Customized Independent Trips to Cuba

IMG_8866Recent policy changes have opened a window of opportunity for individual U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba on a fully legal basis, without the restrictions and costs of joining a pre-packaged tour group. This window, along with other recent changes, is a promising development for the Cuban people, but it means that hotel rooms are hard to find, and that the main tourist sites are thronged with visitors. The good news is that the “real” Cuba isn’t going away—but in order to fully experience the inspiring cultural, artistic, and natural wonders of this very special country, it’s more important than ever to plan ahead carefully, and to tap into local networks in ways that will allow you to get off the beaten track.

IMG_0745Using the knowledge and network of contacts I’ve developed over nearly two decades of working in Cuba, I am in a great position to help set up customized, remarkably affordable trips for a limited number of small groups of first time or returning travelers. Trips include all accommodations in either hotels or carefully chosen, well-located casas particulares (private B & B’s in real Cuban neighborhoods), skilled drivers, highly qualified and personable English speaking Cuban guides, prearranged meals, music, dance, art, and cultural activities as desired, round-trip airfare from one of several US or Canadian cities if needed, and a detailed set of trip notes targeted to your travel interests in the  specific parts of the country you want to visit.

IMG_8931So if you’re interested in exploring the idea of a trip to Cuba, give me a shout. I’d be happy to give you free assessment of the possibilities, given your specific time-frame and interests.

Reservations are hard to come by these days so ideally you should reserve your trip a minimum of two to four months in advance, more if possible. The minimum group size is three to four travelers, and there is no real maximum, although larger groups should make reservations at least six months in advance.

Testimonials . . . 

IMG_9221“Instead of going with a tour company, we asked Tim to put together a trip for us. With his guidance, we studied Cuba, decided where we wanted to go and what we would like to see. He then made arrangements for us to stay in people’s homes, where we got to chat with the owners and their employees. Not only was this more satisfying than a packaged tour, it also cost considerably less.”

“Our trip was fabulous – really well organized. We didn’t need to worry about anything. Our guide—Ela—and our driver—Jorgito—have become our dear friends. They were a great team, flexible, listening to our input, desires and adjusted our trip per our requests really well.”

orelvis“I would highly recommend Orelvis to be the guide for any visitors to Cuba. He is very knowledgable, patient, organized, enthusiastic, and friendly. His English is excellent. He greatly enriched my trip experience. And thanks again for all your work to make this such a fantastic trip.”

“Thoughtfully planned, interesting and varied itinerary, small group so that we could be flexible, great people. A really wonderful experience.”

“Thanks for setting up a wonderful trip! We had a number of diverse experiences that scratched below the surface of a typical tourist outing.  Very meaningful and we’ll have a lot of great memories. Our guide was fantastic—super energetic, well-educated,  sarcastic, funny, and proud.  She  was able to make changes on the fly when we got flakey or when there was the inevitable glitch. We particularly liked meeting with the couple who live in a crumbling neighborhood on outskirts of Havana.  We cooked dinner with them, checked out their communities’ artwork and music and met with the kids in their neighborhood. We may end up contacting them to buy some artwork.”

IMG_7269“It would be safe to say that our guide, Ela, was the simply the best guide ever. Fun and informative, she was a good fit. There are so many highlights, but the ballet/tribute to Alicia Alonso brought tears.There is probably a rum shortage in the country right now. Thanks for making this happen.”

“With Elvis’ help we got to experience the sights and sounds of the country and people he loves and is so proud of – music, dance, history, natural resources. We will always treasure this trip. We’d love to form our own group (our children and their families), and have Orelvis guide us through his Cuba. Thank you, thank you!”

“Elvis is delightful, a keen observer of the changes Cuba is undergoing, and we bonded with him immediately.  We all felt like we had made a real friend in Cuba rather than just having a guide – and you can’t do better than that.”

IMG_8879“Tim is great – he really knows Cuba, its history, and its people.  He’s also very approachable, helpful and a great guy!”

“Very well organized trip. Lots of attention to detail and varied activities.”

“The trip was an overwhelmingly positive experience with a great blend of history, culture, art, food and fun.”