggle to keep up on the changes because they are only updated at the very best, every couple of years. On the other hand because we maintain a continuous presence in Cuba,we are keeping up to date with knowledge on local conditions. We know the best places to stay and eat in Cuba, when and where the local festivals and events are held, what the latest political events are, and how they will affect the Cuban people and the economy.
Guidebooks about Cuba can be quite useful for background and especially historical summaries of the situation in Cuba and we recommend several of these as background reading for you tour. See literature.
Freedom and Flexibility
This small group tour of Cuba is unlike many group tours where everything is on a strict schedule and paid for and organised in advance. Instead, only the bare bones are included - accommodation, transport, the guide, and breakfast everyday.
(We don't include loads of unwanted extras such as airport transfer, international flights, lots of meals and pre paid activities you may not want, need or even like!)
At each destination on the tour in Cuba, you will be offered an assortment of optional activities that are possible, given recommendations on what we predict you might enjoy, and supply you with all the information you need to explore your interests.
Some groups enjoy sticking together and hanging out as a team, however it is entirely up to you, and it is perfectly acceptable to take off, do your own adventuring, and make your own discoveries.
The activities/day trips/excursions you partake in are paid for by you locally and directly to the local provider/person, local community, or organization providing the service at local prices, with the funds going directly back into the local village or local town's economy.
Because you'll be traveling as a small group in Cuba, travel plans can be more easily changed or altered en route if the group decides so. If the group discovers a special event or festival that they would like to attend, and this is not covered by the original itinerary, it is possible for the group to change the itinerary, given the condition that the group can come to a unanimous agreement and reservations can be changed. We are not about imposing a strict, old school adherence to the itinerary. After all, we are fully aware that one of the main purposes of the tour is for fun and adventure and therefore we are willing to offer the group as much flexibility as practical to achieve this end.
Our groups are made up of like-minded travelers from all over the world, who are ready for some fun, adventure, and to explore this fascinating island. They are therefore very social occasionswhere the group is often bonded by the common adventurous experiences. The friendships formed on our tours can last a lifetime and no less than twice have people married someone they have met on one of our tours.